Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Roe" abortion decision lacked medical evidence

Excerpted from a book review by Michael J. New in The Washington Times, October 13, 2013 - a review of Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade by Clarke Forsythe - Clarke Forsythe persuasively makes the case that even under liberal standards, Roe v. Wade is still deeply flawed. That is partly because the public health data and the historical information that Justice Blackmun relied on in his majority opinion were often incorrect, incomplete or misleading.

For instance, public health research that purportedly showed that abortion was safer than childbirth played a prominent role in Blackmun’s opinion. However, of the seven studies that Blackmun cited, none was peer reviewed and none even considered long-term health risks involved with legal abortion.

The concept of viability was never once even mentioned during the oral arguments. Mr. Forsythe presents correspondence between Justices Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall and Lewis Powell showing that their decision to expand the abortion right to viability was not based on any legal argument, but instead because it would mean more access to abortion.

This expanded access to abortion has had a profoundly negative impact on public health. Mr. Forsythe details the numerous abortion clinic scandals that have come to light since 1973. He also ably summarizes academic research that shows that abortion is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and a higher incidence of various psychological problems. There is no evidence that Roe v. Wade significantly reduced maternal mortality, child abuse, spousal abuse, poverty or the out-of-wedlock birthrate.

Abuse of Discretion should engage readers outside the pro-life movement by making a compelling argument that even under liberal standards of jurisprudence, Roe v. Wade is a deeply flawed decision.


ClarkeForsytheAuthor Clarke Forsythe, Senior Counsel, Americans United for Life:Abuse of Discretion details and documents the erroneous medical assumptions adopted by the Justices in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The principal medical assumption was that “abortion was safer than childbirth.” That drove the outcome and the shape of the Court’s opinions in Roe and Doe, though there was no evidence or reliable data to support that assumption. Abuse of Discretion thoroughly disputes the accuracy of that assumption in 1972 and today.

“Chapter 8, entitled “Detrimental Reliance,” summarizes the contemporary international medical studies finding increased risks of, for example, pre-term birth after abortion.

“The Supreme Court has three abortion cases before it this fall, though the Justices have not yet decided to hear the merits of any of the cases. However, the medical data will be critical in these cases and in all future abortion cases in the courts.”

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