Lone Star State plays ping-pong with morality

When does life begin? What constitutes life? These questions, and their subsequent answers, drove the Texas legislature to pass a law which bans most abortions after six weeks.
Before dissecting the new law, I find it necessary to answer those very same questions.

Many biologists believe life begins at conception. There is no point, other than fertilization of an egg, where one can draw the cutoff for what is alive and what is not. If the ability to live without external support constitutes life, then every person on a respirator or taking medication to prevent organ rejection is “dead.” If a heart beating is the metric for living, then any person on bypass is “dead.” If conscious thought establishes life, then a coma patient is “dead.”

These prerequisites for life – external support, heartbeat, conscious thought – fail to completely define what is alive and what is not. Killing a person in any of these circumstances would still be considered a homicide. Why should these exemptions be considered justification for abortion? They shouldn’t.

It is my firmest belief that abortion is a moral wrong. That does not mean abortion has no place in the world

The 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade established abortion as a constitutional right. The decision was intrinsically flawed, as it created a right which was never enumerated in the Constitution, spun out of whole cloth by Chief Justice Burger.

The ramifications of Roe v. Wade are still felt today. In 2018 there were over 600,000 abortions in the United States. To put that into perspective, there were approximately  3.7 million births that same year, meaning that any given fetus had a roughly 14% (1 in 7) chance of being aborted.

And then there is the Texas law. Banning most abortions after six weeks ought to be very controversial: if there is no clear line for when life begins (other than conception), then in a world with legal abortions, there can be no clear line for when abortion should be allowed or prohibited. The Texas legislature did what every state has to do, they made a decision and stuck to it. Disagreement with that decision doesn’t make it any less valid.

It is my firmest belief that abortion is a moral wrong. That does not mean abortion has no place in the world.”

— Reagan Eastlick

Where Texas went wrong was with their enforcement of the law. Instead of being enforced by the state, any Texas citizen is able to report and testify against those who receive a now-illegal abortion. The normal avenue to fight against anti-abortion laws is to sue those who enforce the law (normally state officials). By putting enforcement in the hands of every Texan, pro-abortion groups cannot sue the state and are unable to sue every individual. No suing means courts are unable to reverse the law.

The structure of the law is brilliant and brand new, but also authoritarian. Creating a law that is unable to be challenged, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and exploiting court procedures is deeply wrong. More so than this, it opens the flood gates to a whole slew of laws which follow the same structure, the same grey areas. Remember – just because you agree with this law does not mean you will agree with the next.

My point is that abortion (excluding special circumstances) is morally wrong, and that the government should keep its fingers out of such a private and deeply personal decision. The libertarian perspective says “live and let live.” If you hate abortion, don’t abort. If you don’t, make whichever decision suits you best. The consequences of either decision are the mother’s to live with.

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