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Roe v. Wade


I don’t typically like to broach the subject of abortion but as I was putting together todays “This Day in History” page, I saw that it was the 48th anniversary of the landmark “Roe v. Wade” U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country, so I thought it might be worth some commentary.

Interesting factoid: January of 1973 was not only when Roe v. Wade became law, it was also probably around the time my Mom found out she was pregnant with me (I was born at the end of August that year). I don’t think she would have ever considered an abortion, so that’s probably where those two stories meet and then go their separate ways.

But many women have chosen abortion in the years since then. There were over a million abortions in the U.S.

every year until 2013 when the figure dropped to 958,000. It has continued to decline each year since, dropping to 862,000 in 2019, the last year for which I could find consistent data.

You don’t have to do the math to understand that is millions and millions of unborn babies. Now, I won’t profess to know or understand the circumstances in which these women found themselves that led to them making the decision to terminate their pregnancies. For some it was simply being too young or too poor or too unsupported to believe they could or should have and raise a child. For others there may have been horrific details to their pregnancies, like rape or incest. For some, to carry a child to term might have come with dire medical consequences, up to and including death. Perhaps the fetus was unviable

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in some way? I don’t know.

What I do know, is that some women were simply inconvenienced by their unwanted pregnancy and simply wanted to end it. I know the saying is “My body, my choice,” and I will even admit to being on that side of the fence for most of my life, but it’s something that even then I couldn’t wrap my head around. Maybe it’s because my own wife had two miscarriages? Maybe it’s because I know couples who have done everything imaginable to have a child of their own and failed?

Maybe it’s just because as I’ve gotten older I can better appreciate the sanctity of life?

Abortion is currently still legal in the U.S., although many states, including Arkansas, have either passed strict abortion laws or are currently trying to do so. I’m glad. Not because I don’t want abortion to be legal, but because I very much think it should be legal… but very, very restricted.

We should not treat abortion the same way we treat getting our teeth cleaned or having a troublesome mole removed. We should treat it as an extreme choice made under extreme circumstances after all other options have been explored. Over the last few years, the U.S. Supreme Court has become a conservative majority, with six of the nine justices ascribing to conservative views based on their previous decisions and rulings. If ever there were a time when Roe v. Wade were in danger of being overturned, it is probably now.

Will the Court take up any of the many cases dealing with abortion that are currently making their way through the legal system? I don’t know. Somewhere between telling a rape victim she has to carry her rapists child to term and ordering up an abortion like you would order a pizza, there has to be a middle ground.

I hope we can find it.

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