In order to avoid the issues that ensue upon professing a view on the topic, many, including myself, have hitherto remained hushed in regard to abortion. Like most, I have strong opinions on the issue of abortion. These opinions can spawn a great emotional reaction, some rooted in experience, and others in what they know, or what they think they know about abortion. The following elucidates the latter.
In March, highly controversial conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren was fired from The Blaze, an online media source founded by Glenn Beck. Lahren’s termination followed an appearance on “The View,” and the public announcement of her choice to identify as pro-life with regard to the issue of abortion. Since, Lahren has filed suit for wrongful termination. On the very same week, President Trump signed an Executive Order that subsequently overturned rules implemented by the Obama Administration, which protected federal funding for abortions through the services of Planned Parenthood and a number of other private organizations. Since these two events, the conversation surrounding the right to terminate pregnancy has rapidly burned about.
Let it go without saying that the argument that men do not have a seat at the table of discussion related to procreation is injudicious. Men are involved in the conception of the figure in question – even in cases of in vitro fertilization (IVF). How can we solve problems as a society if we only allow certain groups of individuals to speak upon those issues? Like many, I have struggled to find solid ground with my feelings on abortion, but I must remind you all that Republicans do not exist inside of a political monolith or vacuum of hot-button issues where we share one common opinion. We may have our youth to blame, or our education, but we will find that Millennials can offer a unique approach/perspective on social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and so on. For all intents and purposes, I hope that I am not alone in my journey to arrive at my own unique opinions on issues in the GOP platform. If anyone, be it a Liberal, Conservative, or Moderate, were to claim that they agree with every single agenda on their party’s platform without question, they’d be lying. There are perspectives with regard to the abortion issue that I agree with on both the pro-life and pro-choice sides (mainly with scenarios where rape have occurred). There is room to ask questions on both sides, and there is absolutely a place for both those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice in the Republican Party.
I can not stress enough the importance of staying away from a theological basis for arguments on either side when discussing abortion. Although I am a man of faith, I understand that the moment religion is used to serve as the base for an argument, arguments that follow suffer a great loss of value. Theological arguments are an overt indication that the person arguing for/against abortion is unable to make their argument with logical and factual data. You may agree with some of the following points, you may not. The beauty of this nation lies significantly in our ability to do just that.
In order to understand abortion, we must understand how the issue has moved through the courts, and how our Legislative and Judicial Branches have arrived at their current approaches. Great issue lies in the fact that Roe v. Wade seems to be the only case that people can cite when discussing abortion, totally disregarding the fact that there were a host of other cases that made their way through the courts, also affecting the structure of this highly controversial medical practice. Roe v. Wade was actually one of the first two cases that challenged restrictions on abortion. In Roe, the statute called into question the illegality of abortion in Texas in all cases except those in which the life of the mother was at risk. The Court held in Roe that there was a constitutional right to privacy and liberty that protected a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. The right to privacy was ultimately affirmed in Griswold v. Connecticut. Although the right is not expressly written, it is implied, as is the right to marry, right to have children, and right to receive an education. These implied rights are referred to as penumbras, or shadowy grey areas of constitutional amendments. Per Justice Blackmun’s majority opinion for Roe, only a compelling government interest could justify the enactment of state laws that limit a woman’s right to have an abortion. Let me make this very clear: The right to an abortion in Roe does not affirm the right to have government assistance in carrying out the procedure. Thus, there is technically no fundamental right to receive government funding for abortions.
Doe v. Bolton, the lesser-known case of the two, focused solely on a state statute in Georgia that allowed a woman to terminate her pregnancy when either her life or her health was in danger. The ruling in Doe was very much like that of Roe. Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion, determined that state regulations create procedural obstacles to abortion (ex: the requirement that an abortion be performed in a hospital, or be approved by two doctors), and that this statute ultimately violates a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. In the years that followed Roe and Doe, there were several issues that flooded courts as effects of the decision. These included questions regarding parental consent, spousal consent, and waiting periods for women seeking abortions.
The Court remained consistent in its affirmation of the three-tiered framework of Roe until a 5-4 decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services began eating away at the Court’s original decision. In Webster, the Court upheld a statute which barred public facilities from being used to conduct abortions and prohibited public health workers from performing abortions unless the life of the mother was at risk. The statute also defined “life” as beginning at conception, and directed physicians to perform fetal viability tests on women who were seeking abortions, that also happened to be 20 or more weeks pregnant.The framework in Roe survived the Webster case, but more significant alterations would come in the decision made in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. This case posed the question as to whether a state can require women who are seeking abortions to obtain informed consent, wait 24 hours, and, if minors, obtain parental consent without violating their right to abortions as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. What should be gathered from the Court’s holding in Casey is that the state may not infringe upon the right for a woman to undergo an abortion – pre-viability. The only provision not upheld in the case, which failed the undue burden test, was that of the notification of the baby’s father.
