46th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade is on January 22, 2019

The 46th anniversary of the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade is early next week.  Here is a link to my article entitled “Re-Reading Roe v. Wade,” which was presented at Washington & Lee Law School at a 2013 conference organized by Sam Calhoun.

Here is a link to an article by Clarke Forsythe entitled “A Draft Opinion Overruling Roe v. Wade.”

John Keown on “Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy,” 2d Edition

I wanted to call attention to the recent publication of the second edition of “Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument Against Legalisation.”  The first edition of this book was published in 2002. That book made a compelling case against the legalization of voluntary active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. It did so be emphasizing the slippery slope arguments against legalization. He addressed the logical slippery slope argument–the idea that quality of life exceptions to the prohibition against intentional killing can’t be contained. He also addressed the empirical slippery slope argument–the idea that procedural safeguards in jurisdictions (e.g., the Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon) allowing assisted suicide or euthanasia cannot and do not effectively control the practices.

Much has happened since 2002 and the second edition updates the earlier analysis by focusing on the more recent experiences in jurisdictions that have legalized these practices. His analysis, which is marked by a keen understanding of both the legal developments and the actual practice of voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, further illustrates the force of both the logical and empirical arguments against legalization.

Keown’s second edition deserves a wide readership.

The UN and abortion

Here is a link to a good essay by Stefano Gennarini entitled “Abortion: The Original Sin of the United Nations’ Human Rights Project.” Gennarini notes that international human rights system is now promoting abortion under the guise of protecting sexual and reproductive health. He states: “Sadly, the indifference of the multilateral system to the lives of the unborn is not a mere accident of history. It is a flaw built into the human rights project itself. Indifference to human life in the prenatal phase is the original sin of the multilateral system, as it were, enshrined in its constituent agreements and diligently propagated throughout its institutions.”

He urges pro-life groups to make it a priority to resist the effort to protect abortion through the international human rights system. He concludes: “The pro-life movement must make the issue of abortion a political one, not just in the United States, but around the world. What happens in the dark rooms of Turtle Bay and the long corridors of Foggy Bottom has to be connected to voters. So long as debates about abortion and international policy are taking place behind closed doors and through inscrutable euphemisms, the pro-life movement does not stand a chance.”

“The Supreme Court Should Protect Unborn Children with Down Syndrome”

That’s the title of a good essay by Carter Snead and Mary O’Callaghan in Public Discourse. The essay urges the US Supreme Court to hear e case involving the constitutionality of Indiana’s ban on abortions for various discriminatory reasons, (race, sex, disability).

Here is the conclusion of the essay—

“Regardless of our nation’s polarized views on the policy and politics of abortion, it is clear that our Constitution does not include a right to abort children merely because of disfavored characteristics. The Seventh Circuit’s erroneous decision gets this basic legal question wrong, and leaves the most vulnerable populations among us, born and unborn, susceptible to the view that we have a “moral duty” to eradicate them, that we are “better off” without them, and that their value can be calculated in dollars and cents.

We have been here before, and history has taught us in the bleakest of terms the chaos and moral depravity that flow from this way of thinking. The stakes associated with the Court’s silence are too high, and it therefore has a duty to correct this error with all haste.”

Supreme Court decides not to hear cases involving state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood

The US Supreme Court today declined to hear cases involving state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Three Justices (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) dissented from the denial of certiorari. The dissenters said the Court should have granted review to address the important legal issue the cases presented–whether there is a private right of action under the Medicaid Act. The lower court rulings enabled Medicaid recipients to challenge state determinations of “qualified” Medicaid providers under federal law. The dissenters thought the Court declined review because various Planned Parenthood affiliates brought the challenges. The dissenters noted, however, that the legal question presented “has nothing to do with abortion.” The dissenting opinion further noted that “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.” Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh voted with the majority to decline review.

As noted, the cases did not deal with abortion directly and so one should not read too much into the Court’s denial of review. It may be though, as the dissent suggested, that the Court wanted to avoid a case with sensitive political implications. This suggests that the Court may, for the moment at least, not take up cases dealing with the right to abortion.


Amicus Briefs filed urging US Supreme Court to hear Indiana abortion case

Here is a link to an article discussing amicus briefs that were recently filed urging the United States Supreme Court to review the federal court of appeals decision striking down Indiana’s abortion statute.  The Indiana law prohibits abortions when the doctor knows that the sole reason for the abortion is the race, sex, or disability condition; the law also regulates the disposition of fetal remains.

Here is a link where all of the court filings are available. More than a dozen amicus briefs have been filed with the Supreme Court. Briefs have been filed on behalf of 19 states and by various pro-life and disability groups. The groups filing briefs include Americans United for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, and the Fondation Jerome Lejeune (this brief was prepared by the Bioethics Defense Fund).