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January 25, 2006
Column #1,274
For Release: January 28, 2006
What Would Overturning Roe v. Wade Mean?
By Michael J. McManus

WASHINGTON - About 100,000 pro-life Americans joyfully marched Monday, sensing hope to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court legalizing abortion 33 years ago. "Consensus is building that we are moving into a post-Roe future, and we need to be ready," said Charmaine Yoest, Vice President of the Family Research Council.

A day later the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 along party lines to approve the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Liberals and conservatives believe he would vote to overturn Roe. Even so, there would still be a 5-4 majority on the Court supporting abortion.  However, liberal Justice John Paul Stevens is 84.

More than a fifth of all pregnancies now end in abortion. Why is widespread abortion harmful?

First, 48 percent of the 1.3 million abortions are given to women who had a previous abortion.  Sixty percent already have children, 424,000 of whom have two or more children.

Can't these women either use birth control or learn the value of abstinence?

Second, 238,000 are married. What would be the tragedy of having another child?

If the Supreme Court declared that no right to an abortion can be found in the U.S. Constitution, how would America change?

Abortion would continue in many states. The decision would be up to each state's legislature.  New York, for example, legalized abortion in 1970, three years before Roe. No state has more abortions - 39 per 1,000 women in 2002. Abortions there would probably continue.

By contrast, there were only 5.5 abortions per 1,000 in South Dakota - one-seventh of New York's rate. Last year that state's legislature passed five laws restricting abortion after a bill to ban the practice outright was defeated by one vote in 2004. New laws are likely this year.

Twenty years ago, Samuel Alito wrote that as long as abortion is legal, states should pass restrictions on abortion to reduce their number. South Dakota is a picture of what those restrictions might look like.

No doctor in the state performs abortions, because the practice is so frowned upon in the medical community as well as among the population. One day a week, a doctor from Minnesota flies to Sioux Falls to the state's single Planned Parenthood clinic offering abortions. Each week 15-20 women from across the state come for the procedure.

One law passed in South Dakota is an informed consent measure that requires doctors to tell women in writing and in person two hours before the abortion of the medical risks of the procedure, and that an abortion ends the life of "a whole, separate, unique living human being." Enforcement of the law has been blocked by a Planned Parenthood lawsuit.

However, there are 28 states with an informed consent law, five of which must inform the woman about abortion's link to breast cancer.

A 17-member S.D. abortion task force, largely made up of staunch abortion opponents, issued recommendations to the legislature which began by stating that science defines life as beginning at conception. Therefore, it urged a law that gives fetuses the same protection that babies have after birth.  In other words, it supported a ban on abortions.

The task force urged passing a law that women seeking an abortion view an ultrasound of the baby in her womb, now required in Arkansas. The majority of women who see the life within them, decide not to abort it. Ultrasound's impact is so profound that Focus on the Family gives 80% grants to Pregnancy Resource Centers to buy the $35,000 ultrasound equipment.

Twenty states require an 18 hour advance notice to get the procedure. Seventeen states require abortion clinics to meet minimal health regulations plus seven more for abortions after the second trimester. In other words, half the states have no health regulations.

If the patient is a minor, parental consent must be sought in 20 states and another 15  require only parental notice. However, if the girl goes to a judge, she need not tell parents.

If Roe were overturned, many more states would pass such restrictions while others would ban abortion altogether. 

Why is this in the public interest?

When abortion was legalized, I assumed that there would be a decline of out-of-wedlock births.  In fact, the very wide availability of abortion has sparked parental irresponsibility - a more than tripling of unwed births from 430,000 to 1.4 million.

If abortions were more difficult to obtain, unwed births would decline. Utah, a state with few abortions (6.6/1000) has an unmarried birth rate half that of the U.S. average.

Overturning Roe would lead to a healthier America.

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