Let's Discuss Something Light and Consequence Free

Abortion Rights

Okay, I know, I know that I said we wouldn't talk politics on this site. And, generally, we don't. Occasionally, though, a topic comes up that I feel like we need to address (such as fixing the U.S. election system or guns and the NRA). These are topics that, for whatever reason, have come to the forefront of modern society, issues that we really should address. Because of Georgia, Ohio, and now Alabama, abortion rights have become a major topic of discussion Online.

That said, before we get into this topic I feel like I should state something clearly: I'm a dude. I was born a dude, I identify as a dude, and I've always been a dude. Clearly, as that would imply, I do not have a uterus. What happens to a uterus -- the health care required by owning a uterus, the things that grown within a uterus -- should be decided by someone that actually possesses that organ. I do not have one so I've never felt like my opinion should count the same as someone that does. If I were a political figure, someone serving in elected office, I would vote the way my constituents felt I should vote, an on this topic my "constituents" would be "anyone that had a uterus".

Note that while polling on abortion rights is evenly split currently (last poll I saw was 47% for and against, 6% undecided), when polling is done just of women (those who possess uteri), the numbers go up (general in the 60/40 range, although of course you can find polls in either direction, which is why averages are important in polling). But that's just a question of "is abortion right or wrong". For all of the U.S., 70% support Roe v. Wade, meaning that when the question is in general, people state their opinion, but when it comes to protecting specific rights, people are much more favorable towards it.

Now, this article isn't about saying someone is right or wrong for thinking abortion should be protected or not. There are any number of reasons you could be for or against, and some of it does come back to religious beliefs. It's a nuanced discussion and two people could be given the same points about it and come away with different opinions. Heck, I'm pro choice myself but that's in the discuss of, "in general, do you think this should be legal?" If I were to actually have to make that decision myself (naturally because, in this hypothetical, I had a uterus) I probably wouldn't choose to have an abortion.

Of course, that's the whole point and the reason why those on the left call themselves "pro choice". The right say they're "pro life" which makes it sound like the otherwise is "pro death", but it's more about making sure the choice is secured for every American. It's really about "pro choice" and "pro lack of choice". Where you stand on the matter should come down to that.

But let's say this becomes a moot point because, somewhere down the road, any one of these new state laws makes its way to the Supreme Court and, due to the fact that the Republicans took over two seats recently (opinion about how "right" this was will be reserved for a different discussion down the road), Roe v. Wade is nullified. In, presumably, a 5/4 decision along party lines the court decides to uphold one or all of these laws, what happens next?

Well, for many states nothing happens. The "blue" states (all the Democratic strongholds) will continue to support abortion rights. Some may pass laws ensuring it's legal (if they haven't already) while others will simply continue operating as if Roe v Wade were still on the books. This can happen because the Supreme Court votes on the cases in front of them, but they don't make entirely new laws. If a state law ends up there (let's say Alabama's super restrictive law) the court will rule on whether that law is legal or not. Put another way, the Court will rule if a state is legally allowed to make more restrictive laws about abortion than the U.S. government has. That's all they can do. They don't write laws so they can't say "this must go on the books", they can just overturn past decisions and laws.

What it will mean is that each state would be allowed to set their own laws so red states would put super restrictive laws on the books and blue states would keep the system they currently have or relax the laws further. Depending on the phrasing of the decision the Court makes, both the red and blue states would be able to defend their position and, for a decent portion of the country, abortion would remain protected (just at the state level). Of course, this state of affairs would occur because the federal government would have to pass a new abortion law one way or the other, and any law about the topic would fail to get through the U.S. Senate because neither side could overcome a 60 vote filibuster majority.

Bear in mind there are a number of states that don't have the "trifecta" (both sides of the legislature as well as the governor) so even if some purple-red states wanted to pass more restrictive bills, those likely wouldn't go through and, on the same side, purple-blue states would be unable to pass less-restrictive laws than what was granted by Roe v. Wade, so for a solid portion of the country Roe v. Wade (or something even less restrictive) would be on the books.

What that leaves us with the red states and, here, yes, abortion rights would basically be stripped from women (aka, uterus owners). This would make it harder for women to get abortions within the state, but it wouldn't preclude women going out of state to get one. Some have interpreted the Alabama law to say women would be punished for getting an abortion out of state but that's not the case -- the law states that doctors would be punished (women would only run foul of the law if they refuse to testify, which is a different matter). If they get an abortion out of state the doctor there would technically be on the hook, but a state can't punish someone for something that happens in a different state -- that's the purview of the federal government, and as well discussed above, the fed is tied up right now.

Of course, then there's the real hypothetical: what if Mitch McConnell, leader of the U.S. Senate, decides to abolish the filibuster He could do this, put that option up for a vote. I doubt he would, though. I mean, it's possible, but if he did that and the Democrats later took over the Senate (something that could happen in two years but, with the slate of elections coming up, is more likely by 2022, depending on who is president and how all that shakes out) the filibuster would be gone for good. Then who would stop the Dems from putting through gun control bills, universal health care, free college for all, and all the other blue team bugaboos the red team hates? So yeah, while this is a possibility, I'd bank on it being a slim one.

So here is the point where we discuss what should happen instead. If the goal of the Republican party is really to stop abortions, the best thing they could do is become the pro birth control, pro sex ed party. These are topics that are antithetical to religious sections of the conservative community, but better sex education followed by birth control and health care have shown marked reductions in pregnancy rates. If Reps really want to see (as they put it) "no more dead babies", that's how you get it: by helping women get the health care they need and the education to understand their own bodies and their options. Sadly, that's about as likely to happen as the Republicans suddenly deciding abortion is a-okay.