Cancel the Noise
Much ado has been made regarding the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the landmark precedent set by Roe v. Wade. The matter deserves the attention and understanding of all Americans, even beyond, though its reinvigoration has borne the typical characteristics of much of the popular American debate of the last decade: polarity, intensity, emotion, and perhaps for good cause. Indeed it has pushed us yet further toward the common notion that governing the entire population by a single ethic is an idea outgrowing itself. The nature of democracy again comes under our direct scrutiny as individuals and institutions fill the discourse with propaganda and slowly push moderate worldviews to the fringes of the Overton window.
The ruling made during Roe v. Wade is not itself at the core of the matter, nor is its subsequent overruling. The real heart of the ethical issue at hand is abortion, which should fall within the jurisprudence of human rights, not civil rights. Esteemed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed that Roe v. Wade was not the appropriate way to address the matter of abortion, and to her credit, it seems as that her concerns have been validated. The 1973 ruling was subject to a 2022 overruling, a big decision made by a small few (albeit the country’s top few), a catalyst to which amendments to the Constitution of the United States are not subject. If Americans want a permanent and inalienable right to abortion, it requires codification into the Constitution via an amendment, otherwise it could be vulnerable to a simple court precedent, as it has been.
The language of the debate itself is beset by semantic ambiguity or misdirection. Take for example an individual with an opinion: this individual supports all state’s rights to legal abortion, but also supports the prohibition of abortion in their home state. Pro-choicers might characterize this individual as pro-life; pro-lifers might characterize this individual as pro-choice. There is little room for nuance. Obscurity is used by and against all positions within the debate to undermine the legitimacy of the outcome of any discourse lest it favor the opposition. Social momentum builds and there are rewards for going with the flow. The propaganda impelled by the media industry is not crafted to educate or deepen understanding, but rather as rhetoric produced for the purpose of political influence.
Agree to Disagree
When two individuals both living within the same household desire different things, they are most likely to end up in separate rooms, each individually fulfilling their own separate desires. America’s inherent prioritization of states’ rights guarantees that localized values are protected by governmental sovereignty. Only those highest values accepted by the citizenry of the overarching federation are therefore inalienable to all the citizenry of the federation, and even then, what has traditionally been considered “The People” has seldom been of any total truth. But how can an entire nation the scale of America be expected to agree on any universal value? Over the course of America’s maturity, mores were shed and developed, and Americans have grown apart.
Balancing a Republic
American culture is not a single culture, but rather an emergent dichotomy. A dissonance of spirit arises when values are projected by one culture onto another. Both the enforcement and the denial of tolerance come with their own complicated set of contradictions, and there are many subcultures within America, and many values reflected in the many diaspora that occupy the land, such that mutual respect for the cultural autonomy of others has traditionally been a simple survival technique employed by most Americans. Perhaps no longer is it the popular position to live and let live (perhaps it never was), but rather to ensure that practices across the land adhere to a single homogenous ethic, some universal online worldview.
Lost at Home
Americans spend more time than ever on the internet, engaging in niche communities, inundated in obscure subculture, amid a kaleidoscope of differing perspectives, ideologies, and values. As our primary emotional communities become less determined by geography and more determined by interest, contextual complications in our relationship to the values of our geographical community will arise. This creates feedback, a complication of growing intensity as people individualize and develop their identity in an increasingly exclusive internet. Furthermore, bias, dissonance, hubris, and fatigue among those of us in receipt of new information regarding our own strong opinions are factors that can lead to ignorance and oversight. Individuals listen selectively and are encouraged to acquiesce deep or intuitive understanding to professionals and celebrities.
Empowered by Freedom
The overruling of Roe v. Wade can be a confusing gesture because it seems to at once both disenfranchise and empower Americans. The mechanism of the original 1973 ruling can be said to have mandated the practical availability of abortions to all citizens. Is this an infringement of liberty, or an expansion of liberty? Would it be empowering for Americans to mandate the availability of abortions to the citizens of, for example, Saudi Arabia? No, it would be an imposition because they are a separate nation with different values. But America is a single nation; Washington and Mississippi are both united in their geographical statehood, though perhaps not by the values reflected in the ethic of a single culture. And although Washington and Mississippi are both united by some universal values (described by the Constitution and its amendments), they are starkly differentiated by others, abortion perhaps among them.
