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Readers Respond

With abortion access returned to state control, Sun readers assess what it means for the future | READER COMMENTARY

This is what oppression feels like

Since Friday, June 24, I have had a mildly sick feeling in my stomach. I know the cause. It’s the Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal right to a legal abortion. Every time I think about this upheaval of a women’s right to choose, there it is, that pang of feeling a little bit sick. I have felt dread and apprehension before, many times but ultimately, I have control over those feelings and absolutely know how to overcome them. It’s simple. Face the task at hand and get on with it.

This is different. This feeling is a reminder that I am viewed less than a whole person. I am a person of lesser value less the self-righteous men and women who feel their righteousness is more valuable than my humanness. This is what oppression feels like.

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Overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022 is not going to affect me in terms of forced birth, but it affects me as a woman, a mother of a son and a daughter, and it affects me as a person who works with children and young adults. People in their 20s, 30s and 40s have lives full of promise, opportunity and adventure ahead of them that may or may not include parenthood. Their choices to delay or forego parenthood do not matter to the men and women in power who are making these decisions. Their choices are meaningless. Their plans have no worth. This is what oppression feels like

My grandmother and great aunt were suffragettes. Their participation in a system that oppressed them means more to me now than ever before. I had a vision of them in their period-style clothing complete with fantastic hats marching in support of a woman’s right to vote. Now I realize they probably had the same sick feeling of oppression in their guts. The men surrounding them viewed them as less than whole, and they were incensed. My grandmother and aunt were emboldened revolutionaries pushing a boulder forward. Finally in 1920, they pushed that boulder across the finish line.

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One hundred and two years later, in 2022, we have just had that boulder rolled backward, and it is holding us down. That boulder on top of us. This is what oppression feels like. Please vote for candidates in the upcoming primary who will defend and uplift oppressed people. Let’s start pushing the boulder of oppression back where it belongs.

— Tricia Cammerzell, Chestertown

Use contraception to avoid pregnancy

Human life begins at conception that is why we use efficient contraceptives if we do not want human life to begin! The birth control pill is not an efficient contraceptive. An IUD is. So is tubular ligation. So is masturbation. So is abstinence. And for men? A condom for both contraception and sexually transmitted disease protection. For just contraception, a vasectomy.

— B.H. Meyer, Elkridge

Demise of Roe has made individual issue a state matter

At Catholic churches this past Sunday, the service concluded with a letter from Archbishop William E. Lori that applauded the overturning of Roe v. Wade because it “affirmed that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.” With respect, Roe did no such thing — all it said was that a state could not prohibit abortion, that the matter was for the woman to decide based on her own individual conscience. Archbishop Lori went on to praise the decision because it “brings the issue back to the states,” and the letter implored Catholics to “work harder” to persuade the Maryland General Assembly to prohibit abortion. In my view, the virtue of Roe was that it recognized that abortion is a moral issue with persons of good will, including Catholics, on both sides of the issue. With the demise of Roe, the decision allows states to decide what had heretofore been a matter of individual conscience.

— John Murphy, Baltimore

Force birth should come with guaranteed income

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s determination that women are unable to know what’s best for their own reproductive health, I notice that anti-abortion groups are scrambling to show just how much support they will provide to the women forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Their idea of assistance, of course, pretty much stops with diapers and formula. So generous! Who do they think will have to be responsible for the costs of raising that child until he/she is 18 years old? On average in this country, that works out to around $233,500. Women, many of them poor, will not only have to bear this child, but will be forced to bear the costs. If all of these eager anti-abortion groups want to provide real help, the focus should be on child care, education and job training, and access to health care. If the state is now allowed to push women aside and control their wombs, then the state should provide a guaranteed annual income for those so impacted. That would be the real help they need.

— Nancy Sinclair, Towson

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You weren’t aborted

I wonder if any of the pro-choice people have ever given a thought about where would they be if their mothers had chosen abortion over their birth.

— J. Heming Baltimore

In a word: reprehensible

Although the nation has never been perfect — far from it! — the national ethos has been to move forward. Better lives for all. Equal opportunity. Equality before the law. Now that six Supreme Court justices have decided women are no longer equal in America, state by state by state, women will be treated differently.

What’s OK in Maryland is not OK in Texas. Women no longer share the full range of constitutional freedoms. They are — again — relegated to second-class citizenship in a nation that once championed equality for all.

The great post-Civil War 14th Amendment no longer applies to women.

In a word: reprehensible.

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Now that abortions will be illegal in many states because of laws that now or soon will ban them, where are the laws that Republicans at the federal and state levels are putting forth to support women who will now be forced to find alternatives to abortion, such as putting up a child for adoption? Where is the funding for additional social workers and adoption agencies? Will the Republican legislators be encouraging their supporters to open their homes to adopt these children?

