Abortion rights is a hot-topic for all of us: it involves highly charged emotionality from various points of view. This blog tackles some of the complexities about the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade (a 7-2 decision,) making abortion legal. Secondly, it addresses how this law—now intertwined with other abortion laws– could be overturned, dispelling the myth that any individual—including presidential candidates—can overturn supreme court decisions, regardless of election year rhetoric about the fictional ‘war against women.’ Thirdly, the blog addresses what happens IF and WHEN Roe v. Wade ever were overturned– and what that would mean for Americans seeking safe, legal abortions. Lastly, it addresses the public tax dollars that pay for safe, legal abortions. Abortion is an emotional and tough decision and anything but simple or easy.
I was in college when a girlfriend asked if I could lend her $200.00 for a legal abortion. She didn’t want her husband to know (he wasn’t the father.) –What would you have done?
That was in the 80’s, ten years after the 1973 Roe v. Wade US Supreme Court (7 – 2,) decision, giving women the right to safe, legal abortion. I was a full-time college student, working and newly divorced, when I discovered I was pregnant. After a failed attempt to reconcile with my ex-spouse, I gave up and went my own way, continuing to study and work my way through two degrees. As it happened, I was studying Roe v. Wade in a summer law class with a professor so acrimonious and nasty, I felt sick every morning– when a classmate guessed at my daily bouts of nausea– and told me that I had the right to abortion. Single parents, she said, had it tough. I heard about my grandmother backstreet alley abortion, excruciating and downright dangerous. She never had more children. Three other friends of mine in college went through abortions— abortion is not easy or simple.
Today, in 2012, there’s still much mis-information about abortion rights about the 1973 USSC decision, Roe v. Wade. Because this is an election year, the mud flinging drowns out the facts. I hear about this fictitious war against women. Stop! Hold the phone, Joan!! Let’s get the facts straight!! NO ONE PERSON CAN make abortion illegal, or strike down Roe, stripping women of their right to safe, legal abortion. No one person can strike down a US Supreme Court decision, except the Justices themselves, and only in certain circumstances. Read on.
The nine US Supreme Court Justices are appointed as the bench opens up, either by retirement, or death. The US President submits names of potential choices to the Senate– and each potential is deposed (reviewing careers, philosophies, etc.,) via Senate hearings. Those few that pass scrutiny are confirmed by the Senate. This time-consuming process is supposed to be above politics– presidents are NOT SUPPOSED TO lobby the Senate or Justices, or tempt them with political favors. This process is SUPPOSED TO BE impartial, above favoritism. The Justices are SUPPOSED TO act with only the law in mind, so, political pressure cannot interfere with the Law of the land. Do presidents sometimes try to ‘stack’ their favorite judges on federal court benches? Yes. Like greedy children, some presidents want support within the triad of government to support their visions. Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government on earth…. Except when you compare it to everything else.”
Fast forward to election year, 2012. President Obama is a Harvard educated lawyer—but he mis-speaks when telling America (and the world,) that his political opponents will abolish abortion rights from women. Rather, Obama should be advocating respect of the law. Roe v. Wade involves a REALLY complex legal matter– given that abortion rights have been addressed by the Supreme Court many times, not just once: often, case law is tied to other case law (and therefore, named in other cases,) because case law is built upon existing case law. USSC majority decisions (6-3, 7-2, 8-1, and 9-0) demonstrate agreement between the Justices in their interpretation of the law. BUT with a 5-4 decision, it is clear that the Justices have dissenting opinions within their varying interpretation of the framework of the law: 5-4 sends the signal that, “we reserve redressing this matter if it comes before the Supreme Court again.” And of the 1500 or so cases each year that petition to be reviewed by the US Supreme Court, the Justices grant 300 or so, depending upon the merits of the case.
Since case law is often tied to other case law (so named in the case, given sound reasons as to why the matters are linked,) similar matters can thusly be ‘heard,’ (reviewed) again in varying legal contexts—as Roe was reviewed (in part,) with Webster V. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490, (1989,) another abortion rights case. Webster was tied to Roe v. Wade, and in fact, the USSC reviewed, once again, the legality of Roe within this context.
