Roe vs. Wade: A Few Thoughts 28 Years Later



On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down two related abortion decisions, Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton, regarded by many as the most mistaken and harmful decisions ever to impact our nation.

Bishops' Statement

In November of 2000, the US Bishops approved a statement, Abortion and the Supreme Court: Advancing the Culture of Death, which states that "the Court's abortion decisions deserve only to be condemned, repudiated and ultimately reversed."

The verge of infanticide

Among other harmful effects of these decisions, the Bishops pointed out that Roe and Doe bring our nation to the brink of endorsing infanticide - the killing of newborn infants.

How so?

First of all, Roe vs. Wade did not deny that the unborn child is human. The Roe Court simply said that the question was not within its competence to answer. It claimed that the answer was in doubt.

Then, in the same text, it said that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, "does not include the unborn." Therefore, the unborn - about whose status we are unsure - may nevertheless be destroyed.

That makes about as much sense as saying that if you are not sure whether there are children playing in an abandoned building or not, you can knock down the building anyway.

The Court would have been closer to moral (though not scientific) sanity if it had said that it concluded the unborn were not human, and therefore could be destroyed. At least then they would not have violated the principle that you cannot kill the innocent. But the Court, instead, gave permission to destroy whose nature it admitted it did not know.

The logic has continued to move forward, as the Roe and Doe decisions have been invoked to oppose bans on partial-birth abortion, in which a child is mostly delivered when killed, and even to oppose, as NARAL did, a bill designed to protect fully born children from infanticide!


The way abortion is carried out today is a far cry from even what Roe vs. Wade envisioned. Roe speaks of abortion as a medical decision between a woman and her physician.

First of all, this is hardly ever the case. Those who get abortions usually don't know who the abortionist is, or what his or her qualifications are.

Secondly, there are very few abortions done for medical reasons. Pro-abortion sources indicate to us the most common reasons: "On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner." (Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute website,

Third, Roe claims that "the State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient. This interest obviously extends at least to the performing physician and his staff, to the facilities involved, to the availability of after-care, and to adequate provision for any complication or emergency that might arise." Yet this interest has not been served by the legalization of abortion. Abortion facilities remain the most unregulated surgical facilities in the nation, and the most commonsense regulations are opposed by pro-abortion groups, who invoke the mantle of "privacy." Yet even Roe indicated that the right to privacy is not absolute.

As we approach the 28th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton, the plaintiffs of both cases have issued brief statements which Priests for Life faxed to clergy around the nation. These statements follow:

Norma McCorvey (former "Jane Roe" of Roe vs. Wade):

"Remember that a lot of the children cling to every word the priest says - the young people should understand that even though abortion is legal, that doesn't make it the former "Jane Roe," may I ask you, Fathers, to please preach about abortion this weekend..."

Sandra Cano (former "Mary Doe" of Doe vs. Bolton):

"Abortion should be ended. My case is based on a lie. The Supreme Court did not know the facts. Abortion is taking a life that shouldn’t be legal. We need to show love and kindness to these women. Don’t condemn them if they give their child up for adoption. Make them know that it is O.K. Don’t stigmatize them. Be available when they need you. Show them God’s love. Don’t be scared to say I’m pro-life and we’ll do whatever we can to stop abortion."