Roe v Wade is bad constitutional law. It will be overturned eventually, one way or another, but the question is “when?” We cannot know the answer to that but it could potentially happen sooner than we think.
So exactly what is Roe v Wade, and what does it do? On 22 January 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a ruling in the landmark case Roe v Wade: “right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the district court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether to terminate her pregnancy.”
In common layman’s terms, the high court struck down (nullified) all state laws prohibiting or regulating abortion procedures within the nation on the grounds that they violated a woman’s right to privacy. So in other words, a woman’s privacy overrules the right of another person (the child in her womb), the right to live.
Roe v Wade did not rule on the “personhood” of the unborn child, or if that unborn person has any rights to be protected at all. It simply stated that state laws cannot stop a woman from having an abortion because they violate her privacy.
Constitutional scholars, over the last 45 years, have almost all agreed that the privacy argument of Roe v Wade is bogus and cannot be legally or constitutionally defended. It’s just a matter of time before this ruling is overturned — one way or another.
Since then, the abortion business has become a major industry in the United States, marketed as a second-layer of artificial birth-control, when the first layer (condoms, hormones, IUDs, etc.) fails. The contraceptive organisation, Planned Parenthood, founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger in the early half of the 20th century, has become the primary provider and political champion of abortion-on-demand in the United States. Since Roe v Wade was ruled in 1973, an estimated 50-million abortions have been provided in this country. Stop and consider that for a moment. That is nearly ten times the number of people killed during the Nazi Holocaust.
Roe v Wade will be overturned someday. That is certain. We just cannot know when. The purpose of this essay is to forecast what would be the likely scenario IF Roe is overturned within the next three to five years.
The first thing to understand is this. If Roe is overturned anytime soon, the most likely method will be by strict constructionist (or “originalist”) justices on be SCOTUS. Strict constructionist, or “originalist,” means these justices try to strictly follow the original intent of the US Constitution when it was written, while considering all the amendments and their original intent as well. Strict constructionist judges try to steer away from “judicial fiat” or “legislating from the bench.” In other words, they believe judges should interpret laws not make them. These are the kinds of justices that Republicans have been trying to put on the SCOTUS for the last 30 years or so.
If Roe is overturned by strict constructionist justices on the SCOTUS, we can NOT expect the immediate end to abortion in the United States. Abortion-on-demand will NOT end overnight in America. Rather, what will happen will be a default back to the way abortion laws were prior to 1973. In other words, the whole federal court system will simply step out of the abortion debate entirely.
Prior to Roe v Wade (before 1973), abortion laws were considered a state matter and the federal courts just stayed out of it. Abortion was a matter to be decided by state legislation and state courts. A small handful of states allowed abortion-on-demand services without question. A small handful of states allowed abortion services but put limits on it. Most states simply forbade abortion services completely. If Roe v Wade is overturned, the proverbial “legal clock” will just be rolled back to 1973 as far as the federal government is concerned, and the states will default to whatever abortion laws happen to be on their books right now, even those not enforced since 1973, unless they’ve been amended or rewritten since then. So in other words, abortion laws will be a little different in each state, and whether it’s possible to get an abortion will depend a lot on where you live.
Some states will allow abortion-on-demand in all circumstances. Some states will require some regulation and limitations. Some states will make getting an abortion very difficult. Some states will forbid abortion entirely. If you want to know what will happen where you live, check the abortion laws in your state.
This is important to know, no matter what side of the abortion debate you fall on because there will surely be a lot of bogus propaganda being spouted both before and after the overturning of Roe v Wade.
Federal law guarantees freedom of travel for all adults in the United States. This means that if abortion is illegal in one state, but legal in the state right next to it, there is nothing stopping a woman who wants an abortion from driving to the neighbouring state and getting one. Likewise, abortion seeking women can fly from state to state as well, for the same purpose. This type of migration will become important in the years ahead. I’ll explain more below. Before I do that however, I probably ought to briefly cover the social and cultural impact immediately following a Roe overturn by the SCOTUS.
In the wake of a Roe overturn, we can fully expect the pro-abortion lobby, largely funded by Planned Parenthood, to completely lose their minds. They will likely advocate violent protests, which will probably degenerate into riots. Most of this will happen in major urban areas and probably be limited to that. They will be ongoing for years, but we can expect their intensity to subside as the propaganda-driven hysteria fades. Eventually, supporters of abortion will realise that the world is not about to end, and nobody wants to enslave them into becoming baby-factory “handmaidens.” Pro-abortion women will slowly become aware that they’re being manipulated by people who made lots of money off abortion, and they’ll begin making plans of where to go (what state to drive/fly to) if they ever need an abortion. It’s reasonable to assume that some abortion services may actually begin to provide transport taxis to clients in states where abortion is legal. States will not be able to stop this from happening. The right to travel between states is guaranteed under federal law.
This new paradigm will redefine the abortion debate in America. Both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates will have to retool and refocus their efforts on winning state battles and competing for the hearts and minds of the people therein. Court battles will become somewhat a thing of the past, as the federal court system will have removed itself from the debate entirely by overturning Roe. Now the matter will find itself in state courts, state legislatures and state campaigns.
Gradually, America will be divided, physically divided, between the Culture of Life (Pro-Life) and the Culture of Death (Pro-Abortion, Pro-Euthanasia, Pro-Eugenics). We can expect the West Coast states to quickly move to keep abortion legal and well-funded. We can likewise expect the same thing among the North-eastern states. There my still yet be a smattering of a few states elsewhere. But for the most part, nearly all the South, and most of the Midwest, will become Pro-Life states, where abortion will either be illegal or significantly curtailed.
This is when the real work for the Pro-Life movement will begin. The overturning of Roe v Wade will not mark the end of the abortion battle in America, but rather a turning point, when the playing field will finally be levelled. That’s when the real campaigning for life must begin in earnest, and every Catholic priest and Evangelical pastor better get on board with it, and start preaching it from the pulpit. Because Lord knows the Pro-Abortionists will spend their entire war chest trying to win states over to the Pro-Abortion mindset. Pro-Lifers don’t need a lot of money. They just need strong Pro-Life pastors who aren’t afraid to preach it from the pulpit. The ideological battle will have changed however. No longer will it be a national battle. It will instead become local. That’s what a post-Roe America will look like.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.