Perhaps I’ve missed something, but I haven’t seen an outpouring of support to help these women from the legislators who want to prohibit or severely restrict abortions. And what about support for the medical professionals who will be needing additional resources to, among other things, help save mothers whose lives may be in danger by being forced to deliver a child? And therapeutic resources to help pregnant victims of rape?

I’m sure these proposed bills, and others to address the many issues being raised by this Supreme Court decision, have been waiting in the wings. I’m looking forward to seeing them move forward quickly.

Have I missed something here?

— Brent Flickinger, Baltimore

Blame for tragic consequences falls on six justices

I am not often sufficiently incensed by the actions of government officials, be they elected or appointed, to take pen to paper, but today is an exception. Overturning Roe v. Wade is a tragic, short sighted mistake that will take years if not decades to undo.

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Prior to Roe v. Wade, many young and occasionally even older women sought and got illegal abortions and many of these procedures ended in life threatening if not fatal consequences. The life of the unborn and all too frequently the life of the desperate mother were lost. Although this problem persisted due often to costs and social stigma, during the five decades we had Roe v. Wade, it was greatly reduced and many who might otherwise have suffered greatly or perished, were saved.

Now, with the undoing of Roe v. Wade, we will inevitably plunge back into the pre-1973 darkness when abortions were performed in backrooms and dank basements under unsanitary conditions by unskilled shysters who took the money, did the job and disappeared. The young woman, often a teenager, was left contaminated, bleeding and helpless; afraid to go to her parents let alone to a hospital.

And so I say to the six Supreme Court justices: The tragic, heartbreaking consequences of this decision are squarely in your hands. Just because abortions will likely become illegal in many states, doesn’t mean they will stop. Desperate women young and older, rich or poor, will still seek abortions and get them, probably at nearly the same rate as before, just now with much greater risks. Not only will they face life threatening physical, emotional and medical consequences but now they may also face criminal prosecution.

I like to think we live in an enlightened society, but with this action by the U.S. Supreme Court, we are taking a huge leap backward to where even contraception may become illegal.

— John Martin, Lutherville

Protecting the lives of the unborn

I appreciate the Supreme Court justices who voted to protect the lives of the unborn. Americans and people worldwide cannot take the life of another. Babies in a mother’s womb should be afforded the same protection. I thank God that our justices respect everyone’s God-given right to life (yours, mine, our children’, everyone’s) and believe that God will bless them immensely for doing what is right!

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— Mary Christina Lears, Catonsville

For American women, it’s full battle rattle

I may be anti-abortion and pro-life, but I’m also pro-woman. When the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, I perceive a war on women has begun. Furthermore, when Justice Clarence Thomas hopes to reverse rulings on contraceptives, battle lines are drawn.

As a student of military history, I believe SCOTUS hopes to dissolve advances women have achieved since gaining control of our bodies. And when the anti-Roe justices proclaim abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, I beg to differ. The Fourth Amendment makes this clear: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

To mandate what a person does with their body is therefore unconstitutional. You cannot be a “person” without a body! And what will the 24 states who have outlawed abortion rule regarding chemically terminating early pregnancy? Such procedures are done in the privacy of one’s home, so again it’s constitutionally protected.

Justice Thomas’ plea to revisit Griswold v. Connecticut is proof efforts are afoot to send women back to the time contraception was outlawed. I’m old enough to remember. Even certain vitamins were forbidden in fear they might be used as an abortifacient. The jack boot visions of red states could even lead to women dying. Today in Europe, there are countries where a woman is denied lifesaving procedures even when her life is in peril. The Republic of Malta comes to mind.

It’s time women study military strategy and read the work of Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese general who taught tactics. One of his best maxims was, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you needn’t fear the result of a hundred battles.” So when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the statewide closure of his offices in celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling, it’s time all Americans pay attention. The State of Maryland, where abortion is legal, laws must assure every provider is protected, and an attack on Planned Parenthood facilities or the like should be ruled domestic terrorism. So for American women from now on, it’s “full battle rattle!”

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— Rosalind Ellis, Baltimore City

Ruling will only serve to cause harm

To those anti-abortionists who believe no women’s rights have been harmed by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade (“Abortion decision a ‘sucker punch’,” June 27) I would ask: What — or whom — is served by forcing a woman to bring an unwanted child into a world that is already overwhelmed with unwanted children?

Anti-abortionists claim to ensure that women experiencing an unwanted pregnancy will receive the physical and emotional supports that will enable them to deliver and care for a child they do not want. Tell that to a single mother of three without a job or child care.

Given that child poverty rates have bedeviled our society for decades, and remain intractable despite our so-called “safety net,” it’s not likely that pro-life assurances will do much, if anything, to protect the well-being of pregnant women and the children they are forced to bear.

And it will certainly do nothing to protect the hard-won constitutional right to reproductive choice guaranteed women for the past half century.

