Friday, March 23, 2012

What About Roe v. Wade?

Over at The American Spectator Daniel Allott has an interesting article entitled "Does Roe Still Matter?"  Allott argues that the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, even if overturned, would not significantly affect the number of abortions that are happening.

Roe dominates America's abortion debate. If you had asked any of the scores of thousands of pro-lifers who poured into Washington, D.C., on Monday for the annual March for Life to name their most urgent priority, most would have said overturning Roe.
Abortion advocates, meanwhile, talk about Roe as if it were the only thing standing between women and a new era of back alley abortions. As NARAL Pro-Choice America states on its website, "We believe that women should have the option to choose abortion. Today they can, thanks to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wadedecision in 1973."
But Roe may matter less than many people realize -- or perhaps matter for different reasons that commonly thought. Many people mistakenly believe that legal abortion hinges on Roe -- that withoutRoe abortion would be illegal everywhere in America. But that's not true. If Roe goes, abortion law would revert to the states to decide.
Allott looks at two states--South Dakota and California--and assesses how the demise of Roe would affect them.  The overall impact on numbers of abortions might not be significant.  Nonetheless, overturning Roe would still have tremendous value:
 Michael New, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn who studies abortion trends, conceded that Roe's reversal wouldn't significantly change the legal status of abortion in many states.
But because "the law is a powerful teacher," he thinks overturningRoe "would be an important first step for the pro-life movement.… For the first time in nearly 40 years it would result in a meaningful national debate about what sort of legal protection unborn children deserve." 
Allott's article is worth pondering.