Are Women Human?

We may be human, but we are not persons under the United States Constitution, according to that militantly anti-female Justice, Anton Scalia. The Fourteenth Amendment defines as “citizens” all persons born in the United States, but Scalia says women are not included in the intent of the text and the amendment does not protect us or our rights.

Here’s the text:”All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

If we are not persons under this Amendment, we do not have the right to the equal protection of the laws.  Period.  We are back to where we were thirty years ago when we tried to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, because each state had its own set of laws defining women’s rights, or the lack thereof, and Scalia is happy to see us struggle state by state to try to establish our rights.

Scalia’s statement foreshadows his decision to back Wal-Mart against the million plus women suing the mega-corp for back pay.  It also underscores his frequently articulated opposition to abortion and reproductive rights for women.  We aren’t persons, we are therefore not citizens with full rights, we are merely the possessors of ovaries and uteri.

I am angry but I also feel helpless.  If anyone out there reading this has suggestions for action, PLEASE write in!

  • Anonymous

    I saw this news earlier and had the same reaction! Other than working for the reelection of President Obama in 2012, I don’t know what to do. You can’t recall a Supreme, can you?

  • I see nothing in that text that specifies male or female. Perhaps that’s because I’m of the female persuasion, which has addled my brain? Is this Scalia person clairvoyant in his knowledge of the intent of the text, or did he write it? (Is my Canadianism showing?) I have no suggestions for action…. at least, nothing legal.

  • I’m with Bag Lady on this. What are we missing?

  • Ninjanurse

    Imagine if the Supremes had not interpreted the Constitution to rule in Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education. Imagine the vicious state to state fights.
    Scalia has made it clear we need to revive the Equal Rights Amendment.

  • I won’t pretend to read Scalia’s mind–in fact, being in his mind seems as though it would make one pretty ill–but I’m guessing that women only have Constitutional privileges that were enacted post women’s suffrage, since we weren’t citizens until then. I guess we don’t have free speech, or freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, or a right to privacy, either. I love living in Iran, don’t you? Although Bag Lady and Bookwitch are spared that fate.

  • Lacarcal

    Start organizing to ratify the ERA. Scalia is not completely off base with his comments about the 14th Amendment and Women’s rRghts. Read Section 2. It introduced the word male into the Constitution where it appears 3 times. The authors of the 14th Amendment really meant all male persons.

    Also, in 1868 the Supreme Court ruled that women were person’s but the 14th Amendment did not grant them the right to vote. (Minor v. Happerstett). That’s why women had to ratify the 19th amendment. Voting is the only Constitutionally protected right women women have.

  • Asa

    Sad. Things like this makes me happy I’m not american.

  • Joneseytiger – I’m taking a wild guess here that you’re a man. If a woman has no rights, then her unborn fetus is even lower on the totem pole, wouldn’t you think?

    Sadly, your double negative makes it difficult to understand your comment.

    “…WHO, AS IS NOT YET UNBORN,…” — being ‘not yet unborn’ would actually be already born, right? (I know, it’s semantics, but it makes it difficult to take you seriously) So, if you actually meant someone who has already been born, I am forced to agree with you – they deserve the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. BUT if you are talking about a fetus, then we are on totally different pages. Aren’t there enough poor, starving children in the world? Are you willing to take on the responsibility of caring for all those poor, unwanted fetuses once they arrive in the world? Do you honestly think that a woman makes the abortion decision lightly? Would you rather see those women abandon their unwanted newborn in a dumpster somewhere? Would you rather see those children raised in an abusive home?
    Are you also a huge supporter of this Scalia person and his position that women are not persons?
    I don’t want to get into an argument – just wondering if you have the wherewithal to back up your opposition to abortion, or if you just needed something to rant about, and it happened to be pick on Sara day.

  • sandi

    What a compassionate and contemplative response! It’s beautifully written, inviting others to be
    equally considerate.

  • sandi

    The Bag Lady – My earlier comment was in reponse to your earlier post. So I say to you: “What a compassionate and contemplative response! It’s beautifully written, inviting others to be equally considerate.”

  • Thanks, sandi! I feel very strongly about the abortion issue and am convinced that medically superivsed abortions should be available to all women. Making abortion illegal won’t make it go away, it will only drive it underground, causing more harm. There have been several instances in my area lately of young women giving birth and abandoning the newborn in dumpsters and other places – heart-breaking!

  • Annikabryn

    What? When did this happen? Who is this guy? So what will happen to female senators and the Secretary of State, who I imagine should be a person? And – does Michelle Obama know? 😉

  • Bag Lady, thank you for your brave and thoughtful comments here. And you are right about the incidence of abortion. According to the Guttmacher institute, which tracks data on reproductive health, the incidence of abortion worldwide is the same whether a country outlaws the procedure or makes it legally available. Difference in abortion rates among countries relate more to access to contraception, reliable sex education, and the relative age of the population. The desire to outlaw abortion doesn’t come from a rational belief that outlawing it will eliminate the procedure, but from the sentimentalization of fetal life and a lack of respect for women and girls.

  • Anonymous

    We know from Prohibition in the 1930’s in the U.S. that outlawing anything doesn’t make it go away.

    For me, religion is mainly a dream about how people would like the world to be. Justice Scalia is a Roman Catholic, so no surprise there.

  • Zanyst

    Does this mean it is okay to abort a female fetus but not a male fetus?

  • Ash

    Time for those remaining three states to ratify the ERA.

  • Ash

    You seem angry and irrational.

  • Ash

    He did us a favor though, you have to admit. I’m sure he didn’t intend it but … now so many more people are going to want to pass the ERA. It’s a little hard to sit on one’s haunches feeling protected by the 14th amendment when in reality that protection is not guaranteed and that’s what feminists have been doing for the last 30 years. Time to change.

  • Ash

    I think you’re absolutely right, Bag Lady, given that section 2 of the 14th amendment specifies males as opposed to females while section 1 specifies persons. However, be that as it may, the constitution required a separate amendment for female voting rights, which suggests that the 14th amendment never intended to apply to women. It’s profoundly sad that men disregarded women so much that women were not even discussed when the 14th amendment was written. There wasn’t even a debate regarding women as persons. Women were simply assumed not to qualify as persons and the men in charge were so certain of this, apparently, that no one questioned it. Here we are in 2011 and women pay their taxes and get punished for their crimes just like men but aren’t represented by the U.S. Constitution. Insanity, if you ask me.

  • Ash

    Oh, and something else to consider. The majority of the U.S. population (51 percent) isn’t protected by the Constitution. The majority of the U.S. population do not have the protected right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What does that say about the United States as a country? I wonder if people really think about this very often. For the majority of the population to be denied basic rights suggests that the core values this country is supposedly founded upon are an illusion.

  • Ash, thanks for all these helpful posts.


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