It’s not likely that many who read this piece are trained and experienced in constitutional law, least of all its author. That being said, those of us who are not members of the Supreme Court bar would be forced to admit by default that it’s possible that the Court’s apparently impending decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could be valid, in the purely technical sense of the law.

Tennessee is one of about two dozen states that has a “trigger law” that would ban abortion as fast as procedurally possible if Roe is overturned. Because the constitutional guarantee of a right to obtain an abortion would be abolished, the ban could eventually be universal and absolute.

But let’s put the Constitution aside for a moment.

Polls have demonstrated that a large majority of Americans support legal abortion. Probably most who support a ban do so on religious grounds. Many of these folks are spiritual descendants of the same people who fled England back in the 1600s to escape religious oppression. The jingles often heard from this crowd are that life is sacred and that a baby is a gift from God.

Under this quasi-religious cover, we can stipulate that the life of a fetus is sacred. Obviously, though, many lives lose their sacredness right off the bat. Let’s further stipulate that conception and childbirth are sacred. It follows, therefore, that the hardwired urge to be fruitful and multiply is equally sacred. Except when it’s not between a man and a woman united in holy matrimony, or at least united by pro forma terms and conditions recited by a civil authority.

Moving on, let’s also stipulate that sometimes a pregnancy is welcome and sometimes it’s not, but it’s always life changing. In the case of an unwelcome pregnancy, that life change is often negative and debilitating and can put the life of the mother in an irreversible decline. But that’s how it goes sometimes. Rules are rules.

In the probable future when Roe v Wade is invalidated, a child could be born, a miraculous, precious gift from God, yada-yada. She gets older and becomes pregnant. At this point, her life is devalued and her rights are abridged because that’s what the law says, and when you break the rules, there’s a price to be paid. She’s lucky, when you think about it. In some countries, they’re allowed to do horrible things to women who break the rules.

So, in summary, when Roe v Wade is overturned, it will be through the patient machinations of an ostensibly religious minority exercising its will over the majority of Americans. The end result is that in many locales, women will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will, no matter the impact it causes her or her child. This is the same theory of jurisprudence that allows women to be mutilated or murdered for legal transgressions in other parts of the world.

Now let’s get back to the Constitution. The framers were clearly on to something when they called for the separation of church and state to preclude religious tyranny and minority rule. And maybe Justice Blackmun, when he wrote the majority opinion in Roe, made a logical error when he tied the self- governance of a pregnancy to the right to privacy established in Griswold v Connecticut. The bottom line is that a concept regarded as a right for the last half century will have been stripped away, a right no less fundamental than the right to bear arms or the right to vote.

The isn’t the first time the laws needed to be fixed, or the Constitution, for that matter. It will take people with a different set of skills than most who read this piece or its author to affect that fix, and we need to bring them into the process. In the meantime, we have the will, we have the strength, and we have the voice to send a loud and clear signal that we will not allow a minority’s idea of morality to be legislated and we will not allow rights to be removed.

We can’t let our daughters and granddaughters down. We cannot compromise or relent.

Daniel Harris is a writer and commentator whose work has appeared numerous times in journalism and professional publications. He is a resident of Murfreesboro and an officer with the Rutherford County Democratic Party.

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