Abortion

Abortion

Well, it’s January 22nd, yet another anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade which legalized abortion in this country and started a controversy that will never subside.  Please note that I say the Court “legalized” abortion – I didn’t say that they invented abortion.

I live about 8 miles south of Washington, D.C. and I’ve already noticed a number of buses pouring into town with their pro-life signs hanging from their sides.  Indeed, as I write this tens of thousands of anti-abortion advocates are standing in the freezing rain listening to the same speeches that they’ve been listening to for years.  They will hold their rallies then very soon start their march up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court.  They’ll be more rallies, bullhorns, prayer vigils, speak outs, women who all of a sudden “regret” their abortions.  You name it, there’s something for everyone.

Abortion

Abortion

Meanwhile, in much smaller numbers there will be the usual pro-choice “counter” events that are designed to make sure that in tomorrow’s newspapers or tonight’s news shows, there will be a pro-choice presence as well.  Also, there will be the inevitable debate not about the issue but about how many people attended the rallies.

Around and around it goes, and for all of these years practically nothing has changed.  The only thing for certain is that the number of abortions has gone down for a number of years and it is practically impossible to say why.   Personally, I just have to believe that it’s because women, particularly younger ones, are simply more educated when it comes to birth control.   But, yes, another reason may be that there continues to be an abortion stigma and single parenthood seems more acceptable these days.

Abortion

Abortion

One thing that pro-choicers will cite is the constant legislative “attacks” on a woman’s right to have an abortion.  And, yes, the pro-lifers are taking advantage of the more conservative climate in many state legislatures but a lot of those laws deal with “informing” women of the “humanity” of the fetus, making them look at silly pictures.  These laws do not seem to really have much of an impact.  Then, there are a few clinics that have actually closed, mainly because as the number of patients decrease, some clinics are hurt and find they cannot pay the rent, equipment leases, and payroll.  Like all businesses, they are affected by the number of “customers.”

Abortion Pill

Abortion Pill

And then, as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank recently pointed out, organizations on both sides continue their decades-long pursuit of dollars.  It seems that both sides always feel a need to send out fundraising letters with large, red lettering and lots of exclamation points.  The now famous “personhood bill” is a good example.  We’re gonna see the proposal in a number of states but, really folks, if it didn’t pass in Mississippi, what state will pass the damn thing?

The bottom line is 39 years later, (less) women are still getting abortions and the clinics stand ready to serve them.

Bravo.

Abortion and the Supreme Court

Abortion and the Supreme Court

Okay, boys and girls.  It’s time for a lesson in civics.

The fate of legalized abortion rests with you – the voters.  Yeah, that might sound kind of corny but it’s true.

Let’s talk about whether or not abortion will remain legal in this country.  It drives me nuts when I hear someone say that Roe v Wade is “settled law.”  That’s total bull crap.  No, it’s double bull crap.

That issue of whether or not abortion will remain legal in this country ultimately rests with the U.S. Supreme Court.  Sure, the Congress could theoretically pass a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v Wade, but they tried that in the early 1980’s and got crushed.  They ain’t gonna try it again for a very, very long time.

So, the anti-abortion crowd has to look to the Supreme Court for assistance.  At this point, there are 6 members of the Court (out of 9) that appear to support legal abortion.  That includes Justices Sotomayer and Kagan, who have not voted on the issue publicly but who we assume are pro-choice.  I say it “appears” that we have six votes because most people count Justice Anthony Kennedy as pro-choice.  The problem is he is a wild card and has supported abortion restrictions.  Then there are three solid votes against legal abortion.  So far, so good.  The home team is up 6-3.

But let’s say that Kennedy suddenly starts having reservations about legal abortion for some reason.  If he switched, that brings the score to 5-4 in favor of Roe v Wade.  Then, jump to the year 2012 and suppose that President Obama is defeated for re–election, which is a distinct possibility at this point.  So, all of a sudden we have a President Palin or Gingrich (hand me the barf bag, please) to deal with come January, 2013.  Then, let’s say that one of our solid votes dies or resigns from the Court.  Justice Ginsburg, who is old and ill, comes to mind.  That means that the new right wing President suddenly has an opportunity to appoint a conservative judge who would be in favor of reversing Roe.  That makes if 5-4 for the bad guys.

Now, please don’t tell me that the Supreme Court relies very heavily on “precedent.”   That’s garbage.  The Supreme Court, as we saw in the Gore-Bush election case, is now a very partisan institution.  These are not sage, respected jurists who sit back with an open mind, then research the issue and hand down their opinion.  No, they already know how they feel about the basic issues and when a case comes before them they just pretend to listen to the oral arguments, then they go back to their chambers, tell their clerks what their decision is and instruct them to figure out the reasoning.

So, the bottom line is whether or not we have a pro-choice President or not.

And that’s entirely up to you.

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