Would it really be so bad if Roe v. Wade were reversed?

I’m pro-choice all the way on principle. But, as a lawyer, I have never approved of the Roe v. Wade decision, because it is poorly reasoned. Finding a “right of personal privacy” implicit in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, as Justice Blackmun did, is intellectually indefensible. Suppose the next time the issue came up, the Supreme Court agreed and overturned the decision. Would that be so bad? Such a decision would not constitute a new ban on abortion. It would simply strip abortion of its constitutional protection and reduce it to the status of an ordinary political issue, to be dealt with by Congress and the state legislatures, and pro-choicers would have to fight for abortion rights in a different set of forums – where they’re pretty well represented already.

Yeah, I mean, would it be that bad if only a quarter of the states got rid of abortion? We’re talking millions of people, not hundreds of millions, after all. Naw, doesn’t sound too bad.

Incidentally, what would become of women who decided to travel out of the state they lived in to have an abortion?

That’s where it starts to get interesting!

Lotsa work for us lawyers, anyway! :smiley:

Roe v. Wade was a travesty. I can understand people supporting abortion. I can understand people cynically saying, “Yeah for our side,” regarding the decision. I just can’t understand anyone saying the decision made legal sense.

Overturning it, however, would bring lots of chaos, however. The culture war would heat up even more, and you’d have people supporting constitutional amendments both to restrict abortion and to make a right of it. Even as a pro-lifer, I do find that kind of conflict very fun.

It wouldn’t eliminate many abortions, either. The major “markets” for abortion would remain open. People would just deal with the fact that if you live outside the market, the cost of killing your kid is the procedure plus the plane ticket or whatever. That’s the way it was in the 1960s, and, no, AFAIK there was no penalty for a woman if she went to another state and “got it taken care of.” (Or was there?) My guess is that new laws against abortion would punish the medical practicioners, not the scraped gals.

Whether it’s overturned or not, the culture war isn’t going to end anytime soon. And as a pro-life leftie, I have the “fun” of being on both sides. :frowning:

The decision makes sense to many with a strong libertarian bias. Libertarians tend to see what people do with their own bodies none of the government’s business. This is why libertarians support legalizing drugs, gay sex, etc.

In the big, wide real world there has to be a way to terminate unwanted pregnancies. If there is no legal way, then illegal methods will be employed. Arguing that a substantial cohort of American women must carry unwanted pregnancies to term, and give the child up for adoption (if unwanted) is non-sensical. Lets say that the court does overturn it. It would be the biggest gift the pro-life forces could give to the pro-choice forces. Women would swarm the polls for the pro-choice ticket.

So lets aussume Blackmun’s reasoning is flawed, and is a sloppy and contrived Rube Goldberg legal ruling. Short of a constitutional amendment enshrining the right to abortion (or “privacy”), what would you suggest?

Exactly! :smiley:

Believing that a given thing should be none of the government’s business and believing that the U.S. Constitution makes it so are two different things.

How about doing nothing?

After all, this isn’t a matter which has to be regulated by the Constitution. Murder is left to the states to regulate by legislation and, by and large, they manage. There’s room for debate about different categories of murder, where the criime of murder stops and the right to defend your property begins, etc, but the sky doesn’t fall because of these issues.

If enough women, and their friends and relatives, value a right of access to abortion, then they’ll vote accordiingly and legislatures will legislate accordingly. The laws may differ from state to state. Different states might impose different cut-off dates, or different procedural or licensing requirements. Partial birth abortions would be outlawed. It’s possible, but I think unlikely, that some states would outlaw abortion entirely, in all circumstances, but even in those states I think there would be no way, and I’m pretty sure there would be no legislative attempt, to prevent women crossing state lines to have abortions. Overall, I don’t see huge numbers of women being denied access to abortion.

