Why Abortions Should Not Be Illegal

Even if you think people should not have abortions, they should be legal.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, no one wants abortions, per se. Abortions are used to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Everyone should agree that the goal is to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. This is why no one should ever do anything to prevent people from having access to birth control, especially young adults who are most adversely effected by unwanted pregnancies. The anti-abortion people like to characterize pro-choice people as pro-abortion, and that is not accurate. A better word for the pro-choice movement would be pro-privacy. Basically the pro-life folks think that the government should have an eye and ear in the room when you and your doctor discuss your personal health. The pro-choice people are saying that the decision as to whether to terminate a pregnancy should be between a woman, her doctor, her partner and her clergy. The government should not be at the table. It is hard for me to believe that anyone would disagree with this.

The argument they use, which is not irrational, is that abortion is murder. Is it though? There are two issues we have to tackle. 1) When does a fertilized egg become a person and; 2) when is the termination of this egg/person considered murder? If you want to argue that abortion is murder you have to establish that the unborn fetus is a person in a legal sense of the word, meaning a citizen. When is an unborn child endowed with rights? If you wish to argue that at conception a fertilized egg is endowed with rights under the State, we should issue a legal document at conception. Call it a pre-birth certificate. From that point on the welfare of that “child” is protected by the State. This essentially means a woman would have to notify the government as soon as it was clear she was pregnant. Do you believe we should do that? On top of this, there is a fuzzy line as to when a fertilized egg becomes a person, just like there is a fuzzy line between when a child becomes an adult. There are 18 year olds who are not adults and who are exploited because of the bright line legal definition. There are also people who are mature as adults who are less than 18 years old. The legal system had to adopt a bright line definition so we say if you are 18 or older you are an adult.

Do we have a bright line definition of when a fertilized egg becomes a person? If you say at conception, this means every failed pregnancy is the death of a person. Some of these deaths would need to be investigated as murder or negligence. The paper should be full of funeral notices for every failed pregnancy. Is it rational to say that a fertilized egg is a person? Note the difference between the words “life” and “person”. You can say that life begins at birth but that does not mean it is a person. My blood is alive but it is not a person. It is living cells. The way I’ve best heard it described is that a fertilized egg is a possible person, a fetus developed beyond 13 weeks is a probable person and a baby living outside the womb IS a person. Currently our bright line legal definition of when a fetus becomes a person is when they are born and issued a birth certificate. Prior to that time there is no legal person.

Let’s rewind a bit: abortions are bad. If we plan well there should rarely be a need for abortions. Let’s prevent unwanted pregnancies. Women have always had and will always have the ability to end their pregnancies, either safely or violently. When you are saying that abortion should be illegal you are A) putting the government in the examination room between a woman and her doctor and; B) dooming woman to ending their unwanted pregnancies through backroom and violent means. If you want to end abortions you should work to prevent unwanted pregnancies. You should not work to put woman and their doctors in jail.

This is a tough issue. A lot of people feel that abortion is immoral. They may be right. As a secular country, though, our task is to figure out whether it should be criminalized. The win-win situation is obvious: we can eliminate abortions without criminalizing them by working together to make family planning as effective as it can be. Let’s end the debate on criminalization and instead focus on our common goal of good, healthy family planning.

Why Abortions Should Not Be Illegal

The Things On Which We Agree

Despite the bloody political war that is raging between the right and left, there is a lot we should agree on.

Political warfare is getting extreme. We need not take this a a given. That’s us doing these things, and we can choose differently. As deeply as I believe in what I believe politically, my personal views are no longer as important as just getting a healthy political environment going again. Let me forget my views for a second and you forget yours. Let’s talk solely about what we agree on.

1. Ideally, there wouldn’t be abortions.

Everyone agrees that in the ideal world, no one would need to have an abortion. There is nothing intrinsically good about abortions. Regardless of whether you believe abortion is a sin, a crime or a protected right of a woman, we all agree that abortions are to be avoided. No one wants to have an abortion, per se, except in extreme cases like rape or incest. If we agree that ideally there wouldn’t be abortions, I believe that is a goal we can work toward. Left, Middle and Right can all agree on this goal. If we are rational people we should make the necessary compromises to achieve this goal.

