Roe changed American life profoundly. For one thing, it solidified the sexual revolution as normative for our culture and society. The availability of abortion became a routine part of life, a given, that would affect not simply the child in the womb but how we saw sex, love, marriage, and family. Abortion became a fixture around which people could plan their lives. No more was there a thought that had to be given to their sexual choices since every choice was believed to be without a do over -- the ability to undo what had been done. Abortion was supposed to be free, safe, and rare but it became aggressively common -- so much so that in some cities in America the numbers of abortions exceeded the numbers of live births. The vaunted arguments about rape and incest were statistically insignificant as men presumed they had no responsibility and women presumed that they had no accountability for their choice to be sexually active.
Roe changed our political lives. It became the hot button issue that polarized people and parties. It may have seemed to emerge more slowly as a political issue but that is, in part, that the opponents were shocked and numb that our nation could move so quickly to forsake the principle that life was sacred and our common duty was its preservation. Just as the debate and conflict raged about abortion, we learned that abortion was but the tip of the iceberg of the privacy rights invented in the constitution and sexual changes that would erupt a generation or two later. We are as divided as ever over abortion. The change of the court opinion did nothing to resolve the conflict. We had no debate and enacted no laws for the SCOTUS took this from us and we are still reeling by the opinions the justices have made on our behalf as if we had no say in this matter whatsoever.
Roe changed the landscape of America's cities, neighborhoods, and schools. Children began to be seen not simply as optional but excess baggage as sexual maturity meant promiscuity and no limit to what desire could invent among consensual partners who share nothing in common but the want of pleasure. Our birth rate began to plummet until now we are growing only because of immigration. School buildings were shuttered for lack of children and even now universities are fighting over the fewer and fewer 18 year olds entering college. People began to see the cost of children in purely financial terms and some began to complain about why they must share the cost of schools since they had no children in them. We learned that you could designate children free zones in neighborhoods, businesses, and recreational sites. Roe has had a profound influence upon the fabric of our American society -- if not exclusively causative, then a primary or secondary cause.
Roe changed the way we look at life. Abortion became not a tragedy to be mourned or an embarrassment to be whispered about but normal, even routine. The baby in the womb (who would ever call the baby bump a clump of cells???) is killed and life goes on. Or, as we learned, a pattern of babies killed as abortion became not an emergency procedure but birth control. Furthermore, abortion became an entitlement -- a right to be cherished as the mark of absolute freedom. We looked at the life in the womb as expendable for the sake of pleasure and choice and not simply medical necessity. Soon, we would begin to see all life in that way. Every life must be held to a standard of one worth living by those who could sit in judgment over that life. Every person must be given the right to end their lives as easily, freely, painlessly, and at no cost -- just the way the mother ended her motherhood. If the people were not able to choose, then it became the right and duty of medicine and the state to make the choice for them to end their lives. Health insurance was given the new mandate of paying for all of this (along with the government). Abortion changed much more than the legality of ending the life of the unborn child in the womb. And we can never go back. What became a right invented by a court has become a demand of close to half the population.
Though Roe cannot be blamed for the gender alphabet soup that has dominated everything for nearly a generation, Roe opened the door to challenging the biological necessity of the body. Not only women must have the right to determine the course of their own lives -- everyone must be given the same choice to challenge and define what biology and body once determined. Perhaps this has been Roe's greatest legacy and the poisoned fruit of what the SCOTUS thought was a more narrow decision of law. Everyone now seems to believe in the right of choice right down to the argument that neither genes nor reproductive organs are allowed a say much less the final say over being a man or a woman. The triumph of feeling and its inevitable subjectivity have turned what was eccentricity into normality. After Roe, women, men, and everything in between would decide by their choice what was true of them, their bodies, their lives, and their futures. There were no inalienable truths to even aid or assist in this determination -- only the subjective and individual choice. The worst sin of all -- worse than even the murder of the unborn, is now the failure to be true to yourself (or those who fail to support your chosen truth and self).
For these reasons, the decision to undo Roe has not undone anything which Roe began or hastened or normalized. The conflict is not over. The debate continues. No wonder we still march for life. In fact, the battle is greater now than when the court first handed down this life and culture changing decision fifty years ago.