Wade Park, Jefferson City
Is the Supreme Court the “Wrecking Crew?” Many decisions in this term undermine our lives, with little respect for precedent, history, the Constitution, and the centuries-old trend of justice.
In “Dobbs” (which overturned Roe v. Wade), Judge Alito notes that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, as if it had been excluded by the founders. Nor are “societies” mentioned, although they now have many rights, mostly accumulated over the last century, which he agreed with.
It is incidental. Alito asserts, “An unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal penalties persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.” It’s absurd. The “unbroken tradition” dating back to antiquity (as far back as Aristotle) was “induced miscarriage” as a familiar and acceptable practice, with restrictions.
Before the “quickening” (fetal movement, about 13 weeks), it was commonplace and accepted. After the “acceleration”, when the developing embryo was supposed to have a soul, it was discouraged. Aristotle, St. Augustine and the Catholic Church agreed this was the right approach, so familiar and commonplace that Benjamin Franklin included a herbal recipe for miscarriage in “The Instructions”, a comprehensive manual for all Americans.
Health care for women in the colonies and states was almost entirely provided by midwives. In the mid-1800s, male physicians attempting to establish their services as the only source of obstetrical care were behind many state laws banning abortion and other midwifery services. Restrictions on women were also a reaction to the burgeoning suffrage movement. Whether technically illegal or not, induced miscarriages have continued.
Alito notes that “abortion” is not an “enumerated” right, like “speech” and the “press”, so in Roe and subsequent cases it was fabricated as a privacy right. I’ve worked in healthcare, and HIPAA is the latest in a long history of customs, regulations, and laws to protect personal decision-making in healthcare. Not all rights are “enumerated,” as the Ninth Amendment explains.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that abortion should be available for a reasonable period after conception, and that it should be strongly discouraged at some point after “acceleration” (or a measure of viability, which Roe has attempted to approximate). An even larger majority agrees in cases of rape and incest, and threats to maternal health, abortion is in the public interest and should be available.
Let’s identify a reasonable consensus approach and use the most democratic process available to Missourians: the initiative process.