Abortion Myths v. Truths – The U.S. Supreme Court’s relook at Roe v. Wade

November 30, 2021

Introduction

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments that may overturn Roe v. Wade. This landmark lawsuit challenge, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, may prove to undo the atrocious decision the Court made nearly 50 years ago, which led to millions of lives lost due to abortions.

Roe v. Wade is the legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, ruled 7–2 that unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional. In the majority opinion written by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Court held that a set of Texas statutes criminalizing abortion violated a woman’s constitutional right of privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Legal scholars and others have debated not only the decision, but the legal footing of that decision ever since.  Meanwhile, over 62 million human lives have been aborted since 1973.

As our national conscience is reawakened, Americans will be watching the arguments presented to the Court and the subsequent ruling the Court makes. This educational aid provides the truth about abortion, while debunking the myths and misnomers that often surround the debate. 

Myth #1:

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will outlaw abortion in the U.S.

Truth:

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the power to regulate abortions will likely revert back to individual states to make law. 

Myth #2:

Roe had a good reason to seek an abortion (rape) and remained a strong advocate for abortion the rest of her life.

Truth:

Jane Roe (real name: Norma McCorvey), a resident of Texas, claimed to have become pregnant as a result of a gang rape (many years after the landmark decision, she said she “lied when she declared upon bringing suit that it was rape that caused her pregnancy”).

In the mid-1990s, Norma McCorvey (aka “Roe”) made a public religious and political conversion and was baptized on television. Norma then declared herself newly pro-life and crusaded the last two decades of her life against the Court’s ruling of her own case, which served as the basis for legalized abortion. She also later said that she never really supported the abortion movement. In a documentary filmed in 2017 Norma said, “I took their (abortion industry) money and they put me out in front of the camera and told me what to say, and that’s what I’d say.”

Myth #3:

Norma McCorvey’s abortion was performed in a safe manor with no complications.

Truth:

Norma McCorvey never actually had an abortion. Many don’t realize that by the time the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision, she had delivered her baby alive and had given her child up for adoption.

Myth #4:

The Constitution clearly declares that a woman has the right to have an abortion, making it a Constitutional right.

Truth:

Nothing in the Constitution’s text, structure, history, or tradition supports a constitutional right to abortion. 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the constitutionality of abortion once said, “It’s about if the Constitution talks about abortion. And in this case (a woman’s right to have an abortion), the Constitution doesn’t say anything about it one way...”  

Myth #5:

The abortion industry doesn’t target minority communities, especially Black Americans.

Truth:

Since 1973, over 62 million babies have become the victims of abortion. These actions have decimated the Black community in particular as abortion has taken more lives in the Black community than crime, accidents, cancer, heart disease, and AIDS combined. Each day in the U.S., on average, over 800 Black babies are aborted. Who would have possibly imagined in 1973 that so much death would stem from that one decision? Nevertheless, it has happened and, sadly, continues to happen.

Myth #6:

Roe v. Wade simply follows the science.

Truth:

In 1973, medical experts estimated the age of viability to be between 28 to 40 weeks of gestation. Today, with medical advances, the viability line continues to be pushed earlier, now being as early as 24 weeks, with at least one successful case as early as 21 weeks, Micah Pickering. In 1973, ultrasound technology was not widely available or accessible. Today, ultrasound is widely available and a routine practice as part of a mother’s prenatal care. Ultrasound images and videos can be viewed in 3D and 4D. Mothers and fathers can see, in real time, their children in the womb yawn, stretch, or even suck a thumb.

Back in 1973, doctors would likely barely have been able to conceive of the ways that their modern counterparts are now able to treat unborn patients. As science and technology continues to advance, the field of perinatal medicine has exploded with options to diagnose, plan for, and treat various conditions—including surgery while children are still in the womb.

Myth #7:

An abortion is just the removal of tissue and not an actual person.

Truth:

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an unborn baby's toes can be seen and his or her lungs, ears, eyes, arms, and legs start to form before the end of the first trimester (13 weeks). At 6 weeks, a heartbeat may now be detected.  Between 9 and 12 weeks after conception, a baby’s face becomes well-formed, genitals appear, and nails appear on the fingers and toes.

Even Justice Blackmun, who wrote the Court’s majority opinion, recognized that the legal argument on which the U.S. Supreme Court made its decision hinges on the definition of a person.  Justice Blackmun opinion penned these damning wordsIf this suggestion of personhood is established, [Roe’s] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”  Meaning, a fetus can only be protected by the equal protection and due process rights protected by Fourteenth Amendment if that new being is recognized as a person.  Sadly, the ruling as captured by Blackmun in Roe v. Wade declared that personhood was not to be conferred on a fetus.  Given the advances in science, there is little doubt now that an unborn child is indeed a person and that person’s Constitutional right to life must be protected.   

Back in 1973, the Court’s decision that abortion was a Constitutional right was predicated on a very controversial interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment (originally written largely to protect slaves’ right to freedom and, as such, receive equal protection under the law), a woman’s right to privacy, and an assumption, by the majority opinion at that time, that decided that a fetus, no matter how viable, is not a “Person.” This Personhood decision and misrepresented declaration continues to stir controversy in legal and religious circles to this day.

Myth #8:

Abortion is a simple surgical procedure removing tissue, and no pain occurs to the fetus.

Truth:

Advances in scientific instrumentation have helped to revise prior, more limited knowledge about fetal pain, specifically how early it may be felt by an unborn child. Medical experts acknowledge that unborn children can feel pain, at least as early as at 12 weeks, far earlier than previously thought. This revised thinking has also changed the standard of care for surgical procedures in utero, palliative care for babies born too early to survive, and more. It is in part because of these new discoveries about the age babies can feel pain that Mississippi banned abortion starting at 15 weeks. 

Myth #9

The Texas Heartbeat Law is having little to no effect on overall abortion numbers and does nothing for the mothers after they have the baby.

Truth:

Since the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect on Sept. 1, most abortion activity in Texas has come to a halt, saving an estimated 150 unborn children each day from premature death induced by abortion procedures.

Moreover, both the Texas Heartbeat Act and the Dobbs case have reignited the discussion on the sanctity of life and a renewed debate surrounding the constitutionality of abortion that is now front and center before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Myth #10

Since Roe v. Wade, America is a pro-choice Nation supporting federal tax-payer dollars funding abortions both domestically and internationally. 

Truth: 

According to a 2021 poll, “six (6) in ten (10) Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion. A majority of independents (42%) and a notable proportion of Democrats (35%) oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. More than three (3) in four (4) Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to support abortions in other countries.” In fact, “slightly over six (6) in ten (10) of those who identify as pro-choice (61%), oppose using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.”

Conclusion

Clearly, personhood matters. To deny the personhood of an unborn child is a complete refusal to acknowledge basic biological science and to deny the inherent God-given right to life of that child. America anxiously watches and waits to learn how the U.S. Supreme Court will wrestle with this monumental decision starting December 1. We all must pray for wisdom for all of our most honorable Justices.

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