WBAI-FM Upcoming Program
Joy of Resistance

Thu, Jun 23, 2022 11:00 AM


As we await the Supreme Court Decision that may overturn Roe v Wade and result in abortion becoming illegal in 26 states, we speak with an abortions rights legal scholar and have a free-wheeling discussion about what to expect next with a journalist history professor.

SEGMENT 1: Professor Peggy Cooper Davis

We will be speaking with NYU law professor Peggy Cooper Davis about her article in The Economist, which argues that overturning abortion rights ignores the freedom awarded after slavery's end--and that the Reconstruction amendments (13th, 14th and 15th Amendments) enshrined bodily and family autonomy. In essence, a new theory on where our reproductive rights are situated in the Constitution.

We will be speaking with Professor Davis on our program in the first segment.

In her original theory about the Constitutional basis of reproductive rights, she argues the following:

That many personal rights were not spelled out in the original Constitution, because the founders were trying to protect the institution of slavery. The constitution is vague about personal and familial rights and the Bill of Rights deals with infringements on individuals by the government, but not by other individuals (slave holders) or the states. 

That because of the extreme conditions of lack of bodily autonomy experienced by enslaved people, specifically reproductive autonomy, (enslaved people were 'bred', raped and had their children sold away from them), the guaranteeing of freedom for the formerly enslaved, necessarily implied bodily autonomy and the right to procreate (or not) as one saw fit.

From Professor Davis' article:

"Responding to the oppressive regime of slavery, and its devastating impact on enslaved people’s bodily autonomy, drafters of the Reconstruction amendments placed reproductive and family autonomy squarely within constitutional protection. The constitution was thrice amended. The 13th amendment prohibited slavery or involuntary servitude; the 15th amendment prohibited denial of the vote on grounds of race, colour or previous condition of servitude; and the grand and sweeping 14th amendment conferred nearly universal citizenship, guaranteed citizenship‘s privileges and immunities, and protected the lives, liberty and property of all persons against undue infringement."

Professor Davis describes the resistances to the lack of any personal rights to reproductive and family autonomy: women using an assortment of herbs to prevent conception; a man who remained abstinent rather than father a child who would be enslaved--even infanticide and suicide as extreme means of taking back control of p

She ends the article with:

"During slavery black people's bodies were controlled by others and their reproductive autonomy was nonexistent. It is surely fitting—and consistent with the anti-slavery spirit with which the Reconstruction Amendments are imbued—that people under the jurisdiction of the reconstructed United States hold the right to choose when and whether they will procreate."

SEGMENT 2: Carrie N. Baker

In our second segment we will speak with Carrie N. Baker, the Bauman Professor of American Studies and part of the Women and Gender Studies Department at Smith College. She is a journalist writing on many abortion-related topics, many of which appear in Ms. Magazine.

We will cover topics ranging from: protecting access to Medication abortion in a post-Roe U.S.; internet surveillance of women if abortion becomes illegal; can President Biden issuing executive orders ease the abortion crisis; what are the forms of resistance available to us and "what's voting got to do with it?" We'll be giving out websites and other information, so please have your pencils or computers handy.



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