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EMail I Sent Today (Memorial Day) to Alan Simpson

Dear Senator Simpson:

I think the last time I wrote to a sitting or former US Senator was maybe ten years ago.  And I have no idea if you’ll actually receive or read this.

I have long admired much about you.  Your bluntness and common sense are bright spots on a bleak political landscape.  Your search for sensible compromise on debt and deficits would put us on a course to fiscal sanity.  

But I would like to bluntly tell you that I find your continuing public comments about abortion to be simplistic at best, condescending and propagandistic at worse.  May I explain why?  You know that this one issue has riven this country for decades, and is the one issue that most cries out for an elevated and intelligent level of discussion.  And this goes double since it is quite literally a matter of life or death.  But I find your comments about it to be divisive and worse.

I saw you on TV a few days ago saying that abortion is horrible but it’s so intimate that men should not even vote about it.*  News flash: the pro-life movement would probably fall over itself with gratitude and admiration if you would obtain a constitutional amendment that places the issue in the hands of female voters and legislators exclusively.  That would be light years better than allowing five unelected and unaccountable lawyers of SCOTUS (mostly men by the way) to be the only ones in this country who vote and decide upon this issue, an issue which is not even remotely alluded to in the US Constitution as a limitation upon legislation.

Consider, if you will, a hypothetical.  Suppose that SCOTUS in 1973 had instead decided that an embryo is a “person” fully protected by the Equal Protection Clause, and therefore no citizens or legislators can vote on the subject given that the Constitution fully protects an embryo from laws that would allow abortion.  I don’t believe that SCOTUS should have done so, but suppose they did.  Would you still be declaring how you support the Court’s removal of this subject from the clutches of voters and legislators?  Of course you wouldn’t. The only reason why you blather that way now is because you happen to agree with the Court’s decision, and you want your personal opinion set in stone so that no one can ever change it.  In other words, Senator Simpson, if I were to employ your own refreshing habit of bluntness, I would find you to be grossly hypocritical on this issue.

As this is a matter of life and death, people like me will never shut up about it and kneel before … the US Supreme Court.

You are correct that it is a sensitive and delicate issue.  But your platitudes about privacy are unavailing.  If a man goes to the inner sanctum of his home, and there secretly tortures his child, you would be the first to endorse state intervention, would you not?  And if, as many people reasonably believe, the moment of birth does not magically convert an amorphous blob into a human being, then you have yet to justify such grossly disparate treatment of the man murdering his child versus the woman aborting her fetus.

My own view is that abortion should preferably be legal up until an embryo becomes a fetus (about seven weeks after conception).  But I have signed petitions that are more overprotective than that, because they are better than your complete opposition to any fetal protection whatsoever.

I also support applying the prior restraint doctrine to abortion, so that anyone can get a safe abortion, but can then subsequently be punished for it.  But these are matters that have not yet been decided by the American people, much less by the supermajority required for a constitutional amendment.

I will not expect you to actually follow through on your recent televised remark by supporting a constitutional amendment that gives this issue to this country’s women to decide.  I think it was just a slip of the tongue on your part.

I would not class you with the millions of … men who love abortion because it allows them to have sex without risking any child support payments.  But I would class you with the millions of people who blindly cannot see that women do have a choice when they decide whether or not to have sex.  I doubt you would ever let women vote on that question.

Sincerely,

Andrew Hyman

*Simpson said: “Abortion is a horrible thing, but for heaven’s sakes, a deeply intimate and personal decision and men legislators shouldn’t even be able to vote on it….”

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