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A Major March

At least 300,000 people marched in Washington Sunday to leave a message for the U. S. Supreme Court. It said that millions of Americans think the law must continue to give women the freedom to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.

Whether the court reads such messages is a matter of debate among legal scholars, but the crowd of women and men, mothers and daughters, celebrities and ordinary believers in the cause could not have made a more coherent statement, one with which we absolutely agree: Government has no right to pry into a decision as deeply personal, private and agonizing as the one that every year leads 1.6 million women to have abortions.

The march, the largest ever seen in the capital, was timed to catch the court’s attention as it nears the April 26 date for argument in a Missouri abortion case. The court is being asked by anti-abortion forces to use the Missouri case as a vehicle to reverse the 1973 decision in the case of Roe vs. Wade that made abortion legal under federal law.

Organizers of the march hoped to impress the court--or at least one or two justices who conceivably could go for a reversal--that most Americans don’t want that to happen. At a minimum, they do not want the country to return to the hazards of illicit and furtive operations that often were involved before Roe vs. Wade. The march also was intended as a reminder that abortion is a powerful symbol of the rights of women, even the many who oppose abortion, because it involves decisions they are determined to make for themselves about their health and the life they will lead.

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Critics of Roe vs. Wade claim that the Constitution contains no guarantees of such rights. But the court must look beyond legal principle to tenable social policy and good sense, and both dictate that the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy meets both of those tests.


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