Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Abortion and the United States Supreme Court

Abortion and the Supreme Court By Thomas A. Glessner, Attorney at Law The American patriot Thomas Paine helped to fuel the American Revolution with his classic essay Common Sense. In this essay Paine proclaims: " [A] long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." Paine, of course, was talking about the abuses that the American colonists suffered under the crown of England, and he was bemoaning the fact that many colonists had become so used to these abuses that over time they accepted their plight instead of rising up and overthrowing tyranny. Perhaps Thomas Paine was prophetically observing twenty-first century America and the acquiescence of the public-at-large to the judicial tyranny that has imposed upon America abortion on demand. When the United States Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade in 1973 it invalidated the laws of all fifty states that prohibited abortion. At that time an outcry was heard from some segments of society, most notably the Catholic church, but for the most part the public-at-large was silent. The decision was accepted by many as an advancement of an increasingly secular and humanistic culture that views moral values as relative and changing over time. In 1992 the United States Supreme Court had an opportunity to correct its Roe decision but upheld it by one vote. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) the Court's decision argued that Roe could not be reversed. Under the judicial doctrine of stare decisis legal precedent, according to the Court, should be given great respect and requires that precedents not be overturned except for compelling reasons. According to the Court in Casey, a generation of