Some general thoughts on the ruling:
One of the many sad things is how this fires up the country for more unnecessary conflict and controversy. Because abortion for most people had ceased to be a big deal. The Casey decision created a situation that seventy percent of the country agreed with. You wouldn't know it was a settled and super majority status quo because of the obnoxiously loud people on the Right. But even the far Left, which was never happy with Casey, had largely accepted it as the best they could get and a framework to work within.
One reason O'Connor ruled the way she did in Casey was she didn't want to add to social conflict. And she ended up deciding wisely and an opinion the super majority of the country could agree to. It is a traditional conservative notion to avoid radical change and social conflict. So this is a reminder that these justices are not traditional conservatives but reactionaries and radicals.
There's an interesting conflict coming. The new right wing fight over parental rights rests constitutionally on the exact same case that was a precedent for Roe -- Meyers v Nebraska. The rights to make decisions about your kids are connected with the rights to make decisions about who you marry, what kind of sex you enjoy, whether to not have kids, etc. (a point made effectively in both the dissent and Thomas's frightening opinion). So it's particularly interesting to me that the current Right is at the same time attacking and embracing the same nexus of liberties with no clear articulation of how they parse the difference.
But this is one area where traditional conservative libertarianism and liberal embrace of liberties have usually aligned creating a super majority.
Some general thoughts on abortion:
I understand why the pro-life arguments (and those of the majority in this case) are compelling, as I was once very firmly pro life. And it wasn't an uninformed position. Even as a junior high student forming my views, I read Roe v. Wade. My mother was always pro choice, even when she was a conservative evangelical (views that were once consistent, actually, it was only conservative Catholics and not Protestants who historically had religious objections to abortion), so my embrace of a pro life position as an adolescent was my own considered choice and not the influence of my
But I grew up. The position I had embraced ran up against the complexities of the real world. I remember the first thing to chip away at that view. A college friend who was also a ministry major asked to talk to me. He and his wife were wrestling with a moral issue. They had learned that she was pregnant, but it was ectopic. The pregnancy needed to be ended in order to save her life. Yet, they had always been pro life and they were now caught off guard with how their values ran into a real life scenario. I'm glad my compassion has always been stronger than my ideology (which has served me well on numerous occasions). I agreed that the pregnancy had to be terminated. And clearly this revealed that our worldview was lacking in the complexity and nuance needed to deal with real life.
It took another decade and slow progression before I fully and switched sides and even became an activist for reproductive justice. There were intermediate steps in the process.
One of those intermediate stages came twenty years ago when The Christian Century ran an article about how if one's real goal was reducing abortions that by that point we had empirical evidence of what worked. The lowest actual abortion rates in the world were liberal European countries where it was fully legal and paid for by national health care. Those societies also had high rates of female equality and robust social supports for helping to raise children. The nations with the highest actual abortion rates were conservative countries where it was illegal, had lower rates of female equality, and poor systems of social support.
I've thought a lot today of the daughter of a church member I counseled a few years ago. The daughter and her husband had struggled to get pregnant. They eventually had. And then they learned that the fetus developing within her was severely disabled. If it survived to delivery, it would require numerous surgeries within just a few hours and even then would be unlikely to survive very long at all. They made the right decision, the compassionate, humane, maternal one, that it would be wrong to continue that pregnancy. The best way they could love and care for their child was to terminate the pregnancy. But, because of Nebraska law, this couldn't be handled as a normal health care decision. She was told by the physicians she knew and trusted that they couldn't help her and couldn't even discuss it with her. So she had to go to Planned Parenthood and had to act within less than a week because she was about run up against Nebraska's ban on abortion. Her grandmother came to me so angry that the government and politics had taken a difficult moral tragedy and made it worse. And she's right. The law in this situation was inhumane, lacking in compassion, anti-Christian and evil, in my opinion.
I often wonder if those on the right think that liberal feminist are getting pregnant and enjoy aborting fetuses? Because everyone I know has always struggled with it as a serious and significant moral issue. Which is what Justice Blackmun understood. As a conservative he understood that something so significant was best left to women to decide in their moral framework, rather than for pregnancy to be forced and imposed by government fiat. As the dissenters rightly point out many times, Roe and Casey were compromises, trying to balance the competing interests in ways that respected individual dignity and autonomy. And, frankly, the moral complexity of the issue.
So, I do get the appeal for some of the right to life view and that of the majority in this case. But I also think that the view of the majority is naiive to the point of dangerous. That it lacks maturity, complexity, and nuance. In essence, that their view is adolescent, sophomoric, and immature, and needs to grow up.