Dec 6, 2021
Author Amy Sohn on the country’s tortured reproductive politics
'Anthony Comstock is crowing wherever he is,' says Sohn, referring to the Comstock Law's author, after last week's Dobbs arguments
During the Supreme Court oral arguments last week in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it became clear that a majority of Supreme Court justices, based on their line of questioning will use the Dobbs case to in effect overturn both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—decided in 1973 and 1992 respectively.
Such a potential decision would mean that the right to an abortion as we have come to know it in America will effectively vanish.
Back in July, Brooklyn-based author and journalist Amy Sohn was interviewed on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast” in a discussion of her first book of narrative non-fiction: “The Man Who Hated Women: Sex, Censorship, and Civil Liberties in the Gilded Age” The titular woman-hater was Anthony Comstock, an anti-vice activist and U.S. Postal Inspector behind the Comstock Law, passed in 1873, which penalized the mailing of contraception (and information about contraception) with long sentences and steep fines.
In last of the past week’s news, we are resurfacing this podcast episode—which is both an informative and oddly entertaining look at this country’s tortured relationship with women’s reproductive rights. I reached out to Amy for a comment on the the Dobbs oral arguments. She wrote back that “Anthony Comstock is crowing wherever he is.”
“We are now entering an abortion climate more restrictive than it was when Anthony Comstock was born in 1844. Back then state restrictions on abortion were designed to protect women, not fetal tissue,” she writes. “We know for certain that women will become ill, suffer needless pain, take their own lives, and die of unsafe abortions. The Trump Court is communicating loud and clear that the lives, choices, bodies, and futures of American women are worthless.”
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