Abortion, Women's Issues, and Legislating From the Bench
I think it’s very interesting that abortion is so often framed as a women’s issue. I think it’s understandable, because it is certainly an issue that affects women far more than men, but I also believe that it’s an issue that should stand largely independent of your feelings on feminism. It seems to me there are (basically) two positions: either a fetus is a person, or a fetus is not a person. I personally am inclined to the second, although I do think there are merits to the first, especially late in pregnancies. But nevertheless, if a fetus is a person, then it seems to me that there can be no equivocation. If that is how you honestly feel, abortion is murder. On the other hand, if you feel the opposite way, there is no real reason to regulate abortion other than in the ways we would regulate any surgical procedure. On the whole, I think this is part of a greater phenomenon where feminism becomes conflated with other liberal values. I think that because the Democratic Party is more feminist than the Republican, we assume that all feminists are liberal and all liberals are feminist, and I feel that these are quite destructive attitudes.
On a largely unrelated note, I have quite mixed feelings about Roe vs. Wade. On the one hand, I agree with the case to the letter from a moral perspective. I feel quite strongly that women should have the right to an abortion, especially in the first and second trimester. On the other, the legal basis seems quite thin to me, largely because the foundation of the precedent is a series of legal decisions that each build upon the next. For instance, I can certainly see a right to privacy as was decided in Skinner. But there is an element of stretch to it, an idea that this decision is, to some extent, legislating from the bench. And I further agree with that right to privacy being affirmed in Griswold, though I reserve the right to remain somewhat skeptical. But I don’t really agree with taking these cases one step further, as the court did in Roe vs. Wade. It has the real feeling of legislating from the bench, something that is both outside the jurisdiction of the court from a constitutional perspective and is a bad idea regardless of constitutionality. The idea that men and women who serve for life and are often appointed by presidents in an attempt to further their own goals as opposed to the directly and democratically elected legislative branch making laws scares me in a way few other governmental realities do. So while I certainly agree with Roe vs. Wade from a moral perspective, I think that it is legally and constitutionally misguided.