Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Guns and Babies

“The Women's Health and Safety Act of 2013 navigated the Alabama Legislature last year, garnering the governor's signature in April 2013, but [U.S. District Judge Myron] Thompson quickly took issue with a provision requiring that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The state had argued the measure is designed to protect the health of a patient. The plaintiffs called it medically unnecessary due to the safety of abortion procedures and said the law would force three of the state's five clinics to shut down…
Revisiting the issue in the court's Monday ruling, Thompson said, "The court was struck by a parallel in some respects between the right of women to decide to terminate a pregnancy and the right of the individual to keep and bear firearms, including handguns, in her home for the purposes of self-defense."
Both [abortion and gun] rights are controversial, and there are opponents of each who, based on moral or ethical convictions, feel they should not be rights and deserve no constitutional protection. Each protected right is also held by the individual, but neither right can be realized "without the assistance of someone else," he wrote.
The right to bear arms means little if there is no one from whom to procure guns and ammunition, Thompson wrote. Likewise, the right to abortions is meaningless if there are no medical professionals to perform them…
‘So long as the Supreme Court continues to recognize a constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, any regulation that would, in effect, restrict the exercise of that right to only Huntsville and Tuscaloosa should be subject to the same skepticism,’ he said.”
(CNN, Federal judge: Abortion like right to bear arms By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, August 5, 2014What if Alabama passed a law that shut down all but two of the state's guns-and-ammo stores?)

This is a comparison that catches my attention.  How do we support a person’s right and decide what, if any, limitations to set upon that right?  How would a libertarian answer this question?  Would they suggest no limitations?  How practical is it to have a right without limitations?  We have the right to drive a car, once we have completed a series of tests that verify we are able to drive a car safely.  And while I strongly believe that there needs to be some commonly held safety guidelines for a woman receiving an abortion, at what point do the safety regulations become an impediment to a woman’s right to choose whether to have a child?

I understand that some people do not believe in abortion on religious grounds.   But the courts have already decided that a woman has the right to choose whether to have a child.   As many of you know, I am also passionate about gun control.  What if I said that my religious beliefs gave me the right to try to restrict people from having access to places where they could buy guns?  But the constitution and the courts have already decided a person has a right to bear arms.  So, then, how would my efforts to restrict access to guns be any different than what some people are doing to restrict access to places where safe abortions can take place?

What is that thing Jesus said, "how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”  Am I a hypocrite for wanting to preserve a woman’ right to choose while taking a stand against gun access?

How do we decide these heated issues in ways that don’t restrict a right into meaningless words, but instead offers reasonable regulation?  Unfortunately I do not believe that the people who are passing these anti-abortion laws are thinking about the safety of the woman—I believe they are thinking “how can we manipulate the system so our beliefs are made into law.”  And that, my friends, begins to blur some pretty important boundaries separating church and state.

It is curious that no one in this country has thought to turn gun control into a religious issue.  Perhaps the commandment “thou shalt not kill” (frequently used to support anti-abortion arguments) could be used as an argument to begin regulating access to guns, giving law enforcement access to lists of gun owners, or legislating mandatory educational programs to teach people how to use guns safely.  Just a thought.

1 comment:

  1. Is it not a matter of regulation and the degree of regulation established? Third trimester abortions are rare in face and done for medically indicated reasons. Whether it is guns, alcohol, cars, or abortion, reasonable regulation should be expected. Since States can set their own standards, regulation will be uneven. Maybe the right to equality in marriage is as example: today Idaho followed the Supreme Court decision not to consider the five Appellate districts decisions: Idaho followed suit which applies to Nevada as well.