In light of the passage of the New York state abortion statute exactly one year ago that brought the issue of “infanticide” into national consciousness for the first time, the fundamental role that abortion has played for a long time in the moral and political division of the country—its importance rivaled only by Brown v. Board of Education—and the certainty that abortion will be an even more important issue in the November 2020 presidential elections even than it has been in the past, this essay attempts a review of the legislative, judicial, political, and social developments of recent years in regard to abortion.
The precipitating event has been the New York abortion statute enacted after the capture by the Democratic party of the New York state senate in the 2018 elections, ending thirty years of Republican control of that body, to go along with the Democrats’ long-standing control of the state Assembly, and with Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo the Democrats controlled the New York state government completely. The party made abortion its first order of business when the new legislature convened in January 2019. The motivation, as explicitly stated by Gov. Cuomo, was to codify Roe v. Wade into New York state law because of the fear that the Supreme Court might overturn it.
In Roe, the Supreme Court spoke of “potential life” and said that it need not decide the supposedly “difficult question of when life begins.” Even though Justice Blackmun for the Court did not know, the science of embryology knew the answer to the question then and now: “the sex of the new individual . . . is determined at fertilization” (Langman’s Medical Embryology, p. 41). The ruling of Roe, together with its companion case, Doe, made abortion available throughout the nine months of pregnancy, the actual equivalent of infanticide, in the last months. That fact was scrupulously ignored and suppressed by the mainstream media and by feminist and other progressive advocacy groups. Until 2019, it had never become a public and national issue. Roe invented a new constitutional right, available only to women: a “right of privacy” then and now restated as a woman’s “right to control her body.” In the 7-2 Roe majority were Justices Willam Douglas, Thurgood Marshal, William Brennan, Potter Stewart, Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell, and Warren Burger, the last five of whom had been appointed by Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon.
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