Dawn Johnsen, another of President Barack Obama's remarkable nominees, discovered a way to make a person disappear by making two persons into one.
Johnsen is not a magician. She is a Yale-educated lawyer who once served as legal director for the National Abortion Rights Action League. If the full Senate follows the lead of the Democratic majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which last week approved her nomination along party lines, she could be confirmed as director of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which interprets the meaning of the law for administration officials.
As a lawyer, Johnsen has crusaded against waterboarding terrorists and in favor of denying unborn children any legal recognition at any stage of development. She essentially views an unborn child as property of the mother.
Her crusade against babies arose from her conviction that males have exploited the child-bearing capacity of women to create a society in which the child-bearing caste is relegated to demeaning roles -- such as motherhood.
In a 1986 essay in the Yale Law Journal, Johnsen argued that the United States became a sexist society because men were able to drive women out of public life using female fertility as an excuse.
"State and social regulations concerning reproductive differences have served to create and reinforce separate and unequal sex-segregated spheres in the United States," Johnsen wrote. "Women's ability to bear children has been used to systematically disadvantage women by defining their 'proper' role in terms of that ability. Social determinations concerning the reproductive difference underlie our present patriarchal society in which men and male norms have dominated the 'public' sphere, the locus of political and economic power, while women have been relegated to the 'private' sphere, where they provide socially necessary but socially unrewarded work of care for children and home. Conformity to prescribed sex roles has been accomplished through imposition of economic, social and legal constraints, such as protectionist legislation."
By this last phrase, Johnsen meant legislation aimed at protecting babies.