On January 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court decided in the case of Roe v. Wade that the state of Texas may not prohibit a woman from killing her unborn child. Today, those Texans who want to protect the lives of unborn Texans have three options: overturn Roe v. Wade, pass the Life at Conception Act or sever our ties to the union. As we shall see, only the last option is viable and probable. But first, what do Texans think about abortion?
Texans Position on Abortion
The most recent broad survey of Americans’ position on abortion was conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2014. In it they report that 50% of Texans think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, 45% think it should be legal in most cases, and 5% are undecided. Hence, more people are opposed to abortion than for it, but there is no clear majority. We now consider Texans’ first option to protect the lives of unborn Texans: overturn Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade
Norma McCorvey—the “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case—sought an abortion after becoming pregnant with her third child. Since Texas at that time prohibited abortion, except to save a mother’s life or in cases of rape and incest, McCorvey initially claimed she had been raped. She later recanted that lie. However, she was put in touch with a couple of lawyers looking to overturn the Texas abortion law. The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices found a woman’s “right to privacy” allowed her to kill her unborn child. Why doesn’t this “right to privacy” protect a woman who kills her newborn child?
Before answering that question, how could we overturn Roe v. Wade? In general there are three means of overturning a Supreme Court decision: amend or pass a federal law, amend the Constitution or supercede the decision with a subsequent one. The first is in play, as discussed below. The second is far more difficult because of the stringent barriers to amending the Constitution. The third is unlikely because the majority of Americans support abortion.
Returning to a woman killing her newborn child, that “right” is not protected because of the definition of “person.” As we read in the U.S. National Library of Medicine article “Unborn Children as Constitutional Persons,”:
In Roe v. Wade, the state of Texas argued that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.” To which Justice Harry Blackmun responded, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.”
This brings us to Texans’ second option to protect the lives of unborn Texans: the Life at Conception Act, in part two of this article.