R.I.P. Roe: The Government Won Today. The People–All of Them–Lost

Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views. Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality. Still others in a third group think that abortion should be allowed under some but not all circumstances, and those within this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed.

What an interesting opening paragraph.

Some people believe. Some people feel. Some people think. 

What I liked about Roe —however flawed its legal analysis might have been–is it dispensed with beliefs, feelings, and opinions. It didn’t allow the government to involve itself in such nonsense.  It turned on something cold, sterile, and deterministic. Either the baby could survive or it couldn’t.  It was a simple solution to what amounts to a simple problem–if you take morality out of the equation.

And that is just what Roe did.

I know it is popular to think of Roe as about a woman’s right to make a critical choice. And that’s fine. But I always thought of Roe as a decision about the government’s right to make choices.

Where a state can regulate. And where can it not.

What it may dictate, and what it may not.

From that perspective, of course, questions about a “right” to an abortion are misconceived. The issue was never about a woman’s right to do this or that. Roe was about the government’s right to do this or that.

And most critically–most fundamentally– Roe stood for the proposition that there are limits to when and how the government may regulate morality. 

Today, it seems, those limits have been removed.

Re-read that first sentence, my friends.

Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.

A moral issue.

One on which Roe observed and held the government should have no part in deciding.

But now….

There is, of course, a cold irony to the Court suggesting that some level of power is being restored to the people here. It is easy to confuse the idea of freedom from government intrusion, on the one hand, with the idea of being able to control government policy, on the other.

Yes, the people of each state may now choose to determine what their respective government’s policy will be on abortion. But the people of all states have now lost the right to be free of the government’s power over them on “profound moral issues.”

And that should be unnerving to everyone.

This isn’t about abortion. It never was.

This is about power. The power to control your life.

And the government just took that power back.

Chat soon TCPAWorld.

Editor’s note: My views and my views only. You know how this works. 



  1. Interesting thoughts! I disagree though. I think this decision DOES give back to the power to the people by putting the issue back in the hands of the States (as was the intent of the 10th Amendment). All of the historical context in this opinion was very well thought out and presented explaining why this is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. Moral opinions aside, this issue correctly belongs in the hands of the individual States, not the federal government.

    The point of our Republic is to be governed by the people, not a ruling elitist class of career politicians that scheme behind closed doors. Presumably, people have more interest, control, and voting power in their local and state governments, which is why the state laws consistently coincide with the majority of the people’s views that live there. (hello red state v blue state). The beauty of our country is that if an individual doesn’t like the laws of the State in which they live, and their fellow statemen disagree with their viewpoints and continue to elect individuals that uphold the majority opinion on these issues, they are free to move to another state that aligns better with their beliefs.

    The beauty of America.

    1. Leaving the moral issue aside? That’s kind of like starting a jury argument for the defense in a murder trial and saying, “OK, if you’ll just look past the dead body …”

      I don’t wish to argue with you, Jessica, but I do wish to address two points which are now common in our political discourse and which deserve considered thought.

      You said: “this issue correctly belongs in the hands of the individual States, not the federal government [because t]he point of our Republic is to be governed by the people, not a ruling elitist class of career politicians that scheme behind closed doors.” But but but … this *is* a Republic, not a democracy. While the point of a democracy is to put the power in the hands of the people and bypass the elites, the point of a REPUBLIC is exactly to put the power in the hands of NOT the people, but rather in a “class” above the class of “the people.” The founders specifically debated this point and specifically avoided giving power to the people, whom they did not trust. A judgment that 250 years of American “democracy” has proven accurate.

      You then equate “in the hands of the states” with being outside the hands of the “elitist class of career politicians that scheme behind closed doors.” I don’t deny your characterization of our politicians. But I’m damned if I can find a single state where the state politicians are not precisely “elitist … career politicians that scheme behind closed doors.” That’s true whether they are in CA, TX, GA, FL, NY, inter alia–and whether they are Republican or Democrat or other. Our entire system has become completely corrupt with the sin of partisan self-interest. Federal, state, and local–down to local dog catchers–there’s no non-corrupt politics anywhere. There are only pockets of politicians who are partisan in our particular direction. I wish the “hands of the states” people (and the “federal government” people) would just be honest about saying “we want these decisions in the hands of our team.”

      I’ve always thought Roe was a bad opinion that provoked bad politics on all sides. This new decision has piled on more of the same. There’s only so much piling on of partisanship on top of partisanship that a legal system can take. We are all going to reap the whirlwind created by people on all sides who just want their team to win, and to hell with the constitutional consequences. We can’t work our way out of this by being disingenuous about our motives.

  2. If you like Roe because it was “cold” and rose above the moral fray, then I think you have to embrace the ruling reversing it as well. The ruling doesn’t say “abortion is right” or “abortion is wrong.”

    All that the ruling said is, regardless of what might come of this conclusion: there is no federal right to an abortion. That’s it. About as cold and sterile as you can get. (And, as a matter of constitutional law, absolutely correct).

    Want a right to abortion in the federal constitution? Use the amendment process.
    Want a right to abortion in a state constitution (I think we’ll see a lot of these)? Use the amendment process
    Want a right to abortion secured by law throughout the country? Pass a federal law through the legislative process (in my opinion, the legislation is easily constitutional under the expansive interstate commerce jurisprudence we have).
    Want a right to abortion secured by law in a state? Use the legislative process.

    For better or worse, those are the solutions available. To create a special solution because the issue is morally-charged sells short the whole system.

    I’m expressing ZERO position on abortion. The system has rules and confines; we need to stay within them or change the rules/confines. That’s not for the Supreme Court to do.

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