As if enough disinformation about abortion has not been spread by politicians lately, the domestic Christian terrorism in Colorado last week has stirred heated rants on the political right. Don’t get me wrong, the left is quite capable of misinformed ranting as well, it is just that the right has cornered the current market.
No doubt whatever norm of craziness describes the nation’s political life, the Republican pre-primaries make it worse. More than a dozen seekers compete to out-Christian, out-conservative, and out-bombast each other among an electorate—never much wed to accuracy anyway—that seems not to care a whit whether a politically satisfying claim is true or fabricated
(My use of “Christian terrorism” is a parallel to “Islamic terrorism,” though clearly of a far milder and less frequent sort due to centuries of the Enlightenment that began in the 1600s in Europe. Terrorism, though its meaning has been stretched lately, is violence toward one or some that is intended to influence political change by others. The Planned Parenthood shooting of November 27 fits.)
The title I’ve given to this post announces where I am going with these thoughts. So let me take it by the numbers:
- Individuals have the right to think all abortion, some kinds of abortion, or some intrauterine ages of abortion should be made illegal.
- Were the Constitution not relevant, a popular vote in each state could settle the matter. At this point in time, such legislation would probably fail. For fifteen years the pro-life and pro-choice count has gone back and forth around equality. However, Gallup earlier this year found Americans divide 50% pro-choice and 44% pro-life.
- The Constitution is relevant because the question deals with which rights it guarantees. The judiciary is empowered by the Constitution to rule whether denying gestating women an abortion violates it. In Roe v. Wade, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that, indeed, laws outlawing abortion were in conflict with Constitutional guarantees.
- The Supreme Court did not decide women should have abortions or that abortion is good, bad, unbiblical, moral, immoral, distasteful, or ill-advised. The Court did not “impose” anything on Americans, nor did it engage in legislating, i.e., making new law. It merely compared one law to another and found them discrepant. One was the basic American law (the Constitution) and the other was not.
- And, by the way, the same Constitution vested in the Court the authority to say on any specific issue whether there is such a discrepancy or not, as settled by Marbury v. Madison in 1803.
- It is not the Supreme Court’s job to make the United States more Biblical. (So far we have been able to avoid the theocratic absurdity of presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee’s suggestion that the Constitution should be based on the Bible.) The Bible might be, in effect, an individual’s “constitution,” but, to coin a phrase, the Constitution must be the Court’s “bible.”
- Anyone stopping or even interfering with an abortion seeker in securing an abortion is guilty of violating a civil right just as much as someone prohibiting a woman from voting or a black from restaurant service.
- No one, due to their finding abortion heinous or immoral, has the right to suspend a civil right, though they do have the right to raise their pens and voices in moral persuasion.
- Abortions by Planned Parenthood have never been found to be illegal within the meaning of the Court’s language. That can be changed, but only by a later set of justices—not impossible, but neither predictable nor easy.
- Planned Parenthood, instead of destroying aborted whole or parts of fetuses, made them available to research organizations in pursuit of medical findings that might help others. They did so at cost, not to raise funds beyond cost. Persons who find the research use of deceased body parts unacceptable have not to my knowledge complained about other medical establishments doing the same thing, just not with fetuses. If distaste, disturbing empathic feature, or “yuk” factor is a reason for declaring illegality, much of medicine and medical research would be lost.
- If Planned Parenthood’s actions are illegal (e.g., selling fetal parts above costs), the usual undramatic law enforcement process is available, augmented by cost accountants. That is hardly a matter of national debate, much less a part of choosing a presidential hopeful, or a Congressional inquiry.
- Republican candidates have not only spread lies about this issue (Carley Fiorina comes to mind), but have done their part in misrepresenting the Constitutional aspects. They can do that safely and even politically profitably because great numbers of Americans really don’t care whether alleged “facts” are true or whether the roles of courts and legislatures are intentionally misstated by candidates…and these Americans are not all Republicans.
Consequently, a Congressional composition not known for getting important things done at the best of times is about to institute hearings about what happens in Planned Parenthood agencies. Given the whipped up furor around an already emotional issue, hearings by politicians cannot be expected to avoid grandstanding, twisted “facts,” and political posturing galore, all further depressing the sadly low Congressional IQ. On the upside, they might learn that abortion is a small part of Planned Parenthood’s operation and that Planned Parenthood renders a broad health service to women otherwise hard to find in many parts of the country.
What they will not learn is that having a Congressional inquiry either of (a) whether there are violations of law that a political committee is ill-designed to deal with or (b) whether things occurred that, without running into a Constitutional barrier, are odious enough that they should be against the law. The latter, you’ll notice, is an indictment of the law and, therefore, of Congress, not of Planned Parenthood.
The Planned Parenthood sideshow by (mostly) conservative politicians, editorialists, pundits, and befuddled partisans is shameful and unethical, furthering more deterioration of an America founded with so much wisdom and thoughtfulness.