Recently the Supreme Court issued a temporary ruling in the Texas abortion clinic case; the clinics were in danger of being closed due to Republican-passed legislation mandating that the clinics conform to the standards of “ambulatory surgical centers.” If I am reading correctly the hopelessly befuddling and complex procedural playbook of American jurisprudential goings-on, the Court has declared that the ten abortion clinics can remain open while the justices debate whether or not to hear an appeal from a previous court decision mandating that the clinics close.
I suppose it’s possible that the Court may eventually declare that the clinics must close, and such a ruling would be good in the short term, at least insofar as it would probably lessen the number of babies killed in Texas (at least until the next Democratic governor comes around and unilaterally rescinds it). But this will probably not be the case, and this whole debacle just proves that pro-life statutes are ultimately an unacceptable solution to the anti-life problem. In the long run, the pro-life movement needs to avoid these statutory efforts to combat the problem of legalized abortion and focus on the constitutional front instead, because the statutory solution is, in the end, no solution at all.
Most of the great civil rights questions in our country’s history, after all—freedom of speech and of religion, gun rights, due process, slavery, suffrage—have not been left up to the vagaries of the statutory fix; they have been established or solved by way of constitutional amendment. There are some exceptions—the various Civil Rights Acts over the past century and a half or so, for example—but ultimately the great and momentous political solutions of the past few centuries have been realized by amending the constitution.
So it must be with abortion. I believe we will ultimately get nowhere by passing sneaky little regulatory laws that seek to inconvenience abortion out of existence. For starters, the Supreme Court will likely get around to striking such laws down, if not today then in the future. As well, the abortion industry is fully committed to killing as much babies as is humanly possible, and a weak regulatory scheme will only galvanize its constituency into the voting booth to elect the next Wendy Davis (or perhaps Davis herself, if anyone can find the cardboard box she’s been hiding in for the past eight months).
Perhaps more importantly, these kinds of underhanded laws are unbecoming of conservatives. The purpose of these laws is not, as Rick Perry claims, to “protect the health and safety of Texas women;” it’s to reduce the number of babies killed in Texas. This is of course an entirely laudable goal, and insofar as these laws accomplish this goal, they are doing good. But to use the law to accomplish this in so deceitful a manner is not laudable at all; it’s duplicitous and dishonest. If Rick Perry had signed the “Save The Babies From Being Murdered Act of 2013,” I would be cheering him on. That he expects us to believe that he’s honestly concerned about “ambulatory surgical centers” is insulting to us, and insulting to the pro-life movement, which can easily make its case without resorting to such measures.
Make no mistake: Democrats will fight for legalized infanticide no matter how it’s threatened, either from statute or from constitutional amendment. But as the Court shows, abortion statutes are easily threatened and often insufficient—and when the statutes themselves are both insincere and mendacious, they do serious damage to the pro-life effort. Abortion should be illegal. Let’s not waste our time with false and Machiavellian endeavors to make it so. We can do better than this.