Tag archives: Roe v Wade

What Christians Need to Know About the Case that Could Overturn Roe and Casey

by David Closson , Joy Zavalick

July 28, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Most Americans are familiar with Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Many Americans, however, have not yet heard of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, an upcoming Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe and likely return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states.

What should Americans, and especially Christians, know about Dobbs? Is it possible that Roe v. Wade could be overturned? These and other questions are important to consider as the Supreme Court prepares to reconsider its abortion jurisprudence.

Context

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, there have been an estimated 62 million abortions in the United States. The Roe decision created abortion rights on the basis of a supposed right to privacy provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. Under Roe, the Court initially established a trimester system and prevented states from restricting abortion in the first trimester. An accompanying case, Doe v. Bolton, made it almost impossible to restrict abortion in the later trimesters as well.

In 1992, the Supreme Court revisited Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It replaced the trimester system with the standard that states cannot impose an “undue burden” on pre-viability abortion. Although infants were once thought to reach viability at 28 weeks, modern medicine has determined that children can survive outside of the womb beginning around 22 weeks, thus moving the point of viability to earlier in gestation than it had been understood to be at the time of Roe.

Mississippi’s Law

In 2018, Mississippi passed the Gestational Age Act (known as HB 1510), which prohibits elective abortions post-15 weeks gestation. The law points out that America is out-of-step with international norms regarding abortion:

The United States is one (1) of only seven (7) nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the twentieth week of gestation. In fact, fully seventy-five percent (75%) of all nations do not permit abortion after twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother.

On the same day that the Gestational Age Act was signed into law, Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis filed suit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion facility in Mississippi.

A district court evaluated the Gestational Age Act and declared it to be unconstitutional on the basis that the point of a baby’s viability outside the womb was the earliest point at which the state could implement a legislative ban to protect fetal life. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, Mississippi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe and Casey, and its brief in the case calls upon the Court to overturn these two decisions, stating, “…[N]othing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”

If Roe and Casey were overturned, the question of abortion’s legality would likely fall to the states. Twenty-one states currently have laws that would immediately come into effect and restrict abortion in some manner if Roe and Casey were overturned. Ten of those states have “trigger laws” that would immediately ban all or nearly all abortions.

Christian Reflections

The Bible teaches that all people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). It also affirms the personhood of the unborn. Consequently, abortion is morally incompatible with these truths.

Probably the most well-known articulation of the Bible’s affirmation of the unborn is found in Psalm 139, where David refers to his unborn self as being fully individual, not an impersonal fetus with no moral value:

For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:13-16)

The prophet Jeremiah provides a high view of human life in the womb:

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:4-5)

Notably, the prophet is “consecrated” and “appointed” to his vocation while in utero. God explains to Jeremiah that He “formed” and “knew” him prior to this birth. The passage reveals that God had a personal relationship with the unborn prophet, similar to how He relates to him as an adult.

Other pro-life passages include Isaiah 49:1b, Luke 1:39-45, Psalm 51:5-6, Job 3:3, Judges 13:3-5, and Genesis 25:22-23.

Christians should care about the Dobbs case because it poses a serious legal challenge to a deadly practice that is incompatible with Christian ethics—abortion. We urge you to follow activity related to the Dobbs case and join us in praying that the U.S. Supreme Court would act to defend life.

For a more in-depth survey of what the Bible has to say about abortion and the personhood of the unborn, we invite you to read FRC’s helpful resource Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement. For more information on what would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned, we invite you to read our explainer on this consequential case.

Mississippi Boldly Leads the Fight to Overrule Roe

by Katherine Beck Johnson

July 27, 2021

Mississippi’s brief in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health abortion case is the latest example of a recently emboldened pro-life movement. All eyes were on Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch last week, waiting to see how she would defend her state’s 15-week abortion ban. Would Fitch be bold and mention that Roe and Casey should be overturned? Or would she try to convince the Court that the 15-week ban could be upheld under Casey?

Fitch and Scott Stewart, Mississippi’s solicitor general, exceeded all expectations when they boldly and brilliantly led the fight against Roe and Casey. Their brief convincingly explained the damage the Court’s two most deadly decisions have inflicted on our nation and demanded that the Court overturn them. “Nowhere else in the law does a right of privacy or right to make personal decisions provide a right to destroy a human life.” Mississippi’s brief called out Roe for what it is: wrong. No matter how strong of an interest women have in their own privacy, this does not extend to a right to end the life of an innocent child.

