Do Pro-Choicers Really Honor Roe?

Steven Waldman

The most common argument I hear from pro-choice women in is, "this simply is no one's business but the woman's." That may be right, that may be fair - but it is not what Roe v. Wade says.

The most common
argument I hear from pro-choice women in response to most anything I write on
the subject is, "this simply is no one’s business but the woman’s."  Even if there is a moral dimension to this,
it’s up to the woman to make the ethical calculus.

That may be right,
that may be fair – but it is not what Roe v. Wade says.  Many of the comments assume that there is an
inviolable Constitutional right to abortion at any time.  But in the majority opinion Justice Harry
Blackmun wrote, "Appellant and some amici argue that the woman’s right is
absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time,
in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not
agree."

The fact that 84% of
Americans support banning abortion in the third trimester would indicate that a
large chunk even of pro-choice voters believe that while the woman’s right is
sacrosanct in the earlier parts of the pregnancy, as time passes, the fetus
itself begins to have rights, too.

Politically, common
ground efforts should steer clear of the late term abortion debate, at least in
phase one.  I raise it to make a simple
point: Roe v. Wade did not grant women an inviolable, universal, unfettered
right to choose.   So discouraging debate
with the assertion that pretty much no one other than the pregnant woman has
any standing to offer an opinion is not only counter-productive but against the
spirit of Roe.

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