In the recent case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I agreed with the reasoning of Chief Justice John Roberts. His opinion would have been a wise result because his reasoning would have encouraged a peaceful, respectful dialogue among people who hold Pro-Life Perspectives and people who hold Pro-Choice perspectives. The intersection of Life and Choice presents an intractable test of our wisdom—a “multiple choice exam” without a “silver bullet” that makes all the problems and heartaches go away. Choosing the government to make this important, complex, life-changing choice is a bad choice. Let the First Amendment work its magic. Guarantee people the right to share their differing perspectives on Life and Choice peacefully and respectfully. Then, let the woman choose! (Genesis 24:57-58).
In the recent case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I agreed with the reasoning of Chief Justice John Roberts.
The Chief Justice would have upheld Mississippi’s law permitting abortions before 15 weeks (a much shorter period of time than allowed by the prior Supreme Court cases of Roe v Wade and Casey). But the Chief Justice would have upheld the Mississippi law in a way that preserved a role for the United States Supreme Court in reviewing state laws that restrict abortions.
His opinion would not have ended the constitutional right of a woman to choose to end her pregnancy. Instead, his opinion would have permitted the duly elected state government of Mississippi to determine that 15 weeks gives the woman sufficient time to exercise her right of choice.
Other states could choose to permit a woman to have more time than 15 weeks to exercise her right of choice.
His decision would have left for future cases the decision whether a state could permit less time than 15 weeks for the woman to choose. (His opinion noted that most nations allow at least 12 weeks for a woman to choose.)
Let me say here, however, that in my opinion state laws such as the Texas “heartbeat law” (that allows a mere six weeks for a woman to choose) should be unconstitutional.
Often, a woman is not even sure if she is pregnant within six weeks! Much less does a mere six weeks give a woman a reasonable amount of time to make such an important, complex, life-changing, heart-wrenching decision.
Why would the opinion of Chief Justice Roberts have been a wise result?
Not merely because I like John Roberts personally. Although I do.
When I was an editor on the Harvard Law Review, he was the Managing Editor who gave me my daily assignments. He was always a scholar and a gentleman with a towering intellect.
His opinion would have been a wise result because his reasoning would have encouraged a peaceful, respectful dialogue among people and governments who hold Pro-Life Perspectives with people and governments who hold Pro-Choice Perspectives.
An on-going dialogue among people and governments with differing perspectives on Life and Choice is wise. Such a peaceful, respectful dialogue would combat the fallacies of what I call “Deceptive-Drawings-Designed-To-Deceive-and-Divide” and of what I call the “Fallacy of the Multiple Choice Exam”.
As I elaborate in my blog “Deceptive-Drawings-Designed-To-Deceive-And-Divide”, many divisive arguments are like optical illusion drawings.
Initially, you may see only the drawing of an old hag. A different person may see only the drawing of a beautiful woman.
But then, if you talk with each other, you can each see the way that the other person perceives the drawing.
It’s important to realize that neither perspective is 100% right nor 100% wrong. The drawing truly shows both an old hag and a beautiful woman.
The First Amendment right to free speech is essential so that people can freely share their differing perspectives.
Politicians typically do not want the sharing of any perspective except the one that helps them gain and maintain political power. Therefore, politicians exaggerate the planks in other people’s perspectives while ignoring the planks in their own perspectives. (Matthew 7:3-5).
Pro-Life and Pro-Choice politicians are no different.
A Pro-Life politician stresses pictures of tiny babies in the womb. A Pro-Choice politician stresses agonizing real life tragedies such as women who are victims of rape or incest.
The truth is that both depictions are accurate—the beautiful depictions of a baby’s life in the womb and the hideous depictions of a woman being forced by the government to remain pregnant!
To reach wise decisions about real life facts and circumstances, we need free speech and respect for all perspectives.
To reach wise decisions about the circumstances—if any—in which any government should force a woman to remain pregnant, we need peaceful respectful dialogues among the people of the United States and among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of states and the Federal government.
I think a fair criticism of Roe v. Wade was that it went too far excluding state governments from protecting Life.
