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The Supreme Court Should Let States Protect Unborn Special-Needs Children Like Mine


Sept. 8 marks a special anniversary for my family. On this day, Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Day, we remember the disease that afflicts my youngest daughter. But as we give thanks for the treasures she has brought into our lives, we also hope the Supreme Court will in the coming months allow states to strengthen the culture of life for unborn CF sufferers like her.

For the uninitiated, cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder, causes the lungs and other digestive organs to fill with mucus. Patients often require transplants of the lungs or other organs, and many CF patients do not survive past middle age.

Testing revealed my youngest daughter likely had cystic fibrosis prior to her birth. The CF, coupled with defects in her young heart, made her first weeks and months outside the womb touch-and-go. Even now, our daughter faces a regular regimen of breathing treatments, check-ups, and antibiotics to stave off frequent infections.

But our entire family wouldn’t trade our daughter for the world. She has brought incalculable joy into each of our lives, while also giving us a deeper appreciation of the need to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

That perspective makes my heart ache for the parents of cystic fibrosis patients who take a different course. Upon learning of a potential CF diagnosis in utero, many decide to terminate the pregnancy, killing their unborn sons and daughters. The lives not lived, and the way some consider giving birth to a vulnerable child with special needs “not worth the trouble,” make me grieve for these broken families—and our country.

Thankfully, however, we might soon have the opportunity to rectify the wrongs that this abortion culture presents. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court later this fall will consider whether states have the power to enact laws that seek to preserve a culture of life within their borders.

Nearly half a century ago, in its infamous Roe v. Wade case the court imposed an arbitrary and uncertain standard regarding state abortion laws. First by using the trimesters of a woman’s pregnancy, and later by creating standards linked to fetal viability, the court has limited the ways citizens of the 50 states, acting through their elected representatives, can place commonsense restrictions on abortion within their territory.

None other than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a strong abortion proponent, agreed that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds in the Roe decision. In a 1992 lecture, she argued that Roe represented “the most prominent example” of a case where “doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped…may prove unstable.”

Ironically enough, Ginsburg’s lecture also gives support to Mississippi’s position in this fall’s case, in which the Magnolia State wants to enforce its law prohibiting abortions beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy. Ginsburg criticized the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling because it “fashion[ed] a regime blanketing the subject [i.e., abortion], a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force,” creating a decades-long controversy that persists to this day.

By contrast, if the court overturns Roe and Casey, it could allow lawmakers in each state, rather than unelected judges, to determine the boundaries and parameters of abortion regulations for their citizens. It could return democratic accountability to where it belongs—with the people, through their representatives—and reinforce the principles of federalism, by allowing each state to find solutions that work best for its people.

I believe states should have the power to enact laws that protect unborn cystic fibrosis patients like my daughter. I hope the Supreme Court will soon restore that power to them.