Michael J. New’s post over at The Corner about what could happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned reminded me of a chilling insight I experienced this past weekend while speaking at/attending a conference on the sanctity of life in health care at San Francisco University. A lawyer was discussing how Roe and subsequent cases actually permitted the death-by-a-thousand cuts strategy that pro lifers have deployed quite successfully for the last few decades. He also described Justice Ginsberg’s belief that the ruling was wrongly decided on privacy, when it should have been predicated on women’s rights. And it hit me: If President Obama replaces one or two of the five conservative/moderate justices, Roe could very well be overturned–from the other direction!
Given that many on the pro-choice side believe that abortion is a fundamental–nay, an absolute–right. And given that many pro choicers believe that abortion should be legal for any reason, at any time during a pregnancy. And given that some among the Planned Parenthood crowd go so far as to assert that a baby born alive after a botched abortion should only be saved at the discretion of the mother and doctor. And given that many in bioethics now claim that a human being only has a right to life if he or she has sufficient mental capacities to be considered a “person”–thereby justifying “post-birth abortion” infanticide: I can easily envision a ruling overturning Roe on the basis that it is insufficiently protective of the right to abortion, that is, a ruling barring any regulation limiting abortion by the states.
After all, the point of Roe was to end the abortion debate. From a certain perspective, the fault in the decision was that it didn’t go far enough to get that job done.