This egregious judicial decision will only serve to cause unnecessary harm to countless women, deepen the divisions that are destroying our democracy, and haunt our society for years to come.

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— Howard Bluth, Baltimore

Trump’s legacy: returning governance to the states

Initially, when the decision was leaked, I did not favor the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as I have always felt our nation’s focus on abortion overshadowed social and economic issues that needed to be more thoroughly addressed, such as violence, education and mental health — areas that affect every citizen on a daily basis. However, after reading the opinion, I must support the overturning.

More important than any one issue is the protection of our Constitution as to rights conferred and rights not conferred. The interpretation by the courts needs to be strict and as written and not massaged “for the times.” Rewriting the Constitution is no different from rewriting history; it’s dead wrong. The federal government has gained too much power over our lives, with its insatiable desire to control all we do and who we are allowed to be. As the forefathers designed the Constitution, powers to exercise and manage our rights are granted to the states, which is exactly what this decision does. There is no question, within the Constitution: nowhere does the right to abortion appear. There is also no question, whether right, wrong, or indifferent, that Donald Trump changed the course of history, which will reverberate for generations to come. Undoubtedly, the right of state government to govern the people will be the ultimate outcome of Mr. Trump’s nominations to the Supreme Court — exactly our forefathers’ desire to limit the overreaching power of the federal government, and the path to tyranny.

— Gary R. Gamber, Reisterstown

We should have had a referendum on state-oversight of abortion

Coming from a right of center perspective (social libertarian, fiscal conservative), I support the notion that people should be given the right to make their own life choices insofar as they don’t affect the livelihood/well-being/safety of others. On the other hand, I do understand the federalist legal argument that contentious issues, like abortion, should be devolved to the states and addressed through the democratic process. However, if this is to be devolved to the states, it is my perspective that this should only be done through a referendum, not through a gubernatorial edict.

The two most difficult aspects of the Roe v. Wade repeal to digest are 1.) state laws that don’t make exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother and 2.) the bait and switch strategy that the newly confirmed Supreme Court justices employed in discussing the importance of precedent in the public hearings and in private conversations with Senators. Both topics warrant long discussions, but, in short, I would implore anyone who doesn’t believe in the exceptions stated above to speak with someone who has experienced this reality. Likewise, at least two of the newly appointed justices strongly affirmed the notion that Roe v. Wade was settled law. It leaves me with the disheartening feeling that getting on the Supreme Court was more important than personal integrity.

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Stepping away from the abortion issue and the Supreme Court decision, I am not alone in the notion that the Republican Party is hopelessly unrecognizable. There are not enough leaders like Susan Collins, Linda Murkowski, Tim Scott or Mitt Romney in the party. Liz Cheney, who many on the left, prior to her involvement in the Jan. 6 commission, considered the scourge of the earth, has demonstrated tremendous courage in her role as the top Republican on the House panel investigating the attack on the Capitol. She is in the fight of her life in the upcoming Wyoming primary and is down 30 points in the most recent poll. Her party doesn’t reward those who do the right thing.

I believe that this is an opportunity for the national Democratic Party to find its inner voice of moderation. Elections are decided in the suburbs where there is a huge swath of centrist voters. Detach from the Sanders/Warren wing of the party and support candidates who can capture this vital center. Divisiveness is the current watchword of our society. Unity is strength and I believe that only the Democratic Party can make this happen.

— Neal W. Bonner, Ellicott City

A house divided against itself cannot stand

In examining a map of states where abortion is legal and those where restrictions are being imposed, the words of Jesus, co-opted by Lincoln quickly came to mind: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” As American opinion reaches one of its largest divisions since the Civil War, abortion-seeking women might make Maryland into a stop on the 21st century’s version of the Underground Railroad.

— Paul L. Newman, Merion Station, Pennsylvania

‘Please do not emanate in the penumbra’

To say that the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a travesty would be an understatement. The major premise for Roe’s demise was that the “right to privacy” is not mentioned in the Constitution.

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The 1973 Roe decision was based in part on the landmark Griswald v. Connecticut decision in 1965 that overturned a law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives to married couples. The justices based their decision that the right to privacy is inferred in the First, Third, Fourth, Ninth and Fourteenth amendments. In the written majority opinion, Justice William Douglas wrote that although the right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, there are “emanations” and “penumbras” in the aforementioned amendments. In a concurring opinion, other justices found the right to privacy outright in the Ninth Amendment. Both the Griswald and Roe decisions were voted overwhelmingly in favor of the right to privacy 7-2.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined the majority in overturning Roe v. Wade, wrote that there were other established court decisions that should be subject to review, “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’ … we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.” Griswald was cited.

Is it at all possible that overturning Griswald v. Connecticut could be on the agenda for this arch conservative court? Hangs a sign in the office of Justice Clarence Thomas: “Please do not emanate in the penumbra.”

— Otts Laupus, Elkridge


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