Rochester Students for Life (RSFL) invited local Professor Michael Filozof to share his views on the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision last Monday.
Professor Michael Filozof, who obtained a doctorate in political science from the University of Buffalo in 2000 and has taught at Monroe Community College, SUNY Brockport and Niagara County Community College, argued that there were several legal fallacies in the often-debated decision.
Following the lecture, the audience was allowed to present questions and arguments.
‘These are important issues that the community should be concerned about because it affects many people,” RSFL Business Manager and sophomore Javier Jaramillo said. ‘This and other events are a part of our main goal this semester,” Secretary of RSFL and sophomore Erin Dick said. ‘We want to educate the campus community of the pro-life issue.”
Filozof’s analysis of the case was neither based on a pro-choice nor a pro-life interpretation but was exclusively from a legal perspective.
Filozof explained that abortion is an issue that the Constitution fails to address. What the Constitution does address, he argued, is that all powers that are not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states.
Filozof asserted that Roe v. Wade violated the rights of the state of Texas to regulate its own laws and citizens.
‘In a democratic society, majority rules,” Filozof said. ‘The state denies my rights to drive 90 miles per hour and the state denies my rights to discuss murder in privacy (conspiracy). There will always be some that are unhappy with these decisions, but in a democratic society, majority rules. The decision [Roe v. Wade] overturned the democratic liberties of 46 states.”
Filozof then went on to discuss what he believed to be the issues with the legal arguments surrounding Roe v. Wade.
His main point was that the precedent used for the case, Griswold v. Connecticut, was a bad precedent in itself. The case stated that the use of contraceptives should be left to the individual’s choice based on their moral or religious beliefs.
The decision was based on a basic right to privacy that is implied in our Constitution, which is often referred to as a penumbra. Filozof argued that this first use of the phrase ‘penumbra” made the Constitution too broad and thus opens up a window that could be stretched for many other offenses, such as the private use of narcotics.
He continued to contend that the right-to-privacy argument has a historically inconsistent pattern in its application.
In Bowers v. Hardwick, he explained, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Georgia’s sodomy laws that prohibited oral and anal sex between consenting adults.
The right-to-privacy argument was found invalid in that case because there was a public health issue at hand.
Thus, he argued, the basis for the Roe v. Wade decision had limited legal references to support it, and the arguments that were in support of it were based on an inconsistent history of the subject. The lecture ended with an open floor for questions and arguments.
Filizof, who never explicitly chose pro-life or pro-choice on a moral level, closed his lecture with the consistent legal-perspective theme.
‘It can be legal; it can be illegal,” Filozof said. ‘We couldn’t be financially responsible, so we asked for a $700 billion bailout. If we can’t be sexually responsible, we ask for a government bailout. But if you want it legal, that’s fine. Just make sure you get two-thirds of the states and Congress’ support to make it an amendment.”
Senior Joel Kajubi reflected on the speaker’s main points at the lecture. ‘A lot of the things he was saying were interesting and true,” Kajubi said. ‘If the American people as a whole don’t get involved in political issues, then the government has to decide for us.”
Filizof’s lecture on Monday night was organized by RSFL. As stated on the Campus Club Connection Web site, the group’s mission is to educate the campus and Rochester community about the many issues surrounding abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos and other unnatural causes of death.
Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011.