The verdict is in. Well, more like the leak is in. The leaked draft of a 5-4 Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade previews what the court will likely make official in June when the actual opinion is announced.
Until then, in anticipation of the ruling, 13 states have passed trigger laws severely restricting access to abortion as soon as Roe is officially gutted.
I don’t want to rehash the politics of how a once bedrock Supreme Court decision which stood the test of legal precedent for 49 years could become as extinct as the dodo bird because President Trump appointed three conservative justices to the court.
I’d rather address my remarks to the victors, the offspring of the 1980s moral majority, who have worked tirelessly ever since Roe was passed in 1973 to see it reversed. Congratulations. Now, how do you plan to celebrate your victory? Reverse other Supreme Court decisions of the past 60 years like the rights of gays to marry, the rights of couples to use contraception, the rights of people from different racial backgrounds to marry?
Why wait with the wind at your backs to complete the rest of your puritanical program for legislating the moral conduct of Americans within the privacy of their bedrooms?
Eviscerating Roe means erasing the right to privacy (protected by the 14th Amendment according to the justices who decided that 1973 case) upon which all those other hard-fought cases for couples rights rested. Without the protection of the Constitution, the tyranny of minority morality (less than a third of Americans wanted to see Roe overturned, according to three new polls) will prevail in states where Republicans maintain a majority in their legislative bodies. Welcome to Amsterdam morality for blue America and Taliban morality for red America.
Once Roe is gone, the goal may well shift to making sure that every pregnancy is brought to term. If abortion is murder, as it is in the opinion of the extreme fetus fetishists, then allowing even one fetus to be aborted is one murder too many, isn’t it?
There are consequences to doing away with federal protections of abortion rights which need to be considered. Right to lifers who are consistent in their belief that abortion amounts to murder in the womb should be concerned about the life they saved once the fetus becomes an infant. Is it moral to champion the birth of all fetuses and not care about the well-being of a fetus as it makes its journey from infant to child to adolescent to adult? Does the moral responsibility of anti-abortion advocates end in the womb? Are pro-lifers nothing more than moral midwives?
Religious fundamentalists are demanding women bear the burdens of birth. But are they willing to address the critical needs of both mother and infant? Do the descendants of Cotton Mather have a plan or program for ensuring that the infants who are put up for adoption find parents who want to adopt them? Have they done the math to make sure no infant goes unadopted? If not, the number of unadopted children may begin to resemble what we observe all the time in ASPCA animal shelters.
What about the expenses needed to raise a child today? The survival of children born into poverty requires a strong social safety net. Women who wanted an abortion because they couldn’t afford to raise a child need economic assistance. The cost of medical and child care is expensive and endless. Is the pro life movement prepared to put its money where its members’ morals are and vote for higher taxes to pay for the resources required to ensure that the childhood of the rescued fetus doesn’t end up being a miserable one?
What about protecting the life of the former fetus once it starts school? Are pro life people also pro school safety? If they are, wouldn’t it make sense to support universal background checks for potential maniacs who might purchase a gun and then go shoot up a school? Following that logic, wouldn’t it also be wise for them to favor bans on semiautomatic weapons, making it harder for deranged individuals to kill more children quickly?
Finally, does the sanctity of life position for those opposed to abortion remain firm when crimes as serious as murder are committed ? Are those who are for the preservation of life before birth willing to condemn the use of the death penalty for those assigned to death row? If we have no right to extinguish a life in the womb, what gives us the right to take the life of a person who took another person’s life? Isn’t that God’s call, not ours?
If those who have worked so hard to see Roe overturned want to demonstrate their genuine compassion, their religious regard for human life, they will support pro life policies from cradle to grave.
If they are only committed to the sanctity of life in the womb, then they are pro life imposters. Pro birth, not pro life is what they really are.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.