Saturday, January 22, 2005

Roe v Wade anniversary

Roe v Wade was decided 32 years ago today.

"Jane Roe"--Norma McCorvey--now regrets her role in the case and has asked the Court to review it under FRCP 60(b), claiming that this decision, over time, has become unjust. The US District Court dismissed her challenge because too many years have passed; the Fifth Circuit found the case moot, though one judge wrote that changes in medical science did suggest that Roe should be reviewed. En banc review was denied October 18, and McCorvey filed her Supreme Court petition on January 14.

This month's "Atlantic" contains an interview titled "Letting Go of Roe." The argument is that holding on to the decision has been destructive, particularly to Supreme Court nomination battles, and that letting the decision be overturned would force anti-abortion conservatives to deliver on the legislation they continually promise to their constituents. They would lose, argues Benjamin Wittes, becuase the pro-abortion-rights majority is still solid.

In a recent article titled "Is There Life After Roe?", Frances Kissling notes both that she believes in women's basic human right to decide what to do about a pregnancy--but also that more is at stake than rights, as she writes:
This brings us to the second value of a good society: respect for life, including fetal life. Why should we allow this value to be owned by those opposed to abortion? Are we not capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time; of valuing life and respecting women's rights?
How should progressives balance women's rights against fetal rights, 32 years after Roe? How should we think about such rights in a medical era that has moved "viability" back into the fifth and sometimes even fourth month of pregnancy? Does "viable" life confer human rights? How can those who remain adamantly pro-choice compass and respect rights-talk within their arguments?

And, most crucially: is it time to let go of Roe?

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