The woman I have been living with full-time for the last 62 plus years is very opinioned. By that, I mean she has no trouble expressing her feelings and, if so inclined, will disembowel you with a winning smile. In the same vein, I had as my supervisor, the chair of the litigation department in a major law firm who could fire you and you felt you had gotten an early Christmas present. For the last decade, I have written this commentary without restraint– my objectives being the revealing and dissection of issues facing our national security and combating counterterrorism. It may seem, therefore, like an untenable stretch to segue from national security issues to the headlines whipping across every local and national paper and every radio /television network: the Supreme Court rewriting decades of history and sending Roe v. Wade to the “has been” category. My wife has been unbridled in her assertion that we are heading into a very dangerous post Roe period. Many decades ago, attacking a writing assignment from my newly anointed professor in the English Department of NYU, I wrote a very long, tedious poem called: xyz My professor, John F. Morgan, called it a very long tedious “propaganda piece”.
The essence of that monologue was my attempt to describe a series of links in a chain that made up the evolution of the human race and our humanity as individuals. At the end of the day, we are each judged, as I attempted to convey, as being a portion of one of those links or a link unto itself. The rest of us get washed away with the dust. In discarding the decades of Roe, we put our very fragile nation in jeopardy. Black v. White, Slavery v. Freedom, rich v. poor, desires v. disappointments. Will we be sliding into a national security crisis with widespread violence if Roe is overturned? I predict yes.
On the day FDR died my mother miscarried for the second time. An elderly friend of my father became the father of triplets at the age of 70. A woman dies in childbirth and others die without being able to ever conceive. I was conceived because my parents wanted a child. “Our” children were conceived when my wife and I jointly decided we wanted children. It was our decision if-and- when we would have children. Unlike China, where guidelines are set as to when and if you are to have a child, to the number of children you are required to “produce;” it was thought in the United States that those decisions, along with the ability to obtain an abortion, were left to the individuals involved. An important parallel issue is found in South Dakota, where lawmakers are engaged in an unrelenting attack on the rights and safety of transgender young people. Last week, that state House of Representatives passed a bill that would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth.
The political and legal landscape is changing at an unprecedent speed, and it portends a serious backlash on both sides of the argument: who decides when and if you are going to have a child, the health of our children and the issues of abortion. As that discussion escalates, I fear that as we intensify the conversation, a national security issue involving violence on a national scale will evolve. This has been confirmed in an unclassified May 13 memo by DHS’ intelligence arm, warning that threats that followed the leak of the draft opinion — targeting Supreme Court Justices, lawmakers and other public officials, as well as clergy and health care providers — “are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.” The memo continues that ‘the violence will come from both the left and right.” In essence, are we becoming two nations with more than ideological differences? It appears we are heading in that direction.
What is clear is that abortion providers and their employees are facing increased harassment and outright threats to their wellbeing, and much too often there has been actual violence. The statistics reveal that the intensity of the hostility has been increasing over the years. On New Year’s Eve an arson attack destroyed an abortion clinic in Tennessee. Three months ago, an Ohio man plead guilty to threating to murder an abortion client and bomb the clinic where she sought treatment. And the list goes on. These types of events will only increase in intensity as Roe v Wade is destroyed by our ultraconservative Supreme Court, and the ultra-right states are waiting to immediately fill the void with legislation that equates abortion with felony murder. Within days of posting this Commentary, Oklahoma passed legislation that will ban abortion from the moment of fertilization, and the attempt to codify Roe v Wade died in the Senate, as I finished this Commentary.
The National Abortion Federation’s on violence has reported: “disruption against abortion clinics found that in 2020 reports of assault and battery increased 125% compared to 2019. Death threats against abortion providers more than doubled. In 2019, clinics reported suspicious packages or hoax packages, while in 2020 they reported a whopping 27. Reports of arson, attempted bombing, vandalism, stalking, hate mail and harassing calls, as well as hate email and internet harassment, also rose.” This is a damming report and is setting out a road map with the coming demise of Roe. The enactment of restrictive anti-abortion laws by state legislatures reached a new high in the last year. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 44% of the state abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 were passed in the last decade. In 2021, states passed a record number of laws—over 100. The number of new laws in states like Arkansas and Oklahoma reached double digits. With the Supreme Court poised to uphold Mississippi’s blatantly unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban, other states, similar to Florida have followed suit and passed nearly identical provisions. Louisiana was on the cusp of adopting a measure that could have allowed a woman and her doctor, after obtaining an abortion, to be charged with murder. In Louisiana it was claimed that a woman who miscarries would be “afraid to seek treatment for fear that she and her doctor would be accused of taking abortion inducing drugs “ utilized in the process to protect the mother during medical treatment,” reports the WSJ. There about 22 states poised to ban or heavily restrict abortions.
As the political and cultural landscape is increasingly hostile to abortion – one need only look at Florida and Texas – and it appears that it is becoming acceptable to act out your objection to abortion. With that as a new backdrop to the curtailing and dismembering of abortion rights, the security issue becomes apparent. It is no longer a question of each state protecting those who support abortion rights. In some states, the state legislature is authorizing and encouraging its citizens to “snitch and turn in” their neighbors who they believe have had or have aided an abortion and receive a bounty in return. It reminds me of Nazi Germany and turning in those who you “believe” to be a “Jew.” A crime to drive one out one’s home state for an abortion; a crime to order an abortion pill from out of state? There is a call on the right for a national anti-abortion legislation. In one state, if you wish to order an out-of-state abortion remedy you must leave your home state to place the call.
At the outset, there is clear constitutional law stating the right of the individual to travel anywhere within the United States without regard to state borders. I have the right to travel between New York and New Jersey, and neither one has the right to prohibit or impede travel. That was decided by the Supreme Court back in the 30s when those affected by the dust bowl attempted to travel from the deep South to California and were stopped at the California boarder by state troopers. A series of issues emerges around the rights for those who believe in the right of a woman to control their own reproductive rights. Can a state prevent a woman by an injunction from traveling to a clinic in a supportive abortion state or nation? Can a state charge one who has obtained an abortion and any “accomplices” with a local state crime upon their return to their home state? What will be the response of the state sponsored bounty hunters? Will states like Texas and Florida protect those persons who seek an out of state abortion?
At the outset, what is needed immediately, is a national security law that makes it a federal crime to harass, intimidate, physically attack or imped those who seek or assist a in obtaining an abortion in a crime free abortion state or nation. In today’s charged political and social climate, with the willingness to engage in harassment and violence, nothing less is essential on a national level.