The most contentious and polarizing topic in society has heated up again.
The state of Texas recently grabbed the trophy for most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. News media get worked up. Confusion breaks out. Court battles ensue. Some of the rules will get reversed. Some might stick, for a while.
Let’s admit that this is a sensitive topic involving the emotions of sexuality and procreation, and how the discovery of a pregnancy can instantly redirect one’s life trajectory.
What one believes in one’s heart and mind is one thing. What thoughts and assumptions individuals share among themselves, forming community and culture is another.
However, the public discussion seems to jump to what the law should or shouldn’t be to outlaw or regulate this variety of medical and/or pharmaceutical procedure.
Putting something in law is a big deal. It means if somebody breaks it, there has to be enforcement against such law-breaking. Therefore, the convicted criminal faces a punishment such as jail time and/or a fine.
We better be really careful why we purposefully decide to have people put in cages, or take some of their stuff.
Anybody with cursory knowledge of the birds and bees knows a pregnancy means that a biological process is now underway and that eventually — sooner, or at least later — a new person is due to arrive in this world.
We all have common ground in agreeing that after about a 9-month gestation and a live birth, that young person has rights.
Some may say ensured personhood should be collectively deemed at the end of the second trimester of gestation, or after X weeks from an estimated conception date, or when a fetus birthed today could (theoretically) sustain life outside the womb, or other indicators.
Another metric is if there is a detectable heartbeat. Stop and think about that. Would this indicate a new person is now involved?
Also available are the 3D, 4D and now HD ultrasound technologies. For those unfamiliar, it’s okay to hit pause here and Google “3D ultrasound 12 weeks.” Consider for yourself if this looks like a small person or not.
We often only hear from the ideological polar ends, so the public discussion is crap. But there are surely millions of Americans who are somewhere in the middle, who won’t touch this subject with a 10-foot pole. Those who are generally pro-choice, but get uneasy about the late-term procedure, or those who are generally pro-life but can tolerate it early term.
Still, a sustained national policy seems impossible, however we may worship the Supreme Court. It should be largely a state issue, while realizing it is a deeply cultural, and, ultimately, personal one.
Any medical procedure will be subject to regulations, for better or worse. But has Missouri’s government been underhanded in effectively making it impossible for providers to comply? Or were some clinics not following basic safety protocols? A concerned citizen can find this difficult to ascertain.
As abortion was effectively regulated out of business in Missouri, a provider from Illinois got creative and put a billboard on I-70 advertising services on their side of the border.
The law should not prevent a person freely traveling across state, or national, lines to do so. Nor should anyone helping them have the government come down on them, while a patient under age 18 is another matter.
Then there’s Texas’ new innovation to outsource detecting violations to bounty hunters who can sue for possibly a $10,000 payday. A potential abortion snitch industrial complex is an incredibly bad idea, and can’t possibly stand.
The Missouri Attorney General’s website states that “Criminal Law deals with acts of intentional harm to individuals but which, in a large sense, are offenses against us all.“ But can’t we generally presume that those seeking or providing an abortion do not have criminal intent?
We have these laws on the books, but how often are women and medical providers ever actually prosecuted?
Regardless, we would do well to vastly open up adoption services as an abortion alternative. So many young couples wouldn’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to adopt a baby. And we could fix our obviously dysfunctional foster care system.
Instead of politicians fighting to achieve “the” answer to all this, perhaps a cultural shift toward education and support would serve us better with this most sensitive of human conditions, to envision a society where abortion naturally continues to be increasingly rare and ideally unnecessary.
Columnist Steve Spellman hosts the Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum at 5 p.m. every Tuesday on KOPN 89.5 FM.