About two years ago, in the Italian restaurant Zucco’s restaurant, I was sitting with my parents who were visiting me and we ended up next to this married couple having a night out. Conversation happened and the man told me something that has stuck with me ever since.
“If you’re young and not liberal, you have no heart and if you’re old and not conservative, you have no brains.”
This isn’t an indictment of either political view, but more of a joke to show how many people go from being radicals wanting to change the world to statue figures trying not to screw it up as they grow older.
Things change as we all get older. Our experiences and our attitudes modify and edit over time as we find deeper enlightenment. As we look at every point of view, we get a clearer picture.
Only with my experience when it comes to abortion, the clearer the picture gets, the more distorted the reality is with hypocrisies. The further the darkness goes under layer and layer of truth. The latest Supreme Court decision: Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a 5-3 decision that, simply put, will keep the clinics open.
The conservative majority of Texas is obviously unhappy, since their backdoor attempt to minimize abortion has been undercut. The liberals of the world are happy for this victory in the women’s rights and pro-choice movement.
The decision by the court was the right one. Roe vs. Wade is the law of the land and to allow states to use subterfuge and circumvent it would be detrimental to the authority of the Supreme Court. Yet when I find myself saying it was the right choice, I have this nagging feeling where I wonder. Is it really?
It is easier for a man to avoid the abortion topic. Don’t be stupid, use birth control techniques and then the topic will never reach you. As a younger man, I always stuck with the interpretation of the law. I was able to compartmentalize a fetus from a baby. I was able to stick to the written text, the words on the pages of the legal books that we abide by.
Roe v. Wade established the framework of the idea that fetuses up to a certain age cannot be considered as human beings with a right to life because they are incapable of fetal viability (life outside the uterus). Justice Harry Blackmun did extensive research so that he could get this right and ruled that an abortion is legal in the first trimester until that fetal liability at which an abortion could become legal under extenuating circumstances (life in danger etc.).
Planned Parenthood v. Casey modified the ruling as further medical research showed that fetal viability can be obtained after 22-23 weeks instead of the original 28 that Blackmun had written.
That is where they left it, that was the last word; the final word in my eyes. It’s the Supreme Court for crying out loud. It’s even believable from that point of view. Why should a woman be forced to subjugate her body to what is basically a parasite? Hormonal and weight fluctuations, cravings, morning sickness, financial expenses and then the eventual pain or scar that comes with delivering or having a C-section…why should they have to go through it? It’s sexist to sentence them to that albeit it’s really nature to blame that only women give birth in the human race. As a person who is for women’s rights (equal wages, benefits, job opportunities and what not), it was easy for me to believe it’s her right to choose and leave it at that.
I still do believe it’s a woman’s right in party honestly, but it’s more complicated than that now because as time went on, I couldn’t ignore the key fact that to say it’s only a woman’s issue is to disregard the idea that a fetus is well…alive.
As I surveyed my world over the last few years, I saw my friends have babies. My sister gave me a nephew. I found myself wondering if I’d be good at holding a little slightly hyper (or even chaotic) boy’s hand as we walked in the park and asked me endless questions. Or listening to a girl who wants the latest fashion sense so she and her friends can be cool. Or either one when they want to start driving etc.
My sister was five months pregnant when I first saw her with my nephew. I didn’t even see him and I loved him. I made sure to only shoulder hug my sister, I joked about giving him Stephen for a middle name, I wanted to do cartwheels and shout to the streets that my sister was going to have a baby (I can’t imagine what I’ll do if I ever have offspring) and looking back on it, Connor was still only five-ish months along. He was maybe still shy of that “fetal viability” mark that PP v. Casey had set. Definitely short of the Roe v. Wade mark set originally by Blackmun.
Yet, here I am…he’s as real to me as if I’m holding him. I’m already planning to buy him so many books so I can read to him. I want to be that favorite uncle who he’s excited to see and at this point, it’s not sure if he even has a “right to life,” and I realize now that this whole fetal viability thing is excrement. We’re not talking about a potted plant; this is a growing human being.
Then my mind wanders and I can’t help but ask myself what would happen if I got a white elephant. * What would I want to do. Not just what she would want to do, but what I’d want to do too. I pretended that I had a say despite what the Supreme Court might think.
