Political Editors / June 27, 2022

In Brief: We Lived to See It

Many pro-lifers never expected they’d live to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

It actually happened — Roe v. Wade has been overturned by the Supreme Court. Dan McLaughlin is one of millions of pro-lifers celebrating this wonderful moment, and he speaks for many of us.

We lived to see it. Many of us never thought we would. This day should be celebrated for generations to come.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a momentous milestone in American history. It is the largest single step forward for human rights in America in well over half a century. It is the largest stroke against the arbitrary taking of human life in America since the abolition of slavery in 1865.

True, by overruling Roe, the Supreme Court did not ban abortion; it only restored power to the elected governments to do so. State governments will have to take the next step. So will the federal government, to the extent permitted within its enumerated powers. But they have been denied that power for 49 years.

[Friday] morning’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization swept away those restrictions just as abruptly as Roe erected them. But whereas the seven men behind Roe assaulted our system of democracy and the rule of law, wiping out long-standing laws in nearly every state without a shred of legitimate basis in the written Constitution ratified by We the People, Dobbs restores the supremacy of the democratic Constitution and the sovereignty of the American people.

McLaughlin thinks back on his own journey, along with that of our country. Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 reelection in 1984. The fall of the Berlin Wall and, soon thereafter, the Soviet Union itself. Republicans finally retaking the House in 1994 after 40 years in the minority. Making New York City safe again after decades of crime — to the point that McLaughlin became “a New York City homeowner in 2000.” “We lived to see it,” he kept repeating.

The big white whale was still out there. In 1984, only two members of the Supreme Court were avowedly against the illegitimate overreach of Roe, and the newest Justice (Sandra Day O'Connor) would not join them. In 1992, a Supreme Court with nine Republican appointees held, 5–4, that Roe must stand forever because a thing that stood for 19 years was too embedded in the fabric of our search for “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The following year, one of the long-standing dissenters was replaced by an enthusiast of abortion. In 2016, another of the dissenters died with a Democrat in the White House, and the Democrats appearing poised to claim another term. The end to a legal regime that claimed 60 million American lives seemed further and further away.

We lived to see it.

He concludes with thoughts about where we go from here:

And maybe, because it took so long, we are finally ready to accept in our political system the value of human life. We weren’t ready in 1992. But the political will is there now, in many states. The nation, and the world, is starving for children.

And because we lived to see it, other Americans yet unborn will live to see so much more that they never would have seen.

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