Were its effects not so unspeakably evil and ongoing, one could rightly dismiss Roe v. Wade as one of the most embarrassing legal decisions ever made by any court. With a vote and a pen-stroke, seven of the so-called greatest legal minds of their generation disregarded the most elementary findings of the natural sciences and the most basic principles of human rights, winning for themselves the dubious distinction of enshrining in law the murderous dominance of the powerful over the weak.
Of course, we’d been there before. Over 100 years earlier, seven other equally “brilliant” legal minds managed to overlook the self-evident common humanity of our African-American brothers and sisters, ruling that no person of African descent could claim U.S. citizenship. It took decades more of unimaginable suffering by black Americans and a bloody civil war resulting in some three-quarters of a million deaths before the U.S. would even begin clawing its way out of the pit in which the infamous Dred Scott decision had mired the country.
It is inevitable that one day our descendants will regard Roe v. Wade with much the same horror with which we now universally deride the Dred Scott decision. Truth has a way of bursting even the most unbreakable bonds. Nevertheless, it brings one near to despair to consider how many more innocent babies must die, and how much more of the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary pro-life Americans must be expended before that day may come.
Still, in recent weeks we have received a glimmer – and maybe even much more than a glimmer – of hope that the U.S. will soon begin to put this dark chapter in its history behind it.
The resignation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has created what may well be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expunge the poisonous logic of Roe from our legal code. Over the past three decades, Kennedy has earned a reputation as the Court’s “swing vote” – an unpredictable force who, though willing to ally himself with the court’s conservative wing on various issues, was just as likely to provide the key fifth vote to the liberal wing on cases having to do with critical social issues, including same-sex “marriage” and abortion.
As The Atlantic reports, Kennedy sometimes voted with the conservatives to uphold restrictions on abortion, thereby giving the impression of “balance.” On the other hand, “The Casey decision, which he helped write, retained much of Roe v. Wade. He repeatedly reinforced that abortion was a protected liberty …. And in 2016, Kennedy joined an opinion that bolstered abortion rights by concluding that abortion is generally safe and requiring states to show that any restrictions helped women in fact, not theory.”
As long as Kennedy was willing to defend the farcical Roe as the law of the land and not the judicial, scientific, logical and moral travesty that it is, he fully merited the “pro-abortion” label given him by pro-lifers. There is no reasonable “middle-ground” on the question of whether or not the law should recognize the right to life of certain human beings.
With Kennedy now gone, activists on both sides are confronting the very-real possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned, even as soon as in the next few years. Indeed, abortion activists are expressing a rare desperation as it dawns on them — even though abortion numbers are falling — that the grassroots pro-life sentiment sweeping the U.S. may soon culminate at the Supreme Court in a tidal wave that topples the dictatorship of Roe.
Father Shenan J. Boquet is president of Human Life International.