Late one mid-December evening, freshly installed in an academic law post and scrambling to get home in time for dinner with my teen daughters, I saw an email fly in from an unaccustomed source. It said: “Would you like to tell your new colleagues and Dean, the world at large, and a majority-male U.S. Supreme Court, about the until-now-private medical decision you made to have a legal abortion half your lifetime ago?” Well, perhaps it was not phrased exactly like that … but this was the question’s logical cascade of implication. It took me but a second to reply “yes.”
In blurring personal and professional lines to join an amicus brief on behalf of women lawyers who had lawful post-Roe abortions, I officially entered the cyclone of strategy, emotion and anxiety swirling around the Supreme Court’s grant of review in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. The case concerns two pretextual restrictions the state of Texas has recently imposed on abortion clinics, one pertaining to the physical facilities at clinics, the other to their physicians’ hospital privileges. Neither is intended nor expected to increase patient safety, but both are absolutely intended—and certain—to shutter scores of clinics, due to the cost or difficulty of compliance. The case outcome will likely advance or limit abortion-restriction measures nationwide, defining reproductive options for my daughters’ generation. How, under the circumstances, could I say “no”?
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