Roe vs. Wade must go
Amid the passing of various celebrities and known personages during 2017, the death of one famous woman was unfortunately marginalized by many in the media and on the left. Her name was Norma Jean McCorvey, but she was better known as "Jane Roe." McCorvey, who died of heart failure on Feb. 18, was the plaintiff “Roe” of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, nationwide.
As she became the front for the abortion-rights movement during that historic decision, McCorvey would have been expected to receive maximum coverage and praise at her passing. But the remainder of her life speaks to why she was not.
McCorvey attempted to obtain an abortion in Texas in 1969 but was ultimately unsuccessful due to a Texas law banning the procedure. While she was still pregnant, two activist pro-abortion lawyers pressured McCorvey (by McCorvey's recollection of the events) into bringing the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
McCorvey's baby was born during the process and put up for adoption. But in a monumental and infamous decision, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that abortion was a constitutional right. The court held that an alleged general right to privacy was wide-ranging enough to encompass a woman's right to choose an abortion.
The court's opinion was flawed on multiple grounds and has brought national division and controversy. And the remainder of McCorvey's life brings light to the illusion of Roe vs. Wade against the reality and the need to overturn this flawed decision.
Of critical importance, the court in Roe vs. Wade did not follow its constitutional duty of deciding the case by the original meaning of the Constitution (including amendments).
As the late Justice Antonin Scalia asserted about interpreting the Constitution: "It is perfectly clear that the original intent was that the Constitution would be interpreted by its original meaning. If you had asked the participants at the Constitutional Convention whether their debates could be an authoritative source for construing the Constitution, there would be no doubt the answer would be no."
James Madison, who was noted as the intellectual force behind the Constitution, wrote: "The debates and incidental decisions of the Convention have no authoritative character."
Alexander Hamilton wrote: "Whatever may have been the intention of the framers, that intention is to be sought for the instrument itself, according to the usual and established rules of construction.”
Scalia also noted: "Originalism was the constitutional orthodoxy in the United States until … the post World War II Warren Court. The Court is to use the words of the Constitution in the plain meaning of when drafted, and not attempt to ascertain thoughts and possible intentions.”
Instead of following the constitutional orthodoxy of original meaning, the court in Roe went well beyond judicial limits.
Instead of using "usual and established rules of construction" to interpret the Constitution, the court boldly admitted going well beyond into it.
Specifically, the court acknowledged that the Bill of Rights (The first ten amendments) does not include the general and absolute right to privacy which the court claimed encompassed the right to choose an abortion.
The court, however, claimed "penumbras and emanations" from the Bill of Rights allowing the court to infer a general right to privacy which would encompass abortion.
Clearly not the orthodox means of constitutional interpretation by original meaning. As Scalia and others have noted, abortion simply was not an issue at the time of the drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and therefore something that should be determined through the political process.
To contrast the court in 1973 to the more orthodox Supreme Court of the early 20th century is instructive.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, the push for women's suffrage (the right to vote) gained political traction. The early 20th century Supreme Court would have determined that the original meaning of the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause, as understood when it was passed, referred to former slaves and not equal rights between men and women.
In constraining itself to its constitutional bounds through political activism and not the court, the nation passed the 19th Amendment making women's suffrage a constitutional right.
That right has remained uncontroversial and accepted by all. The court in 1973 should have acted similarly with abortion, and it should have left this political issue with the people to decide by amendment or state law.
Beyond the more than 60 million unborn babies lost to abortion since Roe vs. Wade, this issue has been arguably the most contentious and divisive in the history of our nation.
Thomas Jefferson warned of the kind of activist court we have found in Roe vs. Wade and the problems inherent with the Supreme Court decisions being deemed the absolute, unquestioned authority on all constitutional matters. He said, "To consider judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions is a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one that places us under an oligarchy."
This is particularly the case when the court does not use usual and established rules, but allows personal biases to pervade the process.
McCorvey's later life provides a testament to the falsities and illusions involved in the Roe vs. Wade decision.
Her life explains the liberal marginalization of her passing.
In the 1980s, McCorvey admitted that she only wanted an abortion because she had been depressed and that she had been used as a pawn of the abortion movement.
In 1994, McCorvey became a Christian and a pro-life activist. In 1995, she published "I am Roe." She was baptized. And she began work with the activist pro-life group Operation Rescue.
In 2005, McCorvey petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling of Roe vs. Wade. She claimed standing as the original litigant in the 1973 decision, but the court shot her down. McCorvey spent her final years pleading for the end of abortion, including an arrest for protesting the confirmation of Justice Sotomeyer to the Supreme Court (Sotomeyer was openly biased toward the pro-abortion position).
McCorvey died after spending most of her adult life fighting against abortion, the very law which was brought about in her name.
It is a sad and yet encouraging story of redemption exposing the fraud and illusions surrounding Roe. Abortion was a decision the Supreme Court should have left to the political process but certainly should not have decided this critical issue based on alleged "penumbras and emanations" over original meaning.
For the sake of Norma Jean McCorvey, for the sake of more than 60 million unborn babies, and for the sake of the future of this great nation, it is time for Roe vs. Wade to go.
Orangeburg attorney Col. Bill Connor was the senior U.S. adviser to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he received the Bronze Star. He is the author of the book “Articles From War.” Among his multiple tours of duty in the Mideast, Connor served in a six-month peacekeeping mission between Egypt and Israel.