Thoughts on Roe v. Wade

I’ve been somewhat hesitant to weigh in on the recent Supreme Court ruling, because abortion has not been a central issue to me and because I respect and care about people on both sides.

Then I read Caitlin Johnstone’s take and found that most of it really resonated with me. I quote her below.

“It sure is mighty convenient timing for all political and electoral energy in the United States to suddenly get sucked up into a single issue which affects the powerful in no way, shape or form. I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible for everyone’s attention to get diverted away from inflation and the looming likelihood of wage reductions and soaring unemployment or the economic war with Russia that’s making everything worse for everyone while pouring vast fortunes into the proxy war in Ukraine, but by golly, the empire found a way. “

Why exactly are we doing this now? Couldn’t we have litigated abortion back when politics were boring in 2004 or 2014? Why must an issue that has been divisive for centuries move to the fore when there are immediately pressing concerns that deserve our full attention?

I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that the whole “My body, my choice” position was invalidated by the way people were forced to take Covid vaccines in order to participate in society.

This is an entirely logical argument, in my opinion. It’s not logically consistent to say that bodily autonomy needs to take a back seat in one area and then claim it’s of utmost importance in another. Proponents of vaccine mandates are responsible for the fact that this argument is being used, and that it is being used effectively.

It’s very disconcerting that the law has come down on the side of subverting bodily autonomy in both of these major debates recently. As humanity gets more and more complicated, we may see the dominance of the notion that our bodies are not our own yield greater and greater consequences going forward.

To all of the Blue Team people who pushed hard for vaccine mandates and are now shouting My Body My Choice, you are hypocrites and have lost my respect and my future votes. Now that vaccinated people are catching covid at similar rates relative to unvaccinated people and the reality of untold thousands of vaccine-related injuries and deaths is getting more difficult to hide, you would like to quietly forget about the whole thing.

That’s not how this works. You wanted to mandate a novel, experimental vaccine against a mostly-survivable disease based on very limited data and a great deal of religious conviction that “vaccines save lives”. You went along with smearing and silencing of actual scientists who tried to voice their concerns every step of the way.

You don’t get to claim that all the experts expected success, and that it’s therefore a great surprise that the shots don’t work as expected and cause more adverse reactions than all other shots combined. It’s not a great surprise to me, because I don’t have the rose-colored glasses through which believers in the Religion of Progress view new medicines and new technologies. I fully expected a vaccine of a novel type tested for only six months to work less well than expected and to cause unanticipated harms.

I’m willing to stand with you on the issue of abortion, but if you wish to regain my respect and my vote you will need to:

  • Support an end to all remaining covid vaccination requirements for travel, border crossings, events, employment, exemption from testing, etc. – especially now that there is zero unbiased scientific evidence that these requirements make any meaningful difference in terms of covid transmission.
  • Apologize to all of us who you have been judging, denigrating, disinviting, smack-talking, and all-but-dehumanizing over the past year.
  • Promise to never do this again: to support bodily autonomy in all arenas, and to accept that if you want someone to take an action for what you believe to be the common good you will need to furnish a convincing argument rather than use coercive or stigmatizing tactics.

To all of the Red Team people who have been fighting against vaccine mandates and gun laws but are now celebrating your long-desired restrictions placed upon millions of women’s bodies, you are hypocrites too and have failed to earn my respect or my vote. I understand your feelings and beliefs about this issue, but I do not accept your wishes to legislate those beliefs upon those who feel or believe differently. I have gained some level of admiration for conservatism over the past two years, and I appreciate your vocal opposition to vaccine mandates and other authoritarian overreach of the left, but you just killed my chances of voting for any of your candidates for the foreseeable future.

For me the issue of abortion comes down to bodily sovereignty, not only in that the state has no business forcing unevidenced beliefs about metaphysical personhood upon people’s reproductive systems, but also in that it’s immoral to force anyone to let their body be used by anybody else.

Leaving aside philosophical debates about whether a fetus is a person and all the faith-based mental contortions you need to pull off to make a small cluster of cells seem the same as you or me, bodily sovereignty means abortion should be a right even if we concede that the fetus is a person. No person of any age, whether six weeks in utero or sixty years out utero, has a right to use my body without my permission.

If I needed to be hooked up to your kidneys for my survival, the fact that I would die without the use of your kidneys wouldn’t legitimize the state forcing you to let me use them against your will. In exactly the same way, it’s illegitimate for the state to force a woman to let a fetus use her body to gestate just because it can’t live outside her. Even if we grant both the woman and the fetus full bodily autonomy, a woman refusing to let a fetus use her body is not a violation of the fetus’s bodily autonomy because the woman isn’t at fault for the fetus’s inability to survive outside the womb anymore than you’d be at fault for my inability to survive without the use of your kidneys.

Until recently I have been more open to compromise – something along the lines of abortion being allowed with no restrictions for the first trimester and then only in extenuating circumstances later in pregnancy – but my experience with the vaccine mandate push has changed my mind. I have seen too many stories of people at high risk of serious vaccine reactions who were not granted exemptions to mandates, despite such exemptions supposedly being available. I’m not willing to task a government and legal system populated by ideologues with determining whether a particular set of extenuating circumstances qualifies a woman to receive a later-term abortion.

Abortion is unavoidably a moral issue. Choosing to terminate a pregnancy – or not to terminate one – can have consequences: health consequences, emotional consequences, mental consequences, spiritual consequences (depending on your belief system), karmic consequences, etc. Can that not be enough? Do we really need to add legal consequences as well? Furthermore, pregnancy moves right along, and difficult decisions need to be made quickly. The vast majority of women even considering later-term abortions are facing serious complications: fetuses with severe defects who will not survive long past birth, health conditions that make carrying a pregnancy to term life-threatening, the sort of once-in-a-lifetime crises that are difficult enough without also having to convince a bureaucratic and possibly ideologically-motivated judge to believe you and grant you a permit.

So…bodily autonomy takes precedence. Abortion should be safe and legal and available throughout pregnancy. That doesn’t mean it’s right in all or most cases. That doesn’t mean you can’t have your own judgments about other people’s choices. It doesn’t prevent your place of worship from having its own rules for members with their own consequences. It certainly doesn’t mean that our society as a whole is OK with killing babies. It’s simply the least harmful solution to this moral quandary, at least from my current perspective.

Call me politically homeless. I’m not voting for anyone who supports vaccine passes or mandates, and I’m not voting for anyone who wants to restrict access to abortion. The first candidate to combine an anti-mandate and pro-choice platform gets my vote. Betsy Johnson, is that you? Extra points if they oppose our endless overseas military involvements and are serious about redistributing wealth and ending poverty.

(Yes, I have empathy for the citizens of Ukraine. No, I don’t think we should be sending weapons, prolonging the fighting, playing nuclear brinkmanship with Russia, driving inflation and shortages, and imperiling the world’s food supply through our warmongering response. We should certainly provide humanitarian aid and welcome refugees from Ukraine, and we should do the same for the countries that we – or “allies” supplied with our weapons – have aggressively invaded and destabilized over the past decades: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, among others.)

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