On a Collision Course with Unintelligibility

By Dave Andrusko

There are obvious reasons why any pro-lifer would be delighted to read pro-abortionists bemoaning the many ways in which Roe v. Wade may be swept into the dustbin of history. But since I want to get right to “How States Could Ban Abortion With ‘Roe’ Still Standing,” let me just summarize them by saying that any time spent worrying is time pro-abortionists don’t have for anti-life mischief.

The article, written by Amanda Marcotte and Jesse Taylor, is dated July 14 and appears in the Nation magazine. I would have read it twice anyway, since the piece is not that long. But the real reason I gave “How States Could Ban Abortion With ‘Roe’ Still Standing” a second pass is that I was utterly amazed by what they wrote.

The headline refers to the idea that an ever more aggressive right to life Movement would use the latitude afforded states by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision to gut Roe, leaving a skeletal “right” to abortion that exists but so devoid of substance as to be meaningless. This “new strategy” [?] can work because there may be/already is a five-member majority on the Supreme Court that (while it will not directly overturn Roe)”will almost certainly never vote to hold an abortion regulation unconstitutional,” to quote political science professor Scott Lemieux.

Okay, let’s analyze just a portion of the many unintentionally revealing comments from Marcotte and Taylor.

As part, we’re told, of a strategy “around the country to choke off women’s access to abortion by any means necessary,” we have the use of “bogus science” to “justify banning abortions after twenty weeks, on the fictional grounds that fetuses can feel pain at that gestational age.”

They are referring to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, now the law of five states with more in the wings. But while you can argue with that conclusion—it’s a free country– the fact is that there is an impressive body of scientific evidence that strongly indicates that everything necessary to experience pain is in place no later than 20 weeks post-fertilization (see www.doctorsonfetalpain.com).

The duo then begin in earnest a safari deep into the darkness of incoherence. (I won’t quote all the misbegotten statements—that would TAKE FOREVER—only a representative sample.)

(1) Referencing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, 20 weeks is not “a line well back before viability.” It is two to four weeks. Once upon a time viability was more like 28 weeks.

(2) It was not the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey that introduced the specter (from the pro-abortion view) of medical technology pushing viability back earlier and earlier into pregnancy. That was pro-abortion Justice O’Connor almost a decade earlier in her dissent in the 1983 Akron case, in which she wrote that “The Roe framework, then, is clearly on a collision course with itself.”

(3) “Until recently, Roe has been considered an insurmountable obstacle to states that wish to ban abortion,” they write. “The conservative side of the Roberts bench, however, will likely view the Roe decision as a seesaw with women’s rights on one side and the state interest in the fetus on the other.” But isn’t that the sum and substance of the Roe framework, indeed virtually the way Roe author Justice Harry Blackmun framed it? Can’t blame it on Chief Justice John Roberts—the villain in the piece. He was in high school when Blackmun penned Roe.

(4) “Currently, most of the weight is on the woman’s side for three months, some weight moves over to the state’s side for the next three months, and then most of the weight moves to the state’s side for the last trimester.” That is preposterous on its face. In Roe, all the weight is on the woman’s side the first trimester; all the weight in the second trimester is on protecting women’s health; in the third trimester there are loopholes large enough to allow abortion virtually up until birth, provided you can find an abortionist sick enough to kill a baby that advanced.

One more, although there are at least several others that could be mentioned.

(5) “Roberts has two options for reshaping Roe,” we read. “The first is to claim the state’s interest in fetal life starts even sooner, using bogus science to claim we know more about the fetus than we did 1992, when Planned Parenthood v. Casey was decided.” They actually wrote (to put their assertion in the negative) that we have learned nothing about the unborn child in almost 20 years!

Pro-abortionists habitually lambast pro-lifers for supposedly wanting to “go back” to some simpler time. But it is pro-abortionists who act as if time has stood still.

No sonograms; no advances in fetal medicine; no steps forward in understanding prenatal development; nothing about the incredible interconnectivity between mother and unborn child; nothing about the development of the unborn child’s brain—and this and a hundred things more. And, by the way, in 1992 we were barely conscious that women who had aborted could and did suffer excruciating psychological and emotional agony.

A friend sent me a note earlier today asking if she was right to hesitate to use [sic] to alert the reader that the source she was quoting had misspelled a word. At the risk of being overly harsh, I could insert [sic] about every third sentence to alert the reader not to a misspelling but to a colossal leap in logic, balderdash misstatement, or something simply unintelligible. (I defy anyone to tell me what they are saying in their last paragraph.)

The article is short. I hope the Nation paid them by the word.

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