Today’s ruling corrects a fundamental legal error and returns the issue to the states and the people, says the Pierce County state senator
Today the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, effectively ending recognition of a constitutional right to abortion, returning the issue to the individual states, and giving the people the power to regulate abortion through their elected legislators.
The ruling, which came in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, corrects a fundamental legal error made in 1973 when the court removed the issue from state legislatures, said Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham.
“Roe, and the decades-long contentious debate in our country over the issue of abortion, was the result of our judicial system overstepping its constitutional bounds, assuming the role of a national legislature, and inventing new law,” said McCune. “Today’s decision corrects that misstep. It does not make abortion illegal, but simply sends the issue back to state legislatures where it should have resided in the first place.”
In a 6-to-3 ruling, the majority opinion argues that “for the first 185 years after the adoption of the Constitution, each State was permitted to address [abortion] in accordance with the views of its citizens.”
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, adds, “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
McCune stressed that while the ruling on Dobbs is good news for the country, it is not likely to change much here in Washington.
“There are some common-sense reforms – like protecting unborn babies with Down syndrome and eliminating sex-selection abortions – that could and should be adopted in Olympia to add some protections for unborn babies and expectant mothers,” McCune points out. “But despite the hyperbolic language and scare tactics by some on the left, the ruling, which had been anticipated for some time, will not actually change that much here in Washington.”
Washington voters in 1991 passed Initiative 120, which codified the Roe-era Supreme Court rulings as a matter of state law. The argument at the time was that state law would take over if Roe went away.
“Today we see elected officials and others who should know better talking as if I-120 never happened,” said McCune.
He added that, ultimately, the issue is not about the big moral questions surrounding abortion, but about the democratic process. “In this ruling, the Supreme Court is telling us that it’s up to the people to decide, as the Constitution says they should.”