Unfortunately, I believe a fair criticism of Dobbs is that it goes far too far to the opposite extreme—excluding the U.S. Supreme Court from protecting Choice.
The wise balance was for the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold and respect the Mississippi law with its 15-week abortion threshold—yet retain the right and role of the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the wisdom of state abortion laws, including laws that would directly or indirectly force women to remain pregnant even when they are minors; even when their emotional, physical or financial well-being is undermined; or even when they are victims of rape, incest or human-trafficking.
Such a wise balance between Life and Choice also needs to take into account that it is not feasible for government officials to have time to make these important, complex, life-changing, heart-wrenching choices.
Legal proceedings typically take months for discovery of the facts (including depositions). Preparations for trial take more months. Next, a judge or administrator may not have time to hold the trial for additional months.
Even after a trial is completed, the legal process may not produce a final decision in a case.
Appeals to several layers of higher judges may consume years. Yet such appeals are essential to obtain accurate decisions that are consistent with each other.
Sometimes, an appeal may reveal a serious error, requiring more discovery or a new trial.
Hence, although the age of the baby in the womb can be determined objectively and scientifically by ultrasounds, any other criteria are not feasible for the government to determine quickly enough.
In the situation that a pregnant woman finds herself in, justice delayed is truly justice denied.
Therefore, instead of having these important, complex, life-changing, heart-wrenching decisions made by administrators and judges before they can possibly have sufficient time to uncover and weigh all the facts and circumstances, it is wiser to have the pregnant woman make this important, complex, life-changing, heart-wrenching decision.
Unfortunately, these important, complex, life-changing, heart-wrenching decisions provide an example of what I call “the Fallacy of the Multiple-Choice Exam”.
As I discuss in my blog of that title, we are trained from our earliest days in school to expect that there is a right answer to any multiple choice exam—a “silver bullet” that makes all of the problems and heartaches go away. But, in real life, there are many problems that do not have a right answer—a “silver bullet”.
The intersection of Life and Choice presents such an intractable test of our wisdom—a “multiple choice exam” without a “silver bullet” that makes all the problems and heartaches go away.
There is not a good answer when the government tries to choose between Life and Choice.
But there is a bad answer when choosing between the government or the woman to make this important, complex, life-changing, heart-wrenching decision.
Choosing the government is a bad answer!
Instead, we should choose to have the woman make the decision (within an appropriate length of time).
Government decisions are too slow. And government decisions are usually based on power and hypocrisy instead of on compassion and wisdom (John 8:2-11; Matthew 20:25-28; 27:19-24; Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-27; 23:4-25; John 18:36-19:16; Acts 24:22-27).
Let the First Amendment work its magic.
Guarantee people the right to share their differing perspectives on Life and Choice peacefully and respectfully.
Let us come together peacefully and reason together respectfully. (Isaiah 1:18; Acts 15:5-33).
And then, let the woman choose. (Genesis 24:57-58).
For more of my thoughts about the dangers of the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of this World (especially when they are joined together, please read my blogs “Nationalism is Patriotism Gone Astray”, “Building Houses on Rock: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, “Jesus Climbs the Temple Mount”, and “Keeping the Powers of Money, Religion and Kingdoms Separate”.
For more of my thoughts about the importance of freedom of speech in America and the Church Universal, please see the section “The Bill of Rights” in my book Visions of America (published together in one volume with my book Visions of the Church), at pages 49-52, the chapter “Flying the Spaceship” in my book Visions of the Church (published together in one volume with my book Visions of America), at pages 187-199, and the chapter “A Church Council Encourages Non-Jews To Turn to God”, in my book Lighting the World, especially at pages 86-87.
Please note that the Mississippi abortion law is now far more restrictive than the 15-week threshold being reviewed in Dobbs. Why? Because, when Dobbs overturned Roe v. Wade (instead of merely modifying it as advocated by Chief Justice John Roberts), a “trigger law” in Mississippi automatically imposed a far more restrictive law that essentially forbids almost any abortion in Mississippi.
Similarly, many other state “trigger laws” that impose extremely restrictive abortion laws were triggered by Dobbs because it overturned Roe v. Wade instead of merely modifying it as advocated by the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts.