No matter where one stands on the issue of abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade will probably make everything much worse, not better.
The decision will not stop abortions, although it allows states to criminalize the procedure. That will lead to a replay of the bleak days of back-alley abortions and in some horrible cases, new-born babies disposed of in trash cans and elsewhere.
In a hypothetically perfect world, every pregnant woman would want to bring a fetus to birth and welcome that baby with undying love. So should their impregnators. Alas, this is not a perfect world – far from it! There are so many situations that characterize pregnancies – one of which is rape, another is incest. Some states now ban abortions even in those cases.
Imagine anti-abortion legislators telling their daughters or wives, “I’m sorry you were raped, honey, but just hang in there for nine months and birth the baby, and if you don’t want it, it can be adopted.”
Typically, such attitudes and the laws hatched from such attitudes are mostly from vote-pandering male politicians – often the same ones opposed to contraception access and basic sex education in schools. To expect those who are raped to become long-suffering, self-effacing saints is not only outrageous, it’s unthinkably cruel.
Just weeks ago, a 10-year-old Ohio girl was brought to Indiana for an abortion after she had been raped. And, wouldn’t you know, some questioned whether that girl had been lying. (The alleged rapist was subsequently arrested.) But even then, others began to defame, harass and threaten the Indiana woman doctor who did the procedure.
As if there are not already enough tug-of-war divisions in this country, the Supreme Court’s Roe decision will exacerbate social frictions. There will be battles over the sprawling variety of abortion laws state by state; there will be challenges to abortion bans by some religions that do not believe that life begins at conception; there will be vigilante citizens suing others who dare to try to obtain abortions; there will be verbal and physical assaults on doctors. Neighbor against neighbor. Fines, prison sentences, medical personnel slandered.
Horrible even to imagine, but there could be assaults against the dwindling number of abortion clinics by those who feel emboldened by the Court’s decision. Some might think they are anointed “moral” guardians who have a “duty” to kill people in clinics, as has happened all too many times.
The Court’s extreme-conservative majority could well become the most divisive factor in this already wounded nation. Recently, it ruled against important provisions of the Environmental Pollution Agency (thus weakening the fight against climate change). It ruled against a New York law limiting the right to carry concealed weapons (thus undermining gun-safety measures).
The members of that Court’s majority (those who voted against Roe) are Chief Justice John Roberts, justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and three Trump nominees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. All of them are “strict constructionists,” which means they believe if something is not specified specifically in the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1789, then that something is probably unconstitutional. Those justices function (malfunction?) as if they are living 233 years ago, as if this nation hasn’t since then enacted major constitutional amendments to alleviate injustices, inequalities and human suffering – factors (like our gun-crazed society) that could not have been foreseen by the authors of the Constitution.
In court rulings, strict constructionists tend to take away laws from the federal purview and let states either legislate those particular laws/rights or get rid of them, as this Court did in its Roe decision.
What results from such rulings is a crazy-quilt of wildly varied laws and rights, state to state, causing confusions, polarized divisions and a precipitous disconnect of national cohesion. What’s legal in one state is illegal in the next. In other words, the United States of America becomes the Disunited States of America. Scary.
But here is the scariest fact of all: Supreme Court justices are appointed for life.