As I understand more about the procedural history of abortion and take the time to evaluate my own legal interpretations of the Constitution, I realize that I am pro-choice. Those who disagree with this particular stance must first reconcile their own legal interpretation of the historically controversial document. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the wording of the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment (the 14th has one too, but is only applicable to the states). The government was created to protect our natural rights to life, liberty, and property. We have a right to liberty – even those who infringe on the life or property of others. Our nation enacts laws that protect the fundamental right to life – not to make it legal for parents to take the innocent life of their child.
I fail to see the blurred lines that Tomi Lahren so clearly sees. Her justification for choosing to identify as pro-choice spawns from the argument that as a Republican, it is contradictory to advocate for limited government, but to also advocate for the government’s ability to regulate what medical procedures women can undergo. I would argue, without a doubt, that you can absolutely advocate for limited government and still identify as pro-life. Our founders, who also advocated for limited government (checks and balances), found that the sole purpose of the Federal government was to protect our unalienable rights, not to take them away. This is the reason that we broke away from British rule to become the United States in the first place. With that being said, each must come to their own conclusion as to whether affording a mother the right to take the life of her own child constitutes giving her the power to rid her child of his/her own unalienable rights.
There also lies great inadequacies within the argument that just because the infant is located inside of the mother’s womb, the mother reserves free reign to abort the child. Location does not determine your right to live, and if you believe that it does, familiarize yourself with Bush v. Boumediene. In Bush, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Bill of Rights and the Due Process Clause apply to those who do not live on U.S. soil. If our laws apply to people halfway around the world, why don’t they apply to a human being with a beating heart, right here in the United States? The “my body, my choice” argument is wholly weak.
If it is indeed, your body:
1. Should you have the right to sell it for sex?
Forty-nine states do not think so. The only state with laws in place allowing some form of prostitution is Nevada.
2. Should you be allowed to cut off your own arm?
If you did, you would find yourself in a psychiatric institution for self-mutilation or attempted suicide.
3. Should you be allowed to fill it with the narcotics of your choice, and should there be laws to protect your right to do so?
Our nation does not supply safe places for drug addicts to get high, nor should we be supplying clean needles. Every state in this nation has laws against this.
4. Should you have the right to marry ten men?
Polygamy is not legal in the United States.
5. Should you have the right to marry your child if you are both consenting adults?
No. Incestuous relationships are not legal.
Why do we have these laws? There are simply certain moral codes that are deemed acceptable or unacceptable in our society, even when they do pertain to your body.
I have a great deal of trouble with the reality that a young teenage girl can give birth in a high school bathroom, proceed to willingly discard of the infant’s body in a trashcan, and be charged with murder, yet, a physician can perform what is essentially the same act, with absolutely no criminal repercussions. The truth is that abortions have always been performed in some form or another, whether that be in a doctor’s office, or in a back alley with a coat hanger. However, the argument that we should make the practice legal throughout the nation because there are circumstances where they are completely necessary, such as rape or incest, is a gross exaggeration of fact. Between 2011 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), conducted a study on American abortions. Between these years, an average of 1.6 million abortions took place. The study determined that pregnancy caused by rape or incest accounts for less than 1% of abortions in this nation, which is 10,000 women at most. While we should not disregard these cases, public policy in this country is not based on fringe experiences. Instead, financial inadequacy serves as the most common reason cited by women for receiving an abortion at 21% (222,000 women). A discussion on female economic inadequacy would be more appropriate.
All life has value. As a parent, I could not imagine being forced to raise a child that is a constant reminder of the most horrific experience of my life. One thing that progressive Republicans like myself would like to hear from those who identify as pro-life, is that they are willing to promote adoption services as a solution or an alternative to abortion. It’s easy to tell someone to raise their child, but if they do not have the mental capacity or the financial stability to do so, should we not focus our efforts on working to aid them in finding a suitable set of guardians who can provide the child with the life that they deserve? Since 1980, there has been a steady decline in the number of abortions performed in the United States. By making access to adoption services more readily available, and accessible for both the birth mother and prospective parents, we would continue to see a decline in the number of abortions performed in the United States. In cases like this, unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to assess the personal responsibility involved.
—Andrew Logan Lawrence is a junior studying Political Science. He has previously served as Chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, works actively in campus reform, and is a former columnist for the Savannah Morning News. He is a frequent contributor to The Arch Conservative.