Politics, Bismark was said to have declared, was the Art of the Possible.
Well, I guess that depends on which army you send out to enforce the "Possible".
Since 1973, after the debacle in Texas that resulted in the most wide-ranging and flawed Supreme Court decision ever, in which an anonymous and pregnant "Jane Roe" was plopped in front of the Justices like a cardboard standee, abortion-on-demand has been federal law in the United States.
We never voted on it, but there it is. An ever-expanding plurality of Americans, though, finds abortion to be a reprehensible, morally disfiguring practice, and for the first time, in 2007, nearly thirty five years later, a slim (although clear) majority of citizens want to see the law overturned.
But, as I say, it is the law of the land because seven oligarchs in black robes decided it would be the law. And they, with the instrumentalities of the entire federal leviathan hanging around to enforce their will, Roe v. Wade stands as the only "Politically Possible" outcome. Like the Obamacare nightmare forty years later, most people want significant changes to Roe, but, evidently, majority opinion doesn't have the sanctity and weight it once had in our fading Republic. We go for what's "Possible", you see.
Well, the only thing that seems possible after all these years (and 45 million murdered children later), is abortion absolutism. It's all or nothing, baby. The screeching hysterics on the side of abortion rights will stand for nothing less than the right of a mother to kill her child, up to and including, when she's gone into labor. Actually, that "right" had been extended beyond that (literally and figuratively), in some cases, to the "right" to murder her child once it's been delivered. We see this in the horrors of "partial birth" abortion, and the need to protect infants that have been born despite the best efforts to kill them with such legal maneuvers as the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act".
The grotesque and heinous knows no outer markers when you travel the roads of such willfully ignorant absolutism.
The absolutist argument could easily go well beyond it's current moorings, if we project down that road a tad. For example, we're often told that the "viability" of the baby to live outside the womb is the final arbiter of when a developing child is somehow fully human. I've always found this argument weird and questionable; I know some 30-year-olds that aren't fully viable--, they still depend on Mommy and Daddy to prop them up financially, materially, and spiritually. Should these slovenly reprobates be "aborted"?
Likewise, if a baby is born, and simply left alone on a changing table at the hospital, it will die. It isn't viable, either, in the sense that it can't just pop up, order a pizza, call a cab, and go home. It depends on adults for its every, solitary need. This is why we have the doctrines of the "age of reason". Children are children , dependent on their parents or other caregivers, in sum and in fine, for many years. Therefore, "viability" seems rather amorphous and rubbery, to me.
Can a parent then, according to the "viability" argument, be able to abjure to themselves, the right to murder their children (who are not really viable at all) at any time until they are 18? Or 26? (- now that 26 is the new definition of emancipated adulthood, thanks to the Obamacare rubric.)
This isn't a joke. Some medical ethicists (in a wildly ballooned definition of the term) have already posited that it isn't necessarily a bad thing to kill severely handicapped children, well past the dates of their births. And, without some sort of legal tether to rationality, the absolutism argument, at least from all that is simply logical, can know no boundaries. Truly. And, it is on this hill that those who seek to finally limit the vast number of abortions can stake their campaign.
William Rehnquist made a very significant, and very cogent, remark in his dissent in the Roe decision: He said that while a right to privacy may exist in the constitution, that privacy is abrogated, at least in part, when you stray outside the boundaries of the single, sovereign individual, and you drag another person into the framework-- as in the form of a doctor or abortionist. It can then no longer, by definition, be "private". There is another person in the room. You can make an argument that such decisions stray very easily into the realm of "liberty", however. And, society as a whole has always laid a claim in maintaining certain limits on liberty, especially when attempting to protect innocents, or preserve civil order.
There has not been a better example of this in the United States than the Selective Service system, and the military draft. Great limits were put on the liberties of individuals in order to maintain a civil society, and still are: An 18-year old male TODAY has no "right to privacy" when trudging into the post office to register for the draft is concerned. By law, he must do it. But, part of this system was (and remains) the draft classification system, and the role of implementing that system as manifested in the Local Draft Board.
Anyone exposed to the draft had to report to the Local Draft Board, and plead their case. The board members would look at a number of factors to make their final determinations on the fitness of each person: Were they "1-A (-that is, available for unrestricted military service)? Maybe they were "1-W" (a conscientious objector ordered to other service). Or perhaps they were the infamous "4-F", which is reserved for those that are unacceptable for physical, mental, and yes, "moral" reasons. The point is, the local draft board made the determination about the soundness of inductees, and accepted them, or rejected them, based on the deliberations and votes of the (usually 3 to 5-member) board. The board filled a federal mandate, but did so at a micro-local, and very accountable, level.
I suggest we apply the same body of logic to the abortion milieu.
The right of a woman to have legal access to sanitary abortion is one that we probably will be obliged to maintain. Although, I will at this juncture, point out that the Centers for Disease Control reported that 38 women died of illegal abortion procedures in America in 1972, and, wa-la, in 2002, 38 women died of in LEGAL abortion procedures. Talk about progress!
Just as there are legal stair-steps in judicial criminal proceedings (manslaughter? Second Degree Murder? First Degree? and so on), there ought to be the same approach to assigning fitness for abortion, and this fitness ought to be determined by a local board, constituted by federal mandate, just like Selective Service.
Each board would be elected locally, and would be answerable locally. Thus, you would likely have boards in Oakland, California that would summarily grant permission for every woman that walks through the door seeking an abortion-- while in Ogden, Utah, the board would likely be a little more circumspect in regard to the unborn child. But, everyone would be granted equal protection under the law because the rules for governing the boards would be federal, and mandate itself would be federal. Only the board Officials would be local.
And, for the first time, the unborn child would have at least a slight legal advocate: That is, the local board.
Also, there would be accountability charged to the woman seeking permission to have an abortion. Most anyone that has ever worked at an abortion clinic will tell you that they keep seeing the same women, time and time and time again. I've personally known of cases where one woman had NINE abortions in a three year period, and is likely still going into the same clinic to this day--, rather than get married, and take responsibility for he body and her life. Women like this might have a tougher go of it, and, at the very least, be obliged to take a 14-hour bus ride to Oakland to think about it.
A local board could also take into account the position of the father, which, as of right now, is totally excluded from the equation.
And finally, the absolutists would not be excluded from the process. If each individual absolutist wanted to, they could run for a position on the board, and have their say in this manner. They could get like-minded friends to do the same. This would certainly return at least a FLAVOR or American democracy to the process. Of course, the malcontents would have to submit to the electoral process, which is an anethema to the statist absolutist.
Not every concern on both sides of the abortion struggle will be addressed by this; nor, I think, should they be. But, contained in this proposal is a framework that would achieve many, but not all, solutions to a problem that seems implacable only if we assume what is, well, "possible".