Overturning Roe Will Only Cause Misery

As he did on many things, Bill Clinton had the best take on abortion. He said it should be “safe, legal and rare.”

And, in fact, it has become more rare in the decades since Clinton was president. In the six years between 2011 and 2017, abortion declined in any way you want to measure it, whether in total numbers or as a percentage of pregnancies or compared to live births. During that period the raw number of abortions declined by almost 200,000 and almost 20%.

And, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, virtually none of that decline had to do with state abortion restrictions. Now, of course, that cuts both ways. On the one hand, you can argue that the restrictions are just a fool’s errand by abortion opponents. But on the other hand, you might say that concerns of abortion advocates are over-blown.

But when the restrictions in Texas amount to a de facto ban on abortions and what amounts to a direct reversal of abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, I would say advocates have every reason to worry. That worry only deepened yesterday when the Supreme Court refused to intervene and left those restrictions in place. That could signal that the conservative majority is ready to overturn Roe, if not explicitly, then in practice.

It’s not especially reassuring that the four dissenters to that decision all filed separate opinions saying emphatically that the court’s decision did not mean that it was upholding the constitutionality of the Texas law. That’s not reassuring because the five justices in the majority said nothing, giving no such assurances.

The Supreme Court majority might be ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Even for abortion foes, overturning Roe was never a good strategy. It just means that some states will allow abortion while others will outlaw it and still others will restrict it to varying degrees. Abortion will not go away.

It would have been so much better if, decades ago, advocates and opponents of abortion could have gotten together around the shared idea that every child should be wanted. I have never understood why abortion opponents aren’t the biggest supporters of Planned Parenthood, whose mission is precisely that.

Given that abortion is already declining on its own, there is nothing good about what just happened in Texas or at the Supreme Court. Public opinion on abortion has been remarkably stable for the last half century, with about 60% of Americans saying it should remain legal subject to some basic restrictions. Overturning Roe will only tear open a wound in a country that is already badly divided.

Welcome to the 197th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Overturning Roe Will Only Cause Misery

  1. “It would have been so much better if, decades ago, advocates and opponents of abortion could have gotten together around the shared idea that every child should be wanted.”

    I’m not sure that this idea is central to the issue. My read of abortion opponents is that they simply believe that abortion is murder, while supporters of choice believe that it is not. This is where choice supporters talk past opponents – they often frame it in the context of the woman’s right over their own body when that’s not at all what opponents are even talking about. One’s rights end where another’s begin, so opponents don’t think the rights of the woman have anything to do with this issue – they’re focused on the rights of the fetus.

    The true crux is when a life becomes a life – is it conception or fetal viability? If the debate focuses on this central issue there is at least a slim, remote chance of moderate compromise. Without that there’s no chance – the sides aren’t discussing the same issue.

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    1. Spot on, Rollie, it’s a “woman’s” right to choose versus a “mother’s” right to choose. How many in that 60 percent of Americans, I wonder, bemoan the fact that this option was not made more available to their OWN mothers? Those who scream “My Body, My Choice” the loudest also demand that others comply with seatbelt laws, smoking bans, Co-Vid vaccinations, (on and on ….) From Margaret Sanger’s “Negro Project” to the community outreach clinics of Planned Parenthood, little effect has been seen on the exploding illegitimacy rate among the targeted populace. It has now become a matter of convenience for suburban moms, plus a safety net for college students, and has little to do with “victims of rape/incest” and “life threatening pregnancies” that proponents rail about. –(I don’t care, I choose my battles, and this ain’t one of them, I’m just a spectator.)

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    2. Rollie wrote, “The true crux is when a life becomes a life – is it conception or fetal viability? If the debate focuses on this central issue there is at least a slim, remote chance of moderate compromise. Without that there’s no chance – the sides aren’t discussing the same issue.”

      I agree.

      In my opinion the abortion argument needs to be solved once and for all; the Supreme Court of the United States needs a medical/science based ruling that actually defines when a human being becomes a human being. Since the end of life is medically defined as when there is no longer a detectable heartbeat then if the defining ruling ends up to be when there is a detectable heartbeat that is when “life” as we know it begins and that’s the moment that a human being becomes a human being, then so be it.

      Although I agree with the above quoted statement I also firmly believe there needs to be more done.

      The real problem we have around the pro-abortion pro-choice arguments is the complete lack of personal responsibility and morals surrounding sex which I cover that and more in this long blog post.

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  2. Overturning Roe Will Only Cause Misery

    Actually it won’t cause misery ALSO there is really no reason to overturn it Roe vs Wade.

    What needs to be done is legally defining when a human being becomes a human being which will automatically give the unborn human being its inalienable human rights. This would simply better define when the constitutional rights of the mother are legally overruled by the inalienable human rights of the unborn human being.

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