At the Corner of Command and Conviction
by Sonja Morin, MCFL Communications Intern
It’s safe to say that the June Medical Services v. Russo decision was a startling piece of news to wake up to this Monday morning. In a 5-4 split, the Supreme Court declared that a Louisiana law - which required abortion-providing doctors to have hospital admittance privileges - was unconstitutional. Not only is it a scathing decision that defeated hopes for a case that could ultimately lead to the Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, but it endangers women by preventing these additional checks on abortion. This case and its consequences warrant much discussion and consideration within the pro-life movement, as it deliberates the best course of action in the coming months.
One may wonder why a reflection on a SCOTUS decision belongs in a column that focuses on culture and abortion. While law and culture are distinct entities, they have an intersecting, mutually-effective relationship. The formation of laws guides the public conscience, dictating what is right and wrong. People look to their government - and thus their laws - for moral guidance. These beliefs are cemented in culture with ease. On the other hand, culture can help shift or progress laws. When people realize that a law is unjust, their use of cultural means - such as art, demonstrations, and persuasive writing - allow for a shift in public conscience against those laws. Politicians are meant to be inclined to the will and well-being of the people. When they see a strong movement against a law, they are likely to follow the pressure from the people and remove or alter the law. This intersection of command and conviction is incredibly crucial to understand and to use within a movement.
Despite the advancements that the movement has made in recent years in the political sphere, Monday’s decision proved a setback. The Court - and in this case, Chief Justice John Roberts - reaffirmed that it will vote in favor of abortion, not because the justices themselves are necessarily pro-abortion or pro-choice, but because they are afraid of the cultural repercussions that would follow against a perception of pro-abortion cultural ascendance. This is most evident in Chief Justice Roberts’ assent. He noted that, while he believes that the preceding case to June, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, was “wrongly decided”, he merely voted in favor of June Medical Services to “uphold precedent.” In other words, he would rather stick by what was previously decided than make a just decision. He would rather side with a cultural narrative of abortion-as-right. This uneasy ground upon which the Court stands bodes for more negative decisions on abortion-related cases in the future.
Until conditions are improved in both culture and law, results such as those in the June case will continue to manifest. As previously mentioned, culture convinces political and legal leaders to act justly, amending their ways to protect individuals through the law. If leaders are not convinced of the pro-life cause, if they are not emboldened by that which the cause represents, they will not act. Instead, they will continue as usual because it is the more comfortable option. Laws in smaller communities should add to the conviction expected of culture. States and cities must continue to pass pro-life laws, to secure smaller legal footholds for the protection of women and the pre-born. If communities and states throughout America act in law, it could pave the way for federal laws and enactments. This will only occur if the pro-life movement rises together to act, become more vocal, and stand for the rights of women and the pre-born.
June v. Russo should not be a mere footnote in the minds of pro-lifers. It should be a wakeup call. Perhaps we too are afraid of clearer and larger action than that to which we are already accustomed. If we expect to see victory for the empowerment of women and the pre-born in our lifetimes, we cannot sit idly by, afraid of what might happen. Life is our dearest and most crucial right, and we must act with that conviction burning in our hearts and minds. While yes, we may fear the outcome, we must not let it hamper our efforts. This is the most crucial fight we will have in our lifetime. May our efforts and actions towards forming better laws and cultural standards reflect that same energy.
Please call your representatives to take a stand against the ROE Act.
Call the Joint Committee on the Judiciary Offices by using the phone number: (617) 722-2396
Find an easy to use phone script at: Got 5 Minutes? Do Your Part to Defeat "ROE"
--Note that this legislation was written by those for whom a culture of abortion here in our Commonwealth is, in their minds, of paramount necessity.
In the coming weeks, this column will be discussing the strategies of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in creating lasting political and cultural change. Please stay tuned for more updates.