The reproduction wars continue this week in Indiana, an appropriate time to read “Sex and The Constitution” by Geoffrey R. Stone who has written an uncommon page-turner about our most beloved document (and about our favorite topic.)
Tuesday, June 13, before Federal Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Indiana again will face off against abortion, as it argues for greater parental control over minors seeking abortion despite a judge having determined that the minor is competent to decide. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and its client, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, disagree.
This case is scheduled at 1:30 in courtroom 216, Birch Bayh Federal Building, Ohio and Meridian.
According to Stone, the Supreme Court was not involved in abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, homo sexuality, and sexual expression in public, until 1957 when, in Roth v. United States, it affirmed the conviction of Samuel Roth for illegally publishing, promoting and selling obscene materials. That was a minor opening in the dam, which quickly moved to flood stage with Roe v Wade, and continuing to contemporary sensitivities that effectively require every candidate for the Supreme Court, circuit courts of appeal, and possibly federal district courts, to state or hint how they will rule about abortion.
Stone thus declares we are facing a “constitutional revolution” in which government is asked to dictate matters previously assigned to established religions. It has been a struggle in which “American law has called into question the constitutionality of a broad range of government regulations of sexual behavior …” and “the United States Supreme Court has found itself confronting fundamental questions about the nature of sexual freedom, the meaning of liberty, equality, and privacy, the legitimacy of government efforts to dictate sexual morality, and the appropriate role of religion in public life.”
Barker faces an element of that “revolution,” albeit minor compared to the general public policy of permitting abortion, but significant as anti-abortion advocates look for indirect methods to restrict individual choice, and to bring government firmly on their side in their constant battle to have the support of government for personal religious beliefs.
I hope Barker will throw this away, as courts also have thrown out silly requirements for ultra sounds and mandates that physicians performing abortions must have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. My naïve belief is that if those zealous advocates read “Sex and The Constitution,” and grapple with the frequent changes in attitudes toward reproductive issues since the Greeks and before, they will become more modest and less aggressive in attempting to impose their personal beliefs on the rest of us.