If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, “we the people” are going to have to address the abortion issue democratically. Each of the 50 state legislatures will enact its own abortion laws. Some will restrict abortion more than is currently the case; others, less. In some states, compromises will be hammered out; in others, a dominant party will impose laws with little to no accommodations to their opponents.
Many Americans will be bitterly disappointed with their state’s laws pertaining to abortion. I'm reminded of an old anecdote: In a first-year law school class, a passionate student insisted vehemently that the decision rendered in a case that the class had read was clearly unjust. With great dignity, the law professor replied, “If it’s justice you want, go across the street and enroll in the divinity school. This is the law school.”
We are all well aware of the irreconcilable positions staked out by the two sides on the abortion issue. The pro-life/anti-abortion side accepts as an incontrovertible fact that each individual human life is sacred; that unborn humans share with those already born the inalienable right to life—a life that no other human can willfully destroy. The pro-abortion side rejects the premise that the unborn are invested in the right to life.
In many (maybe all, I don’t know) American jurisdictions, it has long been a settled point in law that a fetus is a life, for that is why a person is charged with two counts of homicide when killing a pregnant woman. Abortion has been an anomaly—a legal carve-out allowing a mother, but no one else, to choose to terminate her pregnancy. The abortion battle has always been about legally codifying what conditions (if any) must be met in order for an abortion to be legal.
As strongly as you feel a woman has a right to have an unwanted mass of tissues, or however you characterize what pro-lifers call “a baby,” pro-lifers view the abortion procedure as the brutal destruction of an innocent, helpless human life. Please don’t compel them to pay for a procedure that they find so inhumane and immoral. Don’t do violence to their religious beliefs and conscience. Tens of millions of Americans believe in abortions. If all of the non-poor of those would give a couple of dollars a month to private funds for abortions (including, when needed, funds to travel to a state where abortion is more legal) that would be sufficient to pay for abortions for those needing financial aid.
Now, turning to the pro-abortion side’s concerns, its basic belief is a woman’s right to choose whether to have a child or not. As a general principle, the vast majority of Americans agree that no girl or woman should be forced to keep a child she doesn’t want. Pro-lifers would prefer that females exercise that right either pre-emptively—i.e., by abstinence or contraception—or post-pregnancy via adoption. What's most objectionable is abortion for the sake of convenience.
As an olive branch to pro-abortion Americans, I hope that states that restrict abortion would shun punitive tactics against those who traveled to a state with less restrictive abortion laws to have the procedure done there. Further, let us avoid slipping into a surveillance state. Few things would be more like Big Brother and less like America than to have law enforcement spy on what goes on in physicians’ offices and operating rooms. (Remember: laws, sausages, compromise, imperfect justice …)
I also hope that Attorney General Merrick Garland will redeploy FBI agents from monitoring parents who speak out at school board meetings to monitor extremists (whether pro- or anti-abortion) who resort to terrorist tactics. No matter how violently we disagree, let us not resort to violence as we go through the messy democratic process of figuring out how to legislate the abortion issue.