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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Time to overturn Roe v. Wade

On September 11, 2001, 2,819 individuals from 115 nations were killed when terrorists slammed fuel laden jets into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. That heinous act of terror, combined with the attack on the Pentagon and the jet crashed into a Pennsylvania farm, was the opening salvo in a War on Terrorism that continues to this day. Its theatres include Afghanistan, Iraq, and perhaps covert operations in obscure countries few Americans could locate on a map.

On January 22, 1973, another event happened that few noticed then, but which has produced infinitely more carnage than the rabid Saudi Arabians unleashed from a clear blue NYC sky. The Supreme Court on that January day struck down numerous state laws that outlawed abortions. Since that watershed ruling, approximately 40 million abortions have been performed in America. To put this in perspective, that's roughly the carnage of 14,200 September 11 attacks, but because it happens privately in abortion clinics and not on our TV screens, most of us give it little thought. Too many of us still must learn, like Peter Parker, that with great power comes great responsibility. Of all powers, the power to create human life is unquestionably one of the greatest. The peace of mind of individuals and communities requires that we take responsibility for the children that we create, within marriage and without.

With the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor, President Bush has an opportunity to nominate someone to the Supreme Court who will review Roe v. Wade. Should such a judge be seated on our nation's highest court, it is possible that we as a people will once again be given the opportunity to take responsibility for our creative choices. In the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion law would happily revert to the pre-1973 patchwork of laws, which allowed those who were determined to have an abortion to travel to another state to receive it. On the other hand, those who live in states that find abortion abhorrent would still be able to avail themselves of adoption options upon a child's birth. The double advantage of this state of affairs is:

1. a built-in "waiting period" in which a woman who has to travel across state lines has a chance to reconsider her choice;

2. the principle of Federalism (guarding State rights) is upheld. There is always less fallout from political decisions when they are made closer to the people. Ever wonder why abortion wasn't controversial before Roe? This surely explains it.

There is precedent for putting life issues in the hands of State Legislatures. The death penalty, which is also the taking of a life, is largely decided by the States. Laws on putting criminals to death are supported by the population of a given state, and thus there is less public outcry when such laws are enforced. On the other hand, abortion clinics in states like Nebraska are currently roundly criticized by majorities of the local population precisely because they are out-of-step with the values of its citizens, where a "culture of life" is dominant. In other states, such as California, abortion would likely continue to be available. What is certain is that nationwide the numbers of abortions would plummet as communities come together to create better systems of taking care of unwanted newborns and their caught-in-a-pickle mothers. Surely this is the same spirit of caring about the forgotten which prompts both Democrats and Republicans to denounce the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib or the killing of baby seals in the Artic circle. Or is consistency a victim of the rank partisanship that has spoiled political discourse in our great nation? Only too soon, we'll know the answer to that question.

This has been double-posted to DigitalDissent.com.

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