The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “[W]hat greater defeat could we suffer than to come to resemble the forces we oppose in their disrespect for human dignity?”
Well, in a friend-of-the-court brief recently filed in the upcoming Supreme Court abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a coalition of organizations of women lawyers announced, “Mississippi’s claim that women have been able to reach society’s highest echelon without reliance on the right to decide to end a pregnancy is simply wrong.” They argue that women have developed a “reliance interest” on the availability of abortion.
In non-lawyer terms, that means that women rely on abortion to achieve success in their careers. This idea is not only insulting; it is the opposite of “equality.”
I am a lawyer by trade, and a mother by — yes — choice. But neither I, nor any other female lawyer that I know, needs abortion to succeed.
It is demeaning to say that women cannot succeed unless they have the option to sacrifice their children. Men are not, and have never been, held to this standard. Yet some in our society have “come to resemble the forces” that the women’s equality movement alleges to oppose: the forces that say that women are less than men, simply because they bear children.
In a different friend-of-the-court brief supporting Mississippi’s law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks, a group of women scholars, professionals, and feminist organizations argues that evidence reveals that the Supreme Court’s previous emphasis “on a male normative experience of reproduction as the model for economic and social participation has retarded meaningful accommodation of pregnancy and motherhood in the workplace and other spheres of society.”
Abortion hurts women because the false “necessity” advocated by the pro-abortion crowd presupposes that equality is only achieved if a woman’s reproductive life is functionally the same as a man’s. In short, the availability of abortion has set women’s equality back.
Allyson Felix (who currently is the most decorated American track-and-field athlete) was once told by her sponsor Nike that they wanted to pay her 70 percent less due to her pregnancy and subsequent birth of her daughter. Felix fought back and was instrumental in securing pregnancy protections for countless female athletes. After winning her 10th Olympic medal, she penned a post proclaiming that “the world does need to see women wholly and meet them right where they are.”
The incomparable Lisa Blatt, who holds the distinction of arguing the most Supreme Court cases of any female lawyer, doesn’t mince words: “Although now I think of myself as a lawyer who is at the same time a woman, wife, and mother, I started my career thinking that I had to separate my lawyer self from my feminine side. That was a disaster.”
She concludes, “My success as a lawyer has come in no small part from incorporating my identity as a woman, wife, and mother into my professional status.” Like Blatt, succeeding as a lawyer depends on me being who I am: woman, wife, and mother.
Women must be permitted to achieve success by simply being women. We do not require access to abortion to have successful careers. But women do need employers, families, colleagues, and the public at large to accept women as who they are — to allow them to have families; to be fierce advocates in the courtroom; to nurture children; to engage in groundbreaking research; to attend soccer games, recitals, and award ceremonies; and to hold political office. We do not need abortion.