Opinion: The abortion riddle

By DOUG LOWE

Published: 10-11-2023 5:00 PM

Doug Lowe lives in Concord.

As we all know, abortion is a medical procedure whereby a pregnancy is terminated. It is, of course, unique to the female half of our population. And abortion is a subject with an interesting history. The practice dates back to ancient times. While generally legal and available up to the 19th century, there has been a resurgence of anti-abortion sentiment in the 20th century.

It was in 1580 that Pope Sixtus V first declared abortion to be an act of murder. But, three years later, a new pope reversed that instruction and allowed abortions. That new pope’s decision held for another 300 years. Pope Pious IX, in the very late 1800s, reinstated the old ruling and, of course, abortion was once again a sin. Of interest, regulation of abortion has never been in the hands of women. And it has always had a religious connotation.

There are many reasons behind a woman’s decision to seek an abortion. The Turnaway Study (ansirh.org) goes into great detail on those reasons. Most of them seem to focus on the realities of life that the child, as well as the mother, would face. I see that response as difficult, but responsible. I cannot even begin to imagine the impact of fear and the threat of want that would enter a woman’s mind as she considers the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.

My interest also stems from the instruction I received as an American youth. I have a clear recall of the Four Freedoms as promulgated by the administration of Franklin Roosevelt during WWII: Freedom of Speech, of Worship, from Want, and, from Fear. To my mind, three of those four deserve to be considered as we struggle with the subject.

I choose to focus on the Freedom of Worship because I interpret that to imply freedom of religion. Americans are free to worship as they please. There is no constitutional provision demanding that any single faith be given preferential treatment. The First Amendment, on the other hand, guarantees religious freedom. In addition, the 14th Amendment requires states to guarantee the fundamental rights that are spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Let us consider how that impacts the struggle that has become a major dividing issue within the U.S. community.

The current leadership of the Republican Party has cleverly turned abortion into a political issue. Abortion was selected because it would generate a response from the religious community. In a sense, they turned those communities into single-issue voters. (In a similar vein they manipulated the gun community). I doubt that the current leadership of the Republican Party cares about the issue at all beyond its ability to manipulate a large group of voters. The Trump Republicans have demonstrated that they are incapable of governing. This MAGA group has no interest in governing; they only want to rule. Madeleine Albright, in her 2018 book titled “Fascism, (A Warning),” warned us of this.

What will come next? As we all know, vasectomy is a medical procedure that prevents a male from impregnating his partner. It is, of course, unique to the male half of our population. When one considers the thrust of the MAGA Republicans to control every aspect of our lives as human beings, a question seems appropriate: Will they next force the Supreme Court to declare vasectomy an unconstitutional procedure?