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January 22, 2008

March for Life 2008

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The March for Life will go on in Washington, D.C. as usual. A couple hundred thousand marchers are expected, including a contingent from my home parish, which sends a dozen or so university and high-school students every year.

Yesterday, 25,000 pro-lifers gathered in San Francisco for the fourth annual West Coast Walk for Life. It was relatively peaceful, with just a few hundred abortion supporters showing up to protest. In keeping with the theme of the day, Dr. Alveda King, neice of Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the marchers:

"We care about life from the womb to the tomb... My uncle said injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Dr. King said that the Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the future of his children for personal comfort and safety. So here we are on behalf of the children, the future generation."

I expect the TV news will be unwatchable today with hourly retrospectives and "what does it all mean" musings from the evening pundits. CNN's online effort, "35 years after Roe: A legacy of law and morality," begins:

Thirty-five years since Roe v. Wade, and little, it seems, has changed.

The January 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion remains the law of the land, and passions remain high on both sides of the issue, with annual protests on the anniversary. Access to abortion, then and now, is more than just about simple legalities. Social, religious and family values, as well as finances and politics, still play a role in shaping the abortion issue, but many legal and medical experts say the debate has become predictable.

The article downplays the gains that have been made at undoing Roe v. Wade, claiming, "Nor have various legislatures or court rulings restricted access as much as some supporters claim."

That's a pretty hefty gloss on the legal reality. In 1992, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, did away with Roe's strained trimester framework, choosing instead to focus on protecting viable fetuses. The Casey Court went even further and held that states could limit pre-viability abortions so long as the limitations do not impose an "undue burden" on a woman's ability to decide to abort.

That ruling made it okay for states to require that written, informed consent about the abortion procedure be given to a woman seeking abortion. It allowed states to put in place a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for non-emergency abortions and to narrowly define "emergency." The Court's opinion also noted that requiring that a minor receive parental consent is not an "undue burden." And when abortion advocates wanted to prevent abortion clinics from keeping records and reporting information on their procedures, it allowed such activities where they were "reasonably directed to the preservation of maternal health."

Just this past year, the Court handed down Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding the federal partial-birth abortion ban. In a slap to the district court, Justice Kennedy wrote that lower courts were too quick to ignore the state's interest in protecting unborn children, a central premise of the Casey ruling.

It was this case which caused Justice Ginsberg to emotionally read her dissent from the bench. She, contra CNN, thinks that things have changed:

In angry dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the lone woman on the high court since O'Connor stepped down, called the majority's conclusions "alarming" and said they "cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away a right declared again and again by this court, and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives."

I think she's a monster for not recognizing what an atrocity it is that abortion has a "centrality to women's lives." Whatever happened to "safe, legal, and rare"?


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 04:11 AM

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