How Reversing Roe v Wade Could Backfire

With Texas, Mississippi, and other states enacting Pro-Life legislation and the US Supreme Court seeming to signal the reversal of Roe v Wade—or at least its limitation—many on our side are rejoicing that Roe may soon go; however, I have a bad feeling about such a move. I wish to expand this idea. What follows is in no particular order and I reserve the right to add to my list of reasons later but here goes …

At our nation’s founding, law was based on a Christian understanding of law and morality. Yes, it was not perfect, but faith in Christ and the Bible was in large part the basis of the Western Worldview or Western Civilization. Now however, people have rejected the Bible as authoritative. Without biblical authority, men no longer ask themselves How Should We then Live?

People in our culture have set themselves up as their own gods and decide what’s right or wrong based on their own whims and relativistic thinking. There are no absolutes. How many times have you heard the lie, “You have your truth and I have mine”? Sorry folks but Truth is not negotiable, it is absolute and remains true whether I acknowledge it as so or not.

Facts are a similar type of Truth claim. The “fake news” mantra is not really accurate. Facts—in context—are not negotiable in and of themselves, but their meaning can be interpreted in different ways. Facts are a type of evidence that can be cited as building blocks of a larger truth claim. The causality of various facts is a large part of the “fake news” phenomenon. Ignoring context, relationships (especially cause and effect), and logical conclusions all contribute to the divide in public discourse in our nation and beyond. Without the ability to agree on a set of facts, we have no basis to communicate ideas with each other, thus we talk past each other and not to each other. This inability to communicate is polarizing and prevents dialogue. In part, this a result of not having a shared worldview.

A corollary of the above discussion is what is called the “law of unintended consequences”. We can deliberate whether a particular instance of the law of unintended consequences is actually known or can be reasoned—although that is usually the case—but such can be seen, especially in the areas of government and law. A change is not really the end point but the beginning of a new series of steps that have a logical conclusion that is almost always denied by those implementing the change.

This leads me to the US Supreme Court and abortion. I would like them to end abortion but how they do it is the most important question that nobody seems to be asking. Folks, please hear me on this, how they do it is either going to be a boon to freedom for people in our country or a device to further enslave us.

Roe was written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun.

Associate Justice Harry Blackmun

This was Blackmun’s first majority opinion for the US Supreme Court. Much of Roe is steeped in quasi-scientific and medical language. Concepts like “trimester” were never a part of arguments for or against the cases that became Roe. Instead, Blackmun inserted the idea of a trimester into the Court’s reasoning. Likewise, “the health of the mother”. Blackmun did not define “health of the mother” but the court did in Doe v Bolton which was released the same day. The practical result of both cases legalized unlimited abortion thru all nine months of pregnancy in all 50 states.

I know that science has advanced much since 1973 but making science the arbiter of law or morality is an insufficient basis to overturn Roe. It sets the precedent that Dr. Fauci or his ilk can decide what is right now or at any time in the future. If science changes then law or morality can change—bad idea.

If Roe is overturned, then in theory, each state has its own abortion law. While this might be a strictly Constitutional arrangement, morally, it is an untenable place for the law. This would put us back into an arrangement where one state was slave owning and another was not. Either human beings have value and deserve legal protection, or they do not. To have both positions and treat them as equally valid is wrong. Such a view is morally and legally untenable.

This brings us to a finding that the Constitution actually has a place for finding a right to life. While I think this is ultimately where the Court should end-up, this view has its own pitfalls as well. If the Constitution contains a right to life, then doesn’t government have a mandate to ensure that life is protected at all costs? Thus, if government decides that we all need Covid shots, universal healthcare, or must prevent global warming then we must do it because the Constitution demands it. Please note that this sets government above the Constitution but at the cost of individual liberty.

If the Court leaves this up to individuals, then aren’t we just codifying the idea that everyone does what is right in their own minds? Isn’t this largely the status quo now, just phrased a different way?

How do you craft a Constitutional interpretation that protects life, ensures individual liberty, and is morally right? In the relativistic times that we live in, how do you do it in a way that cannot be corrupted later?

Dismantling Roe is not enough but what will we put in its place? Simply chipping away at it or undoing it is a wholly insufficient solution. Life is not the ultimate value, God’s Law is. In a culture that refuses to honor God what will people do if the Court finds a way to affirm His teaching?