Rant: Abortion as a state’s rights issue

So I was listening to an episode of Speaking of Faith recently, where a conservative was discussing religion and politics (it was a sequel to an episode with a liberal doing the same thing), and the guy was all on about being pro-forced-birth (or “pro-life” as he put it) and saying abortion should be regulated by the states.
I’m used to hearing that, but this time it made me do a double-take.
I mean, let me get this straight. This guy thinks that abortion is murder, but thinks that states should be able to decide if they punish it or not.

So, what, the lil’ fetuses in places like California or New York don’t matter? This guy thinks states should be allowed to legalize what he calls murder? Because what, killing babies is okay as long as they’re liberal babies? Are babies suddenly made okay to murder because of where they’re conceived?
Now, I am a firm believer in access to legal, safe abortion (duh) and I say it must be legislated federally, because I know there are states that would legislate against it if they could and that is wrong. It’s kind of like how slavery had to be outlawed at a federal level. And anti-miscegenation laws had to be outlawed at a federal level. That sort of thing. Every pro-choicer I’ve met feels the same way.
Some things are too important to leave up to the states.
Apparently, this guy doesn’t think murdering babies is one of them!
… unless it isn’t really about the babies.
Which it isn’t, when it comes to abortion. To put the life of an unborn child higher than the wishes of its bearer and attempt to legislate that ranking means you view women as less-than, as things to be controlled. Remember that many anti-abortion activists can’t even come up with suitable penalties for women who get abortions — they just want to punish the doctors. Cos, yanno, it’s those big bad men who take action and do everything, not the women involved. (Don’t get me started on the pro-coathanger folks who get abortions themselves.)
I have no problem with people who choose not to abort their own unwanted babies (provided they actually take care of the kid and don’t expect me to babysit). They’re their bodies, their choices.
I have a problem with people who try to tell me that if I get pregnant in spite of my various preventative measures, I have to carry it to term. You can’t force me to donate blood or donate a kidney, but you want to force me to donate my whole damn body? (And if you think pregnancy doesn’t affect your whole body, in some cases permanently, I have some Googling you should do.)
I think not.
So ultimately, the whole “it’s a states’ rights issue!” excuse for overturning Roe v. Wade is just another piece of evidence that the “pro-lifers” spewing it aren’t really pro-life, they’re just anti-woman. Pro-forced-birth. Pro-coathanger.

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One Response to Rant: Abortion as a state’s rights issue

  1. Alex Summers says:

    “States’ Rights” is an issue that, it seems to me, is orthogonal to pretty much any policy issue. It’s like when people try to claim that the Civil War was about “states’ rights”; it’s only half a statement. You need to explain: state’s rights to do what? (Oh, states’ rights to legalize slavery. Hmm.)
    The only sensible discussion whether a particular issue is one of “states’ rights” must focus exclusively on issues of Constitutional law. It is a bedrock principle of American law (often honored more in the breach, I’ll admit) that any power not explicitly granted to the Federal government is retained by the states.
    So one can have a coherent discussion of whether a particular right is enumerated in the Constitution, but it has to be in the context of Constitutional law, or else it is just so much hand-waving.
    The example of abortion is a good one, because Roe v. Wade is a notoriously fuzzy decision (as even most of its supporters will admit–right result, but fuzzy way of getting to it). Opponents are fond of pointing out that it rests not on any particular text in the Constitution, but rather on the “penumbra” of rights guaranteed thereunder.
    I mean, it sounds fishy, doesn’t it? We’re supposed to limit the Federal government’s powers to what’s stated in the Constitution, then the Supreme Court tells us that there’s this vague, undefined extension of what’s written in there that they’re going to enforce just as strongly.
    But here’s the point that PFB’s avoid: the penumbra doctrine wasn’t invented out of whole cloth in Roe. It was based on a line of cases beginning with Griswold v. Connecticut, which were about the privacy rights of people to use birth control. I have yet to hear anyone explain (and I think it can’t be done) how one can overturn Roe without taking Griswold with it, and that would mean that not only could states legislate access to abortion, but also to birth control.
    Even most PFBs I’ve talked to balk at the idea that the state could outlaw birth control.