Thirty-Nine Years Of Roe v. Wade: Why Roe Is Not Enough

Today is the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, the case that established unequivocally (or so we thought) the fundamental constitutionally protected right of a woman to choose whether to bear a child or have an abortion, in other words, to control her own body and her own life.

Since that day, the Supreme Court itself has chipped away at many aspects of Roe, and many state legislatures have passed laws attempting to overthrow the original Supreme Court ruling. None have succeeded in that, but more than a few have succeeded in placing tall barriers in the way of women (especially indigent women) who need abortions. And then there’s Texas, whose Legislature saw fit to pass a law… upheld by a Republican-dominated court… requiring a woman seeking an abortion to view a sonogram of the fetus and sit through a prescribed speech by the doctor despite the lack of any medical need for these procedures and moralizing homilies. Just what we all need… legislators practicing medicine without a license.

Yes, the Texas Legislature thinks it knows, better than your doctor, what you ought to do in an essentially medical matter. I suppose it’s a good thing clogged arteries or malignant tumors don’t have rights, though who knows what cause the zealots may take up if they win their anti-abortion battle.

I have seen the consequences to young women later in life after they had an abortion while young: in general, virtually none of those consequences are negative. The real question is not whether abortions are necessary… they are, if the pregnant woman decides they are… but whether they are available legally. Abortions will happen, with or without legal approval, and the consequences of illegal abortions… death is not uncommon… surely must trouble the consciences even of the most uncompromising anti-choice zealots.

I have also seen the consequences to a woman in her late twenties, Catholic, who either decided or was pressured by her parents (I am in no position to ask) to bear a child out of wedlock. In summary, her life is destroyed, and her parents’ lives are severely restricted as well. In her defense, at the time she decided to keep the child, she thought the father was going to marry her. Now there’s a classic story for you.

Nonetheless, it is simply not for anyone else to decide whether a woman should bear a child or abort a pregnancy. No one has any right to tell her what to do… not the man who impregnated her, not her parents and most certainly not any religious organization led by priests who bugger little boys and call it “celibacy.” No one!

AFTERTHOUGHT: Sarah Weddington, the attorney who as a young woman stood before the Supreme Court to argue Roe, in her book A Question of Choice, clearly warned us all that even the strongest of court decisions is vulnerable, and that individual states would find ways to work around this decision about a woman’s constitutional right. And so they have. Truly, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, especially against the abovementioned religious fanatics.

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  • MandT  On Sunday January 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Excellent article, well done!

    • Steve  On Sunday January 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks, MandT. The issue is heartfelt for me; decades ago, I did IT work for what is now Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, and I am keenly aware of women’s health issues and the senseless politicization of those issues by zealots who couldn’t care less about women’s health.

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