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Abortion Hypocrisy in Texas

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The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade, in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protected the right to have an abortion, focused on the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution providing that an individual has a fundamental "right to privacy", thus protecting a woman's right to have an abortion. But it also ruled that the right to abortion is not absolute and must be balanced against the government's interests in protecting women's health and prenatal life.[1]

In 2022, the Supreme Court reversed its decision on Roe v. Wade essentially sending the issue of abortion's legality back to the states for their own determination. Here in Texas, anticipating (much like Pavlov's dogs, in my opinion) that the Supreme Court would overturn their previous decision, the predominantly Republican Texas legislature passed what is known as a "trigger law" essentially prohibiting abortion in any form except to save the mother's life or prevent substantial impairment of a major bodily function.

 

Opposition to Abortion

Abortion opponents often cite that since "life begins at conception, abortion is murder." That predominantly Christian belief then extends to them claiming that they are "advocating for the unborn", or that they are "protecting the sanctity of human life". But regardless of their additional arguments, all of their rhetoric comes back to their singular belief that "life begins at conception."

I state that this is a "belief" because there is really no definable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt proof that life does or does not begin at conception. Despite a large number of scientific citations that this belief is a valid statement, there are an equal number of equally scientific citations to the contrary. As a result, discussions of this nature fall squarely into the realm of philosophical debate, and that is a very poor area from which to make law.

Here's the problem I have with citing predominantly Christian beliefs in an attempt to make law: once you dig beyond the surface, such beliefs appear hypocritical. A simple analogy by a traditional Christian pastor, Dave Barnhart, should suffice to illustrate this hypocrisy.

"'The unborn' are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you. They are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, the addicted, or the chronically poor. They don't resent your condescension, or complain that you are not politically correct. Unlike widows, they don't ask you to question the patriarchy. Unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare. Unlike aliens (immigrants) they don't bring all of that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike. They allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships. And when they are born, you can forget about them because they cease to be 'the unborn'. It's almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege; without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim that you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

"Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All of the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible, and by Jesus himself? They all get thrown under the bus for 'the unborn'."

Yes, there are many laws that prohibit specific actions (e.g., murder, theft, lying under oath, etc.) but if you care to notice, all of these laws are intended to prevent the possibility of some form of harm being inflicted on someone else - someone who is a living and breathing person. So while abortion opponents clamor that "abortion is murder", that still presupposes that some form of unborn life has been affected, and it's already been established that not everyone can agree on when "life" begins.

 

Advocacy of Abortion

Bodily autonomy is a critical component of the right to privacy protected by the Constitution under the 4th Amendment. Regardless of whether or not one believes that a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, it does not obligate a mother to sacrifice her bodily autonomy for another, innocent or not.

Consider a scenario where you are a perfect bone marrow match for a child with severe aplastic anemia; no other person on Earth is a close enough match to save the child's life, and the child will certainly die without a bone marrow transplant from you. If you decided that you did not want to donate your bone marrow to save the child, for whatever reason, the state cannot demand the use of any part of your body for something to which you do not consent. It doesn't matter if the procedure required to complete the donation is trivial, or if the rationale for refusing is flimsy or arbitrary, or if the procedure is the only hope that the child has to survive, or if the child is a genius or a saint or anything else - the decision to donate must be voluntary to be Constitutional. This right is even extended to a person's body after they die; if they did not voluntarily commit to donate their organs while alive, their organs cannot be harvested after death, regardless of how useless those organs are to the deceased or how many lives they would save. That is the law.

The use of a woman's uterus to save a life is no different from the use of her bone marrow to save a life - it must be offered voluntarily. Also, if your belief is that a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, then having the fetus demand the use of a woman's womb against her own will is just as much of an ethical violation. By all means, profess your belief that providing one's uterus to save the child is morally just, and that refusing is morally wrong. That is a defensible philosophical position regardless of who agrees or disagrees. But legally, it must be the woman's choice to carry out the pregnancy. She may choose to carry the baby to term. She may choose not to. Either decision could be made for all the right reasons, all the wrong reasons, or anything in between. But it must be her choice, and protecting the right of body autonomy means that the law is on her side. Supporting that precedent is what being pro-choice means.

References:

  1. Wikipedia, Roe v. Wade - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v_Wade

 


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