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Prince Amir Al Saud

Abortion in Politics

Abortion in Politics

 

What is the value of human life? In 1973 Roe V. Wade was a landmark decision approved by the United States’ Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions. The Court ruled that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life [1]. The legalization of abortion in the United States by the Supreme Court bypassed the political process in the majority of the states. Since then, however, political controversy and agitation in relation to abortion has become nationwide. Abortion is now separated into camps of pro and con, part of the platform of both political parties. The abortion debate is intractable at this time because the two major political parties in the United States exploit this issue to pursue electoral majorities. Republicans use the abortion issue to forge coalitions with right-wing, conservative and fundamentalist Christian voters. Democrats use it to attract women, liberal, or college educated voters. Neither party will risk modifying their rigid positions for fear of separating the constituencies that the abortion issue has helped attract.

With a Republican-controlled Congress at his back on this issue,President Trump has cemented his turnaround on abortion with a video address to the annual March to Life in which he signed legislation allowing states to withhold federal family planning dollars from clinics that provide abortion services. Additionally, Trump also has revived and expanded a ban on sending U.S. aid to groups overseas that provide abortion and family counselingto foreign nations. On Friday March 15, 2019the Georgia Senate approved what would be among the strictest abortion laws in the country on a party-line vote after more than four hours of debate. House Bill 481 would outlaw abortions once a doctor detects a heartbeat in the womb which is usually at about six to seven weeks into a pregnancy and before most women know they are with child.The bill makes exceptions for abortions in cases that involve rape or incest, on the condition that a woman files a police report first. It also excludes situations in which a physician has determined that a pregnancy is "medically futile" or that a "medical emergency exists" that could "prevent the death ... or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman”[4]. The sweeping nature of the Supreme Court's decisions leaves the opposition with very little room to restrict abortion, short of overturning the decisions through a constitutional amendment. Such an amendment requires a two-thirds majority of Congress therefore passage is unlikely.Unfortunately, restricting access to abortion options for the poor, the young, immigrants and minorities allow for a large gap in power over the right to choose for the most beneficial situation for both mother and child. Most progressives would say the abortion debate is intractable because it reflects this gap. In an effort to refute House Bill 481, about 50 entertainers have signed a letter in opposition to the State’s so called “heartbeat” anti-abortion bill. This letter was sent Thursday morning to Georgia’s House speaker David Ralston and Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp and states “This dangerous and deeply-flawed bill mimics many others which have already been deemed unconstitutional,” the letter states “As men who identify as small-government conservatives, we remind you that government is never bigger than when it is inside a woman’s body or in her doctor’s office. This bill would remove the possibility of women receiving reproductive healthcare before most even know they are pregnant and force many women to undergo unregulated, hidden procedures at great risk to their health”[4].Other opposes of the bill include The Medical Association of Georgia and the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians who attest that this type of stipulation is detrimental to the wellbeing of the community and is a national social injustice of women.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any relent to the argument of what is to be done regarding abortion in politics. This assessment begs the question of if there can be any consensus between conservative Christian and secular humanist values, and will likely remain a relevant topic until a fair and just balance can be agreed upon by both political sectors. As of yet, that balance is unforeseen.  Perhaps instead of attempting to quantify the value of an unborn human life, we should assess the moralities of our heart.

References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8274866

2. https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=24837

3. https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/abortion

4. https://www.npr.org/2019/03/30/708365446/georgias-uneasy-truce-on-abortion-ends

Article contributed by Mary Blake

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