In 1989, the US Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 decision in the Roe part of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, in which then-Chief Justice Rehnquist, “declined to explicitly overrule Roe [being tied to the Webster case,] because of ‘ “ none of the challenged provisions of the Missouri Act properly before us conflict with the Constitution.’ ”
Pretty complicated, huh? –So, why would the US Supreme Court re-consider a legal matter previously decided? Because societal attitudes change: and societal needs and conditions change. And here’s something to consider: each year, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, about a quarter of a million people march on the Supreme Court to protest abortion. And because more and more protesters each year demonstrate their anti-abortion beliefs, the US Supreme Court knows that this means that nothing is carved in stone regarding federally sanctioned abortions. Social attitudes are changing—
Democratic Gains Spur Abortion Foes into Action, The News & Observer (2009/01/18)
And we should all keep in mind that as we embrace Reagan politics, that Reagan himself was also pro-life. www.worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/10456929 “Abortion and the Conscience of the Modern Nation.”
AND: some legal minds concur that NOW that Obamacare opens the door to abortion, this could change abortion right. Some care facilities (under Obamacare funding) do not accept mandated abortion. If they decide to sue the government—which is happening now– Obamacare just might be the impetus to motivate the US Supreme Court to hear another abortion case— thusly, jeopardizing federally mandated abortions if the court overturns Roe v. Wade!! Ironic, but plausible. Don’t panic— read on.
Are women’s rights imperative? Of course. But protesters are also thinking of the women (and men) who have no voice in abortion: the unborn. The unborn have no rights. Perhaps the US Supreme Court understood that this philosophical question might become the eventual focus of the argument. Please understand: I respect your right to abortion— but you must respect my right to express concern for the unborn child.
There’s another reason for growing contention for abortion– why should taxpayers PAY FOR abortion? Each year, our government gives millions of our tax dollars— borrowed tax dollars now– to organizations to pay for abortions. And millions of tax payers protest this– including the Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. Ryan is a Catholic and that adds another side of the argument. Right now, some in the Catholic Church— via hospitals and care facilities– are suing the federal government over mandatory abortions in their hospitals. New national healthcare laws make abortions part and parcel to healthcare services– and that means no choice for Catholic health services, or anyone else. Will care facilities lose their government sponsored health care if they refuse to perform abortions? Why should the choice of abortion override another’s choice not to perform abortions? This is a philosophical discussion that should have been addressed before national policies were passed into law— Congress failed to read the Obamacare bill before voting it into law. The truth is, nobody knows concretely, what the answers are.
Please understand, I respect Planned Parenthood for helping women by providing these services… but please respect me for not paying for them. Abortion should be privately funded. Americans donate more to worthy causes than other countries combined. We are a generous people—but government should not be borrowing money to donate to anything! We should be paying off our nation debt– all 16+ TRILLION DOLLARS of DEBT! Not incurring more. Instead of ‘warring’ against each other, our President should be working to incite our unity, creating sustainable solutions to help each other.
So, if Roe v. Wade IS overturned, what happens next? If Roe is overturned, the matter of safe, legal abortion would be REMANDED back to each of the 50 states to decide for themselves. And states already are preparing for that possibility. Some states have ‘trigger laws,’ already in place, meaning that if Roe is remanded back to those states, the ‘trigger law,’ enables state governments to make abortion automatically illegal. Trigger states include: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota—and Illinois: President Obama’s home state! This is a war, all right—a war for the truth.
So, if you live in one of these trigger states—including Illinois—AND IF Roe is struck down (overturned via another Supreme Court decision,) AND you decide that abortion is your choice of action, get in your car and go to either: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, or Washington– these states have passed laws to maintain the legality of safe abortions. What will the other states do? Jump on the internet and start digging. Americans have the right to know what their government is doing! Call your Congress folk!
So… did I ever lend my friend the $200.00 for her safe, legal abortion? Yes, because she was desperate. I held her hand through the procedure. Then I encouraged her to tell her husband honestly what happened. We all make mistakes. She agreed to tell him, but ultimately chose not to. I respected her decision. They later divorced.
As for me… my one and only baby has grown up, is happily married—and speaks joyously about making my spouse and me, grandparents. And I continue to write.
What’s your opinion? Petition your government—get involved– and tell them what you think! Your voice counts!
Get all the facts…. And you decide. Be an informed Voter! Thank you.