Today's abortion arguments before the Supreme Court in a nutshell. It's a question of:

1. The purposeful termination of human life.Or,

2. One of liberty: Can women be forced to give birth?

3. Is a middle ground possible, one ratified by the America people?

That paraphrases the central dueling points of opposing counsel, at least in my view, after listening to the complete oral arguments in the possible landmark abortion case that could alter, throw out or retain Roe v. Wade.

The seriousness of the arguments were impressive and worthy of respectful consideration. Much of the argumentation hovered around legal questions, such as: Can/should the court ever overrule itself? Even if the original decision was bad?

The pro-choice side virtually suggested it must not because prior decisions are somehow sanctified, especially if they have stood for years and supposedly have become a part of the American value system. On the other hand, Justice Brett Kavanaugh rattled off a list of Supreme Court actions that had reversed previous landmark decisions, such as desegregating public schools and accommodations and legalizing same sex marriage.

More interesting (to me) hearing the pro-choice counsels argue that the state could regulate abortion after “viability.” That’s their legal stance because they must argue against the Mississippi law that establishes the bright line at 15 weeks of pregnancy. But scratch an inch deep and you’ll discover that the most ardent abortion supporters demand that women should have an unfettered right for “termination” for any reason up until and including the moment of birth (e.g. partial birth abortion).

Yet underlying all the legal arguments was the principle of life or liberty–both given rights in America. At what point in a pregnancy does the life of a person-in-waiting require the balancing of a women’s right to avoid the health, social, emotional, impoverishment or other costs of pregnancy?

When does human life, or more precisely, human personhood take on legal protections?

 Justice Sonia Sotomayor fell back on the tired and deceptive argument that if you assert that personhood begins at birth, you’re trying to impose your religious beliefs on the nation. “It’s a religious question of when life begins,” she instructed Scott Stewart, the attorney representing Mississippi. It was a cheap shot and the low point for intelligent argumentation.

Sotomayor’s position is essentially anti-science. Real science proclaims that at its earliest stages, the fetus has its own genetic map. Whatever you want to call it–a person or a collection of cells–the fetus is its own self, just as you and me. The idea that being pro-life arises only from religious doctrine and has no secular, philosophical or scientific merit should be permanently shelved.

Sadly and wrongly, the pro-choice side argued against the Mississippi law for what are legislative reasons–where the proper arena is Congress or the state legislatures. We heard how the Mississippi restriction would harm women, especially low-income ones. In this case the Supreme Court is in effect being asked whether government abortion restrictions should be allowed after 15 weeks about 24 weeks.

That’s a matter of policy, properly assigned to lawmakers elected by the citizens. The purposeful extermination of a human life–i.e. abortion–is an issue that has tied up America for almost 50 years. Americans with differing views and interests have been denied a role in that decision all that time.

If Roe, Doe and Casey are overturned, abortion won’t become illegal nationally, as some of the more fanatical pro-choicers would have it. The decision would be returned to the states, as it was prior to Roe. There, blue states would have wider access to abortion and red states would be more restrictive.

And that’s called democracy.

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  • Isn't the "balance" between the mother's rights to self-determination and the unborn's civil rights as a discrete human?

    Myopic evangelism on both sides aside, this should be achievable by setting a realistic time point in the pregnancy (not first heartbeat) at which point the civil rights of the unborn baby are considered in effect and thus outweigh the mother's choice (at which point the mother would actually be murdering another human)?

    That timeframe should provide reasonable time for unilaterally decided terminations (presumably before start of third trimester - don't wait until 8-9 months in to decide you can't coerce the guy into marrying you) and provide for judicial bypass in the event of late discovered rape, incest, or adverse medical condition.

  • What hasn't been tried here is democracy. Polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor legal abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. So a bill to this effect could sail through Congress. Public support drops sharply for late-term abortion however. So the only way to impose something that most voters oppose is to rely on the courts rather than a democratic process.

  • Hope SCOTUS does the right thing and buries Roe vs. Wade. It was a lousy decision; this is a matter for the states, so how about leaving it up to each of them? You know, just like the Constitution calls for?

  • " this is a matter for the states, so how about leaving it up to each of them? You know, just like the Constitution calls for?"
    ------------------------------------
    Constitution doesn't mention abortion. Closest one gets is to the Ninth Amendment, which reserves unenumerated rights to the people, not to the states. Powers (not rights) not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states are retained by the states OR the people.

    Privacy and autonomy are personal rights. That means reasonable regulation, not banning.

    You need to go back and retake eighth grade civics, davegorak.

  • Whatever you say, Sarge!

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