February 18, 2012

Abortion wars, continued

This week the Oklahoma Senate passed one of those "Personhood" bills. It passed with overwhelming support even though it has no out for rape or incest, (nor ectopic pregnancy) and was opposed by medical professionals. And, as Sarah Morice-Brubaker reports, the bill writers don't even intend to enforce the law in those troubling areas, but wanted to pass a universally pro-life bill as a "symbol." The bill has created quite a response among the liberal community, and among women who are not normally political--at least in my circle. Many are concerned that this bill will ban certain contraceptives, as well as in vitro fertilization.

I have been thinking about Leighton's comment on my most recent abortion post where he countered my "reluctant pro-choice" in typical elegant and thoughtful prose. My reluctance on the matter has always been out of some respect for the people around me who feel so strongly that abortion is taking a life. But those concerns have usually been couched in some kind of complex worldview where contraceptives were rational and we talked about things like viability or consciousness.

But this personhood nonsense and the previous attack on contraceptives has made me far less reluctant. One of my facebook friends was so reflexively defensive of this clearly idiotic measure--well, it just pushed me over the edge. As I noted on FB, if you oppose contraceptive services, good sex ed, healthcare for women and nutrition and vaccination services for infants? You aren't pro-life. You are anti-sex, perhaps, or certainly are dismissive toward women. The same Facebook friend who defended this personhood bill as a defense of God's infallible decisions, defended cuts for disabled children over tax cuts for the rich. There is nothing pro-life about this stance.

Leighton wonders "if the conservative stance on abortion is partly (mis)informed by its inability to comprehend the effect of collective systemic actions through its lens of everything reducing to personal, individual responsibility." I think that is certainly part of it. I am struck by so many conservatives (certainly not all) who seem incapable of walking out the consequences of an action or law. I see this in the death penalty where people who would never openly approve of executing someone who was innocent--but who have essentially stopped processing the morality of capital punishment after some theoretical "eye for an eye," and have never added racial or class bias to the mix, nor the DNA evidence that shows the flaws in the system. Likewise, they look at supply side economics, and just assume it should work. Forget evidence that it doesn't. The decision has already been made.

My facebook friend stopped after assuming that this personhood bill was "pro-life." That is good enough for him, even if it causes great harm to women, and even if the same people passing this bill will cut programs that help pregnant moms, infants, and children. There is no follow through. And despite the assurance that this bill was aimed to "save lives," it will kill people. Real people. People who have kids, or siblings, and who are absolutely and clearly conscious and among us. As Leighton also posted, everyone should read this story of a woman who nearly died because doctors wouldn't perform an abortion.


leighton said...

Short of repealing a law or passing amendments, legislators do not have any influence over what laws will be enforced. Enforcement and prosecutorial discretion are in the hands of the executive branch. I'd really like to believe this is ignorance, but I think it's more likely that if you were to point to someone who believes in the Constitution and rule of law, you would be looking at a non-Republican.

leighton said...

Actually, I will retract the last bit in light of a state Republican senator claiming birth control pills cause prostate cancer. Apparently there are more lawmakers who are not competent to manage a McDonalds, let alone give input into legislation, than I had realized.

More on topic, Fred Clark helpfully points out that thirty years ago, nobody believed that the Bible says life begins at conception.

Streak said...

One thing Republicans have done over the last 20 years is discount expertise and knowledge as an attribute to be admired. Instead, they prefer passion and fervency. And that has given us the kind of stupidity that, unfortunately, dominates the Oklahoma Republican party. Dumb, dumber, dumbest.

Thanks for that Fred Clark link. That deserves reading and I will be posting that repeatedly.

steves said...

While I think that abortion, for the most part, should be legal, I think that Roe v. Wade is a very illogical decision that is lacking in substance. I often wonder if this would have been better left to the legislatures, stupid as they can be.

leighton said...

Steve, does the reasoning for the ruling have any pernicious influence on the decisions of lower courts? I'm pretty happy not letting women with ectopic pregnancies die just because they have the misfortune to live in a state with an unreasonable legislature, but I don't really have a sense of what the legal consequences are for the current situation.

steves said...

Good question. My interest in this area is academic, as I don't practice that kind of law. From what I do know, decisions like PP v. Casey have made it fairly clear to lower courts what is ok and what is not. That doesn't stop legislatures from trying novel ways of passing new restrictions, but this is true for most areas of law.