Russell and Duenes

The Horror that is Planned Parenthood v. Casey: People Rely on Abortion

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What if our Supreme Court justices had argued in 1954 that, “people have relied on the Jim Crow laws in the South for over 50 years. Indeed, they have made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of Jim Crow laws. Thus, we simply cannot overturn the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson?” What if they’d argued this way? They did when it comes to abortion.

In the Supreme Court’s attempt to defend the “central holding of Roe v. Wade,” the justices in Casey argued that, “for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” If there is no moral or spiritual problem with fornication and adultery, if unfettered sexual license and radical, individual autonomy are gods to be worshipped and obeyed, then we must have legal entitlement to kill our babies. I want what I want. I want sex when I want, with whomever I want, and I don’t want to have a baby at the end of it. Undoubtedly it’s a bit more complex than this, and human relations being what they are, people want abortions for various reasons, many out of an overwhelming sense of desperation and despair. But we’re told that our lives and our “intimate relationships” and our plans necessitate that we not have a baby. And thus, if my birth control fails, which it often does, I’m counting on that ace in the hole. Fathers are counting on it as much as mothers. Or at least the Supreme Court justices seemed to think so. We simply cannot live without it. I have little reason to doubt they are correct.

This reminds me of something Janet Smith said in her lecture, Contraception: Why Not?

People now say, when they’re having sex outside of marriage and they get pregnant, what do they say? They use this wonderful phrase, “I got pregnant by accident.” And I always was mystified by this phrase and I would say, “Tell me, how did that happen again?” I know I’m rather naive but I caught on to this some time ago and I know you can’t get pregnant by accident. You can get hit by a car by accident, fall off a cliff by accident, but you can’t get pregnant by accident. It actually means something’s gone right with an act of sexual intercourse, not that something’s gone wrong. But because people are using contraceptives, they get pregnant and they’re surprised. “My gosh! We got pregnant! We didn’t have that in mind. That wasn’t part of this picture. So, we have to do something about it. What’ll we have to do? We have to trot down to the abortion clinic.”

Weren’t many people in the 1950s in America relying on the racist Jim Crow laws? Didn’t they order their lives and identities around those laws? Didn’t the overturning of Jim Crow in law create great upheaval in large segments of our society? Would such reliance provide any kind of justification for the continuance of Jim Crow laws? To ask the question is to answer it. What the Supreme Court again avoids here, as throughout their abortion jurisprudence, is the ultimate question: What is the unborn? If the unborn is merely “potential life,” as the Court refers to it, then let us abort away. But the Court just waves this question off, as they did in Roe. We wave it off too.

So the Court says, “The Constitution serves human values, and while the effect of reliance on Roe cannot be exactly measured, neither can the certain cost of overruling Roe for people who have ordered their thinking and living around that case be dismissed.” But what are these “human values” based on? Should “human values” be based upon “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” as our Declaration of Independence declares? Apparently not. Are “human values” simply that which some humans value while others do not? If we “value” our unborn child, it’s a valuable human life, worthy of protection under law? If we don’t value our unborn babies, they are only “potential life” and must die in the face of our “value” for, what, “our view of ourselves and our place in society?” No one knows, right? Or we choose not to know that which we know.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm

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