William F. Buckley

There is furtive glee in the eyes of such as Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. The reason for it is that she calculates that the effrontery of South Dakota's legislature will bring on massive retaliation by the Supreme Court.

Chinese vigilantes rejoiced a few weeks ago when a group of dissenters published a call for diminished censorship. They were confident about what would happen, and it did: Beijing brought on reinvigorated party-line censorship. Ms. Keenan and some of her followers in NARAL Pro-Choice America figure that what South Dakota has done will compel the Supreme Court to act -- and perhaps in such a way as to smash the little signs of life in the pro-life moment which, in South Dakota, gave rise to regicidal inclinations.

The governor of South Dakota, Michael Rounds, signed a bill that would outlaw the practice of abortion except in certain extreme cases. In signing, he said things which, a generation ago, would have been thought too routine to notice, let alone pause over, but today are fighting words. "The true test of a civilization," he said, "is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them."

Jumping Jupiter!

Here in three sentences the governor of South Dakota tramples on the neck of cherished modern icons. To begin with, he refers to a fetus as a "child." He refers to "unborn children" as "helpless." Again, they are "persons." And he invokes the heart of civilized society to give them succor.

Mike Rounds was a college student on the sacred holy day of the abortionists in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was pronounced by the Supreme Court. He was the oldest child in his family; 10 siblings would come along. The bill outlawing abortion restores to South Dakota a ban that until 1973 had been the law in almost every state of the union. Rounds was only 18 years old when the Supreme Court excogitated the proposition that the Constitution conferred on everybody the right to eliminate an unborn child.

In the years since then, various states and various jurisdictions have sought to refine the right to abort. The South Dakota law could be the springboard to the direct reversal of Roe. But it is thought by many abortion supporters that this totalist challenge, posed by South Dakota, will necessarily be met by a totalist re-endorsement of Roe by the Supreme Court.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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