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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Abortion and "Settled Law"

As Paul Greenburg notes:

Never mind that the meaning of Roe v. Wade itself has been anything but settled since it was first handed down. It keeps growing, mutating, metastasizing. Like any other tumor.

Lest we forget, the Roe decision was going to be modest in its reach when it was handed down on Jan. 22, 1973. No less an authority than its author, Mr. Justice Harry Blackmun, asserted in a private memo that the court was not creating "an absolute right to abortion."

That naive interpretation of what he and his colleagues had wrought was echoed publicly by Chief Justice Warren Burger: "Plainly, the court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortion on demand."
And yet, plainly, over the decades to come, abortion on demand has become the law of the land - and one of the most divisive, corrosive and continuing of American issues. For when it comes to interpreting judicial rulings, each generation is at the mercy of the next, with its own felt necessities.

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