Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe, the pro-lifers will fight to consolidate their gains while the pro-choicers will fight to reverse their losses. If they’re not careful, each side will become its own worse enemy and its opponent’s best friend.
The biggest mistake one can make in analyzing the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade is to think the matter is settled. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pro-choicers have the same right as the pro-lifers have exercised over the past fifty years—the right to try to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision. If the pro-lifers are to solidify their victory, they must avoid making the sort of mistakes which will play into the hands of the pro-choicers. Two of the most obvious mistakes (but by no means the only mistakes to be made) are to be too extreme in the policies they can now pursue at the state level, and to take too narrow a view of what it should mean to be “pro-life.”
Public opinion polls consistently show that Americans support, by a 2-1 margin, the retention of Roe v. Wade and the availability of abortion as an option at least during the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. Pro-lifers have been successful partly because, even though they’ve always been a minority, they’ve been more intense in their views and better organized in their advancement.
But pro-lifers run the risk of arousing pro-choice sentiment if pro-life state lawmakers enact laws to ban abortion under almost all circumstances other than to save the life of pregnant women. Many proposed laws would make no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Supporters of these proposed laws argue that all innocent life is sacred and worthy of protection and that to abort he fetus produced through rape or incest is to punish the unborn for the sins of the father. Maybe so. But whatever the merits of this argument, the pro-lifers should consider how the pregnant woman or girl has been hurt by the infliction of that sin. The cruelty of making a rape victim or a child impregnated by a pervert unable to obtain relief through abortion will strike most decent Americans as too great to sanction. Pro-lifers, no matter how ardent they may be in their beliefs, must be prepared for backlash if they persist in excluding these decent and necessary exceptions.
Moreover, pro-lifers must understand that to be truly pro-life one must recognize that while life may begin at conception, it does not end at birth. Life lasts, well, for life. Therefore, those who are truly pro-life must be prepared to preserve, protect, promote, and defend innocent life from conception to its natural end. Pro-lifers should support more medical research to improve everyone’s health at every stage of life, and they should specifically support whatever means are necessary to address the medical needs of pregnant women, the unborn, and the newborn not only through better medical research but through better organized and more generous support through Medicaid and other forms of insurance. The development of more effective sex education curricula and birth control means and their distribution are likewise a must, inasmuch as truly effective programs will reduce the demand for abortion as well as the incidence of STDs.
Pro-choicers are likewise in need of course corrections in their approach to trying to reverse their losses. Initial actions, if skillfully exploited by pro-lifers, may undermine the current public support the pro-choice position continues to enjoy.
Most horrendous are the acts of arson and vandalism radical pro-choice terrorists are beginning to commit against pro-life pregnancy centers. It’s probably only a matter of time before a pro-life staffer is murdered. If that happens the, pro-choice terrorists will become as big a disgrace to their position as those who murdered abortionists and vandalized their facilities were to the pro-life movement. The pro-choice terrorism will accomplish nothing other than to harden right-wingers already stirred up by the Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements and create more sympathy for pro-lifers, their facilities, and their services.
Moreover, it’s necessary that pro-choice leaders in government abandon their lackadaisical—if not downright dangerous—approach to the security of pro-life Supreme Court justices. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer did his side no favor when, in 2020, he stood outside the Supreme Court building calling out Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and warning they would never know what hit them if they continued to pursue policies of which Schumer disapproves. Nor did AOC when under questioning on Meet the Press she said impeachment of pro-life Supreme Court justices should be considered because senators who examined them during their confirmation hearings consider themselves to have been misled on justices’ views on precedent. Both AOC and Speaker Pelosi deserve criticism for slow-walking through the House of Representatives proposed legislation to provide more security for judges and justices—a measure which even Schumer supported and quickly got through the Senate.
And President Biden should reconsider his hands-off approach to the demonstrations pro-choicers have been conducting outside the homes of Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett. He has said they’re peaceful and therefore legal. Wrong. Federal law says, “Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.” Joe should, first, read the law and, second, enforce it.
The Supreme Court intends that the power to make abortion policy be returned to the states to be hashed out by the processes of democratically-elected legislatures. However messy theses processes may seem, there should be no tolerance for extremist views or violent or otherwise illegal tactics.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.