1992 Casey ruling opened pro-life doors
In 1992, pro-life advocates hoped the high court would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 opinion that legalized abortion nationwide. The justices, however, reaffirmed Roe while concurrently giving states permission to provide some regulation of the lethal procedure.
"While Casey failed to overturn abortion, it did open a crack in the door to state regulation, which began immediately," Forsythe wrote.
"One clear gain from Casey was that the Court indicated – for the first time – that it would permit the states to require that women be given detailed information about the nature, risks, and alternatives before an abortion."
After Casey, states started adopting health and safety regulation, though it took until the 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart ruling, which upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, for federal courts to defer to the states, Forsythe said. Among the results, he said:
-- Fifteen states approved informed consent laws after Casey, and another 14 significantly enhanced such laws.
-- Nine states passed abortion clinic regulations post-Casey, and 14 strengthened such laws.
-- Eighteen states adopted parental involvement laws after Casey, and eight others approved important enhancements to their laws.
-- Twenty-one states have enacted ultrasound laws just in the last decade.
Among other pro-life gains cited by Forsythe:
-- Pregnancy help centers have expanded dramatically, with Care Net's affiliates growing from about 550 in 1999 to 1,130 in 2010. Meanwhile, abortion clinics have shrunk from about 2,200 in 1991 to 689 in 2011.
-- Most of the 38 state wrongful death laws and 37 fetal homicide laws have been enacted since Casey.
-- The number of abortions fell by 25 percent from 1992 to 2006.
"Progress over the past 20 years has come through a combination of pursuing long-term goals of comprehensive legal protection for the unborn child, and complimentary policies that reduce abortion year by year, and direct services to women that encourage positive alternatives to abortion," Forsythe wrote on June 29, the 20-year mark of the 1992 ruling. "That includes containing abortion as much as possible, highlighting the negative impact on women, and encouraging political leadership in Congress and in the states. Step by step, the pro-life movement has been working toward reversing Roe – an opportunity that Casey missed.
"Some progress has been the result of doors cracked open by Casey, but much more is attributable to perseverance, ingenuity and prudence, as well as taking advantage of new opportunities over the past 20 years since Casey."
Reported by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).