Good Riddance to Roe v. Wade and Its Culture of Coercion
As pretty much everyone knows by now unless they’re living on a deserted island with no Wi-Fi, someone within the U.S. Supreme Court breached professional protocol and leaked a copy of a draft opinion. The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, purports to show a 5-4 majority of the Court ready to overrule the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade and declare that there is no federal constitutional right to an abortion.
Clearly, the leaker is looking to foment outrage and create public pressure on one or more of the five justices to change their votes. Right on cue — and with pre-printed signs — the rage mobs are gathering in front of the Supreme Court and elsewhere around the country. One such protest in California turned violent, and across the social mediaverse, there are calls for “revolution.” Americans are bracing for riots like those we saw in the summer of 2020 after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.
This is despicable and hypocritical (remember all the posturing about “saving our democracy” and “respect for our institutions”?), but typical. Also typical is the manipulation of data to control the media narrative. One such tidbit is the constant refrain that “70% of Americans do not want Roe overturned.” That part is true. But conveniently left out is the rest of the poll, showing that 65% of Americans also think abortion should be illegal in most or all cases in the second trimester, and that fully 80% think abortion should be illegal in the third trimester.
The abortion industry as it exists under Roe is grossly out of touch with Americans’ views.
There are many reasons why Roe needs to go, not least saving the lives of unborn children. But overturning Roe should also remediate the coercion that has crept into our lives since abortion was declared to be a constitutional right.
By definition, “rights” create corresponding obligations, some mandatory and some prohibitory. If I have a “right” to walk down the street, then you have an obligation to let me do so. If I have a “right” to clean water, then you have an obligation not to pollute it.
Few rights are absolute, however. The American legal system tends to balance rights, especially when they potentially conflict.
The abortion lobby refuses to accept these limits.
Consider how frequently abortion advocates tout liberty interests: “reproductive freedom,” for example, or the “freedom” to choose whether or when to become a mother. They prefer to be characterized as “pro-choice,” rather than “pro-abortion.” Their best-known slogan is perhaps “My body, my choice.” There was a popular bumper sticker for a while: “Don’t want an abortion? Don’t have one.”
But their “liberty” argument is a bait-and-switch for coercion and oppression.
Women themselves are victimized. A 2018 study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons revealed that 73.8% of the nearly 1,000 women surveyed who’d had abortions felt pressured to abort. Nearly 60% of those women admitted that they’d aborted to “make others happy”; 30% admitted that they aborted out of fear of “losing their partner.” The horrific cases of Kermit Gosnell and Ulrich Klopfer exposed how those abortionists exploited women and even protected their rapists and abusers. So-called advocates for women’s rights did nothing.
Those who oppose abortion or offer alternatives often find less enthusiasm for their choices. In 2015, California passed the Reproductive FACT Act, a statute that required the (primarily Christian) anti-abortion pregnancy centers in that state to advertise for abortion services, and imposed a $1,000 fine for each violation. A Supreme Court decision — National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra — struck down the law, holding that it compelled speech that ran counter to plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, in violation of their First Amendment rights.
Xavier Becerra was California’s attorney general defending the statute at the time. He is now secretary of Health and Human Services in the Biden administration. Becerra has a history of challenging or undermining conscience protection for medical professionals and even members of religious orders who do not wish to participate in or fund abortions.
In 2010, a Seattle high school helped a 15-year-old student obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge or consent. (Those who consider this case an outlier are reminded of the secretive efforts now being made in U.S. schools to shape students’ opinions on sexuality and gender without parents’ knowledge or over their objections.)
And even though nearly 60% of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion, groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL are pushing Congress to eliminate the Hyde Amendment that prevents it, a move that President Joe Biden now says he supports.
Our rights. Our children. Our professions. Our money. What happened to our choices?
In many respects, the legalization of abortion was an inevitable consequence of the sexualization of American culture that began in the 1960s. Abortion is a pressure relief valve for a culture that promotes irresponsible sex 24/7/365. In other words, it isn’t just abortion that its advocates are afraid of losing; it’s the sexual license that drives so much of the demand for it. That might be less insidious if it were just “consenting adults” who were implicated. But it isn’t. The same people hollering about their “rights” to abortion insist that they have the right to tell your children what to think about sex and sexuality. And gender. And pornography. And abortion.
As momentous as Supreme Court decisions can be, that’s not where the real battles must be fought. The truly important battles are in our homes and our schools. Overturning Roe is a start. But if we truly want to reclaim our liberties and reduce the numbers of abortions, we should focus on healing our culture and undoing the damage wrought by the sexual revolution.
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