Monday, January 21, 2013

January 22 is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Ultrasound image from Week 14 of pregnancy (12 weeks
from conception) obtained from
This is not offered as an occasion for celebration, but rather as a sober fact. You can read the Supreme Court's January 22, 1973 opinion here.

History will point to Roe as one of the causes of our seemingly endless, and oh-so-divisive 'Culture Wars.' Legal scholars on all sides of the abortion question have criticized Roe, as this snippet from the Wikipedia entry on the case shows (footnotes removed):
In a highly-cited 1973 article in the Yale Law Journal, Professor John Hart Ely criticized Roe as a decision which "is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be." Ely added: "What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers’ thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation’s governmental structure." Professor Laurence Tribe had similar thoughts: "One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found." Liberal law professors Alan Dershowitz, Cass Sunstein, and Kermit Roosevelt have also expressed disappointment with Roe.
Years ago Sandra Day O'Connor famously observed that Roe v. Wade was on a collision course with itself. City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., 462 U.S. 416, 458 (1983) (O'Connor, J., dissenting). The Roe standard of 'viability' or 'quickening' is undermined every day in neonatal intensive care centers around the country: In a modern hospital, teams of doctors and nurses can work heroically to save a tiny, profoundly premature infant, even as colleagues down the hall 'terminate' a more developed, but unwanted 'fetus.'

Some of the Usual Suspects note that Celebrate Life Day is observed on January 22. We can get behind that.

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