It took only about a half-century, but my first foray into political activism finally paid off.
In the spring of 1973, of which the exact date escapes me, as our family did occasionally we visited one of our hometown’s very few sit-down dinner restaurants. While we waited on the food – the only Mexican restaurant in Alvin, Texas at the time – our mother pulled out some information culled from one of the Catholic-oriented magazines to which we subscribed, which contained sample verbiage for a letter to any of several listed addresses of various elected officials concerning the recent Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.
This ruling, which using smoke and mirrors concocted a substantive due process argument creating a constitutional right essentially under any circumstance to abort humans – at that time technical reasoning lost upon a pair of ten-year-olds that wouldn’t be grasped for several more years – upset her deeply. Before having us, she’d been a nurse for 15 years, mostly in what then was called the Public Health Service in some of its hospitals. After receiving her B.S. then in the Air Force, my mother had spent several year as a surgical nurse or ward supervisor, and she also had a stint in what today would be called a neo-natal unit. She did really well with newborns and loved to take care of them, a desire that manifested in her enduring three miscarriages before hitting the jackpot with a two-for-one payoff.
Mom had brought the materials to the restaurant to ask us whether we would join her in writing these policy-makers to express dissatisfaction with the new abortion-on-demand regime. She succinctly and clearly described the issue, which at this point really hadn’t entered our consciousnesses, to us and the result of this political education had us readily agreeing. I wrote a couple of letters – I don’t recall to whom exactly – and thus launched my career as a political activist (not counting when four years earlier my father had run for the Brazoria County Drainage District #3 commission, and despite his having an M.S. in engineering and specializing in environmental engineering, the previous year winning a national award in the field, and who would go on to become president of the Texas Water Pollution Control Association, known now as the Water Environment Association of Texas, lost because he insisted in running as a Republican in a county where then only Democrats ever were elected, where as part of his campaigning we got to ride in Alvin’s Independence Day parade shilling for his candidacy).
So, I began working for the pro-life cause almost a decade before I wrote my first opinion piece. And now with deep satisfaction I note how the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has aided life and the salutary impact it will have in Louisiana. It’s important to understand what this decision by the Court does and doesn’t do within state borders.
First, it simply declares that the Court erred in conjuring a right to abortion found in the Constitution. This means regulation of the practice defaults to the states, empowered under the Constitution’s general police powers to regulate the health, safety, and morals of the public. The previous standard, among the most liberal in the world, will remain that way in a dozen or so states with a few more having some meaningful restrictions. Louisiana will join about another dozen who have trigger laws that ban the practice immediately.
Second, Louisiana can do little to prevent abortion tourists from heading to other states where it isn’t banned. At the margins, as noted previously, things could be done such as denying favorable state tax treatment on the portion of expenses by employers who pledge to cover expenses for abortion tourists from Louisiana that might discourage offering this kind of employee remuneration, but constitutionally travel couldn’t be banned.
Third, the case decision doesn’t threaten other “rights” discovered in the Constitution not spelled out but which rest on thin reeds as did Roe, as some hyperventilating leftists allege. In the Dobbs decision, all but one of its supporters went to great lengths to explain how the facts of this case in several ways differentiate it from several others that make it unconstitutional for states to regulate practices such as sodomy and contraception. Only Assoc. Justice Clarence Thomas offered up a different interpretation that wouldn’t make the same distinction but his view seems unlikely anytime soon to gain majority acceptance. Possibly Louisiana legislators could bring such bills, likely only in the case of same-sex marriage, in the hopes that one day a law at rest could be triggered just like with the state’s pro-life laws now going into effect. But that day doesn’t look like it will come if ever.
Finally, the hyperventilating left will allege skyrocketing numbers of “dangerous” illegal abortions will occur without legal abortion in Louisiana. Such claims rest on distorted and overblown estimates that disregard fundamental human behavioral aspects (a qualitative, if a bit dated, explanation is here and more quantitative research that includes the negative health impact maternally from abortion can be found here, with an easily-accessible example here), and should heeded only to the extent that thousands of lives annually will be saved without abortion in Louisiana while an incredibly small number might be threatened in return.
Better that wisdom come later than never, and in this instance prayers have been answered. Let Louisiana and Louisianans – especially those that now will survive outside the womb – reap the benefits.