Without good data there is no good science. The phrase is not ours, but Javier Gafo, SJ. And we bring it up because it is perfectly applicable to everything that is happening in relation to the latest news on abortion in the United States.

The draft of a United States Supreme Court ruling on abortion has been leaked to the “Political” media outlet (it is not an adjective, it is that the outlet in question is called that).

From there, a stir has been generated between the supporters of the “pro-choice” position and the supporters of the “pro-life” position: demonstrations in the streets, discussions in the media, messages from politicians, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris included.

Rivers of ink have also been generated in the press and on social networks, including more or less sensationalist headlines and opinions according to the editorial line and, therefore, the politics (now it is an adjective) of each media outlet, as they had little to do with the content of the leaked draft.

As usual in the Bioethics Observatory, as in any Research Group, our reports are prepared on the basis of scientific data; In this case, we are faced with a “filtered draft of the Judgment”, which implies a limitation in our analysis, for the following reasons:

1) It is a draft, it is not the Judgment. It is not, therefore, the scientific-legal data on which we can make a definitive analysis… nor a serious one: as it is a draft, there may be changes between it and the Judgment that will be issued, no matter how many confirmations there may have been on its veracity, which, we insist, may not be the definitive text, a text that must be included in the Judgment, not in a draft.

2) It has been leaked: prohibited behavior and sanctioned, if done, in this American judicial context. In addition to the fact that by its very nature and purpose it is still a bias that prevents, or at least hinders, scientific research.

3) On the Judgment itself. In addition to reproducing what was said about the draft, the question to ask is what exactly does that draft say? We insist on what we have said before, that it is convenient to make a more descriptive than explanatory analysis.

Hence, the first thing we must do is clarify what that draft says, that it must be the elected representatives of the people of each State who must legislate abortion as they wish, that is, it is intended to return the legal decision to the citizens and their representatives in each state.

In a few words, and here comes the brief explanatory analysis, it neither agrees with the supporters of the “pro-life” position nor with the supporters of the “pro-choice” position, but leaves citizens and their representatives to legislate this matter.

The second question that should be clarified is: why is the Supreme Court now deliberating a 1973 Judgment? Because of the judicial iter that goes through laws, appeals, judgements and more appeals until reaching the Supreme Court: we are referring to laws enacted in the States of Mississippi and Texas decriminalizing, not prohibiting, in any case, abortion, and that have been appealed.

All this path has led to reviewing the Judgment of the Roe vs. Wade case, which did not allow “free abortion” either, but instead allowed it with restrictions: free in the first three months of pregnancy, but “allows the State, as the pregnancy advances, impose restrictions on the right to abortion, provided that they respond to a legitimate interest or purpose” (p. 440 of the Judgment). It was called Roe vs. Wade because the person who brought the case before the Court was Jane Roe (actually that wasn’t her name but a nickname) and the prosecutor’s name was Henry Wade.

Finally, taking advantage of the pre-scientific nature of the present document, a curious fact not entirely known is that, in the interim of the judicial path just mentioned, we must include Norma McCorvey, who sought to have Roe v. Wade overturned.

And why do we bring up the latter? Because Norma McCorvey was, no more and no less, than Jane Roe (let’s remember that it was a nickname), who had a difficult life, of not a little suffering, and who converted to the Evangelical Church and then to the Catholic Church, championing the “pro-life” cause: her life does deserve an investigation.

David Guillem-Tatay

Bioethics Observatory – Institute of Life Sciences

Catholic University of Valencia

 

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