Break it Up
What is the purpose of maintaining the United States of America as they exist now? Are most Americans confident in their country’s potential to fix itself? At times, both halves of America’s culture chasm might seem like a slowly disintegrating family that continues to do it for the children, perhaps a macrocosm for the domestic unit, perhaps a metaphor that highlights a solution. Although metaphorical, there is a parallel ethical consideration: how should we deal with a fracturing family? Should the states divorce themselves, or should they stay together for the sake of their citizens, their institutions, their industries, their economies? Or have Americans grown up enough to go their own way? Secession, balkanization, and civil war can be violent and historically tumultuous processes, however an America that is arguably at its worst could be desperate enough to split over fundamental human rights.
Is Abortion a Human Right?
So then if the Constitution and the Bill of Rights within it should only consider themselves with those universal, inalienable rights, those human rights, should the right to abortion be codified for all Americans? For some it might be a suitable update to the Constitution, which last saw an amendment submitted for ratification over 200 years ago, however the ongoing stalemate (or war of attrition) that permeates the American political and cultural landscape makes the likelihood of such solidarity dim. Ethical standards are changing though, and as progressives redefine norms, so too do conservatives reiterate traditions, so too do true maximalists for liberty advocate for both.
My Body, My Choice
If abortion is a human right, so too then is suicide. Suicide is our ultimately inalienable right, and complex enough such that although it may be considered unethical, in America, it is considered legal, and although suicide is legal, voluntary euthanasia is considered illegal. Already these terms become minced, for what is voluntary euthanasia if not suicide? The differences will be subtle but deep. Policing how people end their own lives could be an infringement on our fundamental right to die. And just as there is an abortion industry that traffics in genetic material from terminated pregnancies for scientific research, so too might there be a suicide industry that benefits from the consentual death of individuals. Many large corporations are now offering logistical support to help employees gain access to abortions after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. These companies greatly benefit from accessible abortions because pregnancies are expensive for business; there is incentive to discourage pregnancy. So too perhaps might companies encourage and offer access to easy and painless suicide for any number of unforeseeable financial or scientific or humanitarian reasons. Does a mother whose young children depend on her to live still have the right to suicide? It is her body afterall. The correlation is tenuous however it might illustrate some logically induced ethical complications that arise from a permanent and inalienable right to decide what happens to our own bodies.
The popular side of the abortion issue is the side most promulgated by the media, which is arguably a matter of human rights as I’ve discussed. There is however a less popular side to the subject wherein genetic material is donated to and harvested by medical clinics before being marketed and sold to industry and academia. These fetuses contribute to the development of technology, medicine, even food. It stands to reason though that the issue of any scientific or technological utility of human fetuses should be entirely unrelated to a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. Unfortunately, much of the sophistication of the social programming seen through media and political campaigns that support a woman’s right to abortion will be funded by the industries and institutions that directly benefit from her abortion. Of course it is the nature of capitalism to monetize any form of potential.
Don’t Tread on Me
Here I will conclude with some insights:
- Roe v. Wade was a civil rights precedent that was vulnerable to and ultimately overturned by a court. Real and effective abortion law should be made at legislative level through amendments to the United States Constitution, not at the judicial level through case precedents.
- Because America is so divided by political intra-hostilities, meaningful abortion legislation may be unlikely to be codified, as it would require popular support and political compromise, neither of which America currently enjoys.
- If America can’t reconcile their human rights, it should disband and form sovereign nationstates that are unbeholden to one another and are free to act in their own self interest and according to their own values.
- If abortion is a human right, so too then is suicide.
- The right to abortion should be a completely independent issue of what is done to aborted fetuses.
- The abortion debate is distorted by institutions that have a financial incentive to perpetuate and/or prevent abortions. You are of little political use when you are thinking critically and appreciating nuance.
Liberty and freedom are absolutely paramount to democracy. Human rights issues will make and break nationstates. Although it might seem counterintuitive, increasing our freedom to govern our own selves and communities will result in the manifestation of our best destinies.