Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Hundred Year Plan

I was debating the other evening with a friend about what would happen if abortion were outlawed tomorrow. It was interesting, but the notion of abortion being outlawed tomorrow is a bit far fetched. I don't expect to ever see it happen in my life time. So what do I expect? Why be pro-life in that case?

The "holy grail" for many pro-lifers is overturning Roe v. Wade. This may be a necessary step, but is certainly not sufficient. Many overlook that we must also overturn Doe v. Bolton. For those who aren't familiar with the cases, Roe v. Wade stated that an unborn child was not granted protection under the law according to a statement implied in the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution. The part of that amendment that the court deemed exempts unborn children from protection under the law reads as follows:
...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Anybody else see the flaw in this logic? Anyway, Roe v. Wade said a woman could abort a non-viable child for sufficient reason. Doe v. Bolton was the coup de grace for the unborn, which basically said that any reason would do, and at any time until birth. Of course, it did not specify when birth ended, and so we have practices like partial birth abortion and cases like the Virginia woman who suffocated her new born infant, but because she had not cut the umbilical cord her actions were legal.

What would it take to overturn Roe/Doe? First off we need to get a clear majority of pro-life justices on the supreme court. There are nine justices. How would they vote today? My best guess is as follows:
Roe v Wade
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito
John RobertsStephen Breyer
Anthony Kennedy
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Sonia Sotomayor

So the first prerequisite for overturning Roe v. Wade is to have a pro-life president in the white house for the next two or three terms.So we need not one but two pro-life justices to have a chance at overturning this bad decision. Supreme court justices are appointed by the president, and for life. Of course, any justice could resign or pass away at any time, but statistically speaking, the two oldest justices are Kennedy (80) and Ginsburg (77) who are both pro-abortion. It is likely that they will retire first, and in the next ten years. Assuming that happens by 2020, we still have to have a case go before the court, and there would likely be years of preparation before a decision was made. Ditto for Doe v. Bolton.

So let's say it happens, Roe v. Wade is overturned. No more abortion? Think again. All Roe v. Wade did was say that states were not allowed to give legal protection to the unborn. Once it is gone the states now have the power to make laws concerning abortion. Sadly, some states get big money from big abortion industries like Planned Parenthood. They would be reluctant to change things, so we would have the same situation, but at a state level. Each state would have the ability to limit or abolish abortion, but would also have the ability to keep things as they are.

Enter the "personhood" amendment. This is a constitutional amendment which has been tried several times at the state level that says simply the following:
The word person refers to any member of the human race, from fertilization until death.
How can they get away with that when Roe v Wade exists? They are currently about state constitutions, not the US constitution. So far these amendments have been defeated, and some pro-lifers say that they are a waste of time and energy, and harmful to the pro-life movement. I believe that many different tools should be employed to fight injustice; "Likelihood of winning" should not be the criteria for even trying.

If Roe v. Wade were overturned in a decade that would mean it took almost 50 years to change that decision. A Constitutional amendment is a process that (rightly) takes a long time as well. For that to happen, the proposed amendment must pass both the house and senate by at least a 2/3 majority. After that it would have to be ratified by at least 3/4 of the state legislatures within seven years.

So for this amendment to happen we'd have 2/3 of the house and senate be pro-life. Using the health care bill as a litmus test, I'd say the current congress would be split about 50-50 on such an amendment (just a guess). We need to get pro-life candidates into more states than currently.

Even with constitutional protection, the Supreme court could still screw things up. For instance, the eight amendment to Ireland's constitution says:
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
However, their supreme court essentially flaunted their own constitution that in declaring that embryos that were not implanted in a womb were not "unborn". Again, anybody else see the flaw?

In short, even if all goes our way, I expect the legal battle to outlaw abortion in the United States will take 100 years. A prerequisite for that is for people to vote for pro-life candidate. A prerequisite to that is for our citizens to be educated in biological science and understand what abortion is, and to understand that we have better ways to treat women and children than killing them.


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