The brief’s introduction made it clear that Mississippi would be bold and aggressive in its defense of the unborn. “…[N]othing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.” The brief went on to discuss the damage inflicted on our country as a result of the judicial activism of the seven male justices who decided Roe. Mississippi did not shy away from humanizing the child in the womb:

The Court could hold that the State’s interests in protecting unborn life, women’s health, and the medical profession’s integrity are, at a minimum, compelling at 15 weeks’ gestation—when risks to women have increased considerably; when the child’s basic physiological functions are all present, his or her vital organs are functioning, and he or she can open and close fingers, make sucking motions, and sense stimuli from outside the womb; and thus when a doctor would be extinguishing a life that has clearly taken on the human form.

Mississippi reminded the Court that states are willing and should be able to protect the most vulnerable among us. Some pressured Mississippi to take a more timid approach and not ask for much, but Mississippi did the right thing by being bold. No other fight for basic human rights, such as the civil rights movement, was shy in their requests for equal rights. Thurgood Marshall was bold in his requests before the Court in Brown v. Board of Education, and now Mississippi stands boldly before the Court in its request for the state’s ability to protect the most basic right—the right to life—for the unborn. The Court did the right thing in Brown, and it should do the right thing in Dobbs.

The conclusion of the brief summarizes the harm done by judicial activism in creating a right to abortion:

The goal of constitutional adjudication is to hold true the balance between that which the Constitution puts beyond the reach of the democratic process and that which it does not.” Webster, 492 U.S. at 521 (opinion of Rehnquist, C.J.). Roe and Casey—and a viability rule—do not meet that goal. And they never can. Retaining them harms the Constitution, the country, and this Court. This Court should… overrule Roe and Casey.

Mississippi did the right thing. Now it’s the U.S. Supreme Court’s turn to do the right thing. No justice will be able to feign ignorance regarding Mississippi’s glaring request. No justice can claim that Mississippi didn’t ask for Roe to be overturned. It is time for Americans to see the true colors of every justice sitting on the Court. Dobbs is the case that should overturn Roe. If it isn’t overturned, it won’t be because Mississippi didn’t do the best job it could. There is no excuse for Roe not to be overturned now.

Embracing Modern Science Means Overturning Roe

by Joy Zavalick

July 23, 2021

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision allowing for virtually unlimited access to abortion through nine months of pregnancy. The Court justified this decision by sidestepping the matter of whether children in the womb are alive. As Justice White explained in his Roe dissent, “The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries.”

The Roe decision to prioritize mothers seeking elective abortions rests on the outdated scientific opinions available to the Court in 1973. The Court fallaciously appealed to ignorance by permitting abortion based on a lack of knowledge about when life begins. In the opinion of the Court, Justice Blackmun wrote, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. […] The judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

There can be no doubt, however, that the human understanding of the world has shifted immeasurably in the past 48 years.

In 1973, the disposable camera was 13 years away from being invented, and the rings of Neptune would not be discovered for another decade. The Walkman would not hit the market until 1979. Doctors still operated on infants without anesthesia because they were not yet aware that babies could feel pain.

In terms of science and technological advancements, the practices of 1973 ought not govern the modern world. As lessons are learned and further information is gained, it is senseless to maintain outdated practices. When DNA fingerprinting was discovered in 1984, forensic teams did not insist on maintaining their current practices for the next 50 years; rather, the technology solved its first murder case two years later.

In 2021, the science is clearer than ever that infants in the womb are alive from the point of conception. A modern understanding of DNA reveals that human zygotes have completely unique genetic compositions, determining traits from eye color to aspects of personality, from the very point that they are fertilized. A 2019 study emphasizes that light is visible to children in the womb even as their eyes are closed.

The contemporary practices of prenatal health care have greatly adapted as well. Though the point of viability was thought to be at 28 weeks in 1973, it is now known to be at 22 weeks. The most premature infant to survive was born in 1987 at just 21 weeks gestation. Fetal surgery performed on children in the womb has successfully treated a host of developmental conditions, including spina bifida. Based on the Roe decision, which refused to consider whether infants in the womb were alive, children of the same age to be born or receive operations can just as easily be electively aborted at the mother’s discretion.

The case for reevaluating the substance of Roe is clear. Just as textbooks are updated when new facts become available to ensure that children learn the most recent information, the modern Court’s rulings must be based on current knowledge rather than the claim to ignorance of the Court in 1973. Legal precedent must not triumph over the necessity to acknowledge modern science.

