A Running Back, a Professor, and an Author: Shedding Light on the Aftermath of Roe

From Guest-blogger and Regent 3rd Year Law Student Elizabeth Oklevitch

Today marks the end of Sanctity of Life Month, a month designated to commemorate Roe v. Wade. The last month made one thing clear: forty-one years after the Supreme Court handed down the Roe decision, the issue of abortion remains far from settled in American law and culture. Churches across the country took time to recognize National Sanctity of Human Life Day on January 19th, and thousands joined the March for Life in D.C. on January 22nd. Though these events are in some ways "the face" of the pro-life movement, several developments took place in January that shed light on coerced abortion, abortion's relation to women's health, and the deliberations behind Roe, and these developments may prove to have subtle yet lasting impact on the abortion discussion.  

 A lawsuit filed against NFL running back Arian Foster illuminates the ongoing problem of coerced abortions. A Life Site News article explains that the mother of Foster' unborn child is "seeking a restraining order, so the NFL star and his family will stop haranguing her to abort a baby she wants to keep." This may be one of few alleged coercion cases to be litigated, let alone make headlines, but unfortunately, there have been more than a few instances of coerced abortion since Roe. The article notes that the allegations against Foster and his family "are consistent with what pro-life leaders say is a ubiquitous problem: coerced abortion. Post-abortive women have testified that they felt pressured – or in some cases were forced to abort – by parents, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, husbands, abusers, even policemen." 

While the Foster situation brought awareness to mainstream culture on the issue of coerced abortion, law professor Helen Alvare advanced informed, life-respecting perspectives before federal legislators. In her testimony before a House subcommittee considering legislation on federal funding of abortions, she shared that popular opinion does not support the idea that abortion is a "public good." Although abortion advocates profess to champion the underprivileged, Alvare cited a study finding that women, the less educated, and the poor are more likely to be pro-life than their counterparts. As a second key point, Alvare demonstrated that federal government statements and other sources indicate that abortion is not actually part of a women's health agenda. Frankly, one paragraph in a blog post doesn't do her thoughts justice; check out this summary article, or better yet, take five minutes to watch the video of her testimony. 

Also in January, Clarke Forsythe gave a presentation on his book, Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade at The Heritage Foundation. His research delves into the Justices' personal papers, revealing what one review calls the "blend of misinformation, backroom politics, arbitrary logic, and incomplete jurisprudence" that led to "most controversial decision in recent Supreme Court history." Since its release last fall, the book's publicity has included coverage in The Weekly Standard and a review by The Washington Times. As Forsythe's book continues to reach a wider audience, it provokes reconsideration of the quandaries, values, and assumptions underlying legalized abortion's foundational case. 

From the national events to the smaller developments in culture, law, and literature, January was filled with vivid illuminations of the aftermath of Roe. Four decades later, America has not settled into placid acceptance of legalized abortion. Roe has brought to a head conflicts over coerced abortion, abortion's relationship to women's health, and the "jurisprudence" of abortion rights.  Thankfully, these confrontations make it nearly impossible to "settle in." Rather, they provide important perspectives to inform the abortion discussion. Each time one of these issues arises in the news or in everyday life, it sheds light on the true consequences and motivations of Roe and gives an opportunity to speak up, to stand up for freedom rather than coercion, for true public goods rather than agendas parading as "women's health," and for the rule of law rather than "arbitrary logic." In January, a running back, a professor, and an author all helped to expose aspects of the conflicts surrounding Roe; the rest of the year is left to respond to those conflicts in a way that promotes life and fosters restoration of individuals, families, and culture.

1 comment:

  1. I had never considered the fact that there is little to no research or findings regarding the after effects particularly on the mental health of individuals having undergone this procedure. We would do well to look into this more and provide that information to women considering it. I think it is important to note however that just because someone says they are "pro choice" does not necessitate that they are "pro-abortion". Let me explain, what happened in the days before abortion was legally acceptable? Women got it done however possible, often to the detriment of their very lives, back alley abortions done by anyone willing (medical professional or not) who would sometimes butcher these poor women. My point is, I think there does need to be more offered in the way of studies of after effects, alternatives, etc., to abortion, however to say you think it should not be legal is unrealistic and dangerous. Some women wouldn't be able to give the baby up if they had it but also couldn't support it thus it would suffer, or worse would abuse or despise their child for the situation it would place them in, some were raped, some are trapped in an abusive situation and not ready to birth a child, having a baby only for it to suffer or need to give it up for adoption has yet another set of mental consequences for the mother. At what point is one pro-birth rather than pro-life? Quality of life makes a difference to me too, and I agree with the enforcement of more finite situations and laws qualifying when abortions are appropriate (such as cases of inability to provide for a child, danger to the mother mentally or physically, having the father be aware and consent, offering alternatives and detailed explanation to the mother about the risks mentally and physically, etc.) outlawing them, to me, is also not the answer either. This is a subject where there is no middle ground which leaves room for people to abuse the procedure (those who use it like birth control), but to have it be legal means that will sometimes happen. The consequences it could have on women to take it off the table altogether outweigh the risks now present in having it available as a medically safe option which is why I say it really cannot be something that is illegal. This opinion supposedly makes me pro-choice, but I repeat, I am not pro-abortion, I pray that women will choose life but I acknowledge the inevitability of it in certain circumstances and cannot fairly say it is for me or anyone else to rule it out for some women, it should be there choice, and trust whether they abort, adopt, or keep, it will have consequences for them mentally and physically that only they should be able to determine which they can best handle for themselves and their life circumstances.