A decadeslong struggle for the preservation of our country’s dignity and for the sanctity of life has finally come to an end. The Supreme Court has finally, and correctly, determined that the right to an abortion is not found in the Constitution. Rather, the Court ruled, it is the right of the people of the states to vote on the issue and decide for themselves.
The judgment was based on an evaluation of the decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the historical context that backed those decisions and gave birth to the purported Constitutional right to an abortion, and a determination of whether overruling that precedent should occur.
With this ruling, the Supreme Court has returned absolute authority to the people to decide whether abortion should be prohibited, permitted or a mixture of both.
Clearly, this decision has generated fury amongst abortion-rights advocates — but this fury is exactly what the Constitution demands. It is the debate, the passionate discourse that often leads to wrath, that should drive our laws, not the opinions of nine unelected judges.
When the Roe decision was first announced, more than half of the states had abortion-protection laws on the books. That indicates that popular opinion supported the notion that women should have access to abortions. All of that changed, though, when the Supreme Court removed the public from the debate and resolved it in a flimsy judicial decision.
It is decisions like Roe that have eroded the public’s perception of the Supreme Court’s legitimacy. When judges make sweeping policy-laden decisions on weak grounds, the public views them as policymakers, and appropriately so. And when there are policymakers masquerading as judges on one side of the ideological spectrum, people will invariably view their opponents on the other side as policymakers as well — despite their intentions otherwise. This is precisely why this one impartial branch’s credibility is in shambles.
In spite of the left’s protests that the overturning of Roe would set us back 50 years, it appears much more plausible that the Roe decision itself is at the source of this perceived setback. Suppose abortion were prohibited in 20 states following this ruling. It is apparent that the subject of abortion is of paramount concern to so many Americans, to the extent that it is the principal topic of inquiry at the confirmation hearings for prospective Supreme Court justices by Democrat lawmakers. As a result of Roe, however, there could be no policy debate between lawmakers and the public on the matter, and certainly no lobbying or voting for elected officials who support the legalization of abortion (since they were previously unable to do much about it). Roe removed this topic from the public sphere, and as a result, it stifled policy debates for 50 years.
Roe eliminated ongoing, horrific tales of women being forced to undergo barbaric and dangerous methods of abortion using unsanitary equipment — the communities in which those women lived and the families of them were not hit close to home by these stories — and the rallying cries that would ensure in their wake. Roe misled the public into pressing the wrong people on their support of abortion. It deprived the public of the ability to press prospective lawmakers on their support of abortion — lawmakers who are continuously answerable to the public under threat of being removed from office. Instead, lawmakers were forced to press justices who serve practically unanswerable life terms and whose opinions can change over time.
In sum, Roe removed abortion from the public discourse for 50 years. It made its ban an existential threat as opposed to an ongoing one. Roe made people complacent with that threat, not fearful of undergoing an illegal abortion.
The opinions of others must be respected. I empathize with people who fear their rights are in danger due to this ruling, however mistaken they may be. Yet whereas one problem is significant to a number of individuals, so are a number of other concerns to a variety of other individuals.
This is how our republic works. The majority elects representatives to represent them on matters that are important to them, while the minority must contend with the ramifications of these policies. And if it turns out that the majority is wrong, opinions will likely change.
Now that the fate of abortion is in the hands of the people of the states, it is likely that abortion will find more solid ground throughout the years as millions are poured into lobbying and persuading lawmakers to take, at the very least, a measured approach to abortion.
Unfortunately, there will be many pro-abortion rights advocates who will stifle their ability to create this change due to their perception that they are unable to effect meaningful change in the manner defined by our institutions. These people will seek to undermine our institutions and effect change in deceptive ways that weaken the power of the people to persuade lawmakers and plot their own destiny.
This malevolent type of behavior is not unique to abortion-rights advocates or detractors. It will endure forever among the many issues that we encounter. Consequently, it is the responsibility of every believer in the institutions that govern them, regardless of whether they agree with the majority’s beliefs, to ensure that power shifts in a principled manner.
The left has been handed a permanent solution to abortion rights. Now, abortion is in the hands of policymakers who can actually be influenced by the public. It is in their hands now, and if they play their cards right, they will find an easy road to the absolute legalization of abortion.