Abortion laws struck down again: The perpetual stalemate continues

The never ending debate over abortion rights

WASHINGTON, September 5, 2014 — With the Courts intervening to halt the implementation of recently enacted abortion laws in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana,  and Mississippi, Americans are certain to see yet another unproductive round of the pro-life versus pro-choice drama.

Abortion is a tragic, unnatural end to a life, but some right to abortion exists in many countries, including the United States, because a variety of situations push women to such a decision.

While legitimate reasons do support the need for legalized abortions, banning abortions would allow government to intrude upon the reproductive rights of individuals and place politicians in control of an individual’s healthcare needs.

One unfortunate aspects of women’s issues such as abortion is that they are often considered just women’s issues instead of social issues because they most immediately impact women. Women’s issues, however, broadly affect society, making them a concern of both women and men.

Little has been done to define what the rights to abortion are. Roe v. Wade and other cases peripherally established that there are such a thing as abortion rights, via privacy, but failed to specifically address the question of abortion.

The Courts have refused to establish that an absolute right to abortion exists. There has been little successful legislation that defines the extent of abortion rights. Instead, legislators tend to use abortion legislation to push their ideological agenda for or against abortion instead of defining what abortion rights exist.

The Courts have been the only government branch to properly address the issue of abortion, yet they cannot lawfully legislate from the bench. The Constitution only allows the Courts to decide if a freedom, whether enumerated in the Constitution or not, has been violated by the passage or unfair application of legislation.

The challenge that comes with issues such as abortion is that legislators have not been able to successful create legislation which defines these rights without violating the Constitutional rights of individuals. The difficulty stems from the fact that there is no true debate between those who are pro-abortion and those who are anti-abortion.

Instead, the nation is caught in a power struggle between those who are “pro-life” and those who are “pro-choice,” thus preventing a coherent legal solution from being reached.

The pro-life stance is a moral position, which frames the issue of abortion in terms of belief and ethics. The Constitution does not require legislators to aspire to a burden of proof or reason, as legislation can simply be created out of moral standards that society espouses, e.g. the Eighteenth Amendment and the sodomy laws involved in the US Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick.

The U.S. is a democracy and the majority opinion rules so long as it does not infringe upon the freedoms and rights of the dissenters. Meanwhile, even this requirement can be circumvented if there is a compelling State interest to create narrowly tailored legislation that limits an individual’s freedom. That said, moral quarrels tend to be unsurpassable as people’s beliefs are almost impossible to change through argument, thus finding a legal solution for abortion consistent with the moral character of the US and individual States would be nearly impossible.

Moral based abortion legislation will likely always fail to protect those who are raped or in need of medical treatment. Therefore, a law based on a weak moral argument is likely to be ruled as infringing upon someone’s rights without a clear state interest. This is why the Courts often rule against legislation designed by religious pro-life legislators.

Laws that afford unborn fetuses legal rights where murderers can be charged for the death of a pregnant woman in addition to her fetus demonstrate a fetus does have legal rights, but legislation focusing on defining the beginning of viable human life is weak as a clear concise definition does not exist.

Consequently, legislators must move away from moral reasoning and deal with abortion in terms of balancing legal rights. Otherwise, the nation will be stuck in a conflict that cannot be resolved.

Looking at the extreme pro-choice stance, it is a position that argues an individual should be given the opportunity to undergo an abortion procedure without legal interference. This view frames the issue more as a conflict of individual rights versus state interests, which makes it a better legal question as law revolves around the balance of freedoms and protections. As such, a debate on choice provides for a stronger legal argument than a pro-life argument.

Under the framework of pro-choice, the alternative is anti-choice, which implies government intrusion that strips women of their rights.

Framing the debate as pro-abortion versus anti-abortion, however, makes the pro-life stance far more persuasive given the negative connotation of being pro-abortion while shifting pro-life argument to a legal one. Under such a debate, a victim of rape would retain the right to choose an abortion as her pregnancy was not a choice. After all, the Law must protect such rights of victims. On the other hand, a woman who engages in consensual sexual intercourse may not have the same protections.

Furthermore, the debate needs to focus on what types of abortions should be lawful and whether women who choose to engage in consensual sexual intercourse have the right to terminate their pregnancies. This debate becomes even more complicated when a pregnant female is under the age of eighteen. Her rights are under special restrictions, yet a pregnancy is most likely to impact her life more negatively.

When a woman’s life is endangered by a pregnancy, as another example, the woman, the father of the child, and her doctors must be able to make a decision on a necessary medical procedure.

This means that abortion as a life saving medical procedure is an ethical concern of medical professionals that must stand apart from the general abortion debate. As for cases of birth defects, the debate must focus on the available options and the ethical conditions under which an abortion is legitimate. These examples, among many others including a father’s right to choose, demonstrate the abortion issue is not simply one debate, but rather, a string of debates. In accordance, the abortion debate must move on from its current polarized stalemate to a series of discussions that address each aspect of the abortion issue.

Furthermore, the debate over abortion rights is truly a band-aid issue that takes the focus away from deeper social issues behind the need for abortions. America as a community needs to work on the issues that create the need for abortions while debating the issue of abortion. Poverty, unstable living conditions, lack of access to birth control for adults, poor relationships, and social pressure leading individuals to view pregnancy as a negative condition need to be addressed.

For young adults, teens, and preteens, engaging in sexual behavior can negatively affect their lives in ways beyond pregnancy, including the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and emotional stress. Social pressure strongly shapes their behaviors as well as views on when and what type of sexual behavior is appropriate. Society needs to clarify when sexual behavior is appropriate and responsible.

Appropriate and responsible does not necessarily mean with the use of a condom or under the condition of marriage, though a marriage-like relationship would be ideal. America’s attitude on sex needs to be far more open and responsible. Through their language and actions, adults too often equate love with sex while young adults and teens are often left feeling emotionally detached from the world, thus America encourages the behaviors that lead to the need for abortion.

There are many issues that connect to abortion, but abortion will not solve these issues for many individuals. On the other hand, efforts to bar abortion are simply perpetuating the stalemate between pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists.

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