While the war on public unions is getting most of the ink, new Republican majorities in state legislatures are quietly also moving to curtail the rights of women to have abortions in a large number of states.
Arizona just became the first state to outlaw abortions for reasons of race or sex, which, as many have observed, is an invasion of privacy. Kansas Republicans want to license abortion clinics in that state, while Florida, Iowa and Ohio legislatures are all considering bills that would place more restrictions on women seeking abortions, make them jump through more hoops and make it harder to pay for abortions.
Indiana may take the cake for nutty legislative proposals: One proposed new Indiana law bans taxpayer-paid abortions in cases of incest or rape. Another requires physicians to tell women seeking abortions that having an abortion has been linked to a higher prevalence of breast cancer, a scurrilous lie parading as theory but disproved by scientific research long ago.
Coming to a position on abortion is not easy, unlike the other key issues on the right-wing social agenda. Unlike abortion, we can easily disprove every other right-wing stand on the major social and political issues of the day:
- Scientists have proved that man-induced rapid global warming is occurring and beginning to leave negative marks on nature and mankind.
- The overwhelming preponderance of evidence supports the theory of evolution.
- Research has demonstrated time and again that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime and that torture does not yield additional information from suspects.
- Research also shows that when more people own guns, more people are killed and injured by guns, both legal and illegal ones.
- Spending more does improve the performance of children in the classroom and on standardized tests, but only if the money is spent on smaller classes with more qualified teachers.
- The claims that gay marriage harms “responsible procreation” and endangers other marriages and families have been disproved.
- The United States has a substandard and expensive medical system when compared to other Western nations, all of which have nationalized systems.
Facts will disprove all the right-wing nonsense, except when it comes to abortion (and the related issue of stem cell research).
In truth, defining when life begins really is a matter of belief, since no one can really say. Does life begins at inception, viability or someplace else? And what does viability really mean, since a new-born thrown into the woods or even put in the street can not survive on its own, and so is not really all that viable.
So what’s the answer? Everyone’s stand on abortion is a matter of belief, no matter how reasoned the arguments made or the graphic photographs flashed.
So whereas we can demonstrate beyond the doubt of any truly rational and open-minded person that appropriate public policy and legislative change should favor gun control, greater emissions controls and more educational aid targeted on the classroom, it is impossible to make such a confident assertion regarding abortion.
But there must be public policy. There must be laws.
What to do?
The way into the dilemma—belief—is also the way out. From atheist to Hassid, belief is always a matter of faith, which of course belongs to the universe of religion. And religion has no place in our political system and should have no power to influence our laws. Our Deist forefathers wrote religious freedom—freedom of belief—into the Constitution. They believed that something that is a matter of faith is rightfully a personal concern of our private lives. And today I think most right-wingers, centrists and left-wingers agree that the government for the most part should stay out of our private lives. Of course, they make define that term differently, to be sure.
As a matter of public policy, then, we should and must allow women the right to an abortion. To do anything else would represent a tearing of the thick steel wall that is supposed to separate the state from any and all religions or religious belief in the United States.
We certainly have the right to set sensible medical ground rules, such as limiting late-term, and influencing people not to use abortion as a means of birth control by promoting other methods such as condoms and the morning after pill. But we should in no way slow down the process, once the woman makes the decision to investigate the abortion option. And we should recognize that any rule we lay down regarding late term abortions must have room for medical exceptions.
Finally, we should not have legislation that promulgates the idea that abortions are inherently wrong or immoral. Those are religious judgments, and government is not supposed to make those, except when it involves saving human lives.
And that starts us full circle, as it begs the question, when does life begin? But again it’s a circle of belief. And in our culture, government butts out of those discussions.