Most countries regulate abortion without elevating it into a constitutional issue. One of the dispiriting features of the discourse in the US about abortion (seen from outside) is that it is regarded as a matter of competing, and completely irrconcilable, fundamental principles. Apart from making for a divisive and rancorous debate, this leans heavily against a stable and lasting solution. Roe -v- Wade was almost thirty years ago, and the question of overruling it is still hotly debated, and is a major political objective for a signficant number of people. I doubt if even the most enthusiastic pro-choicer can look with confidence to a time when the principle reflected in Roe -v- Wade will be uncontroversial, and therefore safe.

I guess I’m suggesting that, from a pro-choice perspective, seeking to keep a right to abortion enshrined in the constitution may be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

D’oh! I meant to say that partial birth abortions would probably be outlawed in some or most states, or something of the kind.

You don’t need to be a doctor to perform an abortion. After a little research in a medical library, one can learn to improvise the tools and actually perform the procedure. If R v W were overturned, there would be a new way to make a quick buck. If you made a mistake, you could just walk away from it. There is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Great, a return to the back alley butchers and coat hangers and bleach. More women die- so much for “right to life.”

I don’t see a problem with states having different laws regarding abortion. If a socially conservative state votes to ban it, then let them. I’m sure for instance that here in Massachusetts abortions will remain quite legal (probably even more so) than they are now if the issue were up to the states rather than the feds.

Some posters here seem to be concerned that different state laws would bring chaos. Why? Right now I can’t gamble where I live legally. However, I can drive to Connecticut or fly to Las Vegas and legally gamble without worry of a warrant being drawn up for me back home. I don’t see why this would cause trouble. Different laws for different states. It happens all the time.

I’m pretty strongly libertarian. I’ve voted the Libertarian candidate for president in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000, and I plan to in 2004.

I think that most of us libertarians want the Constitution to spell out exactly what our rights are, and have the government be strictly constrained to that document. Saying that there is a right, which it clearly does not spell out, is not something that we advocate. The Roe v Wade decision was a travesty.

Having a Constitution that spells out exactly what everyone’s rights are is near impossible. Certainly if you tried the US Constition would be longer than an encyclopedia and make the tax code look simple in comparison.

For instance, we have a right to free speech in the Constitution and that is about all it says on the matter. It has been up to the courts to interpret that and say there are restrictions such as not being able to scream “fire” in a crowded theater when there is none or slander and libel, etc… It is near impossible to allow for every contingency in the rights we are granted and I would wager our founding fathers knew that hence the need for a Supreme Court to interpret it and to allow for a changing society the founding fathers could never have imagined.

That said I agree Roe v. Wade was quite a legal stretch and I am pro-choice. However, I think saying leaving it up to the states is a disaster and only a slightly smaller disaster to leave it to the Feds (should it be argued there be Federal regulation). That leaves things far too tractable to the way the wind is blowing any given day. Conservatives gain control of the state or federal legislature and abortion is banned. Four years later liberals get control and legalize it. This is not an issue that lends well to a ping-pong legislative match.

Further, making it up to the states and having varying laws is a regressive penalty towards poor women. So, women of means can afford to travel to another state (or out of the country) while poor women cannot manage that. Then poor women are left with hack “doctors” or home-made remedies to get an abortion and all the nightmares that entails. The whole thing would be disastrous.

What is a state passes a law that a pregnant woman had better have a baby or provably show it was lost in the natural course of events otherwise her coming back to the state sans a fetus makes her a murderess?

Imagine organizations that might organize abortion busses to get women with no means out of a state and drive them to a nearby state for an abortion. I can see attempts at making them criminals in a given state (you know somewhere they would be prohibited and some would flaunt that prohibition and try anyway). With that you would have people who are felons in some states but free and clear of any wrong doing in others. Yet a whole new nightmare of legal problems.

What if our abortion bus takes minors across state lines? You can bet there would be issue with that.

Where does the Full Faith and Credit clause land on issues where two states are diametrically opposed on an issue? You’re back to the Supreme Court.

