An exchange of emails with a friend got me started on this.
The abortion issue, labeled Pro Life or Pro Choice by the interest groups, remains the most significant cultural divide in American life. Viewed by both sides as a moral issue, it leaves little room for anyone to be 'moderate.'
I have always approached the question as a legal issue. Admittedly, my personal aversion to abortion may influence my legal opinion, but, in the tradition of the judiciary, I try to think it through without reference to my subjective opinion.
Prior to 1973, every state in the American union had some kind of legislation on the subject of abortion. Both criminal statutes and laws regulating the practice of medicine prohibited assisting or causing a woman to miscarry.
So far as I have seen, these laws were all addressed to the person causing the miscarriage and not to the pregnant woman.
In the decade prior to 1973 there were efforts in several states to liberalize the abortion statutes. Most would make it legal for a woman to have an abortion in case of rape or incest, or if the pregnancy endangered her life or physical health.
The entry of the Supreme Court of the United States into this sensitive moral and political thicket was, in my opinion, a serious departure from the proper constitutional role of the court. The opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackman, has been criticized from both left and right.
Much has been said and written by scholars on both sides. No one has ever suggested that any citizen who voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments had the remotest intention to restrict the power of the states to legislate with respect to abortion.
Roe v Wade was an unquestioned usurpation of legislative power by the Supreme Court. It would be easy enough for the court to return the matter to the state legislatures, but unhappily, the Pro Choice people are dead set against allowing the voters to have any Choice in the matter.
The real mischief of Roe v Wade is that it legalizes abortion as an alternative method of birth control. Blackman said the decision should be left to the woman and her doctor. That line was supposed to suggest that abortion is a medical procedure, performed for medical reasons.
The fact is otherwise. Doctors who perform abortions make their living performing abortions. Pregnant women are their clients. Abortion doctors are hardly a restraining influence. If anything, they encourage the procedure that puts money in their pockets.
The result is that a healthy fetus has less protection in America than a healthy liver or gall bladder. No medical necessity needs to be shown. Abortion is completely optional. Like a haircut or a pedicure.
So there it lies. America has a liberal abortion culture, not by Choice, but by the dictate of unelected judges. The long range political consequences, especially as they impact the declining, morbid birth rate in the United States will probably have to play out before the Justices undo what they have wrought.
That's the way I see it.