It didn’t take the release of Supreme Court’s long-awaited abortion law re-do for outbursts of emotion to sweep across the United States: Abortion itself has been maddening the nation for decades. Anger for some and jubilation for others is the predictable conclusion to an era in which generations of Americans have argued over whether the right to end nascent human life is embedded in the supreme law of the land. It is not, and the correction of so grievous an error is a painful but necessary chapter in the American story.
The high court’s 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, handed down Friday, dramatically reverses the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in 1973 and its 1992 complementary case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The ruling remedies rare judicial blunders that lent respectability to the medically conducted killing of a woman’s pre-born infant but that continued to eat at the conscience of the nation.
The May leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft of the Dobbs decision had left little doubt that Roe v. Wade’s 50-year run would halt as one of the world’s most extreme laws governing the treatment of the unborn. In the interim, abortion defenders vowed to meet with indignation a reassignment of the life-ending practice from federal jurisdiction to the states.
Demonstrators made good on their threats by warming up with protests at the homes of the nine justices and with a recent domestic terrorist attempt on the life of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A shadowy group called Jane’s Revenge, named in honor of Roe v. Wade plaintiff “Jane Roe,” has claimed responsibility for acts of destruction at Catholic churches and pregnancy crisis centers.
Such violence constitutes a convulsion of fury and pain that comes with facing up to the disposal of 62 million human souls. The decision to extinguish life within her womb cannot but leave a woman struggling to stave off self-recrimination that threatens to emerge in a haunting fashion. It’s unsurprising that legions on the always-angry left have assembled to lash out at the very notion that the “right to choose” might not be synonymous with the right to kill.
The irony underlying the eruption of angst is that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling does nothing to restrict abortion. Rather, it corrects Roe’s vain attempt to find a legal basis for the practice in the U.S. Constitution.
A majority of Americans favor limits on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but few support a total ban on the practice. “Progressive” regions, mostly on the East and West Coasts, are destined to remain abortion-friendly; the more traditional midlands portend a future as havens for life. In so mobile a society as modern America, it is unlikely that an individual will fail to obtain the abortion she seeks.
When passions subside over Roe’s demise, the 50 states will be at liberty to enact abortion laws in accordance with the consciences of the women and men who reside there. This is, after all, still a free country.