Should Legal Abortion Be Killed?

Written by Mike McManus

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week on whether to overturn its Roe v. Wade decision of 48 years ago that legalized abortion.

It is considering a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks – well before the established point of fetal “viability” at around 24 weeks. Many pro-life leaders hope the nation’s highest court will use this opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade to protect unborn children.

Roe v. Wade has made America one of the most pro-abortion nations in the world.  The U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that allows abortion on demand after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most countries have laws that protect unborn babies from abortion after the first trimester, if not sooner. But not America.

As a result, since 1973, more than 63 million babies in America have been killed in abortions.

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case concerning a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks

The U.S. Supreme Court heard “the biggest case for the pro-life movement in two generations,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group.  The group plans to spend $10 million on TV and digital ads to promote the case.

President Trump appointed three conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court:  Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

By the mid-1980s, Mississippi had more than a dozen abortion providers and the nation as whole had nearly 3,000. Then, in the mid-1980s, as antiabortion protesters began bombing clinics and threatening doctors, the number of abortions plunged nationally. By 1990 1,000 abortion doctors had quit and 84% of counties nationwide had no abortion clinic at all.  Mississippi had only one clinic.

The state also led the way in passing abortion restrictions. In 1992, Mississippi was the first to require a 24-hour waiting period and a law was passed requiring parental consent for patients under age 18.

The case which came before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, came out of Mississippi.  Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart said the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade “haunts our country” and “has no home in our history  or traditions” as he defended a state law that bans most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled that it is on the verge of a major shift in its abortion jurisprudence and is likely to uphold a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It s unclear that Roe v. Wade will be overturned but none of the six conservative justices, who make up the court’s majority, expressed support for the court’s rule that states may not prohibit abortion before the point of fetal viability, which is generally estimated to be between 22 and 24 weeks.

Chief Justice John Roberts, often the most moderate of the conservatives, said Mississippi’s limit of 15 weeks “was not a dramatic departure from viability.”  The court’s liberals asserted the court’s reputation would be irreparably damaged if nearly a half century of abortion jurisprudence was dismantled because of a change in the court’s membership. But the nearly two hour session seemed to indicate that is exactly what would happen – with Trump’s three appointees joining with the court’s other conservatives.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh gave abortion rights supporters little to cheer in his questions and comments. He presented a long list of cases in which the court had overturned long-held precedents and said perhaps the best solution was for the court was to be “scrupulously neutral” on an issue in which he said the U.S. Constitution is silent.

If the Mississippi law is upheld, abortion could quickly become illegal in as much as half the country. Justice Kavanaugh argued that it was not possible to “accommodate” both the interest of the pregnant woman and the interest of the fetus.  He said “You have to pick.  That’s the fundamental problem. And one interest has to prevail over the other.”

In his rebuttal, Scott Stewart, Mississippi’s solicitor general, argued that “Contraception is more accessible and affordable and available than it was at the time of Roe. “It serves the same goal of allowing women to decide if, when and how many children to have.”

Perhaps Scripture offers needed wisdom:  In Jeremiah 1:4-5:  “The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart;  I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”