The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 November 2004

Cruel and unusual interpretations

Xrlq points to this Los Angeles Times editorial which says, in effect, that employer-sponsored health plans should not be allowed to exclude coverage for abortion because doing so would "shrink the landmark abortion-rights decision Roe v. Wade to the point where there is no need for judges to formally overturn it."

Meanwhile, Xrlq has gone searching for the Constitutional basis for Roe v. Wade, perhaps expecting to find something like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting a first trimester abortion, or prohibiting the free obtention thereof; or abridging the ability to abort a second or third trimester abortion except to protect the life or health of the mother.

Or, lacking that, perhaps this:

A well controlled Population, being to the status of the United States as a First World Country, the right of pregnant women in the first trimester to obtain Abortions, shall not be infringed.

No luck. Now if Congress actually plans to propose such an amendment to the Constitution, which I tend to doubt, I'd recommend basing the wording, not on the First or Second as above, but on the Third:

No fetus shall be quartered in any uterus without the consent of the owner.

Truth be told, I couldn't think of a reason to differentiate between wartime and peacetime, but perhaps that's another issue.

Posted at 11:32 AM to Political Science Fiction


Bite me. When you get a uterus, you can make all the laws you want about women's bodies. Until then, take your health-care-plan-covered Viagara and keep your opinions to yourself. If Congress passed laws mandating 24-hour permission to get a vasectomy, or to undergo prostate surgery (which could FOREVER end a man's reproductive abilities), or to engage in a potentially child-producing orgasm, you men would have an absolute fit. Well, welcome to OUR world, guys. Keep your noses out of our bodies.

Posted by: smac at 3:18 PM on 29 November 2004

Noses in the woman's body? Is that a position from the Kama Sutra?

But seriously... I'm not sure there's any reason to refer to the Constitution on this matter, other than pure snarkiness. And it's avoiding the point: Indeed, if access to abortion is restricted -- whether that's through exclusion from health coverage or refusal of doctors/clinics to perform them for various reasons -- it is an end-around to negating Roe v. Wade.

Posted by: CT at 3:32 PM on 29 November 2004

The real question here, as I see it, is this: Does the Federal government have anything to say about abortion at all?

I'm thinking that it doesn't, because there isn't any real Constitutional basis, either to legalize it across the board, or to ban it. This was my problem with Roe: not that it permitted abortion, but because it exceeded the authority of the government. The Fifth Amendment makes reference to depriving a person of life, liberty or property, but absent an agreement that a fetus qualifies as a person, I don't think it will work to support a ban; the Ninth and Tenth Amendments would seem to indicate that proper jurisdiction is at the state level or below. This is precisely why anti-abortion groups pushed for a Human Life Amendment, which presumably would, if ratified, give Constitutional legitimacy to a ban. Were it up to me, and I need hardly point out that it isn't, I'd leave the matter up to the individual states.

In the specific case at hand, I'm not keen on the idea of the government dictating the terms of health-care contracts.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:23 PM on 29 November 2004

The first commenter illustrates why the two sides aren't talking to each other. If you're pro-choice or pro-abortion, the issue is all about women's bodies. If you're pro-life, it's about the baby.

I understand both positions even though I'm staunchly pro-life. It bothers me that people who are supposedly "pro-choice" refuse to even consider the moral implications of abortion.

Slave owners often invoked states rights and federalism, but the real issue was economic - their ability to extract free labor from slaves. Their argument was a moral smokescreen. Anyone who had moral clarity about slavery knew it had to be abolished.

Abortion is not as cut-and-dried, but Roe, "privacy", and "the right to choose" are essentially end-runs around the moral implications of murdering a child.

And I have a right to EXPRESS my opinion, uterus or not. And that IS in the constitution, dammit.

Posted by: Dan at 5:33 PM on 29 November 2004

Great, just what I need. Something else to increase my health insurance rates.

Wait, I'm confused. Since I no longer have a uterus, do I get to have an opinion or not?

Posted by: rita at 5:45 PM on 29 November 2004

Well, according to "smac" I would have to say, "not."

So, Rita -- how long's the waiting period for your prostate exam?

Posted by: McGehee at 9:30 AM on 30 November 2004

Let's just say it makes for amusing moments when a doctor doesn't read my chart before beginning my annual exam. I have been known to snicker loudly when he/she gets that really confused look on their faces.

Posted by: rita at 7:44 AM on 1 December 2004