The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Jane Card of Kennebunk created a foundation and statewide parenting program in honor of her daughter who died tragically as a teen. She founded the Information Trading Network in 2016, and this year launched Freedom Fuel which helps working families in need of gasoline.
The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization isn’t about abortion. It’s about your right to live your life as you see fit. It’s about the fundamentals of the Constitution.
There is no place for strict constructionism in constitutional matters. Applying constitutional principles to contemporary life insists on expansive interpretation. Science, language and society change.
No document written by an exclusive group of white men 237 years ago can be interpreted without considering contemporary language and concepts. The Constitution is not a fossil, but a living structure that underpins our society and government.
Like a skyscraper that requires an unyielding foundation, but by design must allow for normal swaying to keep it from falling apart, and does so without endangering the building’s structural integrity or the occupants inside.
That any widespread social activity may be wrong for society because it doesn’t have a 100-year history of public practice and social acceptance is also untenable, just as it would be to allow an activity simply because it does have deep roots, like slavery does.
Using the terms “strict constructionism” or “originalism” implies it is a legitimate form of analysis, which I believe it is not. Simply because issues like safe and effective contraception and gay marriage were unimaginable by the writers of the Constitution, does not mean they can be placed beyond the court’s purview and protection. This imperils rights and liberties as yet unimagined, changing the fundamental nature of our constitutional rights.
Fundamental rights and the regulation of those rights are two separate issues. If only the majority decision in Dobbs read: “It is Mississippi’s right to regulate abortion for health and safety, as long as the regulations are not solely to obstruct or deny a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.” This would have safeguarded personal freedoms while allowing states to manage those freedoms.
Americans have many differences, but are alike in two ways. We cherish our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We fiercely guard our right to make our most personal decisions and to conduct our own affairs.
Obstructing or denying a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy is fundamental and it must not be left to the states to permit or prohibit. More than legalizing or banning abortion, Dobbs is about your rights to choose. When to start a family, whom you can love, whom you can marry, to conduct your affairs without undue interference — all now under attack.
It doesn’t matter which side of the issue you’re on — we’re all on the same side when it comes to the Constitution. Our recent Fourth of July celebrations show we have many basic values in common. We must not lose sight of those.
And so we demand of our judges, the ability to apply those values to a changing society. But the Supreme Court’s majority in Dobbs has failed to do that, and in so doing, has failed all of us.
The damage has been done, now what? The narrow thinking that gave us Dobbs will permeate all important decisions in our courts, towns, schools and state, unless we elect candidates from both parties to office and to local positions of influence who understand the skeletal strength of the Constitution and the need for its flexibility to continue serving future generations of Americans.
In the aftermath of Dobbs, you can still make a difference. Know your candidates. Take personal responsibility to be informed, act locally, be persistent and above all, get to know the candidates and vote.