This guest post is provided courtesy of my husband Peter, a social studies/math teacher at a charter high school in Central California. He is in his 18th year of teaching in both public and private schools in Texas, Arizona, and California; he is also in his third official year of homeschooling. He is a lifelong Catholic, and a talented mineral collector and family historian/genealogist.
Forty years now since Roe . . . The losses, in terms of the children who were never allowed to be born and the awful suffering endured afterwards by mothers and fathers of aborted children (for such parents often do not really understand what they are doing or are pushed into such a decision by people around them who have a very different stake in the matter) are beyond staggering and calculation.
It is easy to be outraged at the way the Court made that ruling. Here, you had some justices who wanted to uphold something not because there was a clear warrant for it in the Constitution, but because they personally supported it and wanted to find a way to legalize it somewhow. So, they scoured the Constitution to find some sort of reasoning they could concoct for making abortion a “right” on par with those rights explicitly provided there, and they arrived at a “right to privacy” (which they used, albeit in a very different context, in the earlier Griswold decision), which is apparently a “penumbra” that permeates and surrounds the Constitution(?!).
What they explicitly tried to avoid considering was the possibility that an unborn child might have some rights as well, and whose right to live – just as yours or mine – might take precedence over this “privacy penumbra”. Of course, they couldn’t avoid this entirely while maintaining some degree of credibility and so (perhaps also to try to quiet their own consciences, which I have to imagine were tugging at them here) they ruled that abortion could be restricted later in a pregnancy, thus establishing the horrifying precedent that we (or, more properly, a handful of people in positions of such power) can arbitrarily pick a boundary for when “life” begins and hence when we will afford people any protection under the law.
We have not yet even seen the full and terrible consequences of that way of thinking, especially given the momentum today towards denying life support to people who need it on the grounds that, since they are not “viable” on their own, they do not deserve to be kept alive. I do believe that, some day, legal abortion in this country will end, for tragedies such as this usually do end eventually once the disastrous effects become so manifest that society can no longer tolerate their continued existence. When that will happen, I cannot say. Sadly, slavery lasted two and a half centuries here before its end, and it took a century further beyond that point for people of all backgrounds to be granted equal rights under the law. Hopefully, it won’t take that long this time around . . .