It’s been over four decades since Roe v. Wade and the companion case, Doe v Bolton, the Supreme Court decisions that made abortion legal in all 50 states for any reason, through all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy. Yet it remains unsettled. Why?
Roe was a case based on legal quicksand. In 1973, the majority on the high court found a new constitutional right hiding in the “penumbra of the Bill of Rights.” For the uninitiated, penumbra is the secondary shadow the moon casts on the earth during a solar eclipse. In other words, the Supreme Court made it up. So if the right to abortion can be found lurking around in the secondary shadows of the Bill of Rights, how many more are lurking around out there? Scary isn’t it?
The Roe decision has troubled many of our greatest legal minds on both the right and the left. Shortly before his retirement in 1986, Chief Justice Warren Burger, who joined Harry Blackmun in that decision, suggested that Roe be “reexamined.”
In a 2007 interview, Justice John Paul Stevens admitted that Roe “create(d) a new doctrine” that really “didn’t make sense.” He lamented that if Blackmun “could have written a better opinion, (that) … might have avoided some of the criticism.”
Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox wrote in his book, “The Role of the Supreme Court in American Government,” “Neither historian, nor layman, nor lawyer will be persuaded that all the prescriptions of Justice Blackmun are part of the Constitution.”
So what would happen if Roe were overturned? The issue simply would go back to the states where abortion would remain legal in certain parts of the country. In this modern age of transportation, travel is easy and affordable Why, then, is this such a big deal for abortion advocates?
It is because that 1973 court simply sidestepped the central issue of when life begins. While that court could claim ignorance, that simply is not the case now. Technology has now given us a window to the womb. It is now a scientific fact: The unborn child is alive, human and unique.
It is ironic that while Roe was being decided, an amazing new technology known as realtime ultrasound imaging was being used for the very first time. In 1976, the first scientific papers on the new technology appeared. Ultrasound is now common. It allows mothers and fathers and their doctors to view children at various stages in a pregnancy. We can see the gender, observe a preborn’s activities and spot problems.
Ultrasound was followed by the development of fiber optics, which allows doctors to perform delicate surgeries on these tiny patients before they are born.
It is completely illogical that in one operating room a doctor may be performing an abortion while in an adjoining operating room a doctor may be performing an operation to save the life of a preborn of the same gestational age.
Little wonder that in 1983, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in a dissent, “The Roe framework is clearly on a collision course with itself.” However, the Supreme Court has gone to great extremes to avoid this collision.
That is the reason so many states are now passing new abortion laws that are designed to force that collision, and abortion advocates are tying themselves in knots. They vow to defend Roe at all costs and elect a president who will only appoint abortion ideologues to federal courts. If the Constitution is trashed in the process, so be it – but why go to those lengths? The answer is in the numbers.
Since Roe there have been over 60 million reported abortions in the U.S. Informal surveys tell us that approximately five people are involved in every abortion decision: the mother, father, parent(s), teacher or friend(s) perhaps. That’s 300 million people with this blood on their hands, or well over the adult population of the U.S.
We can safely say that at least half of all living adults have already dealt with this issue. Abortion is sold as a quick and easy solution to an immediate problem; however, for most, it is just the beginning of a lifetime of regret. Many have confronted their mistake and found forgiveness. Others work very hard to keep the reality of what an abortion is from entering their minds. They will do most anything to avoid the issue of when life begins.
That is why so many women and men become hardened pro-choice activists. That is why they fight so hard to defend the indefensible. The more abortions performed, the more their abortion decision is validated, or so it seems. That is why this issue divides America.