Thoughts on Roe v. Wade
Last week, a leaked draft opinion indicated that the Supreme Court is inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade. To be clear, this is a draft opinion from February, not the final opinion of the court. Positions and reasoning can and do change, and so I don’t want to devote too much ink to something that is admittedly incomplete.
That said, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this leak and what it could potentially mean for our nation, our state, and our party, and I’d like to share those thoughts with you.
My first thought is that the majority of people hold nuanced views about abortion, even though the issue is usually reduced to a false dichotomy of “pro-choice vs. pro-life.” More correctly, there are three positions: those who think all abortions should be legal (pro-choice), those who want to see at least some legal abortion as well as some restrictions (genuinely pro-life), and those who think all abortions should be illegal (sometimes called “pro-life,” but in practice, pro-birth).
In the UUP, we walk that middle path. Regarding abortion, our platform says we “uphold the sanctity of human life, including opposition to abortion except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal deformities, or serious jeopardy to the life or health of the mother.” Because we recognize and hold dear the life of both mother and child, we take a nuanced and genuinely pro-life approach.
In regard to our platform, there are a range of opinions about what forms opposition and exceptions to abortion could take. I respect that and don’t presume to speak for the party as a whole in this newsletter. This is just my opinion.
In my view, though, “opposition” doesn’t look like imprisoning women or doctors. Unlike those on the pro-birth far-right who want to remove any exceptions, I recognize that there are cases of medically-necessary abortion. I recognize that, when a mother’s agency was violated (as in cases of rape or incest), giving her the option of abortion is the only meaningful way to restore her agency. I recognize that forcing a mother to carry a dead or nonviable fetus is—at a minimum—cruel, and it often leads to life-threatening conditions for the mother. I oppose government interference when women, doctors, and families are forced to weigh life against life.
However, as one who has lost two pregnancies of my own, my heart breaks when even a medically-necessary abortion is performed. I am definitely not like those on the extreme left who encourage women to “celebrate” their abortions. In contrast, I would rather work to create a society where we instead celebrate and support children, mothers, and families.
Additionally, I uphold the sanctity of life beyond the maternity ward, unlike the far-right pro-birth extremists who have taken over the Republican Party.
For example, our Utah state legislature had the opportunity in 2020 to eliminate about a third of the abortions in Utah at the time (over 700) by increasing access to birth control through expanded Medicaid coverage. They declined because it was “too expensive." Preventing an unwanted pregnancy is much more cost-effective than paying for one though, something they didn’t seem to comprehend.
The pro-birth legislature paradoxically claimed it’s also too expensive to expand options for all-day kindergarten, to adequately fund our foster-care system, to increase affordable housing, and to preserve the environment that these children will grow to inherit. They pay lip service to the “pro-life” label until the cost comes due, and then it’s all about being “pro-business.” That’s not a genuinely pro-life stance.
In contrast, I believe that part of upholding the sanctity of life means prioritizing families—especially those of limited means—and implementing policies that support and advance mothers and children long-term.
The United Utah Party uniquely stands in this space of advocating support for both mother and child. We are uniquely positioned with our platform to advocate for policies the vast majority of us agree on, like increasing access to birth control and supporting struggling families. And with our unifying approach, we are uniquely able to bring good ideas to the table and discuss them, not as wedge issues, but as issues and policies that are going to have real impacts in the lives of real Utahns.
While the leaked Supreme Court opinion is still just an early draft, the United Utah Party is ready to genuinely advocate for Utah families no matter what the final version says.
By Hillary Stirling, Chair of the United Utah Party