Alito's way

The language the judge used while supporting spousal notification.

Rebecca Traister
October 31, 2005 7:35PM (UTC)

In 1991 Judge Alito wrote a dissenting opinion in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey) that struck down a Pennsylvania law requiring women to notify their husbands before getting an abortion. The line from that dissent that's getting quoted most often: The Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands knowledge because of perceived problems -- such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands previously expressed opposition -- that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion."

Of course, the Pennsylvania Legislature could also have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to not tell their husbands because their husbands might beat the crap out of them. Or that their husbands do not in fact have any legal say in what they do with their body. Or that women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry, which is how the Supreme Court wound up putting it when the case got to it.

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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