A Brief Note on Abortion Discussions
I am tired of every subject on this blog being compared to abortion. Seamless Garment folks believe that all life issues should be judged the same. I respect this view and once held it, but have already noted why I think that the differences between abortion, war, the death penalty, euthanasia, etc. are at least as important as the similarities. My core conviction is not “life” but human personhood. You may disagree with that.
But I am tired of every subject, from war to torture, etc. being used by some commenters to try to turn things back to a discussion of abortion. Quit it. If it keeps up, I will start banning those engaging in this tactic.
I may be wrong in my reluctantly and narrowly pro-choice position. But you will not convince me by trying to bring it up at every opportunity. Instead, all you will do is make me unwilling to engage you on ANY subject. That’s what “one-note-charlie” folks don’t seem to understand. You lose more people than you gain by such tactics.
Even when I considered myself a seamless garment person, I did not consider abortion to be THE issue that overrides all others. I did not and do not agree with picking judges and SCOTUS justices based on the likelihood that they will or will not overturn <i>Roe v. Wade</i> because of my experience that most judges who oppose <i>Roe</i> also have far right views on numerous other legal matters–and they are rightwing judicial activists who attempt to turn back the legal clock on numerous matters. So, when I did oppose <i>Roe</i>, I believed that it should be overturned not by stacking the SCOTUS with far-right ideologues like the late Chief Justice Renquist (a racist who believed that <i>Brown v. Board of Education</i> had been wrongly decided), and justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts (who clearly lied in his senate testimony), but by amending the Constitution. That would ban abortion while not radically disturbing 50+ years of legal precedent.
I also am increasingly of the opinion that the Republican ESTABLISHMENT (as opposed to the GOP grassroots) is not really interested in banning abortion. They just want to raise money on the issue and use the issue as a wedge in campaigns. From 2001 to 2006, the GOP controlled all 3 branches of the U.S. government, but made ZERO efforts to overturn <i>Roe v. Wade</i>.
Just as Democrats knew that any justice nominated by Pres. Bush would be conservative and pro-life and could only work to try to get the best nominee possible within such a framework, so Republicans HAD to know that Obama would appoint a pro-choice justice for SCOTUS. It was a foregone conclusion. It also does not change the dynamics of the court on this issue. You still have four (4) strong justices against abortion (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito) and four (4) strong justices for upholding <i>Roe v. Wade</i> (Ginsburg, Breyer, Stevens, and Sotomayor) and one swing vote (Kennedy) who is more conservative than liberal. With a good case, anti-abortion choice folks could now, just as for the last 9 years, overturn <i>Roe v. Wade</i> on a 5-4 ruling. So, why aren’t they trying? Sotomayor’s nomination changes nothing in this regard. (Nor is any Obama nomination in this 4 year term likely to do so since the other justices who might retire this term, Stevens & Ginsburg, are already on the liberal side. Only if one of the conservative justices retire–and they are relatively young and most in good health–is any Obama pick going to make ANY difference on <i>Roe v. Wade</i>. That would NOT have been the case if John McCain had won last November, however. My guess is that no conservative justice will retire until 2012 at the earliest and then it is likely to be either Kennedy, the eldest of the conservatives, or Thomas, who simply does not look in good health and who does not seem to like the work anymore. )
P.S. Regarding Judge Sotomayor, it is probably pro-choicers who should ask more questions at her hearing. She has ruled on only 1 case regarding abortion (Center for Reproductive Policy v. Bush 2002) and, in it, she UPHELD the Bush-era “Mexico City Rule” that refused government funding to international relief and aid groups that funded abortions. Judge Sotomayor ruled that this policy did not violate the constitution’s equal protection clause because “the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position and can do so with public funds.” This is hardly a ruling that would thrill members of the National Abortion Rights Action League or the ACLU’s section on reproductive choice. One ruling does not show an overall attitude toward abortion, but it shows that anti-abortion groups have more reason to be cautiously optimistic about this nominee than do pro-choice groups.
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