As the Supreme Court will soon consider a direct challenge to Roe in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they face a pivotal decision: abide by the outdated excuses of 1973, or recognize the evidence presented by modern science and act accordingly. Americans, particularly the unborn ones, deserve to live by the best modern practices of human knowledge, which unequivocally affirms that babies in the womb are alive.

For more information on why Roe should be overturned, see FRC’s issue analysis.

Joy Zavalick is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Fidelity to the Constitution Requires Roe’s Reversal

by Mary Szoch

May 27, 2021

Before joining the policy world, I taught history in Catholic schools. One of my favorite units was on the Supreme Court. Students were required to memorize the justices’ names, review various cases, and argue how the justices should rule in each case. The biggest challenge I faced as a teacher was convincing students that their determination of how justices should rule needed to be based in the United States Constitution, not in personal opinion. Sadly, this is not a problem only middle school teachers face but one confronting all Americans who recognize the role and purpose of the highest court in the land.

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to review Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—a case asking whether Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks is constitutional. The Court’s decision to review this case is terrifying pro-abortion activists across the country because not only does Dobbs have the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but if the Supreme Court justices follow their obligation to the Constitution, the Dobbs decision should overturn Roe and Casey.

In Roe, the Court argued that under the 14th Amendment, the Due Process Clause, a woman has a right to privacy, and as such, she has a constitutional right to an abortion. As part of this decision, the Court said that the states had the power to regulate abortion in the first trimester for any reason, in the second trimester in the interest of the woman’s health, and in the third trimester, the state could outlaw abortion. In the Court’s 1992 decision Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court reaffirmed Roe’s finding that a woman has the right to an abortion but changed the requirements for outlawing abortion from the trimester framework to a viability framework.

As any former student of mine should be able to attest, the words “right to privacy” that are used to justify the right to an abortion in both Roe and Casey do not appear anywhere in the Constitution—neither do the words “viability ” or “trimester.” The seven justices who ruled in favor of Roe, and the five justices who ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood fell into the same trap that plagued my 8th graders. They ruled based on their personal opinion—not on the United States Constitution.

Many have speculated that the outcome of Dobbs will be less than satisfactory to those in the pro-life movement—suggesting that the decision will likely favor a more incremental walk-back of Roe and Casey rather than a full reversal. I hope they are wrong.

If my middle school students (who were very bright, but still, middle school students) were the ones deciding Dobbs, I could understand another failure to decide an abortion case based on the Constitution. I could understand that for a third time, middle school students might substitute their own opinions and create their own framework for when and how abortion should be allowed. But the nine individuals deciding this case have been educated far beyond middle school by teachers and professors far more knowledgeable than me. In fact, these nine men and women are some of the best and the brightest this country has to offer, and more importantly, they have taken an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution.

As the Dobbs case is argued and the opinion is written, the pro-life movement must pray that the nine justices are able to recognize that overturning Roe and Casey is not a form of judicial advocacy, a decision based on religious principles, or an ideological answer to the pro-life movement. Overturning Roe and Casey is what fidelity to the Constitution requires.

Roe is Legally Flawed and Should Be Overturned

by David K.

February 26, 2021

On the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Biden reaffirmed his desire to codify Roe into federal law, reflecting the Democratic Party’s fear that Roe is nearing its end.

While the Supreme Court has yet to add an abortion case to its docket, the number of pending cases challenging key provisions in Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which affirmed the central holding of Roe, that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion) continues to grow. In light of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, legal, and legislative trends support a future reversal. This is due, in part, to Roe’s inherent legal inconsistencies. Not only did Justice Blackmun contradict himself in his majority opinion in Roe, new bodies of criminal law are incompatible with Roe’s foundational assumptions.

Former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself criticized Roe’s rationale, stating that it “went beyond the extreme ruling of the statute before the court.” Abortion advocates similarly recognize Roe’s critical flaws, mainly a lack of reasonable inference from a constitutionally enumerated right.

The contradiction within the Court’s rational is another reason to reevaluate its holding. First, it rejected the existence of an absolute right to privacy, then nine pages later made that right absolute in the first trimester of pregnancy. Two interests were at issue, the mother’s privacy interest and the state’s interest in protecting unborn persons. The Court should have ended the analysis there recognizing the compelling interest in protecting unborn persons.

