Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

“Privacy” Does Not Mean Abortion


The Washington Post is so used to the euphemisms of the Left that it doesn’t seem to understand that the Left’s code is not ordinary English. Consider this passage from today’s article:

Biden asked whether “there is a right of privacy to be found in the liberty clause of the 14th Amendment?” Roberts replied, “I do, Senator. I think that the court’s expressions, and I think if my reading of the precedent is correct, I think every justice on the court believes that, to some extent or another.” The answer appeared ambiguous because some of the current justices have made it clear they would support overturning Roe.
The reporters evidently think the phrase “right of privacy” would ordinarily encompass abortion and find Roberts’s answer “ambiguous” only because “some of the current justices” Roberts referred to—namely, Scalia and Thomas—would overturn Roe. But there is no reason at all to suppose that “privacy” would ordinarily mean “abortion”. In other words, one can believe strongly in privacy rights (as I do) without supporting abortion at all.

The Winston Group recently released the results of a poll that asked “When you think of the right to privacy, what comes closer to how you think of that right?” Given two choices, an overwhelming majority (66%) answered “The right to be free from government intrusion — including private phone calls, private mail, private medical and financial information, and the right to raise your children as you see fit.” Only 26% answered “The right to make decisions free from government interference, such as the right to choose abortion.”


(Simply insert your e-mail and hit “Sign Up.”)

Subscribe to National Review