Roe v. Wade is on its last leg. The impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal partial-birth abortion ban is clear to all of us who have been deeply involved in these cases. The pro-abortion forces are panicking. Justice Ginsberg, in her angry dissent, states the importance of this case best when she says, “For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman’s health.” Ginsberg is right in this one statement – it is an absolutely historic occasion. The majority’s 39-page opinion has provided a roadmap to those who stand for life.
The Court’s decision is a tremendous victory to the pro-life community in several ways. First, states can pass laws requiring abortion doctors to give explicit information to potential clients about how the abortion is performed. Second, health and safety regulations that apply to other doctors need not exempt abortion doctors. Third, this case gives a shot of adrenaline to energize the pro-life movement, which will be a major influence on the presidential election.
Pro-life forces have often argued that women are harmed by abortion and that harm is magnified when the women do not know what abortion really is. Page 29 of the Court’s opinion recognizes the fact that “some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. … Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”
The Court has provided states a unique opportunity to take immediate action and enact informed-consent laws to protect the unborn and also to protect women from hasty and uninformed decisions. Abortion doctors should be required to give women an accurate description of the procedure in detail. These laws are our best chance of decreasing the number of victims of abortion in America.
The Court also noted (on page 33) that “the law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice, nor should it elevate their status above other physicians in the medical community.” This statement is an invitation to enact clinic regulations that match those of other medical facilities. Oftentimes, abortion clinics have been subject to fewer regulations because of the fear that such restrictions constitute an “undue burden” on the “right” to abortion.
The most important effect of this decision could be the most lasting. What a difference one Justice makes! This case was 5-4 in favor of the ban only because Justice Alito replaced Justice O’Connor. This example is “Exhibit A” for the importance of making sure that we have a president who will appoint judges who uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. The pro-life community must take advantage of the window of opportunity to impact the future of this nation. If we miss this opportunity of a lifetime, we will die with the blood of the unborn on our hands. But if we act decisively, we will witness the demise of Roe v. Wade during our lifetime.
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Anita Staver is an attorney and president of Liberty Counsel, a nationwide public interest law firm dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. Liberty Counsel filed amicus briefs in the partial-birth abortion cases on behalf of the Association of Pro-Life Physicians and nurse Jill Stanek.