Comment: "IF... abortion is murder,

(See in situ)

"IF... abortion is murder,

"IF... abortion is murder, then why wouldn't the federal government make a law against it?"

The way it generally works is that states make criminal laws. If a citizen has been convicted by one of these laws, he can appeal his conviction through higher levels of state courts, then federal courts. If his case is overturned in higher court, most notably the Supreme Court, than the state which originated the conviction as well as other states with similar laws are put on notice that the law has been judged to infringe on constitutional protections.

In other words, the federal government does make the law, but federal courts watch-dog state laws for constitutional infringement.

Or abortion isn't federally legal in the sense that there is a federal law making it so. But in the sense that the SC decided state laws preventing abortion infringed on constitutional rights to privacy.

I believe Oregon did legalize assisted suicide while back. Not sure the status of that law. If a case made it to the SC and it was shot down, or if Oregon citizens overturned it, or if it is still legal.

The point is that challenges to state laws are usually initiated by effected citizens through the court system, rather than by lawmakers through the legislative process.

That may all be beside the point in your general quest to iron out your thoughts on abortion, but I think it's important to get the process by which these things are worked out firm in one's mind.

In some of the responses below, the issue of health of the mother came up and I just wanted to point out that the Roe decision did spell out that states were not out of line to limit abortions in the third trimester, unless the life or health of the mother were at risk. That health exception has by and large been interpreted to include mental health, which has made it tricky for states to limit third trimester abortions in a meaningful way.

On your question about results (laws won't stop abortion and could make them more dangerous for pregnant women), I'm always leery of reasoning that invokes results too early in the process. I'm not against taking into accounted presumed results at the tail end of decision making, but only at the end. If you take account of results as a foundation, you end up with pragmatic decisions that rarely give due to freedom and liberty. If that makes sense. In the short term, freedom and liberty are messy and inefficient and people suffer. So if we base our decision making on creating less suffering, more efficiency and so forth, we are at greater risk of those decisions limiting freedom. If that makes any better sense.

When it comes to defining abortion as murder, I think we'd be wise to parse the words so that we encompass where both sides of the debate are coming from. Everyone, pretty much, agrees that abortion is killing a life and a human life at that. The rub is whether the killing is justified, and therefore just killing; or unjustified and therefore murder.

it's important to recognize that cultures have moved the justification line around a lot. For example, in some Alaska Native cultures pre-contact, when a woman gave birth to twins, one twin was routinely left to die of exposure. The practice placed this deliberate death into the killing category as justified because experience had shaped the culture's morality. That experience was that many of the women, living on the edge physically, would not have enough reserves to nurse two babies and that often both babies and sometimes the mother would die if she attempted to care for and nurse twins. What we would see as murder, for them, was killing. Examples of this sort of slippery line between how we parse killing and murder abound.

Moving to our own time and society, we still see a lot of sliding around. Look at the cases involving Christian Science devotees, who believe medical intervention goes against God's will. When such parents don't take their children to doctors and the child dies, they've been charged with murder. Here society is wrestling with what level of intervention separates killing for murder.

We also wobble around when it comes to disparity of force. If a woman draws a gun and shoots and kills a threatening man, she's far less likely to be charged with a crime than a man who shoots and kills another threatening man. We parse the line between killing and murder by so many circumstances and they are somewhat vague. In some states, if someone breaks into your home and you have the ability to flee your home, you could well be charged with murder if you shoot the intruder. (You could have left, i.e. removed the threat in a less forceful way than shooting). In other states, no matter what ability you had to flee, you are justified in killing an intruder.

I guess I'm saying that we shouldn't pretend the line separating killing and murder is bright, thick, or straight in most areas. Let alone abortion, which presents a unique relationship between the killer and killed or murdered and murderer.

One shift in thinking that I think could help in the debate is to shift the frame so we're dealing directly with the effected parties -- here the pregnant woman and the fetus she carries. The fetus is threatening the pregnant woman. (Not usually her life, in which case most folks agree that she is justified in killing such a threat. But her life in the sense of taking over her body for several months and having a great impact for at least 18 years.) The relationship certainly involves a huge disparity of force; the pregnant woman having far more force than in any other such situation I can think of. The thrust of most of our laws and legal precedent requires the party with more force to mitigate accordingly. Seems to me that if we framed the discussion about whether we're going to consider abortion killing or murder this way, we'd be on a different path with different ways of approaching it. A path that recognizes women as full moral agents, as powerful. With that acknowledgement of power, I think we'd find a correlating sense of responsibility. My ramblings on the subject, anyway. Hope some of it helps.