The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“Pro-Lifers Discover Again the Perils of Indirection” –Prof. Arkes in The Catholic Thing

by James Wilson Institute on June 29, 2016

After the terrible loss at the Supreme Court for the state of Texas in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Prof. Arkes provides an analysis of the weakness of the argument from the pro-life side in the case with his piece in The Catholic Thing “Pro-Lifers Discover Again the Perils of Indirection.” 

“We run the risk now of sounding like Claude Raines in Casablanca if we say that we were ‘shocked-shocked’ to discover that the Court, on Monday, was willing to strike down that carefully drafted law in Texas to upgrade the surgical suites involved in abortions, and to upgrade as well the quality of the ‘surgeons’ who perform these procedures. [Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt]”

“The law in Texas required that a ‘physician performing or inducing an abortion. . .must, on the date the abortion is performed or induced, have active admitting privileges at a hospital that. . .is located not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced.’ The ostensible purpose was to insure that women have access to the best hospitals in the area if things take a bad turn in abortion – not for the innocent child, whose demise was taken for granted, but for the woman who was undergoing the procedure. And there lay the key to the incomprehension that has marked both sides in the reaction to this appalling decision.”

“The pro-lifers seemed to miss the point that, when the legislation was cast, not as a move to protect the unborn child, but to protect the woman, the case was teed up then for the liberal justices to point out that in only 1 per cent of abortions in Texas has there been a need for admission to a hospital. Or: that there have been far more emergencies of that kind emanating from colonoscopies and liposuctions.”

“About 60,000 to 72,000 abortions per year. And virtually no ‘deaths’? For Justice Breyer and his friends, the ‘deaths’ of the unborn are screened out, because those lives don’t count as human lives. The legislators in Texas imposed on themselves the same lens. They sought to deal with the tools they had, but the board was tilted against them precisely because they did not think they could name the wrong they really wished to forbid.”


Read the whole piece here.

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790