Sitting in the car listening to three confirmed christians (if Austin is the liberal island in the center of the conservative ocean of Texas, then why don’t we have any atheists on the airwaves around here? Sorry, lost track there for a second) sound off endlessly about the rightness of an anti-abortion stance, and listening to these three self-proclaimed conservatives express apparently genuine confusion as to why the abortion issue is the litmus test for potential judges. From what I’ve seen it’s not a litmus test, as in a piece of paper that is one of two colors based on the acidity of the solution it’s placed in, it is rather a weathervane that shows which way the hot air is blowing during any given political season. That these three talking heads can’t see it just shows their rank in the political game.
If there really were a litmus test for supreme court judges, it ought to be the constitution that forms it. The test (as is fitting) should be in the form of a single question and answer. “What is the meaning of the ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution?” Unenumerated rights. Limited powers. Any potential judge that does not concede the existence of a right to privacy, of a limit to state power, does not have a place on the bench within the US court system. Good luck getting a straight answer there.
This is one of those arguments that I’ve had so many times with so many people that I could convincingly argue both sides in a continuous monologue that looked like a dialogue. I don’t think I’ll do that. It would go on as long as the so-called debate (if two sides engaged in endless name calling could be labeled a debate) has gone on already, and none of you would read it.
This is a faith based issue with the devout believing or being instructed to believe in a particular fashion on both sides of the argument. The Fascist Right (what I fondly refer to as the Religious Reich; what is generally mislabeled ‘conservative’) believes that it is the correct stance of the state to confirm their loathing of a waste of potential and to require women to carry pregnancies to term, no matter what. For those on the right, correct thinking is paramount, the resultant unpleasant reality is punishment for incorrect thought. The socialist left (Tree huggers if you like, I don’t have a cutesy name of my own for them) believes that it is the correct stance for the state to confirm a woman’s right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, with funding as necessary. For those on the left, correct actions are paramount. We should always feel good about what we are doing, even if forced to.
What the two sides have in common is the desire to wield force in the form of law, and require others to bow to the whims that they worship. This is, in truth, the common thread of all the political footballs that come into play with each and every election and decision. What the players on the field (or the pawns on the chessboard, take your pick) never seem to understand is that the leaders on either side of the issue don’t have any core disagreements. They are all willing to force others through law to behave or believe whatever they deem correct at any given minute. The issues are simply how they maintain control and distract attention.
“But wait” you say, “The Republicans are poised to reverse Roe v. Wade! How can you be so cavalier about this?” It’s easy. The Republicans have no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade. They would be fools if they did. The reason is constitutional.
Roe v. Wade establishes a right to privacy. To reverse that is to make us all wards of the state (some would say we already are) and to make all claims to privacy by persons, including the multinational corporations, null and void. I just can’t see the Warren Buffett’s and Bill Gates’ of the world signing up for that type of punishment. So excuse me if I don’t take this threat seriously. The Right to Privacy will continue to exist (as it did unenumerated before Roe v. Wade) and with it the availability of unpopular medical procedures, including abortion. Sorry folks, them’s the breaks.
In libertarian circles there has been an uneasy truce on the issue of abortion for quite some time. Don’t get me wrong, we have believers on both sides of the issue here too. It just doesn’t get contentious (generally) because we don’t acknowledge that the state has the authority to force someone to bear children on the one hand, or the authority to levy taxes to pay for abortions on the other. We’re more than happy to let the individuals involved make decisions for themselves. It’s what tends to work best.
I hear you saying “what about protecting life, dammit?” That’s all fine and good. First, prove that there is a life, a life with a conscious mind, a will to live (not just autonomic responses) the presence of brainwaves, preferably; and then show how you will preserve that life without harming the life (and by harm I mean economic as well as physical harm) of the mother-to-be, and you might have a telling argument. Otherwise we are still back at individual choice.
The short version of this is if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. That should limit the decisions to the individuals with a real stake in it. The women.
Editor’s Note. Mercifully my libertarian delusions about tax dollars and government health expenditures fell by the wayside of my deeper understanding of what money is and what society is. (Wayback Machine version of the original article) What good governance entails. It could have happened sooner, but I’ll take the enlightenment anyway I can get it.
I have come out as unambiguously on the side of choice in recent years., science having pretty much taken us to the edge of survivability for the fetus outside the womb. What is needed now, if the anti-abortionists want to prevail on this subject, is an artificial womb. With that invention the woman need no longer carry the baby to term herself, it can be implanted in the artificial womb and the lifers who think every sperm is sacred can just foot the bill for raising all those previously aborted children.
I’m sure they’ll jump at the chance to pay for that.