Roe v. Wade (Roe) and its progeny have resulted in the deaths of millions of children in the womb and vast harms to their mothers and other family members. This decision also distorts the Constitution, assaults representative government and betrays the Declaration of Independence.
In 1971, Sarah Weddington and other abortion attorneys represented Norma McCorvey in her challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions. (Norma never had an abortion, gave birth to her daughter whom she placed for adoption, admitted that she lied about being raped, and claimed that her attorneys deceived her into becoming Jane Roe.) This challenge resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS)'s 7-2 January 22, 1973 Roe decision.
In Roe, under the "penumbra" (i.e. shadows) of the Ninth Amendment, the SCOTUS declared that the U.S. Constitution now contained the following gestational edicts regarding pregnancy and abortion. In the first trimester, legislators may not enact any laws regarding abortion. In the second trimester, legislators may not enact any laws banning abortion, but may enact laws regulating where and how abortions are to be committed. In the third trimester, legislators may ban abortions except to protect the life or health of the mother. In Roe's companion case of Doe v. Bolton, (involving a Georgia law) the SCOTUS defined health to include medical, financial, social and psychological factors, which, in effect, means for any reason.
Thus, in Roe and Doe, the SCOTUS invented a "Constitutional Right" to abortion for all nine months of pregnancy. The many continuing descriptions of Roe as "legalizing abortion in the first three months of pregnancy" dishonestly represents Roe's ruling.
The SCOTUS's subsequent abortion decisions confirmed the vast pro-abortion extent of Roe. These SCOTUS decisions declared that the Constitution now prohibited laws requiring
- parental consent for minors;
- second trimester abortions be committed in hospitals;
- paternal notification; and
- health and safety regulations for abortion facilities and personnel.
In his dissent, Justice Byron White called Roe "an act of raw judicial power." Many pro-abortion legal scholars have also criticized Roe for distorting the Constitution into "medical guidelines."
The SCOTUS recognized the grave flaws of Roe in its 5-4 1992 Casey decision. Then, the SCOTUS admitted that the Ninth Amendment had nothing to do with abortion. However, the majority desired to keep abortion as a "Constitutional Right," (The four dissenters would have ruled that no such right existed.) so they transferred the "right to abortion" to the 14th Amendment's Liberty Clause. (Thus, the SCOTUS used this 1866 Amendment to protect the right to liberty of freed slaves to deny the right to life for children in the womb.) The majority distorted liberty into license by declaring, "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence..." In effect, this deadly nonsense simply exalts "Might makes right."
Between 2003-2007 the SCOTUS reversed its position on the Constitutionality of laws banning the practice of killing children partially born headfirst (by puncturing the child's skull and sucking his or her brain out to preserve the child's remaining body parts for sale to "researchers").
This reversal demonstrates that the "Constitutionality" of "abortion laws" depends on the personal views of SCOTUS Justices - not on the Constitution. Such decisions also emphasize the SCOTUS's assault on representative government because one SCOTUS Justice is determining, for the entire nation, the permissibility of efforts to legally protect children and mothers from abortion.
Thus, President Abraham Lincoln's argument for resisting the SCOTUS's Dred Scott decision (which declared that Congress and State Legislatures had no authority to abolish slavery), also applies to Roe. Lincoln argued that without such resistance, "the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."
Our nation's dispute over "abortion laws" involves a contest between the alleged right to life of a child in the womb and the alleged right to reproductive freedom of an expectant mother. Our nation's elected representatives, who are accountable to the citizens who elect them, should resolve this contest. Let us end the deadly legacy and judicial tyranny of Roe and appeal to these representatives to protect the right to life with which our nation's Declaration of Independence declared that all human beings are created.
Michael J. McMonagle
President of the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania