Go Know Roe

Ok first lemme say that i am more horrified abput the assault on the US Supreme Court’s deliberative privacy than i am either way about the abortion issue. Im writing tbis here (mos’ly) in order to have a cooler, less emotional discussion about Roe v. Wade.

Talking with a Catholic friend, a brilliant woman, a lawyer, and rabidly anti- Roe, i was gobsmacked when she asked me what the holding in that case actually was. She had no idea.

As i recall, the decision says during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, states can neither regulate nor prohibit the procedure; during the second trimester states may regulate but not absoluteky prohibit, and during the last trimester, states may prohibit abortion. This wasn’t on the basis that there exists a federal constitutuonal right to abortion, but rather, that the constitution’s legendary unspoken “right to be left alone” extends to a few weeks after conception.

My own views on the issue were firmed up at age 9 when I read an article in Ladies’ Home Journal about a wiman who had taken Thalidomide for morning sickness every blessed day of her pregnancy . This was before ultrasounds and stuff, nobody could see into the womb, but it was much, much more likely than not that this woman was going to bear a grossly deformed baby. Y’know,like, no limbs at all. And that is what was eventually removed from her womb—in Sweden, where she had to travel to get it aborted. I dk, i wasnt even menstruating yet, but it struck me as grossly unfair that our government would force her to continue with this pregnancy, knowing what she and everybody else in the country knew by then. And here, still, i stsnd: i cannit do othetwise.
Roe makes it clear to the STATES what they can and cant do. I’d argue tnat the power to “regulate” in the second trimester, like taxation, includes the power to destroy—and the Lefties certainly agree with me; tbey’ve spent the intervening years arguing that certain state statutory regulatory measures are essentially prohibitive.
Thats fine with me. ‘Long about 4 months, and undoubtedly by five, what youve got in there is a baby. A woman could feel that, i mean literally, even without benefit of imaging.
And what posdible excuse can there be for waiting untill you’re six or more months along to decide, nah, you wont go through with it after all?
So isnt the real “thorn in the Roe” the part about the first 12 weeks?
Maybe 12 weeks for private decision making is too long now, given the fact that you can find out youre pregnant on the very day you miss your period by peeing on an inexpensive and widely available strip of paper. I mean come on ladies, show a little initiative here! Ill tell ya, i really think that a woman so clueless should NOT be reproducing.
But shouldnt there be SOME time period after copulation of being able to change your mind, or avert ppssible pregnancy? What about post coital douching, which, my reading leads me to believe, prostitutes have been doing for centuries thougn its not very reliable? If you dont object to that, would you object to the “morning after” pill? Does whether or not you object depend on whether or not the woman knows for sure that she has conceived?
Judges like to say they know they’ve made a good decision if both adversaries are unhappy with it. Roe certainly meets that test.
My question dear polymaths is : what, exactly, in ypur educated scientific opinions, is wrong with Roe?

6 Likes

I don’t think science comes into the matter at all. What is wrong with Roe is that it is a breathtaking federal judicial power grab over matters which had been reserved to the states since the ratification of the constitution, without a shred of constitutional justification given in the opinion. Seven unelected judges overrode the (widely varied) laws of fifty states and established an arbitrary system of “trimesters” with no basis in law or science.

I remember where I was when I first heard of the decision (waiting at a red light near the Oakland Coliseum, driving to work on the other side of the freeway) and my reaction had nothing to do with the subject of abortion at all (I was living in California, whose governor, Ronald Reagan, had signed one of the most permissive abortion laws in the U.S., on which Roe would have essentially no effect). What stunned me was the raw assertion of judicial dictatorial power over the wishes of voters in the states. I immediately asked, “If they can do this and get away with it, what else will they do?” I would not have long to wait for the answer.

10 Likes

Nothing to do with science. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe was a blatant contravention of the 10th Amendment – inserting the Federal Government into a matter from which it was explicitly excluded.

I know! I know! The 10th Amendment! Everyone knows our Betters have decided it is a dead letter.

The fallout from Roe is that the Supreme Court has become politicized, and the assumption that citizens would respect the Supreme Court and the law – any law! – started to rot. The other fallout is that abortion up to the moment of birth is a further (self?)-degradation of women, by denying the essential importance of motherhood to a healthy society. Yes, we are going to the dogs!

8 Likes

Odd that she would have had to travel to Sweden when some 12 States legalized it prior to Roe. I am sure the travel costs would have been a lot less.

EDIT: My fault, three states.

2 Likes

The other two comments hit it exactly. The problem with Roe is not that is allows for the killing of children in the womb because States to varying degree already did that. The problem with Roe is that it is a judicial shredder eating out Constitution. The moment the general government acquisitions powers not delegated to it is the moment we live in a dictatorship, and that occurred in 1973 (if not before). Had the outcome been the other way but based on reasoning not in the constitution I would say the same thing. It matters how these types of decisions are arrived at because the document, in order to function properly, must be strictly adhered to. Otherwise we are just talking about a will to power and whoever holds the lever holds the power. That’s not how this country is supposed to function. That certainly isn’t how people like Hamilton or James Wilson of PA sold the document to us during the ratification period.

Lastly, the overturning of Roe does NOTHING to the legal status of abortion. Here in Delaware, the dismemberment of babies in the womb will continue apace. Ditto PA, NY, Cal, Wash, Ore, etc., etc. The only difference is that States like Miss. and Texas now have a voice in this debate. They now have a say in how they will arrange their society as it relates to abortion. Praise be to the Lord, Jesus Christ that some form of originalism is being reintroduced to the country.

10 Likes

Yeah and in 1960 I don’t think it was legal anywhere in US, except maybe rape, incest and life of the mother. Look up Sherri Finkbine. She had to go to Sweden too.

4 Likes

I think the reason I put this on Scanalyst, and appealed to your scientific expertise, is that I wondered:
religious belief in the soul of a zygote aside, do you think the zygote is a human being?

1 Like

I find two essential flaws in RvW. The first is the constitutionality of the ruling itself. That has already been documented well above.

But the second is moral. Government should be for protecting all life, not just the “born” life. We have watched the moral decay decisions like RvW have had upon the nation, with recent governors stating that a child should be born, kept comfortable, then the mother (?what ever happened to the father’s rights) should decide whether to keep or kill the kid.

I’m like CW - a retired physician. In the 43 years of practice I have never done anything to purposely harm another. Even the bad guys who the cops brought in got first class treatment. We have, on numerous occasions, “saved” a “fetus” (child - who grew into adulthood) at 22 weeks of gestation. I would dislike but accept - for now (until knowledge advances enough to save younger kids) accept with the greatest sadness, abortion to 15 weeks. After that, if the mother doesn’t want her child, it should, at the least, be turned over to the State to raise. I know personally numerous successful people raised in an orphanage. That would be the moral answer to all this killing. ?Is it any wonder the Black population is killing itself; there have been 23 million Black babies aborted since RvW. If the Blacks make up 15% of our population of 310M, then half their population has been aborted! THAT is a horrific statistic.

8 Likes

In the book Freakonomics the authors speculated that Roe was the main reason for the drop in crime in the early 90s.

3 Likes

OTOH, “Christine” Jorgensen had to go to Sweden too. Or rather, was headed there but found a surgeon in Denmark who was willing to maim him . So really, America wasn’t all bad before 1960.

3 Likes

Which I think speaks to Dev’s appeal to morality. The “undesirables” removed from society in order to bring order to society. Hmmmm, we have heard that somewhere else…now where could that have been?

I too have heard the same Freakonomics assertion and here’s the flaw in that: There is no way of knowing that the individuals killed through Roe would have been criminals! Their theory is in my estimation the height of human conceit and hubris because those poor souls never had the opportunity to become members of society.

As for the scientific aspect of the question, let me ask you this: When a human male and human female have intercourse and copulate, what else would you expect to be the product of that other than another human? Can chickens’ eggs, after having been fertilized by the rooster, hatch to become baluga whales? What about the Mako Shark, is there any chance of them producing a duck? I think the question answers itself, no? Not to mention the euphamistic terms we use: zygote, embryo, fetus. All words cooked up by dastardly people for the sole purpose of dehumanizing the baby inside the womb. No, the moment human male sperm penetrates the outer wall of a human female egg, there is another unique individual human, period. And that is science.

4 Likes

Let’s look at the other end of the cycle – Do you think a corpse in a coffin is a human being?

Obviously, the corpse was once a human being. The corpse is part of the human being cycle that proceeds from the zygote, to a new-born baby that will die unless it gets careful attention, to what we normally call a human being, to a corpse.

We seem to be getting into an issue which is more a matter of definition than of science. A pupa is not a butterfly – but there will be no butterflies unless there first are pupae.

A practical approach might be to say that the corpse is no longer a human being when its heart ceases pumping. Extending that to the other end, the zygote should be counted as a human being once the fetus has a heartbeat.

However, other definitions are possible. Romans did not consider a baby to be human until its father accepted it; hence Romulus & Remus being exposed on a hillside. Kazakh tribes did not give a baby a name (effectively accepting it as a member of the tribe) until it was one year old. How a society treats the fetus/new-born says more about the society than about the science.

7 Likes

Hypatia

2h

In the book Freakonomics the authors speculated that Roe was the main reason for the drop in crime in the early 90s.

I, too, read that. But note - it is a theory unsupported by real data. It is only “supported” by the fact that crime fell. But that’s a bit like arguing a tree is alive; I’m alive; therefore I’m a tree.

Actual facts to support that contention do not exist, much like no facts exist to support “climate change”. It is ALL speculation based upon a flawed computer model, and I suspect Freakonomics has the same issues.

3 Likes

We seem to be getting into an issue which is more a matter of definition than of science. A pupa is not a butterfly – but there will be no butterflies unless there first are pupae.

I believe definitions are also a matter of science. For example, the physicist must provide definitions of quarks and electrons, or else his theories are meaningless. The most precise definitions are found in mathematics, which does not depend on any empirical evidence whatsoever.

Of course, defining a human being is a very difficult thing to do. Socrates defined man as a featherless biped. In response, Diogenes plucked all the feathers off a chicken and declared “Behold, it is a man!” There are many opinions about when an unborn baby becomes a human being, with all of the rights that entails. This is another argument in favor of leaving the issue to the states or local governments, because it is so contentious, and different communities will arrive at different conclusions.

Nevertheless, a comprehensive moral theory should be capable of addressing any ethical dilemma, including very difficult questions about whether it is justifiable to kill an unborn baby. Walter Block’s theory of evictionism attempts to solve the problem of abortion rights by applying the libertarian non-aggression principle. His answer is a sort of compromise, as it would permit abortion up to the point of the baby’s viability outside of the womb, but not after. Therefore, as technological advancements allow babies to become viable at an earlier point in the pregnancy, evictionism will become more restrictive on abortion.

4 Likes

Yeah well,thats what Roe tried to do.

1 Like

No, Roe tried to codify a particular POV of the majority of justices, based upon nothing but air.

5 Likes

It is true that evictionism, put into practice, would be similar to Roe. However, the supreme court’s job is not to determine whether something is ethical in a general sense and then make that opinion a federal mandate. The justices are not philosopher kings.

Walter Block’s evictionism is interesting from a libertarian perspective because it is consistent with the non-aggression principle. In addition, evictionism will tend toward the pro-life position as technological advancements make the unborn baby viable at earlier points in the pregnancy. I find Block’s theory compelling but not totally decisive. Either way, I appreciate Block’s effort to construct a moral theory of abortion that is compatible with libertarian ethics.

6 Likes

Walter Block is a brilliant man.

2 Likes

Block is encouraging angels to dance upon the heads of pins! What is the meaning of “the baby’s viability outside of the womb”? We know with total certainty that any baby outside the womb – including the baby delivered naturally at full term – will die very quickly without constant care. Is the full-term naturally-delivered baby really “viable” in any meaningful sense?

Thought experiment: there has been discussion of Artificial Wombs, where a fertilized ovum would be brought to full term. Scientific speculation for now … but some day it will probably be possible. That fertilized ovum would be “viable” from the moment of conception, in the sense that it would survive with continuing attention in the same way that the naturally-delivered full-term baby can survive if given continuing attention. Are we to conclude that the fertilized ovum in an Artificial Womb would be a human being from the moment of fertilization, whereas the developing fetus in the womb becomes “human” only at a much later stage?

7 Likes

This is also a continuum, not a step function as writers of law might wish. As of 2016, the chance of survival for a premature birth in the following weeks was cited as:

Week Survival
22 6%
23 26%
24 55%
25 72%

This assumes first-world neonatal care. A 2019 reference cited a survival rate of 30% for births at 22 weeks with intensive care, although 33% of those born at 22 weeks who survive have severe disabilities.

In 2014, a baby was born in San Antonio, Texas at 21 weeks 4 days weighing 410 grams. As of 2018, she was attending preschool and other than delay in speech, exhibited no known medical problems or disabilities.

8 Likes