Theocracy Looms in Anti-Abortion Opinions of the Supreme Court

16 May, 2022
Hun­dreds of pro-abor­tion march­es have tak­en place across the Unit­ed States since the Polit­co Supreme Court leak ear­li­er this month (pho­to Cara Owsley/The Enquirer).


Opin­ions pub­lished in The Markaz Review reflect the per­spec­tive of their authors and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent TMR.


I. Rida Mahmood


On a mid-spring day of 2010, Jor­da­ni­ans woke up to the har­row­ing news of a 45-year-old man who bled his 19-year-old preg­nant daugh­ter to death while attempt­ing to per­form a sur­gi­cal abor­tion on her. The man, who had cul­ti­vat­ed his med­ical exper­tise overnight using a Google search, was also the father of the abort­ed fetus.

I was on a fam­i­ly vis­it to Amman at the time. My father, doing the dish­es, told the sto­ry to me and my moth­er, as the two of us sat at the kitchen table.

Dis­dain­ful­ly — and, naive­ly, in ret­ro­spect — I said, “This would nev­er hap­pen in Amree­ka.” I rolled my eyes and went on, “The girl would’ve got­ten her­self a safe abor­tion and report­ed her father to the police. Women’s rights are pro­tect­ed in Amree­ka.”

Amree­ka is, of course, the col­lo­qui­al Ara­bic term for Amer­i­ca, my beloved home to which I returned two months later.

America’s Freedom Hinges on the Survival of its Democracy

Fast for­ward 12 years: Amer­i­can women of child­bear­ing age could face the same fate as that Jor­dan­ian teen, thanks to sev­er­al con­ser­v­a­tive, unelect­ed justices.

For decades, con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can politi­cians and com­men­ta­tors have cit­ed, often in a dystopi­an fash­ion, the “encroach­ment of Sharia law” into our state courts as the open­ing remarks to their racist, anti-immi­grant advo­ca­cy (a base­less claim, but that is a sto­ry for anoth­er day). Yet the rev­e­la­tions from Politi­co on May 2, 2022, dis­clos­ing the Supreme Court’s opin­ion on a rever­sal of Roe v. Wade, are yet fur­ther proof that the great­est threat cur­rent­ly fac­ing Amer­i­can free­dom is not a doe-eyed long­beard in a head­dress, a thobe, and a pair of flipflops.

Lib­er­ty-wor­ship­ping con­ser­v­a­tives would nev­er allow a sharia-abid­ing immi­grant to try and treat Amer­i­can women as the chat­tel prop­er­ty of men; sub­ju­gat­ed, objec­ti­fied, and hid­den away from pub­lic life; as mere ves­sels to car­ry and deliv­er the fruits of men’s seeds.

Sub­ju­gat­ing Amer­i­can women is anoth­er job that good old con­ser­v­a­tives do not want to out­source to immigrants.

Sharia-pho­bic con­ser­v­a­tives, while don­ning their favorite super­hero capes and fly­ing to res­cue Afghan and Iraqi women from reli­gious author­i­tar­i­an­ism, have been work­ing dili­gent­ly to for­mu­late and pro­mote home­made poli­cies that are equal­ly author­i­tar­i­an, misog­y­nis­tic, and intru­sive, with unmis­tak­able reli­gious under­pin­nings. The leaked US Supreme Court’s ini­tial draft major­i­ty opin­ion tar­gets Amer­i­can women in a way that would thrill the ghosts of Mul­lah Omar and Aya­tol­lah Khomeini.

The prospec­tive tyran­ny of our unelect­ed offi­cials will hard­ly stop at abor­tion rights…

The US Supreme Court’s inten­tion to over­turn Roe v. Wade should hard­ly come as a sur­prise to any­one who has been pay­ing atten­tion in recent months. Just last Decem­ber, while hear­ing oral argu­ments in Dobbs v. Jack­son Wom­en’s Health Orga­ni­za­tion, our own Aunt Lydia, aka Jus­tice Amy Coney Bar­rett, ref­er­enced “safe haven” laws as an alter­na­tive to abor­tion. Instead of end­ing a preg­nan­cy, she sug­gest­ed, a woman should car­ry the fetus to full term, deliv­er it, and leave it at a pub­lic place with­out fac­ing legal con­se­quences — as if giv­ing up a child for adop­tion by unknown strangers car­ries the same trau­ma as hav­ing a safe abor­tion; as if hav­ing a low-cost or no-cost safe deliv­ery is eas­i­ly attain­able. The list of “as ifs” goes on and on.

Not only did these remarks betray her lies to the US Sen­ate at her con­fir­ma­tion in 2020, but they also revealed Barrett’s deep-seat­ed dis­mis­sive atti­tude toward the whole con­cept of women’s right to auton­o­my over our own bod­ies — an atti­tude shared with the oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive jus­tices on the Supreme Court, Ali­to, Gor­such, Kavanaugh, and Thomas.

An atti­tude at the core of the patri­archy found in abun­dance with­in theoc­ra­cies around the world.

Speak­ing of a theoc­ra­cy tak­ing hold in Amer­i­ca might seem laugh­able at first glance. Upon fur­ther inspec­tion, how­ev­er, the pos­si­bil­i­ty is not all that far­fetched. In the after­math of the leak, Jus­tice Thomas seems to be more con­cerned with the public’s respect of the insti­tu­tion than with the draft’s con­tents. With­in the draft itself, Jus­tice Ali­to revealed his dis­re­gard for pub­lic opin­ion when he wrote “we can­not allow our deci­sions to be affect­ed by any extra­ne­ous influ­ences such as con­cern about the public’s reac­tion to our work.” Accord­ing to Ali­to, for a civ­il right to be valid, it must be “deeply root­ed in the nation’s his­to­ry and tra­di­tions.” In his attempt to make a strong case for said “tra­di­tions,” Ali­to made mul­ti­ple ref­er­ences to Sir Matthew Hale, a 17th cen­tu­ry judge who presided over witch­craft tri­als and dis­trust­ed women’s claims of rape, spousal and otherwise.

The doc­u­ment reeks of con­ser­v­a­tives’ infa­mous nos­tal­gia for the good old days, when women “knew their place,” when women’s bod­ies were the prop­er­ty of the state, and repro­duc­tive rights for women were a form of heresy.

The prospec­tive tyran­ny of our unelect­ed offi­cials will hard­ly stop at abor­tion rights; it will imme­di­ate­ly expand into lim­it­ing access to con­tra­cep­tives — anoth­er favorite of the reli­gious right — and lat­er onto oth­er civ­il rights that women activists obtained after cen­turies of hard work. Uncer­tain­ty is already loom­ing on the hori­zon about the future of pro­ce­dures such as IVF treatments.

Per­haps this was a much need­ed wake-up call to remind us all that, while women’s bod­ies are still a bat­tle­field, the fight for women’s rights in Amree­ka is far from over.