Roe vs. Wade is useless

I get very tired of people complaining about anyone overturning Roe vs. Wade, as if it would suddenly make abortion illegal everywhere.  It shows a complete lack of understanding of what the ruling was about, and what it did for the abortion movement.

Current Vernal UT abortion controversy.

Recently, a 17 year old girl in Vernal Utah was released from a 4 year jail sentence she received after pleading no contest to a second degree felony charge of solicitation of murder.  She allegedly paid $150 to a man so he would beat her and cause a miscarriage.  The man also plead no contest to the charge of attempted murder and is awaiting sentencing.

Her plea was prompted by a public defender, and was retracted when her mother got her a new attorney.  The fact is, it is not illegal for a woman to get an abortion in Utah.

Before 20 weeks, abortion is necessary to save mother’s life or health, if woman was raped or incest committed, or child has grave defects; after 20 weeks, necessary to preserve health, life of mother or if child would be born with grave defects

This is the Utah law regarding about when it is legal to perform an abortion, not when it is legal to get an abortion.  This law is totally legal, and it could be even more restrictive.  It is totally constitutional to make it illegal to perform abortions at all.  This is something that Roe vs. Wade defenders don’t understand.

What Roe vs. Wade actually did.

The original decision was about a Texas law that made it a crime not only to perform abortions, but to get an abortion unless the life of the mother was in jeopardy.  The part of the law that was found to be illegal is the part where it made it criminal for women to get abortions, not the part where it is illegal to perform them.

The decision is still controversial, because it was quite over-broad.  The court is not supposed to do anything but make a decision on the case, but in this case the court not only decided that the law was unconstitutional, but they wrote new law by saying when it should be absolutely constitutional for women to get an abortion.  They dealt with issues that were not before the court, and therefore they should not have dealt with them at all.

Needless to say, if Roe vs. Wade were overturned tomorrow, it would only make it okay for states to make abortion a crime not only for the person performing it, but the person receiving it.  In reality though, the current laws would not likely change, and if they do, it won’t be by much.

Politicization of the abortion debate.

The two sides in the abortion debate are very vocal about their beliefs, and that’s actually what it comes down to.  One side believes that abortion is nothing more than removing a growth, but does not consider that growth life.  The other side believes one of many things.  A couple are that life begins at conception and that potential life is life.

I personally stand somewhat with the latter.  There are laws that charge people with murder if they cause an unwanted miscarriage.  Even people that support abortion rights support this kind of law.  I figure that if it is life for the purposes of charging someone with murder, it should be considered life for the purposes of voluntary abortion.  Even many people that are against abortion are okay with abortion in cases where there has been rape or incest.  Somewhere in the vast majority of people, they consider it life if there is an emotional attachment by the mother, but find it not to be life if the mother doesn’t hold such an attachment.  This seems rather wrong to me.

No matter which way you stand on the debate, it has been highly politicized.  It shows itself in the way that people even speak about it.  If you are on the side of abortion rights, you say you are “for a woman’s right to choose.”  It causes a false dichotomy when phrased that way.  It essentially says that if you are against abortion rights, you are against a woman’s right to choose.  This play on words is not lost on the other side though.  They consider themselves “pro life.”  If you are against them, you are against life.  Neither of these are very helpful as a means of getting to the meat of the debate.  They are merely made to create a false sense of what the debate is really about.

This politicization has led to a total misunderstand and misrepresentation of what the Roe vs. Wade decision was all about.  The decision has become more of a figurehead of the pro choice movement instead of something that had much effect in reality.  States that don’t want to allow abortions can still make them illegal, while states that do want to allow them can have clinics in every corner gas station if they want.  The only thing that has changed is that women can’t be charged criminally for getting an abortion.

The truth of the matter is, this debate will probably never end, but at least you now know what overturning the Roe vs. Wade ruling will do and not do.

Timm Simpkins is the author of the blog Godlessons. He writes news, commentary, and comedy regarding issues that interest atheists.

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