THE ‘ON FAITH’ QUESTION
John McCain and Sarah Palin say it’s time to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Do you agree? What is the right moral choice?
As a woman and a lawyer, I agree with Alice Paul – the author of the original Equal Rights Amendment – who observed that “abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.” But one need not agree with my view that abortion is a violation of the human right to life in order to agree with John McCain and Sarah Palin’s position that Roe v. Wade must be overturned, returning the abortion issue to the individual states. As champions of democracy by the people and for the people, McCain and Palin understand that the issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat.
McCain and Palin are also correct in pointing out that the reversal of Roe v. Wade would be only the first step in the long path toward ending the violence of abortion. As they explain on their website, “Once the question is returned to the states, the fight for life will be one of courage and compassion – the courage of a pregnant mother to bring her child into the world and the compassion of civil society to meet her needs and those of her newborn baby.”
At the core of this issue is John McCain’s commitment to nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. And on this issue, McCain and Palin are in the company of many scholars who support legalized abortion but recognize that imposing it through the Supreme Court violates basic principles of federalism.
Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School and an informal adviser to the Obama campaign, recently wrote that “[a]s it was written in 1973, Roe v. Wade was far from a model of legal reasoning, and conservatives have been correct to criticize it. The court failed to root the abortion right in either the text of the Constitution or its own precedents.” Sunstein acknowledged that the Roe court “ruled far too broadly,” by taking “the highly unusual step of setting out a series of rules for legislatures to follow.” “It is no wonder,” Sunstein recognizes, “that millions of Americans felt, and continue to feel, that the court refused to treat their moral convictions with respect.”
McCain and Palin recognize that the moral convictions of Americans on both sides of the issue deserve the respect of healthy debate in the public square and final resolution in the halls of our legislatures. They believe in the democratic process.
But the lack of respect that the Supreme Court showed for democracy and the moral convictions of Americans will seem miniscule next to the lack of respect that Barack Obama has in mind in his plans to nullify hundreds of common sense abortion regulations with one stroke of his pen.
At a Planned Parenthood rally last year, Obama pledged that as president, he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). FOCA would codify Roe nationwide, and effectively repeal each and every law regulating abortion, including partial birth abortion bans, bans on tax-payer funded abortions, laws that require parental notice for minors seeking abortion, laws that protect healthcare providers’ rights of conscience, and even laws that require that women be given informed consent materials about the medical dangers of abortion.
“If passed and signed into law, FOCA would codify a woman’s right to abortion and strike down a host of federal and state restrictions,” explains the National Organization for Women.
John McCain and Sarah Palin oppose these blatant attacks on the rights of Americans to govern themselves and decide the protections due to the least amongst us through the democratic process. Whether the assault comes from the Supreme Court or the White House, the destructive effects of Roe on our democracy and our human dignity must end.
Dorinda C. Bordlee is Vice President & Senior Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, a public-interest law firm dedicated to advocating for the human right to life through litigation, legislation and public education.