The inconsistency of legal personhood is highlighted in criminal feticide laws. This is yet another indicator of its inherent incongruity. Unborn children are recognized as humans in other situations outside of abortion. For example, in 1984, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recognized unborn persons in vehicular homicide cases. Since then, 38 states have passed laws recognizing unborn victim status. Federal lawmakers followed suit, passing the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Legal scholars recognize the dilemma this legal trend poses. How can courts grant the unborn personhood in criminal law while refusing it in the context of legal abortions?

Lawsuits in response to the 2020 presidential election, civil unrest, and the Covid-19 pandemic have captured the Supreme Court’s attention for the moment, but the abortion issue will soon have its day in court. If the Court with three new justices corrects the legal inconsistencies in its previous holding, the abortion issue will likely return to the 50 state legislatures, allowing states like Alabama to reinstitute significant protections for the unborn. So long as Congress refrains from packing the Court, it will likely not be a matter of if Roe will be overturned, but when.

David K. is an intern at FRC Action.

The Plea

by Judy Lamberson Smith

January 22, 2020

*Editor’s note: This poem was written by Judy Lamberson Smith of Lakeland, Florida. It is reprinted here with permission.

All I want is a chance
To see what I might become.
To run barefoot in the grass
Feeling the warmth of the sun.

All I want is a chance
To learn to read and write,
Gaze at a starry sky,
And try to fly a kite.

All I want is a chance
To see how tall I will grow,
Pet a pup, pick a flower,
Play in newly fallen snow.

All I want is a chance
To see how far I can go in school,
Make friends, sing a song,
And learn the Golden Rule.

But I didn’t get that chance.
It all ended one day.
Don’t know why or how,
PAIN
And then I went away.

You see, I died before I was born.
Did anybody cry for me or mourn?
There were so many things to see and do.
Above all…
To know your love,
And to show my love for you.

All I wanted was a chance!

Pro-Life Speeches from the House of Representatives

by Krystle Gabele

January 16, 2014

Last night, the House of Representatives held special order speeches to commemorate the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Below are the speeches from the floor of the House:

Where is the outrage? — Forty years after Roe, the problem of so-called “back alley” abortions has still not been resolved.

by Anna Higgins

March 27, 2013

Prior to Roe, our society was fed the line by pro abortion advocates that in order to rid ourselves of dangerous “back alley” abortion procedures, abortion must be legalized. Forty years later, the practice of abortion remains unsafe, unsanitary, and largely unregulated. What we no longer have, however, is the voice of abortion proponents crying out for safer procedures.

Now that abortion has been legalized, it seems these ardent pro-abortionists no longer have a real interest in seeing to it that abortions are performed in safe, regulated environments. In fact, it is the leaders of the pro-life movement who are standing up for women exposed to horrific conditions in abortion facilities. Abortion proponents, on the other hand, are coming out of the woodwork to oppose such safety measures.

This month the notorious abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, is on trial for seven counts of first-degree murder as well as multiple counts of conspiracy, criminal solicitation and violation of a state law that forbids abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy, following a federal drug raid that revealed much more than prescription drug violations. The raids revealed “blood on the floors, parts of aborted children stored in jars… padlocked emergency exits and broken and inoperable emergency equipment,” (AUL, Defending Life, 2012). The murder charges stem from the death of one adult patient and the discovery that Gosnell had been delivering live babies and killing them by severing their spinal cords with scissors. One employee testified at trial that she, Gosnell, and other employees did in fact cut the spinal cords of a dozen babies. Perhaps the most chilling fact of all is that Gosnell’s clinic was left to operate completely uninspected by state health officials since 1993, despite numerous complaints.

Unfortunately, this scenario is far too common. Even states that impose abortion facility regulations rarely inspect or require complication reporting. For example, Maryland recently enacted new abortion clinic restrictions, under which Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s abortion facility, Germantown Reproductive Health Services, was licensed. Although it was issued a license under these more stringent regulations, the clinic was never actually inspected.

On the heels of this licensure, Carhart performed a late-term (33 week gestation) abortion on a 29 year-old woman who subsequently died of complications from the procedure. Because of such lenient inspection and reporting requirements around the nation, it is impossible to know how many facilities continue to operate under sub-standard, dangerous conditions. As we now know from experience, these dangerous and unsanitary clinics are likely to remain open until another preventable tragedy takes place.

