Let it never be said that I agree with much of anything said or professed by Rush Limbaugh. He did, however, make a statement long ago about abortion being the "next civil war." While this sort of hyperbole is out of line (and also a large part of Limbaugh's schtick), this seems like one of those issues that will just not go away and there is no solution in sight.
Then comes, at the end of last month, a development in South Dakota that forced the issue back to the fore. The South Dakota State Senate passed what would be the strictest anti-abortion legislation in the nation. Governor Mike Rounds (R) is expected to sign the bill into law. Basically (if you did not read the above links) the law would outlaw abortion in every case unless the life of the mother was demonstrably at risk.
There are, naturally, many issues involved here. First, this seems to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the U.S. Supreme Court that protects the right to access to an abortion from the interference of the government. In this way, there does seem to be a challenge from a state to a pronouncement of a federal branch decision. This introduces problems of federalism and the issue of the legitimacy of judicial review, a precedent in American and British jurisprudence, but not a constitutional power accorded to the Supreme Court.
As to these issues, I think that it should be the states and not the federal government that makes these decisions and this is based on my conviction that the idea of judicial review, as instituted in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision is counter to the spirit of the Constitution and its delineation of the powers of the judiciary and also the separation of powers that lies at the heart of the federal system (as defined in the Tenth Amendment). So, in summary, I do not believe that it is within the power of the federal government, owing to the shaky precedent of judicial review, to enact legislation that is beyond the purview of the powers outlined in the Constitution. In this sense, I agree that South Dakota has the right to make its own laws concerning abortion.
I do not, however, in any way agree with the text or spirit of the law as passed in South Dakota. These sorts of laws, aiming at prohibiting what the state (or its rulers at the time) feel to be deleterious or morally wrong, strike at the very heart of our conception of human rights. If we consider property rights, what does a person own without question? It can be argued that there is no justification for private property as we (and the framers of our system) understood it. O.K., for now let's take that as stipulated. So, what do we REALLY own?
The answer, and I think this is plain to see, is ourselves, our bodies and minds. If this is not the case, then we are slaves in theory and in reality. This is not the case...at least not yet.
I believe, therefore, that while South Dakota may make such laws as they see fit, it is wrong to deprive people of sole province and dominion over the dispensation and condition of their person. People should be able to do whatever they want to their bodies, provided that it harms no-one else.
Then the issue becomes, if the foetus is indeed a "person," does this not require that it be protected from the above mentioned liberty of the person over, well, their person. I think not and it is because can a foetus truly be said to have full, conscious and abiding control over its person? This cannot be the case when it is dependent on another for everything. When they become viable apart from the mother, then they are indeed people and subject to the natural rights that are possessed by all people.
How can a baby have rights? It can have rights because it can suffer a wrong, such as neglect or abuse. Does this not then prohibit the killing of a foetus before it is born? No, simply because a foetus cannot survive without its mother but a baby, wether in it's parents care or someone elses, can.
Does this settle the issue. Of course not. It comes down to a matter of principle, and these can always be tricky.
One interesting "market reaction" to this law came from, of all places, the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The chief of the tribe wants to open up an abortion clinic on tribal lands, stating (rightly so) that tribal lands have a measure of sovereignty beyond that of the U.S. government or any state or locale. I say to that, good show. Way to react to a need and desire of the people that is taken away by the state.
May your venture flourish in these tough times where the rights to basic personal dominion are threatened by moralizing politicos who favor an exclusive religion from the inclusion of basic human rights.
Time capsule, Bubby edition
5 weeks ago