The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion

The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion

The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Nov. 30 2005 7:30 PM

The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion

Bloggers discuss the first abortion cases that the Supreme Court has heard in five years; they also respond to a Seymour Hersh piece about withdrawal from Iraq, and an FCC proposal for a la carte pricing for cable channels.

The Roberts court takes on abortion: The Supreme Court is hearing two abortion cases today. Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood  is receiving the most attention. It concerns a New Hampshire law (that hasn't yet gone into effect) that would require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion even if the minor's health is at stake. (Listen to this morning's arguments; read  about the other case.)

As bloggers attempt to suss out whether the case is about health exceptions or parental notification, their views about abortion shine through. "While the major question in the Ayotte case is about health exceptions to abortion restrictions, the media has overwhelmingly been portraying it as a case about parental rights," opines Laura Donnelly on Uncommon Sense, the blog of the progressive TomPaine.com. "The decisions in these cases could have sweeping practical implications about women's abilities to actually access abortion services—potentially severely limiting reproductive choice even if Roe v. Wade remains untouched." But Blogs for Bush's Matt Margolis is convinced that the case does fundamentally concern parental rights: "Planned Parenthood is trying to make this a case about women's rights... But we're not talking about women... We're talking about minors... Children." Adamantly Mike, a college student, agrees: "[A] sixteen-year-old cannot walk into a dentist's office and have his teeth touched without parental permission. Abortion is an extremely invasive surgery. Why then, should it not be regulated under the same concern for the parents' authority?"

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Reporting from this morning's hearing that there was "certainly no sign that Roe itself was in jeopardy," SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston suggests that "the Court appeared to be dealing with the new cases as if abortion rights at this stage had become primarily a matter calling for technical legal precision." Denniston notes that Chief Justice John Roberts "contributed to that impression." However, liberal Echidne of the Snakes demurs. Quoting a news story that described Roberts as "sympathetic to the state", she writes, "I suspect that the process of dismantling Roe will be a slow strip-tease, to keep the radical clerics at a fever pitch and their constituency voting for the Republican party."

Read more about Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. Read Dahlia Lithwick's "Supreme Court Dispatch" on today's hearing, and find out how to pronounce "Ayotte."

Into thin air?: Seymour Hersh's latestNew Yorker article claims that current U.S. plans for withdrawing from Iraq involve increasing air strikes over the country. Hersh writes, "The danger, military experts have told me, is that, while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi fatalities would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what."

Some bloggers are comparing this strategy to previous American moves, both positive and negative. "The plan sounds very similar to the strategy used to great success in Afghanistan," claimsBenny's World's Benny, a "media entrepreneur." But on Democratic Daily Kos, Ademption  makes the Vietnam analogy, discusses Hersh's appearance to talk about the article on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, and writes, "I think Mr. Hersh raises a HUGE concern. If we can't rely on Iraqis to give us the proper intelligence on the ground, then how can we rely on the same intelligence sources to target the right people in airstrikes?"

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"The reality is that protecting critical economic infrastructure from motivated attacks by native people is impossible without imposing a complete police state," writes the wonkish Outlandish Josh, who discusses Hersh's piece in context of the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, a document that the president discussed today. Dismissing it as "an extended tautology," Josh believes, "[I]t seems the war will grind on. Maybe more bombing; maybe more local paramilitaries; but basically the same war."And The Lion's Den's Aethern, is concerned: "I'm conflicted on this, because as a vet, I want my buddies to get their asses out of there as soon as possible, but if we replace boots on the ground with even more bombs and unaccountable mercenaries, then the very things that are enraging the Iraqis and fueling the insurgency will only be exacerbated, which will make things even more hellish on the troops that didn't get lucky enough to be included in the PR drawdown."

Read more about Hersh's piece. Read Fred Kaplan's analysis of President Bush's speech in Slate.

Cable a la carte: The FCC's Kevin Martin has suggested that cable and satellite channels should implement decency standards and/or a la carte pricing plans that would allow parents to select only the channels they want. (Read Martin's oral statement to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.)

Some people think Martin might be on to something. "[I]s there any way to stop the a la carte system from eventually being implemented? It just makes too much sense and has too much positive consumer sentiment behind it to not make its way into standard practice," insistsNicheplayer, a techie. "Indeed, why shouldn't TV programming work exactly like the WWW, where people seek out and subscribe to what they like, and the news about good 'shows' is spread by word of mouth from one trusted friend or acquaintance to another?"

But libertarian bloggers think that Martin's suggestions are a recipe for censorship. "[I]ndecency is in the eye of the beholder. For example, I think that the FCC is indecent. If I ask them, do you think they will commit group suicide or at least resign?" demandsSouth Puget Sound Libertarian. And on Reason's Hit and Run blog, Nick Gillespie notes that Martin has asked, "You can always turn the television off and, of course, block the channels you don't want [....] But why should you have to?" Gillespie's answer: "Because It's a Free Country, You Idiot!" He continues, "God forbid Smellivision ever happens--because you know the FCC will be in favor of blocking adult smells too."

Read more about the FCC. ReadSlate's Daniel Gross on Martin's suggestion.

Got a question, comment, or suggestion? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.