It’s Not as Simple as Overturning Roe | National Review

It’s Not as Simple as Overturning Roe | National Review

Pro-life demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2021.
(Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The Washington Post reported yesterday evening that the Democratic attorney general of Wisconsin, Josh Kaul, has said he won’t enforce the state’s existing prohibition on abortion — even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Currently, Wisconsin permits elective abortion up to 22 weeks’ gestation, but it’s also one of several states with an inactive ban on nearly all abortions, a law that was on the books long before the Court created the right to abortion in Roe.

Because that law has never been changed, unless the state were to alter it in the meantime, it presumably would take effect if and when the Court rolls back its abortion jurisprudence, which currently prohibits states from restricting abortion in any meaningful way.

But that doesn’t mean states authorities will choose to enforce the law, and Kaul has indicated that he intends not to do so:

Kaul said the Justice Department is focused on investigating crimes of statewide importance like homicide, sexual assault and arson.

“Diverting resources from those important cases to the kinds of cases that could be brought under abortion ban, which I also believe to be unconstitutional, is not something that I would do as attorney general,” he said.

Kaul said enforcing an abortion ban would undermine public safety.

“And it would result in serious negative health consequences, including potentially the death of women who wanted to seek to exercise what for nearly 50 years been understood to be a constitutionally protected right,” he said.

With this last comment, Kaul is alluding to the oft-debunked falsehood — a favorite of abortion supporters — that pregnant women died by the thousands in illegal abortions prior to Roe. In reality, figures suggest that the number of women who died as the result of an abortion each year before Roe was something closer to 200. Meanwhile, the best data suggest that restricting abortion is far more likely to lead to overall improvements for maternal health.

Research shows that countries such as El Salvador, Chile, Poland, and Nicaragua, which began prohibiting abortion after having allowed it, saw subsequent improvements in maternal-mortality rates rather than increased rates of maternal deaths as abortion supporters claimed they would. Maternal-mortality rates in South Africa, on the other hand, worsened after the country legalized abortion.

A study of 32 states in Mexico, meanwhile, found that laws restricting abortion did not lead to an increase in maternal mortality. Instead, states with more restrictive abortion legislation actually exhibited lower maternal-mortality ratios overall, lower maternal-mortality ratios related to abortion, and lower induced-abortion mortality ratios than in more abortion-friendly states.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.