United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor posed a telling question during last week’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case in which the Court will determine if state restrictions on elective abortions prior to fetus viability, such as Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, are Constitutional.

Keep in mind Dobbs is a case many predict will allow the conservative-heavy Court to depart from its long-standing precedent in its 1973 case Roe v. Wade and 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey (together providing women an unrestricted Constitutional right to abortion prior to fetal viability) and potentially return the abortion issue to the states.

Faced with this possibility, Sotomayor said, “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible.”

It was a question intended to cast a political shadow on any possible reversal (or narrowing) of the Court’s abortion law, but in actuality, it was a question that offers a glimpse into the competing visions of women now hanging in the balance before the Court.

The reason Justice Sotomayor “cannot see” the possibility of escaping a so-called stench from reversing Roe is that she accepts a vision of women, as well as society itself, that is both restrictive and incomplete.

Grounded in individualism, it’s a vision that believes women should have an unhindered right to abortion, especially up to 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. As such, it’s quite frankly a vision that falsifies the actual nature of womanhood, which is not individualistic at all. It ignores the obvious (and uniquely feminine) reality that a child in the womb relies solely on its mother for life. And it also ignores the fact that this reliance exists even more predominately at the earlier stages of that child’s development.

It’s also a vision that anticipates the very worst of not just a woman’s motherhood, but also of the state and society itself. It treats an innocent child as its mother’s greatest enemy and insists—even in the face of evidence to the contrary—that both the state and her support systems will fail her. And sadly, it shows no real interest in making sure they don’t.

Instead, it prefers to belittle adoption options, safe-haven laws allowing women to safely relinquish their child to the state, pregnancy support services, and even a father or state’s interest in preserving the life of a child. And when it is finished belittling, it stands unmoved, clinging to the elimination of an innocent as the best solution.  

Fortunately, this is not the pro-life vision that's also before the Court.

The pro-life vision is one that reads the words in our Constitution’s preamble—“to create a more perfect union, establish justice … promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity” —  as an institutional call to promote human flourishing. It accordingly believes the law of our land should not hinder or restrict human potential but encourage it.

For that human potential to be reached, however, our laws must be just. And as articulated by Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (and St. Thomas Aquinas on whom he relied), a just law is not only “rooted in eternal and natural law” but also “uplifts the human personality” rather than “degrades” it.

The pro-life vision is accordingly a vision that knows the real stench isn’t one that could begin if the Court now reverses its abortion precedent but one that began 50 years ago when our highest court chose to degrade, rather than uplift, the true nature of a woman and her child.

It’s also a vision that understands hardships and lack of resources can plague women during pregnancy and beyond. But because it’s a vision in the business of human flourishing, it strives for solutions to these problems, not the elimination of the children caught in the middle. That’s why it is a vision that has already inspired a number of private and public efforts around the country to address these problems … and should the Court now reverse its course, it’s a vision just getting started.

Indeed, there are two visions at stake as we await the Court’s final decision this spring.

One — filled with truth and a desire to truly support women — offers a vision of hope. The other — filled with half-truths and empty of courage — offers no vision at all.

Krissie Allen is a former attorney and English teacher who writes about issues impacting faith, society, and good sense. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information at  Commentary@1819News.com