Thursday, January 20, 2011

Roe v. Wade: Why the Court was wrong

"In the history of American constitutional jurisprudence, few Supreme Court decisions have come to be recognized as so faulty, and with such damaging social consequences that history has branded them not only as controversial or erroneous but also as watersheds of ignominy. ... Roe v. Wade is in this unenviable tradition."
— Dennis J. Horan and Thomas J. Balch

Abortion is not a right protected by the U.S. Constitution. Never does the Constitution mention abortion or even a "right of privacy," leaving the U.S. Supreme Court (in Roe v. Wade, and later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey) to wildly extrapolate a right to abortion from the Fourteenth Amendment provision that government must not "deprive any person of ... liberty ... without due process of law."

The reasoning behind this extrapolation is poor enough. But even more damning is our nation's history of prohibiting abortion. Myriad laws against abortion were enacted throughout the 19th century (as our scientific knowledge of life before birth increased) with the primary aim of protecting the unborn child. The judges and lawmakers of the time—including those who wrote and adopted the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868—saw no inconsistency between the Amendment and states' laws prohibiting abortion. As Justice William Rehnquist wrote in his dissent in Roe, "To reach its result, the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment." That is absurd. The Fourteenth Amendment clearly was not meant to include a right to abortion.

Roe v. Wade—and the constitutional right to abortion it created—has no basis in law, logic or history, and should be overturned.