The Roe v. Wade meltdown

After days of  frenzied  warnings that the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse Roe v. Wade, it’s time for pro-choice propagandists  to leave orbit and return to Earth.

Whatever the fate of Roe v. Wade, the poorly argued and badly decided case that legalized abortion in all states, abortion will remain legal. Probably in the same kind of legal form found in Europe.

That’s not what the American public is being fed by partisans, progressives and the media. For them, the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy is armageddon. Just listen to some of the hysterics:

Roe is on the “chopping  block.” Women who have abortions “will be charged with murder.” It’s “pure folly” to think that  President Donald Trump will “nominate a sane, rational human being.” “Terrifying.” In other words, America will become a misogynist society as depicted in the goofiest of all dystopian novels, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The problem is that so few people understand or have even read  Roe and the Supreme Court decisions that have modified or clarified the landmark case. The pro-choice propagandists never talk about Doe v. Bolton, a companion case to Roe, that made abortion virtually legal at any time during pregnancy. Or the other cases that they warned would obliterate a “woman’s right to choose.”

The most unlikely scenario, considering the court’s traditional caution, is that the court would ban all abortions, for whatever reason. The most likely is the court would move the question of abortion toward the middle ground–where it was before the Roe decision took the issue out of the political arena where compromise is most likely.

It’s possible that a thoughtful court would return the issue to the states, again where it was before Roe made political compromise impossible. Or they might retain Roe and Doe, but amend it, retaining the abortion right but further refine what that right means.

Why compromise? Why in the middle? Because that’s where the American public is on abortion. While a majority of Americans (remembering that most haven’t read Roe or Doe) say they wouldn’t want the case overturned, when questioned about specific issues, they land in the middle. On such issues as parental notification, waiting periods and so forth.

That’s not where Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other radical groups want America to be. They want abortions for any reason at any time. They fought tooth and nail against a law that bans partial birth abortion, a gruesome procedure designed to kill up to the moment of birth.  I’m talking about extremists like our own Democrat Sen. Richard Durbin who voted with so many other Democrats against the ban.

Instead of helping Americans understand the nuances and complexity of the debate, you can find in the media articles that are designed to frighten rather enlighten. One such focused on the most restrictive abortion laws in other countries (as if it would it would happen here) instead balancing it with countries that, absent judicial fiat, have achieved moderate positions.

Emily Matchar in The Atlantic magazine a few years back took a look at such moderate positions in  liberal Europe. She concluded.

I assumed that Western Europe would be the land of abortion on demand, likely government-subsidized, and possibly with a free bag of condoms afterward. But as it turns out, abortion laws in Europe are both more restrictive and more complicated than that. Waiting periods, decried by American pro-choicers as infantilizing and unreasonably burdensome, are common in Western Europe.

She found that in:

  • Germany, “women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother’s physical or mental health.”
  • The Netherlands, the country “mandates a five-day waiting period between initial consultation and abortion; clinics must provide women with information about abortion alternatives. Abortion is then legal until viability (legally defined as 24 weeks, usually interpreted as 22 weeks).”
  • In Belgium, “where abortion was illegal until 1990, there’s a six-day waiting period and the woman must claim to be in ‘a state of distress’ before receiving a first-trimester abortion.”
  • Finland, “abortion is available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless the woman is under 17 years old, in which case she may have an abortion until she’s 20 weeks pregnant. But even for early abortions, women must provide a ‘social reason’ for seeking to terminate her pregnancy, such as poverty, extreme distress, or already having at least four children. While in practice most abortion requests are granted, it still forces women to prove to an authority the validity of their desire not to have a baby.”
  • Denmark, “abortion is available on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Afterward, exceptions are made for cases of rape, threats to the woman’s physical or mental health, risk of fetal defects, and — revealingly — in cases where the woman can demonstrate lack of financial resources to care for a child.”
  • Israel, “abortion is illegal for married women between ages 17 and 40, except in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, or risk to the mother’s physical or mental health. Women eligible for abortions (the unmarried ones, that is) must submit to ultrasounds, wade through rivers of paperwork, and plead their case to an expert.”

Even in Ireland, where prochoice activists hailed a recent referendum that legalized (only some) abortions, restrictions remain that make them rabid. Abortions are to be permitted only within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond 12 weeks, abortions would only be permitted when a woman’s life or to her physical or mental health is in serious jeopardy but only up until the 24th week of pregnancy.

In America, the abortion industry (e.g. Planned Parenthood) considers such restrictions unconscionable. Anyone who supports such “extreme measures” are called the worst sort of right-wing, extremist, anti-women and evil devils. Even though public opinion polls repeatedly show that the majority or large pluralities of American support similar restrictions.

Here I’m talking about what public policy should be and how we can free Americans from the shackles of a court decision that violates so many American values and beliefs. Personally, if I were making public policy, (here I’m not talking about my personal beliefs) I would not allow abortions (with exceptions for health and safety) when brain waves first appear (about week five or six). It parallels the widely accepted definition of death.

But I’m not making policy, nor should the court. We, the people, should be making it.

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

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  • Your arguments are both specious and only fact adjacent. Roe v Wade is the only thing left that still gives women the right to an (often necessary) abortion and it's still all but impossible to get one in Texas.

    If Roe v Wade is overturned, gerrymandered state legislatures across the country will make it completely impossible, which would, as you point out fly in the face of what half the country wants.

    When you say "The most unlikely scenario, considering the court's tradition caution" I don't know what that means (it may be a sentence structure problem). With a new Trump appointee, the Court will assume a structure we have not seen in modern times.

    It's only a matter of how much they will decimate voting rights before taking on the Voting Rights Act itself.

  • In reply to Bob Abrams:

    Should be "traditional."

    Glad you find my argument attractive, but why specious?

    My point: Instead of throwing out Roe, the court can modify or clarify Roe in ways that restrict or change it while keeping the issue in federal, not state, hands. In other words by upholding Roe but finding, for example, that abortion clinics must meet certain public health and reporting requirements. The public isn't being served when the argument is couched in either/or and black/white terms that it's either Roe or no Roe. Both sides seem guilty of this, but it seems mores on the left. The question is not and should not be a narrow selection between abortion for any reason (as under the Doe v Bolton decision) or no abortion at all. Americans in general want a middle ground and the court might find it. I hope.

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