Russell and Duenes

You’re Only Free If No One Tries to Influence You

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Or at least that seems to be the thinking of Justice Stevens in Casey. Stevens writes that, while the State of Pennsylvania “is free…to produce and disseminate material [designed to provide a woman with information about the general status of her unborn child], the Commonwealth may not inject such information into the woman’s deliberations just as she is weighing such an important choice.” Yet this assumes that a person’s choice is more “free” if no one tries to influence that person one way or the other. This is an odd and anachronistic notion of freedom, and it further betrays the kind of radical, individualistic autonomy in which our Nation is drowning. The idea seems to be: Don’t distract me with truth, I want to be free; free to sleep with whomever I want, whenever I want, in whatever manner I want, and I also want to be free from the emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual consequences of my “freedom.” I answer to no one but myself. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise person listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15).

For Justice Stevens, it follows that if a state requires a woman to, say, view an ultrasound of her baby before aborting her, the state has somehow rendered the woman “less capable of deciding matters of gravity.” But this would by like telling a doctor, “Now, don’t inform this woman of the risks and realities of open heart surgery because she is ‘capable of deciding matters of gravity’ on her own.” It also assumes, as Justice Stevens argues, that “no person undertakes such a decision (to have an abortion) lightly.” Really? No one?

What happens to our thinking when we have to justify the taking of human life? We cut ourselves off from each other, and so we’re left, not only making the decision to abort while radically alone, but also being left terrifyingly alone after we’ve gone through with it. This is what our individualism teaches. One of the great untold sadnesses of our abortion culture (and it is untold, lest we come to believe that abortion is more than the “choice” we make it out to be) is the emotional and psychological pain in which so many of our wives, girlfriends, and daughters must live. We tell them that they are absolutely free in their choice, but it turns out that many of them don’t feel so free afterwards. And how will we restore true freedom to them? Lord, have mercy on us.

So Justice Stevens would allow states to attempt to influence women against abortion, just as long as the effect of such attempts is, well, not to influence them against abortion, for that would impinge their freedom. As Justice Scalia says, such a policy would allow “the State to pursue [its interest in potential human life] only so long as it is not too successful.”



Written by Michael Duenes

July 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm

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