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Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization raises first principle questions that Roe and Casey avoided

by | Dec 3, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

Fortunately, most of the commentary these days is digital. Otherwise  it would have required entire forests to be razed to furnish the paper for the deluge of pro-abortion screeds that followed oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. To take just one example, Vox’s Ian Millhiser wrote

Midway through arguments in a case that could end with the Supreme Court abolishing the constitutional right to an abortion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked a pointed question about the Court’s future: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception, that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

There are early signs Sotomayor is correct that the public is turning against the Court as the Court turns against Roe vWade. But during Wednesday’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, all six of the Court’s Republican appointees appeared eager to push ahead anyway and overrule at least some key parts of the Court’s prior decisions protecting abortion.

There are no “early signs the public is turning against the Court.” Democrats and their media minions are recycling various threats (including packing the court) as evidence of a revolt against the justices.

What’s so ironic is that Justice Sotomayor was practicing politics in a particularly crude and obvious attempt to turn the public against the justices who dared to disagree with her!

As you would have anticipated, The New York Times offered a boatload of opinion pieces in an attempt to intimidate the justices who dared to question the viability of the Roe/Planned Parenthood v. Casey viability standard. This studiously avoided the real question. Do they still stand the test of time? Were they ever workable?

The Times also conducted a roundtable in which “Four Times Opinion Writers Debate Abortion at the Supreme Court.” The caption was “The Supreme Court Wrestles With Abortion.” While the court wrestled with abortion, three of the four opinion writers had no problems pinning the Mississippi law to the mat.

The following is an excerpt from the discussion between Charles M. Blow and Ross Douthat, two Times opinion writers:

Douthat: There are absolutely limits to what even the most generous society can do to help women carry those burdens; part of that burden is irreducible and nontransferable. But once the child exists, outside of the cases where its imposition is literally forced on the women — rape and incest — the just society has to put all its efforts toward making the experience something other than degrading and terrifying, not toward using lethal violence. And in many, many cases that end in abortion right now, what makes the situation terrifying is material circumstances, not the child itself. This is where conservatives have not done enough, and should and must do more, to lift or ease those burdens, including on basic issues like maternal care that affect all pregnancies, wanted and unwanted and in between.

Blow: Abortion is not “lethal violence.” Good grief.

Douthat: It may be many other things, and as necessary as Lulu suggests, but it is certainly  that.

Blow: No, sir, it’s just health care for women.

“It’s just health care for women.” Goodness, after almost 50 years of debate, what a morally tone-deaf answer. 

Another  piece from the Times.

David Brooks is legendary for his on-the-one hand/on-the-other hand columns.  He first tells us

When I was about 19 a friend came home from college and realized she was pregnant. She asked me to accompany her through the abortion process, which I did. My progressive milieu did not prepare me for the moral and emotional anguish she endured before and especially after the abortion. I realized how grave an issue this was, and with what humility it must be addressed.

And then…

Then, there came the science. Like a lot of people, I’ve been influenced by the sonograms, and the way they show a human form at the early fetal stages.

I’ve read my share of books about human development, and my takeaway is that things are happening a lot earlier in the womb than we used to think. By 20 or 21 weeks, before what has been considered viability, the fetus is possibly moving, sucking its thumb, moving its eyes, hearing sounds. A female fetus has eggs of her own. These are sobering realities.

Then there are miscarriages. I have watched so many grieve over miscarriages. I’ve grieved myself. It doesn’t feel like the loss of some cells, but of life.

Experience and the moral sentiments that derive from it have moved me many notches over toward the anti-abortion position. 

What a powerful life-affirming statement. What an incredible  letdown when after walking right to up to the door of an honest discussion about abortion, he then does an about-face:

Does that mean I know when life begins? That no longer seems like the right question. I’ve come to believe that all human beings have some piece of themselves that has no size, shape, color or weight but gives them infinite value and dignity, and it is their soul. To me the crucial question is when does a living organism become a human soul. My intuition is that it’s not a moment, but a process — a process shrouded in divine mystery.

In 2021, after entire libraries have been devoted to fetology, to the science demonstrating beyond question that the life of each individual human being begins at fertilization, Brooks falls back on the mysteries of ensoulment?!

Finally, The Wall Street Journal ‘s Peggy Noonan asks the necessary question: “Why has abortion so roiled this country for half a century?”

There are many reasons, but I think the biggest is that all those other rulings are about how to live. Roe involved death, inescapably and at its heart. We have spent 40 years looking at sonograms and carrying in our wallets or phones the black-and-white copy of the ultrasound that, when you first saw it, you thought: “This is real.” “She’s already got my feet.” It’s hard to ignore the meaning of that: She’s there. 

It speaks well of America that Roe was the struggle that wouldn’t end.

Categories: Dobbs