Texas Abortion Law: This Is A Good Thing

Even its proponents will often be compelled to admit: This is a strange type of law.

There’s precedent for granting bounties to private citizens, and it’s very probably lawful to use the civil courts instead of criminal for enforcement in this or a similar fashion. Even if it’s not, centering a counter-argument on this point is an error anyway. Those who invented the bill in the first place are attempting to choose the ground for the next fight over what is effectively a “heartbeat law” on abortion.

Just so we can get it out of the way up front: The Not Fake News has no official stance on abortion. That’s not our place. We’re here to discuss issues, not take moral stands. When there’s a clear right and wrong, an editor might take such a stand in an opinion piece. This editor’s opinion is that abortion is presently legal and limited in the United States, and that it’s up to the citizens to determine where the limits should lie. SCOTUS has ruled, and now it’s up to Congress to change the law if they wish — or not. It’s up to each state to further define — or not.

And if Congress or a state legislature should pass a law against the will of the people, they can face the consequences of their action.

That this is a foolish move by Texas Republicans, one that will stir up a massive national reaction against their party, is plain to any but the meanest intellect, and hardly worth discussing. That the upcoming elections will swiftly convey the will of the residents of Texas to their legislature is self-evident. Likewise, we all know that both national parties will fundraise based in part on this, and a battle that’s been over for fifty years will once again be re-fought to a pointless draw during midterm elections. In the end, there will be no permanent change.

At a time when we could be discussing healthcare reform, universal basic income, free housing, and the looming collapse of both Social Security and Medicare, instead the national dialogue is focusing on something we all pretty much agree on. It’s absurd.

So why is this a good thing?

First, believe it or not, this is timely. In Roe v. Wade, a decision was made that the state has a very limited right to invade the privacy — and especially the person — of any human being. The rights of a prospective mother supersede those of an unborn child within certain limits. By extension, the same decision protects citizens from being compelled to take experimental injections; an identical principle applies, exactly as far as the rights of other human beings to live. Since the right to life is more important (in general) than the right to travel freely, but both rights are extremely important, there’s a dividing line that needs to be defined.

Second, this definition is long overdue. One would think Democrats would be opposed to forced injections if they’re opposed to forced pregnancy. One would think Libertarian-leaning Republicans, with all their rhetoric about personal freedom, would be as opposed to forced pregnancy as forced injections. And yet, the authoritarian moralists of each party are in fervent opposition to their own partisan principles on these two issues. This is an unnatural state of affairs, and a correction is inevitable.

Third, the Texas law cannot possibly stand. Already, such disparate entities as the ACLU and the Satanists have begun lawsuits and sought injunctions — the Satanic Temple on grounds of religious freedom. The present state of the public will — something that nearly eighty percent of voters agree on — is that abortion should be permitted at time of need, restricted when the fetus is a viable infant in all but geography, and debatable in between. Any merely state-level law that arbitrarily defines personhood as beginning at the first detectable heartbeat is too early for the reasonableness test, and is certainly invasive of privacy — the very question on which the Roe decision initially hinged.

If this pointless and ultimately futile debate is ever to be set to rest, we need these questions to arise from time to time so that the collective will of the people can express itself, and so that the state of our present law can be further defined. If, as I confidently expect, the courts of Texas strike down the new law as unconstitutional, Texas voters will nevertheless weigh in with their opinions, either reaffirming their faith in their legislature or acting to remove them. If not, the decision will pass up the chain, and again the voters will make their choice.

If SCOTUS gets the case, they will decide — again, likely striking down the law as intrinsically unconstitutional. If they do not, it will be incumbent on the American people to explain to Congress in a manner that cannot possibly be misunderstood that their will is paramount. At that time, Congress will pass a law defining the personhood of a fetus — a law which is, again, long overdue. This is true regardless of any one person’s opinion of the matter at hand, or their understanding of the will of the people.

That’s how democracy works. It’s how a republic like ours was designed to work.

And that makes it a good thing.

(PS: Republicans — If you have any dreams about retaining political relevance going forward, take note of the will of the people.)


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NOTE: Leading image was shamelessly stolen from OutsideTheBeltway.com, which hosts an excellent article on a more general version of this issue entitled “Is Texas Undemocratic?” I’d urge you to read it, if only because it’s such a good graphic.

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