- Jinane E
We Are Being Ruled By Bractons, Cokes, Hales, and Blackstones
The 213-page ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reads fairly elementary. Remarkably straightforward, despite the occasional gnarly legal term or two, without any table of contents for guidance, a flip to a random page quickly reveals the subject matter. Perhaps the reason for all this is, after all, because the ruling is a rant. Published on June 24, the decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a testament to the long, hard fight pro-lifers brought on the bodies of others.
Take the opinion of the seventeenth century’s Sir Matthew Hale himself, who is featured no less than fifteen times in the entire paper, describing the abortion of a child as a “great crime.” Seventeenth-century English jurist Lord Matthew Hale not only believed in husbands not being prosecuted for raping their wives but also in sentencing women to death who were “witches.” This, of course, should not fly well in the twenty-first century, but I am deeply disappointed by the adoption and integration of such thinking.
Alito, the justice, quotes Henry of Bracton, Sir Edward Coke, Sir Matthew Hale, and Sir William Blackstone. These men all have something in common, besides the fact that they are all lords and sirs, which is the fact that they controlled people through self-imposed law. Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, John Roberts, and Clarence Thomas of the twenty-first century also have self-proclaimed themselves lords, and in doing so, authored one of the many rulings that represent America’s true function—to oppress.
I shall stop quoting the statements from hundreds of years ago because it is available for anyone to read right on the Internet. Or finding some dirty, ancient treaty from England that dates back four-hundred years works too.
By stripping people of basic human rights and questioning the term “liberty” with great gravitas, it was at the whimsical power of lords that “liberty” was stolen from the American people.
The effects of Roe v. Wade are clear: women in states with abortion outlawed will turn to already or now-illegal procedures that could take their lives. And when denied an abortion in a life-threatening situation, they would essentially be told to die. In the case where a woman is denied an abortion but not in a life-threatening situation, her ability to choose what she wants for herself and her future will vanish. By being under obligation to at the very least deliver, feed, clothe, educate, and shelter the child, she will have to leave her job to care for it, assuming she delivers and survives. And not to mention how 75% of women who seek abortions are low-income, so when denied an abortion, they will struggle to put food on the table, pay rent, and fill gas in their car, let alone substantially provide for themselves.
The unquenchable thirst to strip freedoms from the powerless and unrepresented increasingly seems to become an exclusively American problem (from the Executive to the Judiciary branch), and excessive executive power is consistently put in the hands of the crazed or indifferent, leaving many Americans dead. By digging a new hole for the country to fall into, the Supreme Court has, at the center of it all, affirmed a fear that has been present for a long time. Women have been objectified and controlled for thousands of years, and now is no exception.
Now people will begin to see (or experience) first-hand the true result of the American machine called oppression: a new era of forced pregnancies, backtracking into the criminalization of women, and perhaps the clearest—the rampant ostracization of young women and girls. An era not only of regression but repression for the country as well as shame and humiliation for the world.
America supposedly represents democracy to the world, but it represents something entirely different to the subjects of its empire. Bodies that have been constrained to American operations were told in the first couple of pages of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that if they did not always have human rights, then they should never have them. Our democracy, or any trace of it, has quietly been wiped away into history just after human rights for the majority of its population disappeared.
Call them justices, or supremes, but they are what they write themselves to be. We are ruled not by a democracy but are subjects under the reign of Bractons, Cokes, Hales, and Blackstones.