Bottom line is that while Roe v. Wade was legal contortionist act it has probably done us a favor in smoothing out all the above (and probably 20 issues I didn’t think of). Like free speech the courts have allowed restrictions on the freedom to get an abortion which comes via judicial interpretation. The result now is a restricted freedom to get an abortion which I think for the most part pro-choice people can live with but pro-life people want it all the way to 100% no abortions so the struggle continues.

Perhaps middle-class people wouldn’t mind the extra cost, but many poor women certainly would.

The nearest aborition clinic to where I live is 60 miles away. For many women in the US, getting an abotion already means having to travel:

For poor women, these distances are an incredible hardship. Many poor women don’t own cars, so they either have to take a bus (out of the question for rural women) get a friend to drive them, or get a cab (outrageously expensive). The procedure itself costs between three to five hundred dollars, a sum which is very difficult to come by for someone who is strugging to make ends meet on a minimum wage job. Hopping on a plane is completely out of the question for them-- they could never afford it.

This (along with other factors, of course) has led to a resurgence in self-aborition, to the point where the FDA found it necessary to warn people about do-it-yourself abortion kits being sold over the internet. There are also many websites that I found during a casual search which list herbal recipes to induce abortion.

Forgive me if I don’t embrace the fantasy utopia of state’s rights. I enjoy living in a country where the constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of all its citizens and would prefer not to live in one which leaves its rights up to accidents of geography.

With respect, this has more to do with the choices the US makes about how to deliver healthcare than it does with Roe -v- Wade. Roe does not require the Federal Government or the states to deliver affordable or convenient abortions (or indeed to deliver abortions at all), and the overturning of Roe -v- Wade would not prevent the federal government or the states - or the healthcare market or healthcare charities - from providing affordable and convenient abortions if the political will to do so was there.

There are very few countries with a constitutional right to abortion, but many where abortion is freely avaiable, and many where it is more readily available than your cites suggest is in practice the case in the US.

This reinforces my point that the most effective practical protection of a woman’s right to abortion is not a constitutional guarantee, but a favourable social and political climate. And the rancorous and confrontational debate which inevitably results from treating this question as an irreconcilable clash of fudnamental rights is not conducive to the development of such a climate.

But I’m not sure the will is there. Keeping abortion a political issue is dangerous. (I know, it seems impossible to do otherwise.) There really is a huge anti-abortion movement. I’m afraid that even in my very Democratic urban-influenced state (I live in Illinois) it’s becoming harder and harder to find a doctor willing to perform the procedure. While I don’t think anyone has clear, unbiased statistics, some days it sure does seem as if - if it were put to a simple vote of the people - abortions would be made illegal. And I’m not willing to put my daughter’s life, and her daughter’s life, in the hands of fundamentalists or the squeamish who want to force her to follow their morality without placing better societal safeguards in effect to raise the children they want to force her to have.

Nobody wants to force the fundamentalist’s daughter to have an abortion. If it’s not the right choice for her and her morality, don’t do it. So why to they want to force my daughter to bring a child into this world she isn’t equipped to raise?

How do we know leaving it up to the states will lead to outlawing abortion? We don’t, really. But it might. And it once did. And I for one am not willing to risk it again. I’ve been lucky enough never to know the need to risk a perforated uterus. I’ve been fortunate to never have to decide whether poisoning myself is worth the risk. I thank all the mothers and grandmothers that did that fighting for me.

Although I for one plan to teach my daughter how her body actually works so she knows when she is and isn’t fertile, there is always the danger of rape. And most people don’t know enough about fertility, so they rely on birth control methods that fail occasionally - reasons enough to keep abortion a very sad, lamented but legal last recourse.

Roe v. Wade is flawed, no doubt. But the fact is, no one has figured out a better way to go about it that falls within existing law. That tortourous reasoning and gymnastic performance was done for a reason: the access to abortions is more important to protect than the letter of the law.

I don’t think you’ll find any disagreement with this at the SDMB, or practically anywhere else. Our basic rights have been guaranteed at a federal level since the late 1700s (of course, expanded to include all people, and have the right guarantees applied to state governments as well, in the 1860s).