Abortion: Will They Abort The Issue?


Roe-v Wade (1973), the abortion case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court 38 years ago, is still an issue in national and state politics. Last week, the Republican-dominated Florida legislature passed six bills, all designed at making it more difficult to obtain a legal abortion. The Republicans also placed on the 2012 ballot, a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution as to abortion.

The Republican objective is to increase government interference in the personal lives of women, and to restrict their constitutional right to liberty. Their goal is to meddle, as much as possible, in the doctor-patient relationship. These latter-day Republicans don’t respect the right to privacy, liberty, or the freedom from religion.

The Court recognized a constitutional right of personal privacy in Roe v Wade. They said: “This right of privacy…founded in the 14th Amendment concept of personal liberty…is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision…to terminate her pregnancy.”

As to the unborn, they said: “There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin, until live birth” (p. 160). “No case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the 14th Amendment.” (p. 157). “The word ‘person’ as used in the 14th Amendment does not include the unborn.” (p. 158). If the Court had found otherwise, they would have been writing law, not interpreting it.

The Roe Court conceded abortion rights are not absolute. (p. 154). “Some state regulation…is appropriate.” (p. 154). “At some point the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards and prenatal life, become dominant.” (p. 155). The state’s “legitimate interest in potential life…is at viability. This is so, because the fetus then presumably has the capacity of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb….If the state is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may…proscribe abortion.” (p. 163).

The Court further defined viability in Colautti v Franklin (1979), when it said: “Viability is reached, when in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular facts of the case before him, there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus sustaining survival outside the womb, with or without artificial support.” (p. 388).

The Supreme Court did not write law in 1973, they simply did their job, and interpreted the word liberty in the 14th Amendment. They gave it a practical meaning. Now, it is the law of the land.

The basic problem with those who wish to overturn Roe is their failure to understand and accept that Americans live in a pluralistic free and democratic society, where there is no official state religion, and where individuals are guaranteed liberty.

The Republicans want the U.S. government to suppress liberty. They want to dictate religious values. They want their religious point of view force-fed to all agnostics, atheists, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and fellow Christians, who accept abortion.

The Florida Republicans prefer the model of government used by the Taliban, Iran and Pakistan, whose governments merge religion and law into one, and prohibit religious freedom. In this sense, the Florida Republicans are as bad as the fundamentalist Islamists.

When will the anti-abortionists abort the abortion issue? Hopefully someday, they will understand the guarantees of religious freedom, and liberty, mean all of us have a right to live side-by-side, and none of us is allowed to dictate our religious views regarding the meaning of life onto the rest of society.

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