Sunday, September 07, 2008

Musings on the Abortion Debate

I have heard this pro-Obama ad on WOMX a couple of times in the last few days. The first time was Thursday afternoon, after I left a lunch date with Outis and our long-time friend Cups in Dishwasher. As both are fairly strident conservatives, and Palin's speech had been the night before, we did discuss politics; so, hearing this ad immediately afterward started me thinking.

I've discussed my views on the abortion debate below (see paragraphs 7, 8 and 21 of the flashback). In a nutshell, I dislike that fact that abortions happen, but I really dislike the idea of the government making what are essentially religious and medical decisions for any woman.

In listening to this Obama ad, I realized that this exact same argument has been used during no fewer than six of the election cycles since the Roe v. Wade decision (1973). (I'm counting 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008; at the tender age of 37, I only vaguely remember 1980 and 1984 and don't remember 1976 at all.)

Oddly enough, in the 35 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, Republican presidents have been in office for 23 if them. This includes the last 7+ years under the that most evil of all evil Republicans, George W. Bush.

Now John McCain is the Republican nominee for President, and once again the Democrats trot out the old standard argument that McCain "will take away a woman's right to choose." Oh, please, can we not do that this year? Please?

John McCain is, by almost all accounts, the most liberal of high-profile Republicans. He's so non-conservative that he (apparently) almost switched parties in 2001. There were complaints early on in this campaign that he was too liberal to be worthy of the Republican nomination. The current belief is that McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate only because she would draw the conservative base back to his side.

Even if McCain is adamantly opposed to abortion, what action would we expect him to take that is more anti-abortion-oriented than any implemented by the evil George W. Bush? Does anyone still think that our esteemed Senate will confirm a Supreme Court justice if there is the slightest whiff of pro-life ideology about him/her?

Let's pretend that happens and Roe v. Wade is magically overturned after 35+ years. Now what? Like it or not, abortion rights are an entrenched part of modern American culture. I believe our politicans are motivated by self-preservation and will not act in any way that will cause them to lose their offices. (Just ask them how they feel about term limits.) I believe there are many, many people who would rally to elect politicans who promise to reinstate a pro-chouce policies if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Moreover, if the ruling is overturned at the federal level, I believe that most states will enact state laws allowing the procedure.

But again, what if abortion is outlawed? There has been a lot of effort expended over the years to protect patients' privacy with regard to their medical records and treatments. Although I don't think current HIPPA laws will specifically protect women who have abortions, I think it is easy to believe that additional laws would be enacted to expand those privacy rights, and those of doctors as well.

I believe that we have reached a point in this country where the abortion debate, as a matter of policy and law, is largely irrelevant. Of course, we the people will continue to disagree, passionately, about abortion, but I believe the political issue is dead, at least for now.

For this election cycle, can we please just drop the pretense that this is an issue? Can we please acknowledge that McCain is no more likely to take action than Bush? Can we please just be a little bit reasonable?


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