This week, instead of quietly marking the 45th anniversary of the passing of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, citizens around our nation are gearing up to fight to protect it.
President Trump’s flip-flop from supporting to opposing legal abortions took place some while ago, although he still would allow early terminations in cases of rape and incest. His emotionally charged pronouncements Friday to demand changes in the law were a thinly veiled attempt to solidify his crumbling political base.
His decision to embrace the belief that the federal government knows what is best for any American woman making this difficult choice is simply disturbing. The revival of the clashing rhetoric — over a battle that was settled long ago — is simply a political distraction just when his administration is under fire from all sides.
Abortion long has been a core issue of his vice president, Mike Pence, who brought many hardline evangelicals on board to win the 2016 GOP campaign with his emotionally charged rhetoric against legal abortions and homosexual rights.
The key word in any abortion discussion is “legal.” Women who want to have an abortion will have the operation regardless of the law. The question is whether this simple medical procedure is performed in safe, hygienic conditions by trained professionals or in considerably less healthy circumstances which pose a danger to the women’s lives and long-term health.
Roe v. Wade was supposed to settle the matter. Both sides presented arguments in a Texas case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The battle was fought. And the battle was won. In 1973, justices voted 7-2 in favor of a ruling that overturned state bans and legalized abortion throughout the nation. They did so on privacy grounds, saying government intervention in a woman’s medical treatment was an unwarranted and improper intervention in her right to choose what happens to her body.
About 7 in 10 Americans (69 percent) oppose overturning Roe V. Wade, according to the Pew Research Center. About 3 in 10 (28 percent) would like to see it overturned. That split of public opinion has held relatively steady in recent decades.
Abortion opponents have worked hard to impose obstacles to women following through on their own choices.
In states around the nation, such groups have enlisted compliant legislators to pass laws that deliberately make it very difficult for a woman to obtain a legal abortion. Legislation has been introduced to restrict abortion to circumstances of rape, or where the woman’s life is in danger. All these strategies seek to chip away at a woman’s natural right to determine whether and when she bears a child.
Roadblocks like waiting periods, mandatory counseling and other restrictions reveal a concerted effort. In recent years, states have sought to insist that clinic doctors have credentials from their local hospitals and require clinics to make expensive modifications to their facilities. These latter two requirements were introduced in a Texas law in 2013, but struck down by subsequent court rulings.
Trump’s speech Friday has already been dissected for its mistruths. The false comparisons with other nations were easy to reveal, just like so many of our chief executive’s other dubious statements.
We simply do not need this. This country has enough problems with environmental threats, overwhelming debt, crumbling infrastructure, hunger, poverty and crime without revisiting a fight won long ago.
One person summed up the issue back in 1999.
It remains a statement with which we totally agree.
“I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics. I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.”
The speaker was Donald Trump.