Marching Season: Roe v. Wade
Today is the second part of Marching Season in Washington, the annual street fight over abortion rights, birth control and their recent unlikely cousin, stem cell research. The Republican Party has got themselves a winner on this won. Happiness for a fundraiser is an issue which will never be resolved. There is no better form of job security in our nation's capital. Fundraising on this issue is more stable than feeding at the defense teet, since you can always find an enemy. I see no desire from either party to find a solution which both sides can live with. This is why I am toying with the idea of forming a Christian Libertarian Party (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Christian_Libertarian/).
Where is the center? you may ask. First, it is time to recognize that the whole "life begins at conception" is based in papism rather than medical or even historical catholic ethics. Life begins at gastrulation, where the cells of both parents are fully active in the development of the child. Before that point, the male DNA is simply going along for the ride. I did not exist until I was as much the son of my father as of my mother. Examining the science and ethics behind this position pretty much ends any objection to either stem cell research or artificial birth control base on anything more than papal fiat. For more on this, go to http://www.geocities.com/xianleft_michael/Contraception.html
This leaves us with a dilemna, one faced by many Christians on this issue - some of whom have succumbed to the Republican siren song (while some others are so firmly pro-choice as to almost favor abortion) - what do to about life after gastrulation.The first question is whether Roe is good policy. Given how a citizen is defined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution - birth or naturalization, Roe seems inevitable. Given the 14th Amendment's transfer of authority on civil rights issues from the states to the federal government, overturning Roe is not an option. If there is a solution to this issue, it must come from the national government. This matter was settled by the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. It is why both the rights of criminals and the rights of minorities (racial and sexual) are before the federal courts rather than state legislatures. Those conservatives who wish otherwise are trying to refight the Civil War. It is not really activist judges they object to, but rather federal authority in this area. It is the oldest debate in this country. Try as they might for change in this area, it ain't happening. For more on Roe, go to http://www.geocities.com/xianleft_michael/RoevWade.html
Now, what can Congress do? It can do quite a bit more than it is doing now. It could even go so far as to redefine the begining of citizenship under the 14th Amendment, although Republicans know that if they go too far on this issue they go back to minority status so fast it would make Tom Delay's head spin. A reasonable place would be to rely on the reverse of the standard legal definition of death, the end of cardiac function. If Congress were to define citizenship at the start of cardiac function it would most likely avoid riots in the street. Further, there are ethical arguments for symetry on this issue as being the best that can be hoped for. Whether this is good policy is another question. Most abortion providers engage in this ugly practice because the alternative for many women and girls is self-induced or black market abortion. Richer women and families will simply travel to a jurisdiction where abortion is legal, either an "abortion state" if Roe is overturned or an abortion country if it is not. Any attempt to restrict travel for this purpose would be clearly unconstitutional and would require the kind of police state that almost none of us want.
The Christian Left comes down differently on this issue. We seek the empowerment of youth and families to be able to afford a child - and to limit the amount of time parents are responsible for that child. If a 16 year old gets pregnant in this day and age it is usually her parents who are actually pushing the abortion on her. It should not be their problem. Rather, she and the father (provided it is not a relative) should be given the wherewithall to raise the child and still puruse their futures. Likewise, no family should have to face the painful choice of whether to kill their child or eat. This is the modern equivalent of sacrificing children to Baal for a good harvest. Rather, there should be a gauranteed income for all families that is sensative to family size. This is truly a Leftist solution - although I advocate for an income that is hidden within the wage for work or training rather than a direct tax benefit or transfer. For more on this go to the following:
Finally, the Church must accept its accountability as a causal agent for abortion. Its rampant condemnation of teen sexuality, which is counter-evolutionary, causes young women to seek abortion rather than the shame of an unplanned pregnancy. Its failure to more strongly preach against the dangers of wealth and its establishment of an elite high school system have produced a generation of entitled youth who think nothing of terminating a pregnancy. The Church has it within its power to offer both marriage and income to young couples who create a child. It is a sin of ommission that it has not exercised that power.
That's my opinion, what's yours?