Regular readers know I’m a firm believer in the power of the court system to curb the anti-liberal excesses that often accompany democracy, and no decision in recent memory exercises that power more effectively than Roe v. Wade. It took an emerging movement toward reproductive rights and supplied it with the full might of the judicial system; it was a victory for privacy, it was a victory for autonomy, and it was a victory for gender equality. Liberal scholars can argue about what the decision should have said, but there should be no argument in liberal circles that its conclusions are right, that in no free country should a government be given free reign to regulate the medical decisions of one gender and not another. That the ruling has stood for 35 years is a testament to the power of the courts to protect individual rights, even when faced with passionate, and often violent, opposition. It’s the responsibility of all liberals, and all believers in individual and women’s rights, to make sure that each Roe anniversary is not the last.
Thankfully, all but one of the Democratic candidates for president this year have stood up strongly for choice in their time in public office (and I don’t think we have to worry too much about Kucinich’s anti-choice record). John Edwards has been endorsed by Kate Michelman, the former director of NARAL; Barack Obama has the support
of the national, Northern New England, and Chicago Planned Parenthood leaders, and has consistently garnered perfect marks from NARAL and Planned Parenthood; and Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by NOW. Whoever wins the nomination, we’ll have a solid pro-choice voice at the helm of the Democratic party, which, after Alito and Roberts, is critical.