"Cheap Response to Comments" II
John W writes:
think that your prediction regarding the political ramifications of overturning Roe v. Wade might be off a bit. Consider Justice Thomas' dissent in the recent medicinal marijuana case. Breyer, Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Scalia( ?!?) claimed that someone growing pot in their California backyard, for their own use, shifts the national demand curve for marijuana, and thus affects interstate commerce. Clearly they would have to rule that the abortion laws of individual states affect the national market for diapers, Disney DVDs, Star Wars merchandise, etc.
So a federal ban on abortion (without an amendment) would be constitutional. Thus abortion would be on the table in every federal election from now on (if the federal ban wasn't in place, it could be; if it's in place, it could be repealed). I agree that this would likely benefit Democrats, as it would shift the focus from the morality of abortion (where the majority of Americans agrees with the pro-life side ) to the question of whether or not women who have abortions should be imprisoned (where the majority agrees with pro-choicers).
Must admit I hadn’t even considered that possibility, and given the solid 6-3 majority in the medicinal marijuana case, with O’Conner on the right side in my opinion, replacing her with Roberts might not effect using the Interstate Commerce Clause as a justification for making everything federal. I have to admit, Scalia as a part of that majority is very puzzling. Maybe he had a bad day. We’re all entitled to one. But note carefully, my liberal friends, especially those who joyously partake of the easy slander against Clarence Thomas – that he is a little Scalia clone. Here is a case where a black conservative jurist, often viciously and despicably tarred as a house slave simply obeying “massa,” voted against Scalia. And it happens more often than you think. In fact, it happens more often than Ginsburg disagrees with Souter and just as often as Breyer disagrees with Souter. Next time you go to slander Thomas, please keep in mind that such a slander either makes you intellectually very lazy or racist (or both).
Also, the imprisonment of women who would illegally get an abortion is not a necessary consequence of making abortion illegal. Simply making it illegal for an abortion clinic to exist would achieve the desired effect without having to imprison women. Most doctors don’t want to perform them, and those that do tend to be very poor quality doctors (this is a fact, as the procedure is extremely mundane and therefore uninteresting to a good doctor).
Professor Vic writes
would concur with JohnW. I think politically the Court decision in Roe v. Wade has provided nice cover for pro-life politicians who knew they could rail against abortion as much as they wanted without any chance of actually having to outlaw abortion.
There is a huge difference between theory and practice here or as JohnW says, the morality of abortion vs. actually punishing those involved. It's easy to take a tough stand on an issue when you know your law will never be enacted.
This is totally a guess here, but I would say that if the Republicans in the federal government were to pass a ban on abortion that was upheld by a reconstituted Supreme Court, it would cost them both the presidency and both houses for years to come.
As one final note to Geraldy, while there is much to be said for the Court leading "us back to our Christian roots," there is certainly no unanimity of opinion among Christians about what "our" roots really are. Ask the Protestants and the Catholics in N. Irelands, Christains both, about what their common roots are.
Obviously, Geraldy's reading of the Bible leads him/her to believe that abortion is murder, but a reasonable person could also read the Bible and come to a different conclusion. For example, in Exodus 21:22, the Bible says that a man who strikes a pregnant women and kills her shall be put to death but a man who strikes a pregnant women and only causes a miscarriage shall only be fined. That's the closest thing to abortion I can find in the Bible and my interpretation of that passage leads me to believe that killing a fetus isn't murder. So whose Christian roots do we go back to?
We could also go back to "our" Christian roots that held that owning slaves was acceptable (also in Exodus 21), but I don't think anyone whose holds up Brown v. Board of Education as a shining example of the Court as a leader moral change would support those particular roots, either.
The politicians who rail against abortion have legislated against it – in the case of partial birth abortion, for example – so don’t be so quick to assume that they are cynically making an issue out of something they never have to support. It may be true of some, but I doubt it is true of many.
As for “whose Christian roots do we go back to?”, a little discussion of history would be in order. The political demand for abortion came with and as a consequence of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, which was hastened by the pill. Prior to that time, the risks of pre-marital sex were greater, and so people were more discriminating about who they’d have it with; pre-marital sex certainly existed, but it was usually between people who were prepared to marry and therefore provide for and protect any child that came as a result of it. The pill led to the classic Peltzman effect – make a risky behavior safer and people will engage in more of it, and in this case doing so more indiscriminately. The end result was women getting pregnant younger and through partners both unwilling and unable to step up to the plate.
Now, as the father of a daughter, surely you can see that these changes in society have not bettered it. Illegitimacy rates, divorce, teen-age drug use, teen-age suicide, abortion rates – all of these things are worse, far worse, than they were in 1950 – and in my view this is not a coincidence. You will have to worry about what your daughter or her friends might do from the time she is 12 years old. Think about that for a minute. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but the problem is that a substantial portion of our village has been trying (rather successfully) to have an orgy for 40 years in the town square. People, and most especially innocent children, pay the price for that. But going back to 1950 America, not so long ago, the political demand for abortion would have been extremely limited.
That said, our shared Christian heritage didn't restrain us from voluntarily choosing our current position; making abortion legal didn't make it compulsory. So one could argue that it was easy for us to act chaste when the economic costs of not doing so were potentially very high, and that Christianity was not as large a factor in our behavior in society as was the economics of pre-marital sex.
Making abortion illegal may be dealing with a symptom rather than the underlying disease, but nothing in Exodus supports the underlying disease.
As for Bible quotes, try these two: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”, and “whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me.” (Not bad for a Catholic, heh?)
I don't need my Christianity to tell me that abortion is wrong. If one doesn't see that killing over a million babies a year is morally wrong, then one has to wake up.
Abortion is merely the most tangible government manifestation of everything that is wrong with our society. A truly Christian nation would not have sex scenes hidden in video games, rampant pre-maritial sexuality and licentiousness, and pre-teens playing Clinton-Lewinsky "games." By supporting the outlaw of abortion, we make a good start in addressing the fundamental problems of our society.
The last sentence gets to the crux of it – can the genie be stuffed back in the bottle? The Peltzman effect I alluded to earlier stemmed from a study by Sam Peltzman of the effects of putting seat belts into cars on death rates caused by accidents. Surely seat belts save lives, right? Well, they may in an individual case, but not in the aggregate, as people tend to drive faster when the risks of doing so have declined. Peltzman found this very result – that seatbelts did not reduce accident related fatalities (which is not to say that they didn’t provide benefits – namely the ability to increase your speed without increasing your chances of death). One economist remarked after this study that if the goal were exclusively to reduce accident related fatalities, car companies should be required to have a very sharp metal spike coming out of the steering wheel. I think making abortions harder to get would have the same effect – increase the risks of a behavior that is ultimately very damaging to kids, and the genie might go back.