2. Everyone wants more money.

Some people think that the government should be well-funded and do a lot of things for a lot of people. Some people believe that the government should be small and people should have the minimum possible tax burden. Both sides agree that the goal of this is that people have more money. I want to clarify this to say, we’re not necessarily talking about money, we’re talking about value. Both sides agree that what we want from our government is an entity that is efficient and that provides, or stays out of the way of the market providing, the services we need as a nation, state or city in a way that gives us all good value. The Right essentially believes that the big government represents a redistribution of wealth and a fiscally irresponsible approach. The Left believes that a government that helps people that need help (in addition to more mundane governmental matters) will create a larger economy and ultimately benefit everyone. Both of these have one goal — create an environment where people can earn a good standard of living.

3. Our government is and should be supported by taxation.

I’m trying to be non-partisan here, but #3 is a fact and has been a foundation of this country since Day 1. I say this only because conservatives often talk about “redistribution of wealth” in taxation debates. Regardless of what you call it, the America that we love so much is and can only be supported by the efforts (read: dollars) of the citizenry. The taxation debate is a debate of degree. If you disagree with #3 and you live in America, you are living in the wrong country. The US Government is supported by taxes and only taxes. Again, I’m really not trying to make a partisan statement, this is a fact.

4. Taxation of people with no money is not effective.

While again I run the risk of seeming partisan, this again is a fact. It is not effective to tax people with little or no money. The reason America has historically used progressive taxation is because it is the most effective way to gain revenue. I’m not here to argue for progressive taxation but only to state that it is historically what America has used because it is effective. Flat taxation is less effective.

5. War should be a last resort.

Americans are not by nature blood thirsty. The vast majority of us do not employ violence in our everyday lives. Killing people is bad and even in cases of international crisis, war should be used only when all other methods fail. I know we agree on this. Whenever we debate war we should keep in mind that we agree on the fact that war is like abortion and is should not be used unnecessarily.

6. We need the environment to be healthy.

This is a fact. We need this. Everybody wants clean water, clear air, healthy babies and healthy bodies. You don’t piss in the well. This is a no-brainer. Again, this is a debate of degree. How should this fact effect our policy? While we can debate policy we should not debate science. Neither side should doctor the science to support their side. We need good information if we are to make good decisions about the environment.

7. Separation of church and state is a good thing.

This should not be a debate of degree. Either we support the brilliant notion of our forefathers that a state must remain neutral in matters of religion or we are living in the wrong country. Freedom of religion demands this. Especially if you are religious you should support Freedom of Religion. This should not even be debated except by constitutional amendment.

Now here’s the thing. Cross off the ones you don’t agree with. The list is still a start of a thing that can get us out of this political warfare. This stuff is too important to have it undermined by partisan warfare. Let’s work on this list, let’s send it to our representatives, and let’s insist that they put down their arms and work on this stuff.

The Things On Which We Agree

The Myth of Republican Fiscal Conservatism

The liberal agenda of fiscal conservatism is misunderstood.

Your average person seems to think that, when push comes to shove, matters of business and economy are best handled by Republicans. Even liberal friends of mine sometimes refer to so-called fiscal conservatism as being a trait of the Right. This is a lie. The Right is not more fiscally conservative than the Left. The Republicans also love to talk about cutting taxes. It is a tried and true Republican campaign tactic to say they will cut taxes and their liberal opponent will raise taxes. This is also a lie, although slightly more complex. When people describe themselves as “socially liberal but fiscally conservative”, they are basically saying they are liberals.

Here’s how this fits together.

When we say “fiscally conservative” what do we mean? To most people, it means to manage money carefully, frugally and without a great deal of risk. To play it safe. To focus on necessities and not luxuries. What is the goal of fiscal conservatism? To maximize dollar value. The goal is to make our hard-earned tax dollars go as far as they can.

That is one aspect. But the ideals of the Republican Party don’t stop there. The math is unforgiving: if you take in less tax dollars you can do less. Since you cannot increase efficiency infinitely, a program to reduce taxes is ultimately a program for government to do less. This fits in well with the Republican rhetoric of “smaller government”. So the Republicans aren’t really for fiscal conservatism, they are for a shrinking federal government. Well, what’s wrong with that? Republicans want to grow the military. Big time. They are funding billions and billions into the military. So if we shrink the government but grow the military, it means the military is becoming proportionally an ever more dominant fraction of the federal government. In addition, the real heart of the Republican ideal is keeping the government’s hands off their money. So what they want is the government to be built with someone else’s money to fund a military to protect their wealth. We are becoming a military state controlled by the richest few percent of the population. Shouldn’t that bother us a bit?

