Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade on the issue of abortion. The Court ruled 7-2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Nevertheless, the Court did not rule that a woman’s right to privacy, and hence, to an abortion could not go unchecked. The Court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy must be balanced against the not necessarily competing interests of the protection of prenatal life and the protection of the woman’s health. Ultimately, the Court reconciled these two interests by limiting abortion to the first trimester of pregnancy.
Roe v. Wade, which, for all intents and purposes, essentially legally settled the issue of abortion in America for all time, has impassioned pro-choice and pro-life advocates to rally for progress (however it is defined) over the past four decades. Most recently, the Democratic Party rekindled the debate over a woman’s right to privacy at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. At the DNC, Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student wrongly excoriated for her views on contraception by conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, championed a woman’s right to privacy, i.e. the choice of whether or not to have an abortion before an extremely receptive audience.
The Democratic Party’s provocative crusade for a woman’s right to privacy made a mockery of the very sensitive issue of abortion. Abortion – the termination of innocent, vulnerable human life – is not something to be celebrated or championed. The decision to have an abortion, for whatever reason, is a deeply personal one, and the accompanying profound psychological effects of such a decision in the subsequent weeks, months, and even years after are not to be taken lightly.
Many found the Democratic Party’s inflammatory rhetoric to be incredibly disrespectful and degrading of women. However, members of the Republican Party were just as guilty with such stupid sophistry, best exemplified by Todd Akin’s claim of “legitimate rape.”
Returning back to 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Right to Life Committee has recently estimated the number of abortions that have taken place in America since 1973. According to lifenews.com, in “Abortion Statistics: United States Data and Trends,” NRLC education director Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon estimates that there have been 54,559,615 abortions since 1973 based on data from both the Centers for Disease Control and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, a former Planned Parenthood research arm.
According to the data, there are more than 3,300 abortions daily and 137 abortions per hour every hour in America, which is the equivalent of about an abortion every 30 seconds. The immense loss of life from abortions in America is sickening. For surely, the majority of abortions in America cannot be due to unwanted pregnancies resulting from cases of rape or incest, or due to considerations of risk to the mother’s health.
Yesterday, President Obama commemorated the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reasserting his support of abortion. Obama stated, “On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we reaffirm its historic commitment to protect the health and reproductive freedom of women across this country and stand by its guiding principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care. Today and every day, my Administration continues our efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and minimize the need for abortion. On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to supporting women and families in the choices they make and redouble our efforts to promote safe and healthy communities.”
In the past 40 years, American society has failed 54, 559, 615 innocent, defenseless lives due to a woman’s right to abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade. It seems that time and time again, the interest of the protection of prenatal life loses out to the interest of the woman’s health. The Supreme Court has failed to equally balance the two interests at stake. Abortion should neither be championed nor condemned, for as all would agree, it is certainly not a black and white issue. Nevertheless, this extraordinary and excessive loss of life morally obliges American society to reengage in a civil discourse on abortion and reexamine Roe v. Wade’s treatment of the interests of both the unborn and the mother.