We can do better
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, January 25, 2018
Every January, hundreds of thousands of people march through the streets of our nation’s capital as part of the March for Life. The march ends at the Supreme Court and takes place on the anniversary of that body’s decision in Roe v. Wade. Unsurprisingly, virtually everyone’s opinion on that legal decision coincides with their opinion on abortion as a policy matter. In our national discourse, supporting the interest of the pregnant woman over the interest of the unborn fetus is equivalent to supporting the decision in Roe and vice versa.
This phenomenon is not unique to abortion, but I have always been surprised by it, because what the law means should be an entirely different question from what the law should be. It is entirely plausible and consistent to suggest that the Constitution does not protect the rights of the unborn while simultaneously believing that our society should offer such protection. The Constitution is a product of the moral and political judgements of the past, not evidence of the validity of those judgements. The original Constitution and Bill of Rights plainly did not protect numerous rights, including, for instance, the right to vote for women and blacks. Regardless of that nonappearance in the Constitution, it is now clear to our society that this right should, indeed must, be protected.
To the extent the public is aware of the march at all, its date and destination suggest it stands merely for the proposition that Roe v. Wade was incorrectly decided. As a member of the pro-life movement, I believe this is entirely the wrong message to send to our fellow citizens. Believing that protection for the unborn should be part of our society is wholly independent of the legal merits of the Roe decision. Pro-lifers generally are not lawyers, but people who believe in the dignity and value of human life at every stage. We are far better equipped to promote this powerful moral ideal than to wonder through the mystifying maze of constitutional interpretation.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.