If abortion activists are so concerned about women’s safety and health, it is time they support of common sense measures that require abortion facilities to meet the standards applied to other medical facilities. Abortion, like any other surgical procedure, poses many risks which are complicated by an unregulated environment. Abortion also presents complications that far exceed those of other procedures. As stated by the Supreme Court in Harris v. McRae, abortion is the only medical procedure that “involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.” For that reason, it is distinguishable from any other medical procedure, and can be held to high standards of regulation by states.

Currently, the Virginia Board of Health is considering regulations passed by the General Assembly requiring stricter standards for abortion facilities, including hospital construction standards. The Board is receiving public comment until March 29th, at which time they will vote on the new regulations. If you are a citizen of Virginia, consider acquainting yourself with these new standards and adding a comment in support of tougher regulations. You can post comments here.

The legalization of abortion has done nothing to improve the health of women. In fact, it has detrimentally affected women’s physical and mental well-being. As we work to end the evil that is abortion, we should be vigilant to enact common sense measures that limit the risks posed to women, children, and families by these unregulated clinics.

January 22, 1973: The Wound in America’s Soul

by Robert Morrison

January 22, 2013

President Reagan said it well: “abortion is a wound in America’s soul.” He said that in his State of the Union Address (1986). He was the first and, alas, the last president to speak thus of this terrible wound. I remember that speech well. It thrilled me to hear the president I served speak so tenderly, so sincerely of this momentous issue.

President Reagan knew that millions of Americans tune out to politics. But if they pay attention to anything in the year, it’s likely to be the State of the Union Address, or the Inauguration. So he used these high state occasions to appeal to Americans’ consciences. He attacked no one. He condemned no one. But he spoke the truths that we all know.

The late Arlen Spector called the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973) a “super precedent.”

Whatever that means, it suggests that the Court’s diktat must be irreversible. Precedents of the Court, after all, are overruled every session. Spector might have agreed with radical Lawrence Lader.

This co-founder of NARAL wrote that “abortion is central to everything in life and how we want to live it.” Lader understood that the sexual revolution required some sacrifice. And the sacrifice of millions of unborn children was preferable to any limits on the sexual license he and his followers demanded.

Perhaps even worse than the vacuous opinion of Harry Blackmun in Roe was the plurality opinion of the Supreme Court nearly twenty years and thirty million lives later. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Supreme Court poured salt into the wound Roe had inflicted. The three-judge plurality wrote: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Justice Antonin Scalia is right to ridicule this as “the sweet mystery of life” passage. Has there ever been a sillier notion jumped-up and paraded as constitutional dogma? Of course we can define the mystery of human life for ourselves. But has that ever been understood to imply a right to take lethal action against others based on our self-defined right? You may have liberty to define yourself as the new Emperor Napoleon, but if you undertake to invade Russia in winter, you might just be restrained.

Reaffirming Roe in Casey, the Court ordered us all to pipe down and obey. Later that year, Bill Clinton was elected president. Columnist Charles Krauthammer, ordinarily a wise man, pronounced the pro-life movement dead. Political contention over abortion was over, he intoned.

Not so fast. For the past twenty years, the conflict over abortion has intensified, if anything. Even Hillary Clinton was led to say abortion is “wrong.” (Newsweek, October 31, 1994). She was then trying desperately to save the Democratic majority in Congress. It didn’t work. Since that time, of course, she has spared no effort to advance this wrong thing at home and around the world.

Feminist Naomi Wolf conceded that the pro-choice side had failed to consider the spiritual side of abortion. She quoted her friends being pursued by “the baby furies.” And recently, in TIME Magazine, no less, Joe Klein noted that “sonograms have made it impossible to deny that that thing in the womb is a human being.”

Abortion was wrong for Hippocrates before the Christian era. This pagan philosopher knew that the direct taking of innocent life was and always will be wrong. It violates the natural law that is said to be written on the hearts of men. Thucydides anguished over his beloved Athens and its democratic decision to destroy unoffending Melos. He knew this homicidal act would stain Athens’ memory to the latest generation.

Abortion contradicts our founding documents and perverts our understanding of them. Lincoln described the Founders’ basic premise: It was their enlightened belief that “nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon and imbruted.”

Roe and its progeny violate the fundamental precepts of the great religions. Those who claim to be a religious coalition for abortion rights must answer a basic question: Shall we do unto others that which we would never wish to be done unto us?

