Charles Dickens published Oliver Twist in 1838 – the same year Slavery was abolished and Indentureship began. Slavery, of course, had been “legal” for hundreds of years up to then, and, of course, so was Indentureship – described by some as “a new form of slavery” – for another 79 years. So, we should appreciate Dickens’s cynicism about the law in a scene from Oliver Twist.
When poor Mr. Bumble, the henpecked spouse of a domineering wife, is told in court that “…the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”, he replied: “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass – a idiot”!!! And this brings us to the contretemps in the US over their 49-year-old Supreme Ct decision on abortion in Roe v Wade.
Your Eyewitness has already commented on our predilections to import these American idiosyncrasies into our dear mudland. Now, the ironic thing is that Roe was originally just a cynical trope for racist Christian fundamentalists. They objected to the Government intervening via Brown v Board of Education to desegregate Southern schools so Blacks wouldn’t be relegated to a substandard education.
They couldn’t do anything about THAT decision, so they picked abortion as another battleground to fight state “intrusion”!! However, the Court ruled that women have a “right of privacy” over their bodies, and could choose to have abortions in the first “trimester”. After that, it became a question of fact in deciding between the rights of the foetus and the mother. For instance, if the mother’s life is threatened, or if there was rape or incest etc, the doctors might recommend abortion. The right-wing fundamentalists want an absolute ban on abortion, and from a leaked decision that’s before the Supremes, it now looks like Roe v Wade might soon be dumped.
Now, what does this have to do with us in Guyana? Well, the defeat of the Democrats in the US Senate 49-51 to pass a law to allow abortion along the Roe v Wade decision offers a clue. You see, Roe v Wade is an INTERPRETATION of the Law – where there was none!! The “right of privacy” was plucked out of thin air!! At that time, there was severe criticism about judicial activism – and that the law was a ass!!
Congress had never passed any law on the subject!! So, if the Democrats had been successful, there would’ve been a law that pronounced on the matter!! Voice of the people through their representatives, and all that!!
In Guyana, our Parliament has passed the “Termination of Pregnancy Act”, so we’re ahead of the Americans.
No need to get our drawers in an (American) knot!! The law isn’t an ass!!
…and burden of proof
Your Eyewitness is sick to his stomach on this recent development on the Neesa Gopal horrendous murder. He’s very much in agreement that, under the rule of law, there must be due process for everyone, to prevent railroading. But is there any doubt that that cold-hearted mother and her lover did murder that poor child? Hadn’t the child made reports to the Police that the man was abusing her? Hadn’t the mother turned a blind eye?
But what’s unfolding is that the case presented by the state was deficient – procedurally and substantively. The CCJ pointed out that the two defendants should’ve been tried separately, and that there was no clear chain of proof that a dumbbell – supposed to be the “smoking gun” – was used by the male lover.
There are too many of these cases being thrown out; we gotta do better. The training of Police prosecutors would help, but it also comes down to better CSIs.
To those kvetching about Bolsonaro’s credentials, let’s remember that even if the ICJ rules in our favour on Venezuela’s bullying controversy, no matter who rules Brazil, we need them in our corner!!