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The Roe Train Has Left The Station

Abortion is legal, and it is delusional to try to prohibit it again.

by James Leroy Wilson
June 11, 2009

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The Roe Train Has Left The Station

The President's recent nominee to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court, and the recent murder of an abortionist, brings America's most divisive issue to the fore yet again.

President Bush's Presidency was inept on almost every level but one: he put two Justices on the Supreme Court who more or less satisfied the large Catholic and Evangelical blocs of pro-life voters. The Supreme Court and the overturning of Roe v Wade remains the top issue for millions of voters, and probably explains why Obama's victory, while convincing, was by no means a landslide.

I agree with critics of the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that overturned state laws against abortion. There is no basis in the Constitution for such a sweeping change in an area that had been considered the purview of the individual states.

Moreover, this decision polarized our politics for all the wrong reasons. Abortion and the sex-based "Culture War" it engendered divided the parties for the most perverse of reasons. What we needed was a debate about republic vs. militarism, sound money vs. inflation, enterprise vs. central planning, liberty vs. authority. Instead, we have two parties pursuing the same agenda who seem different mainly because they are divided by culture generally and abortion specifically.

At the same time, however, an entire generation has passed. Somewhere between one-third to one-half of all women have had an abortion. Each of us must assume that at least a few of our female friends, relatives, and acquaintances have had an abortion.

For that reason, attempting to reverse Roe and then trying to re-prohibit abortions hardly seems to serve the national interest. Aside from the inevitable civil unrest, we will see quite an underground economy. Already-established abortionists, who would be exempt from prosecution for previous abortions because of the Constitutional ban on ex post facto laws, will start new businesses. For example, they could become "interior decorator consultants" requiring them to make "house calls."

Indeed, reducing abortions in America will require not just criminalization, but also video monitors of every room in every house, alley, and street in the country.

Some will say, "Well, totalitarian Big Brother government is a small price to pay to curb abortions!" Very well, so will you commit to invading Canada to stop its abortions? The European Union? China?

"Well, that would be ridiculous."

So it is. But it is also ridiculous to believe that reversing Roe v Wade will in any way lead to a positive outcome. Even the most fanatical pro-lifers may understand we can't invade China. It's so impractical, it's delusional. What they must understand is that trying to reverse Roe and prohibit abortions in America is also delusional.

Roe v Wade is a done deal. That train has left the station, and there's no turning back. If one is seriously pro-life, the only reasonable alternative is not to try to overturn it, but to move forward. To side with parties and movements that resist all taxpayer funding of abortions and reject all regulations, federal or state, that might force private hospitals to perform abortions.

There is no "right" to an abortion at taxpayer's expense, but there is a right to refuse to provide or host an abortion. If you fail to see that, you have no idea what rights are. You don't understand freedom at all.

Republicans who resist Obama's Supreme Court nominee should instead change the subject. They should instead say that, in the eyes of the federal government, you are free to have an abortion, but that no one is obligated to provide it to you. Instead of fighting to curb abortions, they should instead fight to end all federal funding of abortions, and fight for the right of private hospitals and doctors to refuse to provide them.

It would be an object lesson in freedom and responsibility. I believe abortions should be legal, but the "pro-choice" movement is so infantile and greedy it makes civil debate almost impossible. What do you say of a "pro-choice" philosophy that also insists that the government should pay for your choices? What do you say about a political party with the laudable idea that a "woman has a right to choose" abortion, but then denies a woman the right to decide whether to take certain drugs, how to defend herself, or which school her child should attend?

America doesn't need a "pro-life" party. It needs a pro-liberty party.

Comments (2)

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elm from 98801 writes:
June 12, 2009
Excellent article! Anti-abortion activists would do well to mind their own business.

Having been born in the very early 30's, I recall "alley" abortions. Days when my mother whispered about the woman that bled to death in an alleyway and those desperate woman who aborted at home with a coat hanger and became horribly infected and died.

Those who don't support abortion have a choice. The choice is to not get an abortion. Those that do support abortion have a choice too. Done deal! That is liberty!

Steve Scott from Martinez, CA writes:
June 13, 2009
I wrote about this issue a while back. If you had to choose between two situations:

a) a society where abortion is criminalized with severe punishments, or

b) a society where abortion is completely legal and funded, yet every member of that society felt it against their own conscience to ever get one

which would you choose? How would that affect one's cultural strategy in getting to the ideal?

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