Humpty Dumpty's World: 34 Years of Roe

Article excerpt


Every year since 1973, millions of Americans have paused to remember the day when new words entered the American vocabulary. Words fraught with ambiguity, like "the right of personal privacy." Euphemisms, like "terminate one's pregnancy." Obscure phrases, like "the penumbras of the Bill of Rights." January after January we take time to remember these words, and the carnage they caused.

In an act of judicial arrogance, the Supreme Court of the United States on Jan. 23, 1973, "discovered" a right to abortion in the Constitution theretofore overlooked by lawyers, judges and scholars for almost 200 years. As a consequence of the court's ruling, over 47 million unborn children have perished at the hands of abortionists in this country. Thousands of women have suffered physical and emotional injury. The entire culture has been poisoned by the rise of a "disposable man" ethic that jeopardizes the elderly, infirm, and handicapped. That ethic has given rise to a spirit of utilitarianism that undergirds a ghoulish form of medical "research" requiring destruction of human embryos for the "greater good." No single decision in American jurisprudence has resulted in more damage than Roe v. Wade.

In addition to its social implications, the Roe decision has had profound political implications. The opinion effectively amended the U.S. Constitution without going through the amendatory process.

Amendments to the Constitution are not a bad thing. We have had a number of them in the 200-plus years that our Constitution has existed. Anticipating the need to modify the document, our forefathers created a democratic process for amendment when large numbers of the American people felt change was in order.

Article V of the Constitution sets out the process by which an amendment is added to the Constitution. Two methods may be employed: one originating in Congress, the other originating in state legislatures. In Roe, however, these procedures were completely short-circuited. Rather than follow the prescribed process, the court aborted it, twisting the words of the Constitution to mean that which they did not.

We are on profoundly dangerous ground when America allows judges to rewrite the Constitution through the process of interpretation. A passage from Lewis Carroll's book, "Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There," comes to mind:

"When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less," said Humpty Dumpty. "The question is," replied Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things. …