June 5th, 2003


The right to choose -- the last straw?!

The House of Representatives has voted 282-139 to ban "partial birth" abortions... which leads me to wonder what a sizable amount of Democratic lawmakers were thinking of.

The answer, of course, is "the next election". Nobody wants to be the one who is branded as being a babykiller, right?! And partial birth abortions just sound awful, no matter what you call them.

The problem, however, is that these fairweather Democrats have potentially opened the door to Roe v. Wade's demise as we know it.

Once a ban on partial birth abortions passes, it will be challenged by various parties as being unconstitutional, primarily because it removes the right of women to get abortions due to issues such as health risks, rape, mental illness, etc. This, unfortunately, opens the whole Roe v. Wade decision up to scrutiny by a Supreme Court that is more conservative than the one that originally decided Roe v. Wade.

They could very well come back and say that Roe v. Wade was wrong -- that women do not have a Constitutional right to choose. They could also say that although women should have the right to choose, that right is modified by the rights of an unborn fetus / child... which leaves you to wonder -- when does a fetus have rights, and who should decide when?!

No matter what decision is made, it could fundamentally undermine Roe v. Wade, possibly forcing it back on the states to decide their own policies on whether women can have abortions, or when fetuses have legal rights. It may take over a year before all the dust settles, but the right to choose as we know it may not be around for that much longer..

It's at times like this that I wonder whether anyone pays much attention to these things as they're happening, or whether they'd rather exist with their heads in the sand until they don't have any rights anymore. The fact that so many Democrats were willing to support this bill really angers me, because I know that our rights are intracately interconnected things... your rights and my rights and our rights to a great extent rely on shared concepts of how the Constitution is interpreted. Unfortunately, the popular interpretation lately has been that rights do not exist unless *very* clearly articulated, and oftentimes even those rights are flexible at congress' discretion... so, to a very real extent, whenever anyone's rights are eroded all of our rights are eroded, because precident is set that opens the door to further damage elsewhere.

Still, I were a woman, I honestly don't know how I would feel. Violated, I'd suspect... or powerless.... or angry about not having been informed about the risks to my rights by the media... and maybe just a bit guilty or foolish for not following such things more closely or not doing something when it still might have made a difference.

Either way, it's probably too late. This president will happily sign any legislation that bans partial birth abortion into law and Roe v. Wade's fate may well be decided for you next year sometime by seven men and two women, whose average age will be 70.

Good luck, ladies.