By Dave Andrusko
The timing is impeccable. In less than three weeks—December 1, to be exact—the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. As our faithful readers know, Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act” prohibits abortion after the 15th week with narrow exceptions.
National Review has produced a special issue that does a fine job of addressing why Roe v. Wade was, is, and will remain a hugely flawed, historically inaccurate decision that is more divisive today than) it was nearly 49 years ago.
The Court “believed that they were putting a period on the nation’s abortion debate,” writes Mark Antonio Wright, “They were wrong.”
I would add spectacularly wrong. It is measure of how tone-deaf the seven-justice majority was that they could unleash a killing spree that has already taken over 62 million lives and think people would passively accept it.
They had plenty of support from the “prestige press.” Two days after the January 22, 1973 decision the New York Times announced we should fold our tents up and leave the field:
The Court‘s seven-to-two ruling could bring to an end the motional and divisive public argument over what always should have been an intensely private and personal matter. It will end the argument if those who are now inveighing against the decision as a threat to civilization’s survival will pause long enough to recognize the limits of what the Court has done.
“Roe legalized abortion on demand before fetal viability under the constitutionally dubious right to privacy, and in its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the Court required all abortion regulations after viability to have an expansive ‘maternal health’ exception, which included factors such as emotional, financial, and familial health,” writes Alexandra DeSanctis. “Roe thereby made it impossible for states to impose effective restrictions on abortion.”
In more than two dozen essays, National Review examines the legal arguments, the policy arguments, and the social arguments, backed by an examination of how Roe was built on a tissue of lies.
“Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion repeatedly cited slipshod scholarship that was already in the process of being discredited in 1973 and has since been comprehensively debunked,” writes Ramesh Ponnuru. “The Supreme Court has, however, never revisited its mistaken historical claims, which have instead taken on a life of their own in academic work, popular journalism, and legal briefs.”
Indeed, there are many essays (as you would expect) addressing the Supreme Court as an institution and how it has relied on stare decisis (to stand by things decided) to justify maintaining Roe.
That canard was thoroughly dismantled. Are we never going to revisit past decisions? How about “separate but equal”?
The special issue addresses what we didn’t know in 1973. In “The suffering of the unborn,” Maureen Condic writes
In the many decades since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe and Casey, there have been significant technological and medical advances in human embryology. In particular, rigorous investigations of fetal behavior that became technologically possible only at the end of the 20th century created an unprecedented new tool for studying fetal behavior. And by directly observing fetal behavior, these tools have given us a far better understanding of fetal consciousness and pain than was available at the time of Roe or Casey. There is now strong evidence that fetuses as early as twelve weeks exhibit conscious, intentional behavior and that they actively discriminate among similar sensory experiences.
There is much, much more, including “The Secular Case against Abortion,” by Charles C. W. Cooke, and “Let’s just make this work,” a lovely essay by Kathryn Jean Lopez which examines “The radical hospitality of pro-life communities.”
Be sure to read this special edition.