There is one thing that everyone can relate to: No one wants to have less money. The goal in this matter, if you will, is to have more money. Yet we know how important government is. It takes a lot of money to have great highways, control our borders, manage our parks, make sure workplaces are safe, make sure food is safe, police the neighborhood, sweeps the streets, protect our country in wartime, interact diplomatically with other countries, provide for social security. This list goes on. This is expensive stuff. This is important stuff. The government does a lot of very, very useful things for all people. Our government does a remarkable job at most of this stuff. Every time it comes down to cutting these programs, Republicans and Democrats alike have a terrible struggle. Republicans love to spend the government’s money, too, and their pet project, the military, spends more money then the next 7 largest militaries in the world. Republicans could accurately be described as “tax-cut and spend”. Why did Ronald Reagan, in a booming economy deficit spend and raise the debt, while President Clinton, in a booming economy, ran a surplus budget and paid down the debt. Ronald Reagan cut taxes and the financial situation of the country got worse. That is not fiscal conservatism. Republicans know they can’t cut taxes and grow the military unless they cut somewhere else. This is where they really screw up. They attempt to take away the very programs that make us a good country and would make us a great country. For example, we need a national solution to health care insurance. No one should ever be turned away from a hospital. In light of the fact that insurance companies are cash cows for their owners, no one should go bankrupt because they suffer from a serious illness. In American we take care of our own. We don’t leave anybody behind. In America, if someone needs a bite to eat, a bed to sleep in or an operation to save their life, we take care of them. We take care of our parks, our roads, our neighborhoods, our workers, our food and our people . There is no person in American who would rather be on welfare than be successful. There is no one at a soup kitchen who wouldn’t rather be in a nice restaurant or in their own kitchen. When people ask for help, we give them help. If you do not, what happens? You have homeless, hungry, dying people, which ends up costing immeasurably more.

True fiscal conservatism does not come with this baggage of needing to shrink government, grow the military and cut social programs. Fiscal conservatism means we should spend money wisely. This means you can’t be penny wise and pound foolish. It is cheaper to have good education programs that prevent crime than to build prisons and incarcerate a huge segment of our population. It is cheaper to protect the environment before it is destroyed than to try to rebuild it once it is destroyed. It is cheaper to develop alternative energy now while we still have fossil fuels, than be scavenging for the last drop when it’s gone at the end of this century. (Please read that sentence again: fossil fuels will be GONE by the end of this century!) America is going to be like a junkie kicking heroin when the oil fields start drying up and the so-called fiscally conservative Republicans are still dragging their feet on alternative energy. It should be a number one priority and instead they want to risk one of the last pristine environments in the world for one more fix of domestic oil.

Issue after issue after issue — the Republican ideals are risky, short-sighted, greedy, expensive and in no way, shape or form fiscally conservative. Here, in a short list, is the essence of fiscal conservatism:

1. Education is the best crime prevention we know of and it is infinitely cheaper than fighting our high crime rate. Fund the crap out of education.
2. Taking care of the environment is going to get exponentially more expensive every decade. Do not pass that nightmare on to your grandchildren. Protect the environment now in a way that will keep it healthy for millenia.
3. Support programs that keep the poorest Americans fed, healthy and with some degree of self-esteem. This is also cheaper than fighting crime and is also the American way.
4. Don’t claim you are patriotic if you don’t support our government financially. A high-quality government costs money. The richest Americans should gladly pay more. They did not get wealthy in a vacuum. They are lucky as hell and they have a civic duty to give back.
5. Insist that our government run a surplus budget. Clinton did, so can Bush. It is immoral to spend the money of future governments today.
6. Do not allow our leaders to turn us into a military state. We do not need a military 100 times bigger than our fellow countries. This is fear and greed in action, it depletes resources that would be better used elsewhere, and supports the ill-conceived notion that might is right. We must solve our problems non-violently when at all possible for many reasons, but one good reason is that it is fiscally conservative.

