On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The Court ruled that abortion must be permitted for any reason before fetal viability—and that it must be permitted for "health" reasons, broadly defined in Doe (so as to encompass virtually any reason), all the way until birth. Roe legalized abortion on demand nationwide.
The harm of that decision is difficult to overstate.
|2015 MCCL March for Life|
Roe is unconstitutional. "It is bad because it is bad constitutional law," wrote the eminent constitutional scholar and Yale law professor John Hart Ely (who personally favored legalized abortion), "or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be."
Forty-three years later, what can we do?
Overturning Roe would allow states to once again enact their own abortion laws. But this requires at least one more Supreme Court justice committed to interpreting and applying the law as it actually is (rather than making it). And that requires electing a president who will nominate and senators who will confirm such a judge. Changes to the Court's composition in the past have already led to greater (though still very modest) protection for the unborn.
In the interim, we should continue the multi-pronged effort to reduce abortions. That means providing practical assistance and resources to pregnant women facing difficult circumstances. It means educating and persuading the public. And it means enacting legislation to save as many lives as currently possible.
The success of this strategy is tangible. The number of abortions has dropped 47 percent in Minnesota since its peak in 1980. Abortions have fallen 28 percent since 2006. Yet 10,123 unborn children were destroyed in 2014. Much, much more work remains to be done.
MCCL will hold its annual March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The purpose of the March is to commemorate the lives lost to abortion and to call for renewed respect and protection for all members of the human family, especially unborn children and their mothers. It is an opportunity to re-energize, remobilize, and refocus. MCCL will introduce its 2016 legislative agenda during the event.
The March for Life begins at 12 noon on the Capitol grounds in St. Paul, followed by a short program at 12:30. We hope to see you there.