Out-of-Control Abortion War
Terry H. Schwadron
July 18, 2022
Can we all agree, please, that the abortion wars are out of control.
While it took huge legal chutzpah for the right-leaning Supreme Court majority to overturn any perceived constitutional endorsement of abortion nationally and to invite states to devise 50 individual legal arrangements in the states, the race towards extremism in. the name of anti-abortion moves is trampling on other individual rights far afield from abortion itself.
We’re arguing even to the point of threatening impeachment of justice officials over free assembly to protest in the streets outside justices homes — despite years of legal public hectoring of patients and staff outside abortion clinics.
We’re moving quickly to criminalize abortions or acts of support, with doctors, nurses, advisory staff or even mothers finding themselves in legal hot water. New state laws are promising homicide charges and prison sentences, even when some operations may be because of medical intervention over miscarriages, cancer treatments or other non-abortion medical treatments.
Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over federal rules that require abortions be provided in medical emergencies to save the life of the mother, even in states with near-total bans. It raises the questions anew: Who’s rights? Who decides?
We’re now have seen U.S. Senate Republicans blocking legislation to assure interstate transportation to states where abortion is legal. Forget efficacy of such intervention, what happened to freedom of movement between states?
The brouhaha over a family’s decision to take their 10-year-old, pregnant as the result of rape, across state lines has evoked a wild set of threatened charges and countercharges, starting with denial that there had been a case through to vows to investigate the doctor’s licensure over whether the incident was properly reported — as it was.
We’re, um, throwing out the legal baby with the political bathwater here.
The instant politicization of the new status for abortion in the United States is out of proportion with anything resembling thoughtful reaction. It is all about emotion — and the power of the state.
The realities of a patchwork of government mandates that vary by state are complicated enough that, as a society, we need just a bit of time to figure out what is going on led by rational thought.
State officials in Texas, for example, are talking about undercutting local prosecutors in cities that do not choose to prosecute cases arising under a new strict bar on activities perceived to be abortions — even if they involve miscarriages or other treatments.
In the fervent anti-abortion campaign, judgment is suddenly at issue with total compliance, even when the situation may require medical balancing.
Those same Senate Republicans suddenly are giving a second look at childcare tax credit proposals that they have consistently rejected — apparently in reaction to the reality that the nation could easily have upwards of a million more forced births a year. Politically, they need to be seen doing something, anything, on behalf of women whom they have only shown the back of their hands.
Democratic activists, meanwhile, are in Joe Biden’s face over not being more instantly vociferous in ordering federal steps to maintain abortion on federal lands, among federal employees or wherever they can force a federal mandate. Nevertheless, Biden has been adamantly clear in calling out a bad Supreme Court decision and extreme interpretations, but more cautious in seeking legally effective ways to guarantee access to abortions.
The big takeaway for the abortion season is that the law is dependent solely on who has the political power to declare it so.
Tone It Down
The daily news reports of abortion political skirmishes are filled with loud rudeness, absurdities and medical inaccuracies — including the exchange between a Republican congressman and an abortion activist over whether women ever give birth to “turtles” or non-human life.
How are we supposed to take any such discussion about legitimate policymaking seriously? How are we to trust that the anti-abortion campaign has any concern about maternal health even if disdain for any sense of individual choice?
The real issue is that with emotion running high and the high, if selective, view of enforceable morality seeming to decide our legal rights, the midterm elections will be the first place to truly address the divide.
All the normally reported political signs at this moment point to Republican successes in Congress in November. Politico notes that the Republican edge on the generic congressional ballot has tightened up after the abortion ruling, but there’s hardly been a revolution against polling trends.
And with it will come renewed efforts to nationalize the more extreme limits on abortion. So, from a variety of viewpoints, the coming reality will make things worse all around — including for renewed expected attacks on rights to privacy, contraception, private sex relationship decisions and same-sex marriage.
We can anticipate attacks on legality of health insurance coverage, assaults on corporate benefits for women who need to travel for medical treatments and endless legal challenges about the myriad medical exceptions that are not being recognized in sweeping moral statements. The National Right to Life Committee is lobbying states to enact legislation it’s drafted that would make it a crime to advertise information about abortion pills, reports Politico. Its model bill treats abortion like organized crime, by using a combination of civil and criminal penalties in the same way that the 1970 RICO Act does. Could pharmacists legally cite religious objection to abortion to forego fulfilling prescriptions for abortion pills, asks Vox.com.
Along the way, we will be stepping on freedoms of speech, assembly and individual choice of anything resembling pursuit of towards happiness.
Abortion will not go away. Only legal abortion will disappear. In its place, we will have a rise in less-than-legal abortion workarounds. We will have measurable economic effects as more women will find themselves unable to work without child-care and health supports. Declaring abortion a crime does nothing to help our economy, our personal security or our ability to make decisions.
Even those most vociferous for anti-abortion couldn’t want a nation-state that tells people how they may live.