Roe v. Wade, Hear the Echo of Choice

It has been more than 46 years since the 7-2 Supreme Court ruling in this landmark case. Since the nomination of Donald Trump (a suspected pro-lifer) as Republican Presidential candidate in 2016, the subject has been frequently showcased by media pundits and activists. The noise reached a crescendo during the Judge Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings, only to rise up again recently.

It might be constructive to review the original case. In 1969, Norma McCorvey, age 21, became pregnant with her third child and wanted an abortion. However, McCorvey lived in Texas , where abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother’s life. She hired lawyers who filed a lawsuit in U. S. federal court against her local district attorney, Henry Wade, alleging that Texas’ abortion laws were unconstitutional. In their filing, the lawyers chose the pseudonym, Jane Roe, for their client. A three-judge District Court panel ruled in her favor. Texas then appealed the ruling directly to the U. S. Supreme Court.

The January, 1973 decision held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides a “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. But, importantly, the ruling did not stop there: The Court said that this right is not absolute. There must be a balance between the government’s interest in protecting women’s health and the government’s interest in protecting prenatal life. The Court went on resolve how this balance should be addressed. They did not suggest splitting the baby in half (ala the dispute brought to King Solomon), but instead split a pregnancy into three parts – the three trimesters:

  • First trimester – no government could prohibit abortions at all
  • Second trimester – governments could require reasonable health regulations
  • Third trimester – abortions could be prohibited entirely so long as the laws contained exceptions for cases when they were necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

Finally, the Court classified the right to choose to have an abortion as “fundamental”. The effect of this designation is to make laws allowing abortions difficult to challenge in court.

The decision was greeted by a cacophony of applause and jeers, depending on point of view. It was scorned by some in the legal community as “judicial activism” and “not constitutional law”. It is interesting to note that the decision could not have had any impact on Ms. McCorvey’s pregnancy at issue, coming, as it did, three years after she first filed suit! In fact, after being unable to obtain an illegal abortion, she gave birth and put the child up for adoption.

The post-decision controversy continued virtually unabated leading to a modification issued in the decision on Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. In that case the Court:

  • Abandoned Roe’s trimester framework in favor of a standard based on fetal viability.
  • Overruled Roe’s requirement that the right to choose to have an abortion be considered “fundamental”, as it relates to judicial review.

So, the one side that clings to the trimester framework is embracing ghosts. The other side that says the right to choose is constitutionally “fundamental” is not quite up to speed. As I read the current situation (I am not a constitutional, or any kind of lawyer) Federal law is leaving it to the states to determine “fetal viability”. However, to those that say that a baby that is full-term but not yet having taken its first breath is not viable – that seems like an excursion into fantasy land, and not what the law intends.

Of course, that is just my opinion. Ultimately, in our democratic system, the majority of voters have to decide the very difficult question of: at what stage of a pregnancy does the government’s responsibility to protect life extend to the unborn, and super-cede a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose.

Rights – Whose Right?

Bernie talks about rights – everyone has a right to, well, just about anything one might desire (he didn’t mention sex however – he is 76??). In the Declaration of Independence the revolutionaries wrote,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights – that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Any conflict here? I see a few. The drafters did not include a laundry list, just the highlights. Also, my understanding of a right is that there is a giver and a receiver. The receiver is clear in both cases, not so the giver. What is Bernie’s stand on religion? Is he an atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Calvinist – I have never heard him claim a leaning or affiliation – and he talks a lot. But, my point is not to pick on Bernie, we are, after all, both OWGs, and, although I disagree with most of his positions, I am clearly in a minority: he almost defeated the malevolent Hillary for the Democratic Presidential nomination. (I wasn’t really surprised, evil is usually the odds-on favorite here on earth).

I don’t hear religion or spirituality mentioned at all in the campaign. As a strategist I would caution my candidate to avoid the topic so as not to alienate any voting bloc unnecessarily. So, again, I am not surprised. But, to those candidates who say that the current state of political division must be ameliorated, I ask, on what basis? What is our commonality?

Some possibilities:

  • We all want a good life for ourselves and our families (self-centered)
  • We all want a strong economy, a strong military, and a dominant international presence (nationalistic)
  • We all want global peace and prosperity (globalist)

There are other possible areas of common agreement and those items stated are not mutually exclusive. But, in my experience, individuals focus on one of these. Ultimately, it is “what’s in it for me?” I might desire fame and/or fortune – everyone else be damned. I might feel a strong need for community and reach out to help my neighbors. I might feel a deep connection with the oppressed and disadvantaged and work doggedly for charitable and eleemosynary causes. Those three passions are not usually found in the same person.

So, what kind of person do you want to lead your country? What is their character? What drives them? For whom are they working? Are their goals consistent with yours?

Democrats will need to answer those questions and make a choice beginning in March. That leaves you at least 6 months to get the answers. All of us will make the final decision in 14 months. If we haven’t done our homework by then we don’t have the right to vote, in my opinion.

So, who’s right, anyway? I don’t know at this point. There is no end to the words we hear from the candidates. But, I have not divined the source from which the words spring – it’s not spirituality. Is it humanity, ego gratification, altruism, something else?

Let’s try to find out, and pick a “good one” in 2020, even if it might not be the right one..


Today is 9/11

It has joined the other significant dates on our calendars – July 4, December 25, January 1. Just hearing the date brings to mind memories and images. But unlike the other, the images are dark and the memories unpleasant and disheartening. Earlier generations recognized a similar dark day, December 7, the Pearl Harbor attack. But those Americans also recognized June 6, when the Allies launched the invasion that would lead us to victory over those who would have enslaved us.

On 9/11/2019 we are a different country than we were 18 years ago. Shocked and then angry, we became unified against a common enemy, as we were after 12/7/1941. But, on this anniversary, the populace is divided, polarized – many of “the natives are restless”. The seemingly endless war in Afghanistan is one of the few frequent reminders of the 9/11 aftermath. Twenty- and thirty-somethings have a dim or no recollection of that day in 2001. Many of them (and many of their older fellow-travelers) are answering the siren call of false prophets of globalism and a world of peace and justice. Would that such a dream were possible!

I am an OWG, like Bernie. By the way, Happy belated 78th, guy! But, I believe in reality. I accept the fact that human nature is flawed, not divine. Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and disenchantment, sometimes expressed in violent behavior. In my mind, Bernie and his ilk, are playing with fire. As a result of their exhortations and fancifully raised expectations, we might all get burned (Bern’ed?).

9/11, a day of solemn remembrance to many, a day that should give pause and inspire reflection as to what our country should be, to all.


OttoPolitico is a blog about, yes you are correct, Politics. No doubt you have an interest – and an opinion – or you wouldn’t be reading this.

My purpose is to explore the subject area in many aspects, sometimes topically, sometimes philosophically, sometimes focusing on current events, sometimes looking for historical antecedents to the present day pickle. I will expose my opinions, some strong, some week. But I will always be open to differing opinions as long as they are expressed in civil language and don’t confuse fact and opinion. Ultimately the objective is more discussion and less diatribe.

On this August 12, 2019, the body politic might have any one of a number of subjects as top of mind: gun control, sexual criminals, extreme privilege, a variety of perceived victimized groups/ injustices, a hated President/who will be the next President, a despised 1%, rights of unborn/just born in jeopardy, and many more possibilities.

I expect to take on most of these over time. If you might be interested in participating or just observing the fray, come visit again. Then I will have a first subject and I will open the door to participation.

Enjoy the day!

Yours in politics, Otto.

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