Published June 22, 2022
THE SUPREME COURT may very well be on the cusp of overturning Roe v Wade, the judicial precedent that declared a fundamental unwritten constitutional right to abortion in 1973. Such a move by the court would return the matter of abortion to the political branches of government. For the first time in nearly 50 years, we in America are poised to rejoin our friends and neighbours around the world who live in the supermajority of nations that govern themselves on the vexed issue of abortion through the deliberative democratic process rather than via the fiat of unelected judges. To do so wisely, justly and humanely will require the practice of civility, charity and honesty.
We’re not off to a good start. The leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion last month was itself a shocking breach of longstanding norms. The reaction to the leak has included protests in front of the homes of the Supreme Court’s justices and even credible threats of violence against them. The public discourse is overheated, rife with personal attacks, exaggerations and misstatements, some born of confusion and others perhaps even meant to mislead. A first step in the right direction is to strive for truth and accuracy in our public discourse. We can start by accurately describing Justice Alito’s draft opinion and its consequences.
Carter Snead, a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of law and bioethics. His specific areas of expertise include stem-cell research, human cloning, assisted reproduction, neuroscience, abortion, end-of-life matters, and research involving human subject.