And I realize I can’t do it. I can’t bear the idea of going to a doctor’s office, fixing this situation like it was a virus or bacterial infection, and then go home hunky dory with the decision. I was horrified when a woman on a Facebook post called a fetus just a few cells. Because those aren’t just cells. That’s a future baby that’s going to grow and be born. This isn’t a pimple to be scraped off. It’s her choice, but I’d beg her to let me be a single dad first (which is a whole other boatload of scary right there for another time).
I realize that I am anti-abortion. I am pro-life. Am I anti-women’s’ rights? No. I’m confused as to how I’m a suppressor of women because I find life sacred. In fact, there is absolutely nothing in the constitution that supports the right to an abortion. There is more reference to abortion in a Hemingway short story* than there is in the constitution.
If we look at the core dissenting opinions of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia in Roe v. Wade, PP v. Casey and even Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, we’d find that because the constitution doesn’t reference it, they felt Supreme Court should ideally stay out of it and let the individual states make the decisions or pass a constitutional amendment that they can work with.
An excerpt of Thomas’s dissent provided by CNN.com: “The Court has simultaneously transformed judicially created rights like the right to abortion into preferred constitutional rights, while disfavoring many of the rights actually enumerated in the Constitution.” Thomas wrote. Roe v. Wade was created out of the implicit right from the 14th amendment right to privacy and the Supreme Court has been creating essentially near-irreversible legislation with these implicit rights rather than leaving it up to the people to decide what we feel should be legal. So while this is a victory for pro-choice, I’m not sure how much of a victory it is for democracy. But hey, if we had pure “democracy” gay marriage wouldn’t be around and that’s something that I do feel is right (although, I wish it hadn’t taken the Supreme Court to make it happen).
Also, the conservative pro-life crowd is not completely right. Heck no, hardcore Christian conservatives are among the biggest hypocrites of the world. They’ll scream of sin from their high horses while ignoring Christ’s teachings. They’ll care about a baby being born, but do almost nothing in terms of making sure the baby has a good life. So many children are in the overworked, understaffed, and disorganized foster care systems that pessimistic women have more reason to abort their pregnancies. Better to die than to give it up for adoption which could be a sentence.
These same Bible thumpers will cry no abortion, but also won’t allow quality sex education and birth control to teens (a significant portion of women seeking abortions). Their stance is they don’t want to encourage the “sinful” behavior that leads to procreation. Yeah, 17-year-olds shouldn’t be doing what makes babies. Well crooks shouldn’t have guns. You strive for the ideal, but you adjust to the reality. Reality is that teens are going to be having sex and what they need is safeguards beyond their own self-discipline against raging hormones. Can’t expect teens to be adults when 21-year-olds are still developing in the brain.
This is where the conservatives protesting with their stupid signs outside clinics need to move their couch potatoes and get to work. Stop the unwanted pregnancies with quality education and the ones that slip by, maybe convince (not coerce) them that going through nine months and that labor is worth it because that baby can have a great life after making a quality foster care system.
There’s not enough options for women. The idea that women should go through unwanted pregnancies is wrong and I don’t buy into the “too bad for you” mentality some pro-lifers have. But killing a child whether it’s called a fetus or a bunch of cells is wrong too. I’d be completely fine with abortions if the definition meant transplanting the baby into some scientific compartment, say a giant tube where it could artificially grow and survive. Yeah, I’m going sci-fi in this, but the point is made. A way to where that baby is alive and the woman isn’t cuffed to an unwanted pregnancy is the medium I support.
If science could discover this medium, then there can be another middle. A compromise. For every penny spent on arts and crafts bull, conservatives could be supporting active research into fetal extraction. It may be a pipe dream, but this is America where dreams come true. The liberals could help out too, but I wonder how many hardcore feminists just don’t care. They want to be in the absolute right and would object to say that extracting a fetus is still an invasion of privacy. Their liberal leaders they support would also object. Many of the conservative leaders are gaining too much support from fighting a losing battle and they’d rather not lose that because they find ways to make money off it. Members of both sides don’t want a compromise or an in between because then they can’t use it to stir up the public anymore and push their agendas.
So what’s really right? What’s really wrong? Should the majority undo the minority? Is the Supreme Court right? They’ve been wrong before (see Dred Scott decision). Is it right to leave it up to the states? I’m not so sure.
What I’m sure of is that the decision yesterday was right if you accept Roe v. Wade and I reject the idea that abortion is the right choice. So it is through this decision that I learn that even after seeing things clearly, I can still be shrouded in questions and mixed emotions about a subject.
Editor’s Note: The white elephant is the symbol of an unwanted gift and there is a Hemingway short story called “Hills like White Elephants”