Last week we saw the leak of a draft opinion in the major abortion case pending before the Supreme Court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Since then, we’ve seen all sorts of storm and thunder, including ugly protests at churches, an alleged arson attack on a pregnancy help center, and angry demonstrations outside the homes of Supreme Court justices.
This extremism is the fruit of the extremism of the Supreme Court’s own decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. While most Americans favor significant limits on abortion, the Court’s decisions have taken the issue away from the democratic process. That just encourages extremism in proposed legislation as well as in the streets.
Extremism in New York State
We certainly see this legislative extremism in the sad collection of government officials who have been elected in New York State.
Our accidental governor has committed to maximum encouragement and support for abortion. She is even centering her election campaign around the issue. Our attorney general and legislators are pushing for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion on demand. There’s a new proposal to increase funding for abortionists and to pay for women to come to New York for abortion.
New York already has the most liberal abortion statute in the nation. Our Court of Appeals has held that it is a fundamental right subject to special legal protection. And there is no lack of doctors who are willing to kill unborn children. Official statistics show that there are almost 75,000 abortions per year in our state, 1,600 of which occur after 20 weeks, when there’s a good chance that the child is viable outside of her mother’s womb. For every 1,000 live births, there are 336 abortions – meaning that about one quarter of all pregnancies end with an abortion.
There is no need for any more abortion liberalization in our state. The abortion industry is already well-funded, and abortion is essentially free for anyone (thanks to Medicaid and a law mandating private insurance coverage with no co-pays).
This is bizarre political performance art, designed to placate the extremists among the Democratic Party’s base.
Extremism in the US Senate
We see the abortion extremism also in our U.S. senators as well.
Our senior senator, who also happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, has decided to hold a floor vote on a radical abortion bill that goes way beyond Roe and Casey.
It would prevent states from requiring any conditions on abortions, such as full informed consent, waiting periods, mandatory sonograms, limits on telemedicine, bans on abortions based on disability or sex, and more. It would make it impossible to restrict or regulate late-term abortions. And it would eliminate any conscience protections for health workers.
This is the same bill that couldn’t even get a majority on a procedural vote earlier this year. There is no chance that the bill will pass the Senate. None.
So what’s the point? Again, it’s pure performance art, designed to feed red meat to the abortion extremists among the Democratic Party’s supporters.
Extremism on Our Side
People shouldn’t think that the extremism is limited to the pro-abortion side. Some legislators on our side of the issue are also pushing the envelope way too far.
The bill would actually allow for criminal homicide charges against the woman seeking the abortion. No mainstream pro-life organization supports that kind of proposal. It also would give protection from the moment of fertilization, which would cast doubt on the legality of in vitro fertilization and some forms of contraception. Those positions have virtually no public support.
There’s an even more extreme, and even ugly, aspect of the bill. It says that the state will enforce the law “without regard to the opinions and judgments of the Supreme Court of the United States…”. It also says that “any federal statute, regulation, treaty, executive order or court ruling that purports to supersede, stay, or overrule this section shall be in violation of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Louisiana and is therefore void”. Plus, the state “may disregard any part or whole of any federal court decision which purports to enjoin or void any provision of this Section”. In fact, “any judge of this state who purports to enjoin, stay, overrule, or void any provision of this Section shall be subject to impeachment or removal.”
It is one thing for states to challenge federal laws and court decisions. But that has to be done through the legal process and the losing party has to accept the decisions of the courts. Those provisions are nothing short of the discredited tactics of nullification and interposition – outright defiance of the U.S. Constitution – that were the hallmark of the segregation era.
This bill would force state officials to violate their oath of office to support the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution states that
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
That clearly prohibits state officials from ignoring federal law and disobeying the decisions of federal courts. The Supreme Court has rejected that view since the early 1800’s and has repeatedly reaffirmed their invalidity. I am shocked that any legislator could possibly support such a proposal.
This is also performance art, aimed at some of the extremists in the pro-life camp. But it just feeds the pro-abortion propaganda that pro-lifers are radicals who are hostile to the rule of law, to women, and to sexuality in general.
Fruit of the Poisoned Tree
I have said many times that abortion poisons everything it touches. It leads people to extremism and, occasionally, to violence. We will continue to see this, as long as abortion is a political and legal issue – regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in the Dobbs case.
The only way to “settle” this issue is for our society to have a conversion of heart to a Culture of Life, where every human life is held sacred, and we all work together to support mothers and families in difficult situations.