Monday, January 20, 2003
It is now 30 years since the Supreme Court, in its Roe v. Wade vision, blew down the barriers to abortion on demand, using as the essential rationale a constitutional right of privacy that the court had discovered less than eight years earlier. Since 1973 roughly 40 million abortions--that seems to be the generally accepted number--have been performed in America, and 40 million children banished from life.
Looked at in this way, abortion might seem not a completely private choice but one that has had a profound public impact on our country. If you want to be cold and actuarial about it, you can note that in the next five to 10 years tens of millions of baby boomers will retire, and their futures would be more secure if they were benefiting from the financial support of the missing 40 million, many of whom would be paying into Social Security right now. But they're gone, so they can't help.
If you want to be less actuarial than cultural in your thinking, it's hard to believe that we don't all know, down deep, that abortion has not made our country a gentler place. I believe we haven't begun to appreciate the effect on our children and their developing understanding of life that they are told every day, on television and in magazines, in advertisements and news stories, that we allow the killing of children. It's not good for them to know that, not good for them to be told over and over that they live in a place where life is not necessarily respected and inconvenient life can be whisked away. Knowledge like that has a chilling effect on the soul.
I think, as many do, that Roe v. Wade was as big a travesty as the Supreme Court decision on Dred Scott, which in 1857 declared that descendants of slaves could not become U.S. citizens. All Americans would now see that decision as terribly wrong, but back then the Court had spoken and Dred Scott was forced to continue to live in slavery.
Read the entire article on the Wall Street Journal website.