Conservative vs. Republican

OK, so I just slammed the hell out of Republicans. Please note: I am not slamming Conservatives. I don’t think Republicans and Conservatives are the same thing. Conservatives are generally people who are fiscally conservative. Some of them are also socially conservative. There is a healthy tension between liberals and conservatives on these issues. That’s a good thing. What many good Conservatives don’t see is how the Republican Party is tricking and betraying them. I’ve listed many examples above. The Republican Party is systematically undermining public education, social security, the environment, the health care system and many other things because it is a tactic to achieve an ideological agenda. To be more blunt, they lie because they know if they tell the truth, we won’t buy it. Even good Conservatives would balk at a systematic attack on the health and welfare of the country as a whole. Republicans are deluded into thinking that a liberal agenda is somehow akin to Communism. I won’t shy from that charge: our country is a mix of capitalist and communist tactics. Our military is a communist organization. Our highways are a communist system. Get it out of your head that social cooperation is bad. We all agree: markets should be capitalist. Many, many things work best under capitalism. Not all things. Let’s focus on getting the best for ourselves and our countrymen by spending money wisely so we can continue to be the best country in the world. You are a liberal.

The Myth of Republican Fiscal Conservatism

Church & State

One of the most important concepts that we have in the United States of America is the separation of church and state.

One of the greatest thing about the United States of America is the separation of church and state. In theory, this was important to our founders because many immigrants escaped religious persecution by coming to the New World. Unfortunately, many of them were perfectly happy with religious persecution so long as it was them doing the persecuting. It took some very smart and forward thinking people to form as the basis or our country the notion that the separation of church and state is vital to a sustainable nation.

We see how important this is now with the current crisis in Afganistan and the Middle East. The Taliban clerics were the state, too. In Saudi Arabia it is a crime to convert to Christianity. We Americans can’t help but look on this as completely backwards ass. We highly value the notion that a person’s faith is their own and that civil matters are entirely separate. Certainly it is not only Muslims (and certainly it is not all Muslims) who favor this sort of dogma. Extremists in almost every religion see non-believers as infidels who must be converted or destroyed. I do not begrudge them their faith and I am outraged that they begrudge me mine. If there is anything we should have learned over the last bloody 4000 years it is that it is impossible to get everyone to agree on anything. It is certainly impossible to convert or kill all those who disagree with your faith. Give it up.

The notion of the separation of chuch and state is under constant attack in America by some religious people. To them, banning prayer in school or the ten commandments from government places makes no sense. They believe that many of the ills in society can be lessened by the appropriate emphasis of their religious morality. I beg these people to reconsider and I can use an example that drives the point home. If you believe that prayer should be allowed in school then you are supporting my right to lead the class in a Satanic prayer. You believe in my right to perform Wiccan ceremonies before the football game. Right? No, no, no, they rush to say. That is taking the concept to an illogical extreme, they say. Their reason, I presume, is somehow based on this notion that most people are not Satan worshipers or Wiccans. They are Judeo-Christians. To me, the flaw of this logic is so obvious. We are not a nation of Judeo-Christians! We, as a nation, allow all religions the same freedoms. You cannot assign to one religion freedoms you do not assign to all religions. This is a good thing and an important thing and is one of the really special things about the good ol’ U S of A. I won’t force you to be a Wiccan and you won’t force me to be a Christian. How can you possibly disagree with that?

I encourage all people to evangelize their faith in whatever ways they deem appropriate with the very strong exception of our public institutions. You do not believe in prayer in school unless you believe in ALL prayer in school, even the ones you deem evil and wrong. You do not believe in posting your religious documents if you do not believe in posting ALL religious documents. If you are very religious you should be more concerned about this, not less. You should not suffer as a minority and you should not persecute as a majority. Only in this way can we keep tragedies like the dumb-ass Taliban* from happening.

The other argument one often hears is that America is based on Judeo-Christian concepts. This may be true. The question is: should it be . Just because we say “so help me God” in court or have “In God We Trust” on our money, is that really an argument that our government should allow expression of Judeo-Christian values but not the values of other religions? Do you really think we have laws against murder because the Ten Commandments say thou shalt not kill? Remember, our founding fathers also had slaves and didn’t allow women to vote (or exercise many other rights). They were not perfect. They were wise enough to state clearly that the United States should not endorse a specific religion. They thought, I assume, that the concept of God was universal. It turns out that is not the case. Many people in this country are uncomfortable with this notion of a state-condoned god. They may be of different religions or no religion. Since religious freedom is constitutional protected, we don’t need a state sponsored god. Our state is secular and that is a good thing.

I personally believe that all states will reach this conclusion. Those that don’t will suffer unending violence until they do. Please be respectful and tolerant all of religions and faiths. Be tolerant of us with no faith. Thank you.

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Church & State