NRL News

The devastation of Roe v. Wade—and how to end it

by | Jan 21, 2016

By Paul Stark, Communications Associate, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life

stopsigngirlsRichard John Neuhaus called it “the most consequential moral and political event of the last half century of our nation’s history.”

On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The Court ruled that abortion must be permitted for any reason before fetal viability—and that it must be permitted for “health” reasons, broadly defined in Doe (so as to encompass virtually any reason), all the way until birth. Roe legalized abortion on demand nationwide.

The harm of that decision is difficult to overstate.

Roe is unjust. The Court ruled that a particular class of innocent human beings (those in utero) must be excluded from the protection of the law and allowed to be dismembered and killed at the discretion of others. More than 58 million unborn children have now been legally killed, including more than 600,000 in Minnesota.

Roe is unconstitutional. “It is bad because it is bad constitutional law,” wrote the eminent constitutional scholar and Yale law professor John Hart Ely (who personally favored legalized abortion), “or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”

Roe is undemocratic. Roe and Doe struck down the democratically decided abortion laws of all 50 states. Because it lacked any constitutional justification, the Court’s ruling usurped the authority of the elected branches of government to determine abortion policy.

Forty-three years later, what can we do?

Overturning Roe would allow states to once again enact their own abortion laws. But this requires at least one more Supreme Court justice committed to interpreting and applying the law as it actually is (rather than making it). And that requires electing a president who will nominate and senators who will confirm such a judge. Changes to the Court’s composition in the past have already led to greater (though still very modest) protection for the unborn.

In the interim, we should continue the multi-pronged effort to reduce abortions. That means providing practical assistance and resources to pregnant women facing difficult circumstances. It means educating and persuading the public. And it means enacting legislation to save as many lives as currently possible.

The success of this strategy is tangible. The number of abortions has dropped 47 percent in Minnesota since its peak in 1980. Abortions have fallen 28 percent since 2006. Yet 10,123 unborn children were destroyed in 2014. Much, much more work remains to be done.

MCCL will hold its annual March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The purpose of the March is to commemorate the lives lost to abortion and to call for renewed respect and protection for all members of the human family, especially unborn children and their mothers. It is an opportunity to re-energize, remobilize, and refocus. MCCL will introduce its 2016 legislative agenda during the event.

Editor’s note. This appeared at and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Roe v. Wade