Liberals need to let go of abortion

The majority in Roe couldn't even decide where this right to abort was found.

Liberals just can’t let go of abortion. Between Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., talking up Roe v. Wade as a “super-duper precedent” and Abby Bar-Lev’s Nov. 14 column, “Tired of the same old myths about Roe v. Wade,” which purports to dispel the myths regarding the ultimate Supreme Court decision of the past half century, I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony ” I just don’t know where to start.

I must say Bar-Lev makes an intriguing political and medical case for having legalized abortion. However, the crux of her argument, that Roe v. Wade is a medical decision about freedom and choice, falls flat in the context of the Constitution.

The fact is that Roe v. Wade, in January 1973, laughed in the face of legislative tradition ” from the beginning of our democracy to that January day the question of abortion had been decided entirely by state legislatures. It is well documented that abortion had been fiercely debated, and those debates within each state raised a cornucopia of issues of which many people of good intentions disagree. Regardless of which side of the debate someone personally fell on, hardly anyone during those nearly 200 years imagined that the Constitution held the answer. However, Justice Harry Blackmun’s 51-page opinion held otherwise.?

The fact that Roe v. Wade took 51 pages to explain highlights the judicial absurdity of the decision. Besides appealing to a survey of ancient attitudes toward abortion, as well as various organizations’ stances, Blackmun felt the need to invoke “Penumbras of the Bill of Rights” “?a judicial myth that the court can confer rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Liberals seem to be mollified by this judicial usurpation only because it recently has conformed to their personal policy preferences. People like Bar-Lev seem to forget that similar judicial reasoning had burdened us with Dredd Scott v. Sanford, which created the constitutional right to own slaves where a statute forbids it.

Furthermore, the majority in Roe couldn’t even decide where this right to abort was found. They conclude that it doesn’t matter if you take it from the 14th Amendment or the Ninth Amendment, or a combination thereof; the right to abortion is a legal reality. While Bar-Lev may brush this off as a technicality, it unquestionably shows that such a right is not read out of the text of the Constitution, but forced in where permissible.

Such a way of deciding constitutional law, stretching the bounds of constitutional reasoning to support personal policy preferences, isn’t foreign to liberals like Bar-Lev. However, those who support its results-based culture fail to see the legal ripple effects. Because the court has time and time again felt a hubristic need to inject itself into the culture wars we have seen a politicizing of the judiciary. This has led to a reduction of both the integrity of our Supreme Court and the way in which presidents select and the Senate vet nominees. Roe is one of the central causes of this effect, but the real myth is that overturning it will not end the culture of judicial supremacy.

Bar-Lev attempted to dispel the myths about Roe, but she forgets the Constitution and its history along the way. As Bar-Lev states, it could be a problem for women if Roe is overturned. While it is a poignant argument, it is not a constitutional one.

Aaron B. Solem is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]