Tuesday, February 28, 2006

South Dakota - home of the brave...

The state of South Dakota seems to be set to pass a law that bans abortion in practically all circumstances. Dr Crippen has a thoughtful post that addresses the moral issues better than I can, but I do have a couple of thoughts on the issue.

The first is an echo of PJ on this: I can understand those who, from a Christian/moralist perspective are opposed to both the death penalty and abortion. I can understand (ish) those who, on utilitarian grounds, are in favour of both. I really struggle to understand the liberal viewpoint that the death penalty is immoral but abortion is a fundamental right. How do I stand on this issue? Very carefully indeed. I dislike the idea, the more so the more I think about it. I loathe the intellectual dishonesty entailed in the pro-abortion case. Natalie Solent has a good example. Some chap, trying to challenge the emotive term "partial-birth abortion" calls it "D&X". As Natalie says, this stands for "dilate and extract" - nice. Even the term "pro-choice" is a euphemism. If supporters of the right to abortion have the courage of their convictions, stopping hiding behind circumlocution would make the debate that bit more honest.

All this apart, the practical response is that this law is, as it stands, definitely unconstitutional. The passing of Roe v Wade explicitly makes obtaining an abortion a constitutional right. So this law will be challenged in the Supreme Court, and what will happen? First thing to point out is that Roe v Wade is a jurisprudential disaster. It contorts meaning, bends precedent and invents rights pertaining to an 'addumbration to a penumbra" of the constitution. It is unworthy of a great democracy and, whatever one's views on abortion, should be repealed as soon as possible.

I don't think it will be, though. Even though Roberts and Alito have steered the Supreme Court away from the policy of wide interpretation (the constitution as 'living document' so beloved of the Democrats), this battle may too soon for such a radical transformation of the American political scene. So look for a long, bruising and unsatisfactory legal battle over the spring, before a sullen return to the status quo ante.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tim J

I agree with you, it is difficult to see how one can be pro abortion and anti death penalty (which I am) and similarly (actually I find this even more diffiuclt) it is difficult to under stand the "pro-lifers" who favour the death penalty.

I thought a lot about it, and it is the reason I did the post you kindly reference. I try to justify how I got there; and I don't thing the justification is sophistry; I do not believe in moral absolutes, and I do believe in personal choice and personal principal. Superficially it looks like moral cherry picking, but that I think it is better than that.

But sure, a diffiuclt one.


3:59 pm  

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