Monday, July 12, 2010

INSTALLMENT 5 (Last Installment): Why the Supreme Court Decision in Roe Versus Wade Was Legally Incorrect and Unconstitutional

If you have not read the earlier installments, here's Installment 1, here's Installment 2 , here's Installment 3 and here is Installment 4.

Throughout the years, many court decisions have held that the 14th Amendment contains a right to privacy by an individual over his or her actions, though it is disputed just how far this extends.  In Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court held that this right to privacy was broad enough to encompass a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy if she so chose.  However, in all the cases the Court cited as evidence of this right, only a few came close to having anything to do with abortion and it becomes obvious, with only a little explanation, that they were a bad fit for the 1973 case.  Most were cases completely unrelated to abortion and involved phone taps, the right of parents to direct the education of their children, minors selling goods, and other things that only established the existence of a right to privacy, but proved nothing about the right to the termination of a pregnancy being contained therein.  However, while the Court failed to convincingly prove its position, there is definite evidence that an unborn child’s right to life had recognized preference over the right to privacy.  In the Union Pacific Railway Company v. Botsford case (1891), the question at hand was whether a court could “order a woman suing a railway company for injuries she suffered to submit to a surgical examination”.  The Court held that such an intrusion of privacy was forbidden, except “to ascertain whether a woman convicted of a capital crime was quick with child…in order to guard against the taking of the life of an unborn child for the crime of the mother”. In conclusion, the Court ignored the clear evidence of the right of a child to life, and was forced, because of lack of proof for its position, to present information that was not even related to the point it was trying to make.

Despite all the blunders of the Court legally and Constitutionally in Roe versus Wade, perhaps the worst was the complete lack of discussion in the critical area of natural law and what it says about abortion.  Natural law is an essential basis when dealing with any issue of morality, for it is defined by the Catholic Encyclopedia as, “the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator". In other words, every man’s soul has been endowed with an intrinsic knowledge of what is morally right and wrong according to the eternal laws of God, so one can intuitively know what is just.  If the Court had looked at natural law, it would have understood that abortion and its decision were violating several important principles.  To begin with, natural law teaches that one does not take the life of another living human being.  Although the Court believed that life did not truly begin until birth, they were still toying, however, with the “potentiality” of life before birth and according to St. Thomas Aquinas, “if a man could be probably alive or probably dead, you can’t take the chance of burying him unless he is certainly dead. This meant that since it was questionable as to when life began, therefore the Court could not legalize the killing of the unborn because there was potential human life.  In addition to this, natural law holds that one does not interrupt a normal function of life, pregnancy, except for an extremely serious reason.  That an unborn child can be killed simply because it may not be wanted is obviously not a serious enough reason to make abortion in accord with the natural law.

 Truly, it is highly evident that the Supreme Court was not legally correct or in accord with the intentions of the Constitution in its ruling of Roe versus Wade.  Because the Court did not rule from a neutral position, but twisted facts out of context, was selective with the evidence, ignored key points of view, and knowingly evaded the clear truth, it rendered its judgment subject to intense criticism.  Had the Court honestly, critically, and thoroughly examined all sides of the issue, its decision would have been much different than it was.  Sadly, for some, the Supreme Court’s monumental decision on that fateful day in 1973 will be seen as the indisputable law of the land, but it is hoped that these articles (based on a paper I wrote for a class) have placed doubt in some minds as to the legality and fairness of the trial that the most vulnerable citizens of the United States of America received. ---- Timothy J.

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