We are caught in the middle of the abortion debate between extremists on both sides. In recent weeks, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. We can’t leave the abortion debate to those who shout the loudest. Most Americans believe that abortion should be legal, safe and rare. Chances are, you feel that way. I do. I don’t want abortion treated as if it’s a tooth extraction. Neither do I want our women to be forced by our government to carry a rapist’s baby to term.
I was almost convinced that the loosening of the abortion laws by the New York state legislature went too far. But then came Alabama, Georgia and other states with their insane abortion restrictions, and we learned that the extremists are not all liberals in New York or California. Like characters out of a Margaret Atwood novel, the loopy right-wing zealots in the Alabama legislature outdid themselves when they passed an abortion bill that bans abortions, even in the case of rape or incest. Henceforth, Alabama will be better known for its extreme abortion bill than it will be known for its football excellence. The point being that the Alabama law is really intended to force a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the “new” Supreme Court. You know — the court recast by Donald Trump in his own image. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joining the Court just in time to overturn Roe v. Wade, thus saving the lives of babies the far-right claim are being slaughtered by a godless America. You would never know that the rate of abortions in the U.S. continues to decline or that a recent Wall Street Journal poll finds that 71% of Americans FAVOR Roe v. Wade and that even 52% of Republicans support it. Alabama, lacking any sense of irony, titles its monstrosity of a law, “Human Life Protection.”
“Human life” apparently does not extend to women in the state of Alabama.
The Alabama law is so extreme that even President Trump thinks it goes too far. So does Pat Robertson. And so does the Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy. Republican politicians are running away from this Alabama law like it contains the measles virus and they can’t find any vaccine. Some believe the law is a reaction to what they consider liberally extreme laws in New York and California. But the same politicians are the Dr. Frankensteins who created the rationale for the Alabama law by falsely claiming that babies are being ripped from the womb in New York. You would think Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the attending physician.
Some need a reminder for some of the genesis that the hatred the Alabama law represents. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump was interviewed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Trump told Matthews that women seeking abortions should face some kind of “punishment.” That put our president even to the right of the Alabama legislature, which exempts women from any such punishment. Physicians performing abortions in Alabama would be guilty of a felony. To be fair, Trump recanted his call for punishing women soon after the Matthews interview. Even the most extreme pro-life politician is not brave enough to call for making women convicted felons in these instances. (But doctors? No problem.) Although who’s to say there’s not another state ready to do so?
Maybe in a frightening future, the nickname of Alabama’s football team, the “Crimson Tide,” will more appropriately be applied to the condition when women suffer from back-alley abortions. But not to worry because, as we’re told, this is really only about testing Roe v. Wade in the courts.
I agree with those who find that Roe v. Wade doesn’t and never did evolve from wording in the Constitution. You don’t have to be a legal scholar to realize that, conservative or liberal interpretation aside, the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court was pure legal fantasy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is right when she calls for reproductive rights for women to be codified into law. Women should not be held hostage by religious zealots and the right-wing politicians who curry their favor. Nor should they need to depend on courts to uphold what should be their basic rights. And no viable fetus should be left without protection. No fetus should be aborted because it was born with Down syndrome.
Daily News columnist Christine Flowers writes that we must dispense with the niceties of, “Can’t we all just get along.” Flowers calls the fight for the right to life “war.” No, America does not need another reason to divide itself. We don’t need another “war.” What we need is compromise. Abortion is one issue where there ARE good people on both sides of the debate. Neither side has a monopoly on moral virtue. Compromise will not satisfy everyone. In fact, it will make a lot of folks on both sides of the issue unhappy. That’s what good compromises tend to do. The seeds of a compromise are contained in the Roe v. Wade decision supported by more than two-thirds of Americans. It needs be codified into law.
Access to affordable and effective contraception is a key. Eliminate most unwanted pregnancies and you eliminate most reasons for abortion.
Abortions should be safe. Legal. Rare.
Save us from the true believers.