Sometimes even the most morally compelling of causes requires its backers to proceed incrementally, to make tactical retreats, to advocate half-measures. This isn’t one of those times: not for pro-lifers as the Supreme Court takes up the case of Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
As Robert P. George explains at First Things, pro-lifers and legal conservatives, including the state’s attorney general, ought to be seeking nothing less than the full overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. We ought to be asking, that is, for a declaration that the Constitution contains no right to abortion, allows legislatures to enact bans on abortion, and does not authorize judicial second-guessing of those bans.
The political moment is as good as it has ever been for such a ruling. It’s the ruling that follows most straightforwardly from reading the Constitution in line with its text, original understanding, and structure. The specific issue being litigated in this case, as Sherif Girgis has shown, militates strongly against trying to limit Roe and Casey without overruling them.
The pro-life movement and Republican politicians should explain that overturning Roe won’t by itself ban abortion. They should make that point because it’s accurate, because it will help prepare pro-lifers for the political battles to come if they succeed in court, and because it will do a little to calm the nerves of those who fear drastic and sudden change in abortion policy. But it’s more important that they call on the justices to do the right thing: Bury Roe, and salt the earth.
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