Logo for Joe Sobran's newsletter: 
Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 Missing Lives 

July 27, 2007 
[Originally published by the Universal Press Syndicate, January 20, 1998]
Missing LivesThe U.S. Supreme Court’s most aggressive act of “raw judicial power,” in Justice Byron White’s phrase, is now a quarter of a century old. It was on January 22, 1973, that the court suddenly realized that all the abortion laws of all 50 states had always been unconstitutional, even if no one had ever understood this before.

Today's column is "Missing Lives" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.Missing LivesSince that time, about 40 million human lives have been aborted in this country. That’s more than double the population of Australia.

Missing LivesAs one who enjoys music, I’m haunted by an odd thought. I sometimes wonder if the next Mozart or Gershwin has been aborted. Not that this is the most important thing about those missing lives, but the question makes the real cost of abortion vivid to me.

Missing LivesThe Great War, as World War I used to be called before it was superseded, claimed the lives of more than 10 million young men, who included young poets (Wilfred Owen) and artists (Henri Gaudier) who were already beginning to make their mark. No doubt there were others, as nameless to us as the children in the Dumpsters of abortion clinics. The critic Guy Davenport once remarked that 20th-century art was a casualty of the Great War. Twenty-first-century art may likewise be a casualty of the war on the unborn.

Missing LivesBoth the New York Times and the Washington Post chose to mark the silver anniversary of Roe v. Wade with cover stories in their weekly magazines on the plight of “abortion providers,” as politesse now terms the destroyers of incipient human lives. Forty million abortions, and we’re supposed to worry about how tough it is to be an abortionist these days.

Missing LivesNeither article mentioned the profit motive, the angle that usually preoccupies these liberal dailies. Abortion “providers” were portrayed as selfless humanitarians besieged by religious fanatics. They are, in the words of Jack Hitt in the Times, “helping another person exercise a constitutional right.” Making money apparently has nothing to do with their willingness to do what most doctors shrink from doing.

[Breaker quote for Missing Lives: The cost of abortion]Missing Lives“If you do twelve [abortions] in a row, it can make you feel bad,” one abortionist told Hitt. Doing just one would be enough to make some people feel bad, but there’s no accounting for taste in these things.

Missing LivesThe purpose of legalizing abortion, says Hitt, was “to eliminate botched abortions. To that extent, Roe has been successful.” So much for the pretense that Roe was an impartial attempt to divine the meaning of the Constitution. It was, as its critics have said all along, a judicial attempt to make public policy masquerading as jurisprudence.

Missing LivesFormer Justice Harry Blackmun, author of the majority opinion in Roe, sees the decision as “a necessary step on the road to emancipation for women,” according to Harold Koh of Yale Law School, who has interviewed Blackmun at length. Like most of his colleagues, Blackmun wasn’t embarrassed to tell us what he wanted the Constitution to mean, even if that didn’t square with what it had universally been understood to mean. Nor does the sheer number of abortions seem to trouble him, even now.

Missing LivesOf course Blackmun wasn’t quite candid enough to say, in that famous majority opinion, that he was consciously advancing his vision of “the emancipation of women.” You won’t find that in the text. Instead, he affected to be interpreting the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, without respect to his own policy preferences and sympathies. To read that opinion, you’d think he was entirely aloof from contemporary trends and fashions, and that it was sort of an accident that the result just happened to coincide with the “progressive” agenda du jour. How surprised this austere jurist must have been when the Times and Post applauded his ruling!

Missing LivesIn the liberal press it’s the abortion “providers” and their allies in the judiciary who are morally sensitive, and the anti-abortion protesters who are crude and crass. Those protesters don’t rate sympathetic treatment any more than, say, a doomed fetus.

Missing LivesNor does this press display any sense of loss when that doomed fetus is multiplied by tens of millions. If Shakespeare’s mom gets an abortion, the only important thing is that she’s exercising her constitutional rights.

Joseph Sobran

Read a remarkable story
and see the remarkable
that goes with it.
Copyright © 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address:

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Reprinted with permission
This page is copyright © 2007 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.