This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Abortion from a Christian Leftist Huckabee supporter's perspective

Cross posted from Facebook.

I like what Mike Huckabee says about abortion. For too long the National Right to Life Committee has advocated a "Federalist" approach, although the original radical republicans and even Hamilton would call such a position anti-federalist or states rights. Any solution must be national, if only because people travel to have abortions or to procure them for their daughters, which is pretty much what they do now. Many admit that not much would change on the abortion front should Roe v. Wade be overturned in such a way as to restore state authority.

What exactly did states do when they had the authority? They imposed fines on abortionists.

Come again?

That's right, fines. This is why Justice Blackmun said that there was no right to life before Roe. If your only protection is a fine, you aren't protected. Animal cruelty has higher penalties. It seems the only effect of the law was to create a black market for abortion, travel for abortion and back alley and self-induced abortion.

I'm not working for that. Roe makes clear that the only way to trump the right of privacy, which is legitimate if abortion is only about medical regulation, is to recognize the legal personhood of the unborn.Sounds good? It depends on how you draw the line.

Personhood implies equal protection under the law. This means that anyone who tells you that fetal rights means only punishing doctors is either misinformed or fibbing (to put it politely). Full human rights means just that. It means that if you die, your relatives can sue the doctor for malpractice. It means that if you get killed, the state is obligated to prosecute the person who killed you and anyone who paid to have it done as an accessory to murder or manslaughter. It also means similar penalties to killing a child or even an adult. Whether you accept it or not, every fetal death becomes a public matter if there is no right to privacy.

How many pro-life women consent to talking to the police, prosecutors or a grand jury if the authorities suspect that your OB/GYN has been doing too many D&C's if you've recently had one yourself? What if they suspect that yours was not justified and treat you as such?This is not about the police going after "them" but going after you. Equal protection is equal protection.

If you think malpractice is high for OB/GYNs, just wait until every miscarriage is a potential court case. Granting full protection, which is required to overturn privacy, means just that. It is not a nightmare scenario. It is giving power to lawyers to pursue wrongful death cases, which most insurance companies will simply settle - although good luck finding obstetric care until after two months of gestation have passed and a miscarriage is no longer likely. This is what Blackmun was talking about when he stated that legal abortion was necessary to protect all obstetricians, not just abortionists.

It takes maturity to come to grips with this. It also takes honesty.

I am frankly sick and tired of those individuals who run for office saying that they are pro life while appealing to emotionalism about the unborn, soft pedaling the real legal concerns. This is called opportunism, and what else can you call it with more than 35 years of fundraising and no real viable solutions to the root problem. That's three and a half decades of death rather than compromise.Shame.

The fact is, before 23 weeks, a fetus cannot survive if born, while after it can with medical intervention. That seems like a reasonable line. Another might be the fetal heartbeat at 4 weeks of gestation (6 weeks or so from the last period). While I believe that life begins at gastrulation (rather than conception) and the best embryologiss agree, the heartbeat is a natural start of legal life when its cessation is considered the moment of death.

Huckabee likely does not agree with this, however I supported him in the primary because he would likely put in enough income supports for families that the abortion rate would go down anyway - judging by his performance as Arkansas Governor.

He also stated that he favored a life amendment. This is code for saying he wasn't about to do anything to quickly. A life amendent would need 2/3 of the House to pass, as well as 2/3 of the Senate and 3/4 of the states. It is regarded among constitutional scholars as the impossible dream of the pro-life movement and why overturning Roe was thought to be more attainable.Of course, it is only unattainable if it is attempted as an all or nothing position. If it is important to stop abortion, primarily in the later terms, then maybe its time to compromise on the 23rd week. Also, it may be that an Amendment is not necessary. The Congress is sovereign in matters of citizenship (not the states). Under the 14th Amendment, it has the power to enforce equal protection. Part of enforcement is deciding issues, like whether at some stage the rights of the child are equal to those of the mother. In the partial birth case, even though it was not spelled out, Congress was able to regulate abortion precisely because the fetus was in contact with air. Being a little bit born is like being a little bit pregnant. If any of you is out, you are legally a person. Congress could likely go further, although doing so takes work.

It takes the willingness to compromise - not easy when you are dealing with conservatives on a moral issue. It also takes specificity in deciding what legal protection really means. Let's say I am wrong about lawsuits and criminal charges. The way to make me wrong is to publish some language to make sure these things aren't issues - or admit that they are - and engage opponents in discussion.Its time to end the emotionalism of this debate and get down to brass tacks. Anything else is too much like what that other Governor from Arkansas would do. You know who I mean. The slick one.


Blogger Taterx said...

I try to tell my pro-Life friends that the abortion issue is just a wedge used by the Republican Party. They parade it out every four years to divide people and fire up their base. They have no intention of ending abortion. Why would they kill that valuable tool?

6:30 PM


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