by Jim Powers
As you have probably seen by now, a draft judgement from the Supreme Court overturning Roe V Wade, the decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. almost 50 years ago, was leaked to the press. I’ll not go into the details of the decision because it is, of course, a draft copy and could change, and with a majority of right-wing justices dominating the court, it was inevitable that it would be overturned.
Overturning Roe will make abortion illegal in many states. Eventually, legislation will pass in the U.S. Congress that makes abortion illegal everywhere in the U.S. That will take a while, but it is coming if the republicans take over the house, senate, and presidency again.
We’ve been here before, of course, pre-Roe V Wade. I was an adult, then, so can remember what it was like. The next expressed target after abortion is making birth control illegal. I was a teenager when birth control was illegal, even between married couples, in many states.
So, when both were illegal, what happened? Well, the same thing happened as when the highway department puts up those 70 mph speed limit signs on IH 10. Everyone drives 80 mph.
Most Americans, in poll after poll, decade after decade, support safe, legal abortions in the United States. And a minority can’t oppress a majority for very long. Unpopular laws get ignored.
It won’t be any surprise to you that back in the 1960’s, when abortion and birth control were illegal, abortion was common and most married couples used birth control. The laws didn’t stop most folks. It wasn’t the state that was having to support a dozen kids if you didn’t use birth control.
And don’t ask, don’t tell works well when dealing with unpopular laws. Of course, Texas is effectively dangling $10,000 dollars in front of its citizens to rat out their neighbors who get abortions; but most folks aren’t going to do that.
So, what was the effect of most folks ignoring these two unpopular laws? In the case of birth control, far fewer pregnant teenagers, and married couples who could afford to support their self-limited family. Abortion is more complicated.
There were still abortions; but many of them were carried out, literally in dirty backrooms and abandoned buildings by unqualified people using the most brutal of tools. The result were women who could never again have children when they were better prepared financially and socially to have them.
The other concern I have is that many people who favor making abortion illegal are consumed by magical thinking. There are almost a million abortions a year in the United States. Do you really think that just because women are forced by the state to carry to term children they don’t want, that they will suddenly decide once the child is born to keep them?
In the days before Roe V Wade, newborns were often abandoned in front of hospitals, churches, and charitable institutions. And those were the lucky ones. The others ended up in trash cans, fire pits, in gas station toilets and along the side of country roads. Will the state accept the financial burden of a million orphans?
Perhaps we should start an ASPCB (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Babies) organization, to take in the million stray babies left in dumpsters and on the steps of hospitals and charities each year once abortion is illegal.
We can dress them up real cute, give them cute names and run their pictures in newspaper ads, "Please adopt Samantha. She was found alone and hungry and cold near a dumpster. Would you give her a forever home? Only $20 donation will help us save these forgotten babies!"