Nothing in modern American life has been so destructive of our Union as Roe. Governments are instituted among men to secure our inalienable, God-given rights. By making government a party to the destruction of human life, we undermine the very reason for its existence. Fifty state laws were overturned by Roe. In every one of those state laws, the abortion provisions were a part of the homicide code. The authors of those laws knew something about government and human life that the moral relativists of the 1970s and today blandly refuse to acknowledge.

On this dread fortieth anniversary of infamous Roe v. Wade, I remember Marilyn, our church organist. Marilyn was as apolitical as you can get. She led the children’s choir and gave us many a beautiful Christmas program of angelic voices. After Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, she told me she and her children had stayed up all night—weeping.That’s because she and her husband had adopted these wonderful kids. She knew that the election of a pro-abortion president would mean no good for America’s future. I couldn’t agree more.

False Modesty

by Robert Morrison

January 15, 2013

In a key passage in the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973, Harry Blackmun, author of the majority opinion says this:

… We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

It would seem that Justice Blackmun was expressing a becoming intellectual modesty. We don’t know when human life begins. And the experts that courts often turn to don’t know either. So it would be best not to “speculate” about the answer to that “difficult question.”

Ronald Reagan did not attend Harvard Law School, as the media is only too happy to point out. Like President Obama, Harry Blackmun did attend Harvard Law School. Still, President Reagan thought if we were in doubt as to whether an unborn child was a human life, wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of life?

Ironically, the former Dean of Harvard Law School, Archibald Cox agreed with Reagan, at least about the poor job of legal reasoning undergirding Roe v. Wade. As my friend, Jack Fowler, of National Review noted appreciatively at the time of Cox’s death in 2004, this famed Kennedy Democrat put his finger on the fatal flaws of Roe v. Wade.

[“Blackmun’s opinion] fails even to consider what I would suppose to be the most important compelling interest of the State in prohibiting abortion: the interest in maintaining that respect for the paramount sanctity of human life which has always been at the centre of Western civilization, not merely by guarding life itself, however defined, but by safeguarding the penumbra, whether at the beginning, through some overwhelming disability of mind or body, or at death.”

Archibald Cox went on to say of Blackmun’s work:

The failure [of Roe v. Wade] to confront the issue in principled terms leaves the opinion to read like a set of hospital rules and regulations, whose validity is good enough this week but will be destroyed with new statistics upon the medical risks of child-birth and abortion or new advances in providing for the separate existence of a foetus… . Neither historian, nor layman, nor lawyer will be persuaded that all the prescriptions of Justice Blackmun are part of the Constitution.”

We know from Bob Woodward’s book, The Brethren, that Harry Blackmun was desperate for respect. He felt his Harvard Law degree entitled him to that measure of regard that he had thus far in his life failed to attain. Roe was to be his legacy, his fiery boat to judicial Valhalla.

He cannot have been pleased that some Supreme Court clerks—pro-abortion as they were—were dismissive of his work. Behind his back, they referred to his opus as “Harry’s abortion.”

Stanford University Law School Dean, John Hart Ely, is one of those whose respect Harry Blackmun craved. He didn’t get it. Although Ely was pro-abortion, he dismissed Harry’s Roe opinion:

[Blackmun’s ruling in Roe is bad constitutional law, or rather … it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”

Science has never been in doubt. California Medicine was the official journal of that state’s medical society. Although in favor of liberalized abortion, they let the scientific cat out of the judicial bag when they wrote this in 1970, several years before Roe v. Wade (1973).

The result [of the abortion debate] has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected.

Note that phrase: “socially impeccable auspices.” The argument that the unborn child is not a human being would be “ludicrous” if it were not being made by socially impeccablefolks.

Socially impeccable, like Barack Obama. In 2008, Mr. Obama told Rev. Rick Warren that the question of when the unborn child comes to possess any rights is “above my pay grade.” Modestly stated.

The policies pursued by President Obama since he rose to the highest pay grade have been anything but modest. He has pressed for the greatest expansion of abortion since

Roe v. Wade. He demands we subsidize abortion through our taxes, through insurance coverage under Obamacare, through U.S. contributions to the abortion traffickers of International Planned Parenthood and the UN Fund for Population Activities. He has turned the U.S. State Department into a marketing firm for abortion worldwide. No modesty there.

As for Roe, it resembles a judicial Berlin Wall. It’s ugly. It’s offensive. It’s an affront to justice and mercy, to law and logic. But it does what its builders intended it to do. And we are left with its tragic consequences.

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
Archives