In John Prine’s song, “Way Back Then,” he sings, “I am out undoing all the good I’ve done.” That could be a theme for the past few years in the United States. Environmental laws passed “way back then” are weakened, international agreements are abandoned, traditional friends are snubbed and rancorous, argumentative politics have settled into every level of government. I have my theories on the causes of all this, one being that the rising resistance to progressive thinking by a dogmatic, entrenched, seemingly intentionally ignorant group of power mongers is actually the thrashing death throes of far right extremism. One can only hope, right?
In the meantime, though, the current Supreme Court reversed a decision made by a former version of itself last week, the 1973 ruling in Roe Vs. Wade. As much as the U.S. has been focused of late on the later decision concerning the right of women to have an abortion, I don’t feel compelled to go into the history. I will just say that I believe the Justices who voted to reverse the 1973 finding were, for a couple of reasons, wrong.
First, I don’t believe the reversal reflects the law or the overall will of the American people, but represents the personal feelings of the Justices themselves, which is contrary to how constitutional law is supposed to work. In spite of the vociferous opposition to abortion rights by the political and religious right, a sizeable majority has supported and accepted that right for almost 50 years.
Second, I do believe that the loss of any hard-won right is a move in the wrong direction, unless it stems directly from a mandate from the people affected by that loss. It’s worrisome. What other reversals might be considered? For instance, how does the current Court feel (personally) about Brown Vs. Board of Education of Topeka?
Personally, I am not a fan of abortion. It’s an invasive medical procedure, hard on the body of someone going through it and on the psyche of those who make the decision to have one. But I am also not likely to be affected by an unwanted pregnancy at this point in my life. So, it’s none of my business, in the same manner that the decisions and facts of gender orientation are not. I don’t think it’s the business of a Supreme Court Justice, either — or the neighbors’ — but the concern of those involved in what is always a unique situation.
A related issue that I feel is my business — and the business of many others — is the matter of public education about the joys and consequences of sex. I think a reasonable response to the argument about abortion is teaching young people about the possible — OK, probable — results of intercourse and the responsibilities involved, as well as ways to prevent not only pregnancy but sexually transmitted diseases. There are plenty of people on the planet already, too many in some places. The solution to many world problems — including global warming — is reducing the planetary birth rate.
It’s interesting to me — in a morbid sort of way — that the people and institutions most vocally dead set against abortion are also those who yell the loudest when the idea of sex education in public schools is presented; not to mention the thought that we should modify America’s gun laws, if for no other reason than to keep our children safe. There are some almost schizoid contradictions here.
Enforcing Levitical laws on current society is not the job of any modern court, political group or religious institution. Besides, making abortion illegal will not make it unavailable any more than liquor was during Prohibition, just more chancy.