Making the First Amendment a bird-cage bottom liner

Berry Craig
Berry Craig

“Pro life is a lie, you don’t care if women die,” protesters have been chanting against the supreme court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

The chorus reminded me of a similarly apt observation I heard from Jeff Wiggins, Kentucky state AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer.

Said Wiggins of far-right-wing extremists who are determined to impose their draconian anti-abortion views on the rest of us: “They’re not pro life. They’re pro birth. They don’t care what happens to a mother or her child after he or she is born.”

Not coincidentally, they also believe government has no responsibility to help people who need help. They despise unions.

Professor and former labor secretary Robert Reich recently tweeted:

Speaking for millions of union members, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler tweeted, “Reproductive healthcare is a human right that everyone should have access to. It is simply wrong to weaponize this access instead of protecting all workers.”

She called the high court ruling “a devastating blow to working women and families across this country. We strongly believe that everyone should have control over their own bodies, including decisions over their personal reproductive health care.”

In another tweet, Schuler observed that ‘this is just the latest in a harmful string of attacks on our fundamental rights, including the right to vote and to collectively bargain in the workplace, and points to an alarming trend that other well–established civil rights like marriage equality may be taken away.”

Wiggins respects people of faith who oppose abortion on religious or moral grounds. So do I. He’s Baptist; I’m Presbyterian.

No one believes more strongly in freedom of religion than Jeff and I do. But the First Amendment also guarantees freedom from religion.

Many, if not most, people of faith believe that women should have sovereignty over their bodies, and that abortion is for a woman and her doctor to decide — not six reactionary Supreme Court justices joined by ultra-conservative politicians who see opposing abortion as a sure-fire way to score points with their base.

The First Amendment is one of our democracy’s core beliefs. Today, the justices’ perversion of the Constitution has turned the First Amendment and its guarantees of separation of church and state into a birdcage bottom liner.


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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)