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By Ad astra

Revisionism is a general term that can be used with both positive and negative connotations for any scholarly practice dedicated to revising an established position.

That is its benign meaning. Another is: “A movement in revolutionary Marxian socialism favouring an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary spirit.”

Contemporaneously in the 21st Century we are witnessing revisionism in an exaggerated form as officials of the US Supreme Court overturn the long-established Roe v. Wade decision. You can read about the Supreme Court decision here.

Those who are unfamiliar with this decision might benefit from this account, taken from Wikipedia:

Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. The decision, which struck down many U.S. federal and state abortion laws, fuelled an ongoing debate in the United States about whether, or to what extent, abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, and what the role of moral and religious views in the political sphere should be. It also shaped debate concerning which methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication.

The case was brought by Norma McCorvey – known by the legal pseudonym “Jane Roe” – who in 1969 became pregnant with her third child. Ms McCorvey wanted an abortion but lived in Texas, where abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother’s life. Her attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, filed a lawsuit on her behalf in a U.S. federal court against her local district attorney, Henry Wade, alleging that Texas’s abortion laws were unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in her favour and declared the relevant Texas abortion statutes unconstitutional. The parties appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States.

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy”, which protects a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion. But the Court also held that the right to abortion is not absolute and must be balanced against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and prenatal life. The Court resolved these competing interests by announcing a trimester timetable to govern all abortion regulations in the United States. During the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), governments could not regulate abortion at all, except to require that abortions be performed by a licensed physician. During the second trimester, governments could regulate the abortion procedure, but only for the purpose of protecting maternal health and not for protecting foetal life. After viability (which includes the third trimester of pregnancy and the last few weeks of the second trimester), abortions could be regulated and even prohibited, but only if the laws provided exceptions for abortions necessary to save the “life” or “health” of the mother. The Court also classified the right to abortion as “fundamental”, which required courts to evaluate challenged abortion laws under the so-called “strict security” standard, the most stringent level of judicial review in the United States.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe was among the most controversial in U.S. history. Anti-abortion politicians and activists sought for decades to overrule the decision. Despite criticism of Roe, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its “central holding” in its 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, although Casey overruled Roe’s trimester framework and abandoned Roe’s “strict scrutiny” standard in favour of a more malleable “undue burden” test.

On June 24, 2022, the final opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson overturned both Casey and Roe, holding “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion” and that “the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

The Supreme Court has again stirred intense controversy, which continues to this day, and will no doubt evoke continuing debate for many months yet.

So here we see a classic case of revisionism, and its unforeseeable ramifications.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for them!


This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Steve Davis

    “So here we see a classic case of revisionism, and its unforeseeable ramifications.”


    Opening Pandora’s Box might be another way of putting it.

    Almost anything could happen from hereon in.

    And probably will.

  2. Carl Marks


    Hoq could they get it so right back then and so wrong now?

  3. Terence Mills

    The legal position on abortion in the US is now precisely the same as in Australia : individual states are responsible for making laws on terminations.

    In Australia it has been easier to manage the uniformity of these laws as we only have six states to bring together but even so there are differences :

    The Supreme Court in the US have thrown the whole issue to their fifty states knowing that uniformity is almost impossible so it may have been more sensible to leave Roe unchallenged but this is a court that has been turned into a conservative majority by Trump and conservatives will always seek to be disruptive and provocative.

  4. Mississippian

    The revision of this particular law (Roe v Wade) is with the intent of using a hot button topic to allow the media to magnify wholesale social angst*. Reason: Engage the public in angry debate so as to divert attention from the more basic issue facing the US – the devolvement of a functioning economy. The debate, if you can call it that, acts as a smokescreen issue obscuring the deliberate pressure being put on fuel stocks (attendant to a demise of distribution networks) and an ingenious multi-facetted scuttling of food security in the USA. Got to hand it to the architects of this smoke screen and their co-conspirators the media, they know how to pysop.
    wholesale social angst* – people are easier to control when they are in robotic reactive mode (5th law of Pyscho-dynamics)
    Meanwhile, in heavily-sanctioned Russia, the public is paying 25c/lt petrol. Got em good didn’t we?

  5. leefe

    They are currently setting their sights on more human rights decisions, including marriage equality and contraception. Make no mistake, this is state capture by the religious right-wing nutjobs.

    So far they haven’t mentioned the Loving v Virginia decision, which is interesting as it was Clarence Thomas who raised the idea of revisiting Obergefell et al and the Loving decision would directly affect him. And if he really thinks he’s safe he’s a damned fool, because he’ll be backstabbed by the other ultra-conservatives the minute he’s no longer useful iin promoting their agenda.

  6. Henry Rodrigues

    Whatever the rights and wrongs, and whatever the supporting arguments, for or against, this most personal choice that faces half the population of America, what is plain to see and outrageous at the very least, is that this edict of the court has been carried with the personal judgement of three justices who have shown themselves to be total and utter liars, who swore that they would not overturn the original Roe v Wade judgement, when they were asked about it at their confirmation hearings.

    American must be very proud that they have three of the best and greatest liars on their highest court. The ripple effects of Trump reign will continue to corrupt this once great nation.

  7. GL

    Currently the biggest threat to the US is six (pretty much rabid religious right wing) people who wear black judicial robes and are using their own twisted version of the law to wreck the country.

  8. totaram

    GL: Those six are just the “puppets” of the forces that are gathering. They have been building up to this moment for half a century. Make no mistake. The have been playing the long game, and they are winning. Anyone who does not understand this is on the losing side.

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