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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Roe v. Wade: The Most Important Issue in the World?

So much has been made of the assertion that Samuel Alito would act to overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court that you might think that doing so would be a really big deal, maybe even a super-duper big deal, in the parlance of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Liberals hold Roe in such high regard that they use it as a test of who is human and who isn’t. If you don’t believe that women have a Constitutional right to kill their developing children at the drop of a hat, you really aren’t completely human, and barely have a right to exist, let alone deserve a seat on the Supreme Court.

Roe legalized abortion everywhere in the U.S., enabling women to end a pregnancy because, for example, they don’t like that they got pregnant, they don’t like the gender of the child or the color of its eyes, or because mom and dad didn’t act responsibly with the abundant means to prevent pregnancy, or (in a few cases) where those measures failed.

But a child, whether created deliberately in a loving relationship or in the heat of a careless moment with a hot stranger, still has the potential to be the next Einstein, van Gogh, Beethoven, Shakespeare, or Washington.

The party line is that overturning Roe would outlaw abortion, sending thousands, nay millions, of unhappily pregnant women into back alleys and butcher shops to have the undesired “things” removed from their bodies. We are led to believe that these women are so distraught over getting pregnant against their will—though not necessarily despite their own actions—that they will surely risk their lives and/or health with an unsafe back-alley procedure. Roe, we are told, protects them from that inevitability.

It is a protection without a justification. What women really need protection from is not just an unwanted child, as there are other means to address that situation, such as contraception and adoption. They need protection when pregnancy is the result of a crime like rape or incest, or when a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, or would pose a serious health hazard to her. Most people would not argue with allowing abortions in such compelling cases.

But the truth that abortion advocates do not discuss out loud is that overturning Roe v. Wade would not outlaw abortion. It would merely return the nation to the place it was 30 years ago before an activist Supreme Court found a non-existent right to privacy huddled deep within the U.S. Constitution, and hiding still deeper a Constitutional right for women to have abortions if they want to. Before Roe, abortion was a state issue, as it should be today. Instead, we have had dictated to us that every state, regardless of the wishes of its citizens, must allow abortion on demand, as legislated by the U.S. Supreme Court, courtesy of Justices Blackmun, Burger, Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall and Powell.

Whether Judge Alito secretly wants to overturn Roe no one but the Judge knows for sure. But should that be his desire, and should that opportunity present itself and a majority of the Court decide that Roe should be overturned, the world will not come to an end, and women will not be forced to subject themselves to back-alley abortions, they will merely have to find a state where the citizens have decided to allow this grisly practice.

The uproar over the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade is indeed a tempest in a teapot. It was used as an excuse to assault an honorable jurist, who properly refused to be forced by unscrupulously ideological inquisitors to discuss matters he shouldn’t discuss, and it was used to malign a man whose lack of the correct ideological agenda is what makes him unsuitable in the eyes of those inquisitors for a position he is eminently qualified to hold.


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2 comments:

Buffalo said...

Laws, such as Roe V Wade are not repressive or intrusive. A woman is free to choose not to have an abortion.

James Howard Shott said...

Buff, you said that “A woman is free to choose not to have an abortion,” which is a fair point. But even if something is not repressive and not intrusive, its existence is not necessarily justified.

Roe is a court ruling. Court rulings are supposed to address constitutionality and define the parameters of laws, not establish laws or set policy. The Court overstepped its separation of powers boundaries when it made this ruling.

Roe imposes on every state the obligation to permit unfettered abortion, regardless of the sentiment of a majority of a state’s voters, or even the will of the people of the entire nation, who have never been asked to vote this measure up or down. I believe it is therefore “oppressive” (if not “repressive”) and intrusive.

However, not only is Roe improper because it is judge-made law instead of legislatively created law, it is a reprehensible tool that is used by the Left as an ideological battering ram, and a criterion—a litmus test—for determining someone’s fitness to sit on the Supreme Court.