PERSPECTIVEnLife and Death in a House DividednThe Supreme Court’s recent decision to review anMissouri abortion case has raised the spirits of thenpro-hfe movement. In his appeal, Missouri’s attorney generalnasked the Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, the landmarkncivil rights decision that made pregnant women and theirnphysicians sole arbiters over who is born and who is not bornnin the United States, and there are high hopes that thenconservatives on the Court may seize the opportunity tonbegin the long process of rolling back the 1973 decision.nHistorically, of course, abortion was illegal, but beforen1973 jurisdiction was left up to the states, as it still is fornordinary cases of murder, arson, rape — all of which werenquite properly capital crimes. However, the legal politiciansnon the Court decided — with no other guidance than theirnprivate imaginations — that abortion was both a technicalnmatter that required the assistance of trained professionalsn(physicians willing to prostitute their skills) and a newlydiscoverednright to privacy of a newly-discovered oppressednminority (pregnant women).nIf the Court was hell-bent on destroying children, if deathnwere the only object, the justices could have skirted thendangerous issue of rights and restored something like thenRoman patria potestas, which gave fathers the power of lifenand death over their dependents. Since women are equaln12/CHRONICLESnby Thomas Flemingnnnunder the law, the Court need only have recognized thatnsuch painful decisions could best be made within families.nParents would obviously have to make the decision fornunderage daughters who skipped the contraception chapternin their high-school sex manuals.nThere is a sizable number of decent and moral peoplenwho could have lived with such a decision, although mostnwould still complain against the Court’s delusion that it hadnjurisdiction. But with a few strokes of the pen, the justicesnvirtually eliminated the family as an organic part of societynby pitting fathers against mothers, and parents againstnchildren^—unborn as well as born. The Court was notncontent to rest on its laurels, but rapidly proceeded ton”protect” the rights of teenage unwed mothers againstnmeddling parents.nFamilies were not the only victims. States and localncommunities lost their ability to regulate the health andnwelfare of their people. They cannot even insist that thenprocedure be performed in regular hospitals, much lessnimpose any restrictions that might stigmatize abortion asnimmoral or express a preference for life.nAll of this was to be expected. There has never been anrebellion in the name of “rights” that did not end upnstrengthening the central government at the expense.ofn