The legacy of Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton is a 43-year flight from reason and a society and political system distorted almost beyond recognition.
Is there a constitutional principle so sacrosanct that it can abide no exceptions? Perhaps the First Amendment? Nope. Courts have placed reasonable restrictions on free speech and the practice of religion. You can’t libel someone, nor can you sacrifice live animals. The Second Amendment? No again, as any number of gun laws attest. One can find reasonable exceptions to just about every constitutional principle.
But 43 years ago, trawling through the penumbra and emanations of the Constitution, Justice Harry Blackmun found an inviolable right that had somehow evaded the Founding Fathers: the right to kill a child in utero—mere inches from being fully born, even—for any reason or no reason. Read Roe v. Wade some time; you’ll see it’s a conclusion in search of reasons, an exercise in “raw judicial power,” in the words of dissenting Justice Byron White.
The legacy of that decision, and its less well-known companion case Doe v. Bolton, is a 43-year flight from reason and a society and political system distorted almost beyond recognition by the contortions it takes to accommodate a horrendous “right.” As the late Chuck Colson wrote, “The right to an abortion has proven to be a jealous god. In exchange for sexual freedom, it demands everything else: cherished ideals, right priorities, the First Amendment, and even decency. It insists that nothing be spared in its defense.”
That state of affairs is not surprising considering that both cases were based on lies. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, had told her lawyers she’d been gang-raped, but she at least was seeking an abortion. Sandra Cano, the “Mary Doe” of Doe v. Bolton, wasn’t even seeking an abortion. She was a homeless mother seeking a divorce and custody of her children.
Cano admits she was young, uneducated, and naïve. “I never wanted an abortion; I just wanted my children back,” she said. Her legal-aid attorney filed the case under false pretenses. Cano said she could barely read, never mind understand, the court documents they asked her to sign. In fact, in a sworn affidavit she said the signature on one legal document claiming she wanted an abortion wasn’t even hers.
These weren’t the only lies. One of the rationales cited in Roe was the supposed number of women dying from illegal abortions, allegedly in the tens of thousands. But Bernard Nathanson, founder of the Abortion Rights Action League, later said the numbers were simply made up.
During the debate over partial-birth abortion, abortion-rights people argued the procedure was rare—as if even one case of puncturing the skull of a nearly born infant and sucking out its brains would be acceptable. Imagine the outcry from the animal rights crowd should someone do that to a baby seal. Ron Fitzsimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, admitted, “We lied through our teeth.” .......
...... The Supreme Court has gone from being the least dangerous branch of government to the one doing most violence to political comity because it has removed from the people many choices that should be part of the political process.
Nothing is more likely to induce political rage than a law you have no power to change, and that is what Roe did to the process of the people, through their political representatives, working through sticky moral issues such as abortion policy. (The same is true of other Supreme Court rulings, such as on gay marriage, that are beyond the scope of this article.) ........