As pro-lifers mark the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade with mourning for its victims and resolve to set things right, abortion advocates are commemorating it with a mix of ghoulish celebration and fear-mongering over the possibility of Roe falling. In Time Magazine, Whole Women’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller and reproductive historian Rickie Solinger write a commemoration that leans heavily toward the latter, inadvertently demonstrating why overturning this monstrous ruling is so vital.
Today, where a woman lives determines her access to abortion services, and states mandate whether she is required to have (and look at) an ultrasound beforehand, whether she must obtain parental consent, whether has the right to have a medical abortion, among other conditions. Wherever she lives, she has to assess the political and economic environment into which her child would be born, as she decides whether to continue her pregnancy.
If the Roe court had addressed all the additional factors Miller and Solinger wish they had, their ruling would have even less to do with the Constitution’s actual meaning than the already-bankrupt decision they gave us.
The authors are arguing that it’s not enough for the judiciary to affirm a supposed right, it also has to proactively reshape the law to make that right as easy to exercise as possible. We’ve discussed before how this is philosophically incompatible with the Constitution, so here let’s demonstrate it another way, with how our predecessors actually handled such conflicts as they arose.
The 15th Amendment to the Constitution had already guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race, but that right was often circumvented in the segregation-era South by poll taxes imposing a cost on voting, which blacks would be unable to pay. Miller and Solinger’s logic would have us believe the proper recourse would have simply been for the judiciary to step in and declare poll taxes unconstitutional, but despite the noble intentions behind such an act, it would be an abuse of the Constitution by reading things into it that simply weren’t there. Instead, we made poll taxes unconstitutional the right way by enacting the 24th Amendment.
If our opponents want to guarantee simpler, easier “access” to abortion, they are perfectly free to try it the legitimate way – by crafting a constitutional amendment of their own and persuading their fellow Americans to support it. But they choose instead to run to the courts because deep down, they know they’d lose a fair fight for public opinion. Miller and Solinger write:
She has to consider who is defined as a legitimate mother in the U.S., whose children have value, and whose do not. These conditions of pregnancy and childbearing undermine the possibility of dignity and safety for millions of women today.
Sometimes pro-aborts’ lack of self-awareness about what they write is mind-numbing. Those promoting or considering abortion are the only ones deciding which kids do and don’t have value, and it’s only because they chose to raise the question because it helps rationalize what they want. The rest of us already know “whose children have value”: everybody’s.
Most Americans are unaware that abortion was generally legal in the U.S. until the mid-19th century; ending a pregnancy was a woman’s prerogative until she, herself, reported having felt fetal movement.
Most Americans are “unaware” of this because it isn’t true. This is one of the historical questions Roe got wrong, as the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist explained in his dissent from Planned Parenthood v. Casey:
The common law which we inherited from England made abortion after “quickening” an offense. At the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, statutory prohibitions or restrictions on abortion were commonplace; in 1868, at least 28 of the then 37 States and 8 Territories had statutes banning or limiting abortion.
In addition, the quickening distinction was a matter of outdated medical knowledge, and many laws were handicapped by investigators’ inability to determine whether an early abortion took place. So even the details of the past seemingly in abortion’s favor were not such due to any deeply-rooted pro-choice principle.
Some feminists opposed abortion largely because of its association with a woman’s loss of “chastity.”
Really? Let’s let the early, real feminists’ own words be the judge of that:
- Susan B. Anthony: “Guilty? Yes no matter what the motive, love of ease, or desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed.”
- Victoria Woodhull: “Wives deliberately permit themselves to become pregnant of children and then, to prevent becoming mothers, as deliberately murder them while yet in their wombs. Can there be a more demoralized condition than this?”
- Sarah Norton: “Had this scheme [to provide his wife poison to abort her preborn baby, resulting in the wife’s death] been successful in destroying only the life aimed at, what could’ve been the man’s crime – and what should be his punishment if, as accessory to one murder he commits two?”
Today, to a surprising extent, women in the U.S. still have sexual, reproductive and parenthood rights that depend on their age, race and income, as well as on what state they live in. In the 19th century and early 20th century, laws governing these matters were central to the maintenance and extension of the slavery regime, and various state laws permitted the sterilization of immigrants and women of color without informed consent.
Yes, compulsory sterilization is totally analogous to women who are completely free in their decisions when and whether to reproduce being told they can’t kill their children. That totally makes sense.
[I]n 1980, the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which denies Medicaid payments for abortions, unless the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape, or risks the life of the mother, establishing abortion as a right only for women who can afford one.
Though I’m sure this plays well with abortion diehards, it’s an odd complaint to level against those of us who don’t think the rich should be able to get abortions, either.
Miller and Solinger conclude by hyping the importance of a pro-abortion victory in the Supreme Court case over Texas’s abortion clinic regulations, of which Miller’s Whole Women’s Health is the plaintiff. “If the Supreme Court does not intervene,” they fret, “lawmakers with little regard to women’s lives across the country will be able to do what they have wanted all along: close more clinics and cut more women off from the healthcare care they need.”
The reality is that Texas’s abortion regulations are a response to a nationwide abortion-industry culture of disregard for women’s health, racking up an astonishing record of basic health and safety violations… including Whole Women’s Health itself, which has been cited for rusty instruments “likely to cause infection,” expired drugs, mishandled documentation, and vital medical equipment either maintained improperly or missing entirely.
With this lawsuit against Texas’s regulations, the pro-abortion movement is doing nothing more than helping the perpetrators to avoid having to shape up for the women they supposedly care so much about, not to mention diminishing the experiences of scores of women who have suffered due to abortion.
In one column, Texas’s leading foes have demonstrated why they need to lose this case, and why Roe needs to fall soon after. We need to end these farces not only for the babies, but to reclaim respect for the Constitution, historical literacy, and to truly defend women’s health from those who would exploit them.