Forty Years of Myth-Making

On Sunday, Ramesh Ponnuru corrected the errors of Media Matters on the real meaning of Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton.  It is amazing that after four decades, people can fail to understand (or is it that they understand full well, and wish to bring about a misunderstanding by others?) that the combined effect of these rulings is to legalize abortion throughout the nine months of a full-term pregnancy, for any reasons a woman offers and an abortionist doctor accepts (which, for many in the business, will suffice if she says “I want an abortion” and nothing more).

I explained all this at some length at Public Discourse in 2009, when then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor got this matter wrong in her Supreme Court nomination hearings.  And two years ago, when the horrifying Gosnell case in Philadelphia made the news, I went over it again here at NRO.  From all I can tell, by the way, the D.A. in Philadelphia is pressing the murder charges against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, but has not moved to try him on the charges the grand jury recommended, for violating Pennsylvania’s late-term abortion law.  This is a law Gosnell plainly violated, and if the D.A. is not charging him under it, that suggests he is unwilling to test the doubtful proposition that Media Matters knows what it is talking about.  Still, I would like to have seen a test case on whether the courts in this country really believe that no abortion is too late to be prohibited.

Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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