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Roe v. Wade should be overturned, and power returned to the states

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Rep. Jodey Arrington

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating Jan. 22 as the National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

It declared the "unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death."

Now, every year Jan. 22 — the anniversary of the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand — advocates for the unborn come together to reaffirm the dignity and sanctity of every human life.

Abortion is not just a dereliction of judicial restraint by our high court, it is a moral stain on the fabric of America.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court erred in Roe v. Wade, our nation has failed to live up to its central governing principle that every person has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By creating a national abortion policy, the Supreme Court acted as a legislative body, which severed the constitutional separation of powers and undermined the sovereignty of states and our citizens.

Beyond the constitutional concerns, in the five decades since Roe v. Wade was decided, science and technology have revealed more information about fetal developments. By 15 weeks, babies have a heartbeat, feel pain, have fully developed hearts and can even suck their thumbs.

At a minimum, our laws should recognize the undeniable medical evidence that proves the unborn deserve the same protections as all Americans. Shockingly, the United States is one of only seven countries that still allows late-term abortions, right alongside lead human rights violators China and North Korea.

Thankfully, the court recently heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a pivotal case which could overrule the calamitous Roe v. Wade decision. Dobbs v. Jackson challenges the constitutionality of a Mississippi law to ban most abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The justices rightfully indicated a willingness to uphold the Mississippi law and return power to states as the ultimate arbiter for their respective abortion laws. They were expressing the fundamental doctrine that powers not specifically granted to the feds in the Constitution are delegated to the states as the more appropriate place to reflect the public's interest — as evidenced by the Mississippi law in question being passed by a bipartisan majority of the state legislature.

The Mississippi litigators also proved that stare decisis - the notion that courts should follow historical cases when making a ruling on a similar case - is not the end all be all. In fact, some of the most consequential cases departed from precedent. For example, what if we had never overruled Plessy v. Ferguson simply because of an allegiance to stare decisis? There are circumstances when a decision needs to be overruled for the simple fact that it was wrong when it was decided.

The SCOTUS hearing on Dobbs v. Jackson showed positive signs for those of us who believe Roe v. Wade was both morally and constitutionally catastrophic. At a minimum, states should have the sovereign right to establish abortion restrictions consistent with the values of their citizens.

However, my hope is that the Supreme Court completely overturns Roe and restores the right to life at all stages - not just because it's a fundamental freedom - but because as Americans, we believe life is a sacred gift from Almighty God.

U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Lubbock, represents Abilene and much of the Big Country.

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