INDIANAPOLIS  — Court observers tell us the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down a landmark abortion  decision overturning Roe v. Wade any day now.  This observation is based on the unprecedented “leak” of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito declaring that Roe was wrongly decided, because the U.S. Constitution includes no right to abortion.

Assuming that legal logic holds, which is a safe assumption as the Court verified the authenticity of Alito’s draft and any substantial departure from it would show the majority was bullied by the leaker, states will soon determine their unique abortion policy.  

That will be a healthy debate, though full of acrimony. I say healthy because among Roe’s most pernicious progeny is an overall coarsening of the culture as the value of life was diminished. We began America with a heart-felt cry for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But post-Roe we dropped “life” for a third of the citizenry, leaving only liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And a libertine culture we have.

This cultural coarsening occurred even though the pro-abortion side promised when Roe was originally decided in 1973 that America’s social problems would only get better when children were “chosen” and “wanted.”

Instead, by any measure, quality of American life has dramatically declined since. There is more fatherlessness, more teen violence, more incarcerations, more people in poverty, fewer intact families, and increasing drug overdoses. Life expectancy has declined for Americans three years in a row, led by so-called deaths of despair, for the first time since the advent of penicillin (antibiotics) during World War II. That is a new low in a nearly 80-year span, led by youth gun violence, drug overdoes and suicide.

The causes of these maladies are far broader than one court case, of course. Yet Roe, which ranks among the worst court decisions ever along with Dred Scott (slaves are property, decided in 1857) and Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal accommodations by race are legal, decided in 1896), belongs on the ash heap of disgraced social policy. This is because Roe is more, far more than horrible public policy. It has deadened our public discourse, making terminating a human life a choice solely borne by the pregnant women.

Men understood this message from pro-abortion feminists, best captured in the slogan, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”  You sign up for a good time, not for a lifetime of commitment, duty and obligation to any children or a spouse.  More significantly, if the woman wants the child, the man can simply say, “It’s your choice, so it’s your responsibility.”

So Roe did more than create a new, novel “right” to abortion. It severed the responsibility men should recognize towards their children, because only the woman had a “right” to determine whether a newly-conceived child should live.

Of course paternity can be established and the federal government spends billions annually to enforce child support payments. But the message is clear — life is devalued; Dads are optional. Maybe women don’t need men — but children need fathers, as all the research, ancient verities and common sense alike confirm. 

As each state decides its abortion policies, we will be forced to wrestle with the inhumanity of abortion. I know my haters will hate even more when I say the lack of regard for a pre-born child contributes to school shootings, teen gun violence and child abuse. I believe it, though I recognize it will take decades to confirm that the restoration of a culture of life in some states will improve our regard for life, born and unborn, in all states.

Indiana will enact pro-life laws quickly, I believe. There will a vigorous debate as to whether state law should allow any exceptions, such as the life of the mother, rape and incest. I know legislators who are genuinely wrestling with these weighty moral and legal issues. This is healthy, but hard. It is consequential. It is what a self-governing people must do and do well.

The results of those decisions in 50 state capitols by 7,300-plus state legislators will make their constituents think, pay attention, and I believe, choose life. No longer will the pro-abortion lobby be able to hide behind nine Supreme Court justices divining a right in the U.S. Constitution that is just not there. No longer will 330 million citizens delegate to nine judges the moral, ethical, and religious reasoning surrounding child rearing.  

In this post-Roe world, our legislators must own their decisions on our behalf. America — at least in states like Indiana — will restore a healthier culture as we respect anew life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Only then will we begin reversing the devastating damage done by five decades by Roe.  

Smith is with the Indiana Family Institute.