A Few Questions on Abortion for President Biden Following SOTU Speech

 

With so many issues competing for headlines, it would be easy to overlook President Joe Biden’s stumping for abortion during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

After all, it’s been almost 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its disastrous Roe v. Wade ruling striking down protections for unborn children and their mothers. Presidents have come and gone while more than 60 million Americans have lost their lives to the violence of abortion.

But this is a different moment. Thanks to a case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a direct challenge to Roe that should be decided at the High Court by this summer—abortion advocates may find themselves playing from behind on the issue for the first time since 1973, when President Biden was a freshman Senator from Delaware.

Worried that a decision in Dobbs will upend the longstanding regime of abortion, the urgency for President Biden’s party to protect this Court-invented “right” is palpable.

On Monday night, the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act” stalled out in the Senate. Akin to New York’s extreme 2019 “Reproductive Health Act,” the bill is for a dramatic extension of Roe. Along with establishing abortion-on-demand as a fundamental right throughout all nine months of pregnancy, the Act would invalidate almost every state law regulating abortion, including the most basic and commonsense—significantly ratcheting up the physical risks abortion poses to women.

With the failure of the Act (the latest in an ongoing string of attempts to “codify” Roe) taking place just 24 hours earlier, President Biden seemingly urged Congress to give the approach another go. And in doing so, he couched his support for abortion up to and including the point of birth as part of the advancement of “liberty and justice.”

“Advancing liberty and justice also requires protecting the rights of women,” President Biden said. “The constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade — standing precedent for half a century — is under attack as never before. If we want to go forward—not backward—we must protect access to health care. Preserve a woman’s right to choose. And let’s continue to advance maternal health care in America.”

Before going any further, it’s worth asking whether President Biden has a definition in mind for “woman”—which he used twice in just a few short sentences. After all, his appeal for legislation to “[p]reserve a woman’s right to choose” to abort her child came just seconds before voicing his support for the so-called “Equality Act,” which promises to fundamentally redefine in law what it means to be a woman.

But that’s not the only question President Biden’s statements raise. For instance, what are we to do with the reference to “maternal health care”? Doesn’t the tacit admission that a pregnant woman is a mother require us to also recognize who she is the mother of?

Or, what interest in “liberty and justice” is served by the slaughter of an innocent child? Is the aborted baby able to enjoy freedom? Is justice in some way served by depriving the child of life?

Or, why does the idea of forward progress mean protecting a lethal form of discrimination that not only kills a defenseless child, but disproportionately targets minority communities and the disabled?

Or, what of President Biden’s appeal to “standing precedent for half a century”? Does the passage of time determine whether a Supreme Court decision was correct? Was the Supreme Court correct in 1857 when it decided in Dred Scott that a slave was not a person? It took several years, a bloody Civil War, and two constitutional amendments to finally correct that reprehensible decision.

But perhaps more fundamentally, the question we should ask is what President Biden—or many of his fellow abortion advocates—really means by “constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Constitution is composed of 7,500 words, including its seven articles and 27 amendments. Spelling out the enumerated powers of the federal government, America’s founding document is unique among national charters—rather than telling the people what powers it has, it runs the other way, with the people telling the federal government what it may and may not do.

Of course, nowhere in the Constitution will you find even the slightest scintilla of reference to a supposed “right” for a woman to end the life of her child through abortion. Nowhere in the Constitution did our nation’s founders grant to lawmakers in the nation’s capital the right to overrule state and local laws concerning abortion and the protection of innocent life.

That’s why, when the Supreme Court did just that in its 1973 Roe decision, the Court relied not on established constitutional law, but on a so-called “penumbras formed by emanations” of actual rights it had only recently identified in its 1965 decision Griswold v. Connecticut.

Edward Lazarus, who served as a law clerk to Roe’s author, Justice Harry Blackmun, said it well: “As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible.” The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was similarly critical of the decision, calling it “heavy-handed judicial intervention” that “halted a political process, … prolonged divisiveness, and deferred stable settlement of the issue.”

In Dobbs, the Court has before it an ideal opportunity to correct its past error and finally return the question of abortion to the people. Finally, the people would have their own chance to craft law and policies aimed at protecting innocent life.

That may not be good news for President Biden and his fellow abortion advocates, but it’s certainly closer to what America’s founders had in mind. And it’s the clearest path to advancing a culture of life—where every innocent life is valued, celebrated, and protected—once and for all.

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  1. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    The question on the abortion “debate,” for me always comes down the the statement of one of my favorite philosophers, fictional Detective Harry Bosch: “Everyone matters or no one matters.” And I don’t think anyone can seriously deny that the life in a mother’s womb is a person. Criminal law defines it as such, at any rate.

    • #1
  2. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Joe has no answers. He always tries to couch abortion as a religious debate on theology. The man is a disgrace. If only his bishop or the Archbishop of D.C. had a spine or testicles to excommunicate this fraud.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Joe has no answers. He always tries to couch abortion as a religious debate on theology. The man is a disgrace. If only his bishop or the Archbishop of D.C. had a spine or testicles to excommunicate this fraud.

    Let me guess, the reporter was just another lying dog-faced pony soldier?

    • #3
  4. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):
    He always tries to couch abortion as a religious debate on theology.

    Rescued by Jill.  

    • #4
  5. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    I only have one question. Who am I supposed to go get?

    • #5
  6. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Instugator (View Comment):

    I only have one question. Who am I supposed to go get?

    Them.  You know,  those people.

    • #6
  7. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Jay Hobbs:

    …That’s why, when the Supreme Court did just that in its 1973 Roe decision, the Court relied not on established constitutional law, but on a so-called “penumbras formed by emanations” of actual rights it had only recently identified in its 1965 decision Griswold v. Connecticut.

    …: “As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible.” 

    In Dobbs, the Court has before it an ideal opportunity to correct its past error and finally return the question of abortion to the people. Finally, the people would have their own chance to craft law and policies aimed at protecting innocent life.

    That may not be good news for President Biden and his fellow abortion advocates, but it’s certainly closer to what America’s founders had in mind. And it’s the clearest path to advancing a culture of life—where every innocent life is valued, celebrated, and protected—once and for all.

    Nice job capturing the key ideas and problems. Most abortion advocates deal with the cognitive dissonance of the “protecting the rights of the mother (mother of what?)…” by ignoring it or by a convenient (for them) definition of when Life begins. 

    The “right to kill” is an ideology and not impeachable by logic and facts for its more fervent believers. Seldom mentioned is the mental health of a woman who aborts her child and must live with that guilt. That is perhaps why so much effort goes into convincing themselves it isn’t really a baby.

    Like you, I hope SCOTUS returns this to the states. Then there is a chance to change the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens.

    • #7
  8. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    To avoid Ricochet becoming an echo chamber on this sensitive and divisive issue, I’ll speak on behalf of reproductive rights as they’ve been defined by our Constitution for the last 49 years.

    First of all, one person’s “baby” is another’s “fetus.” The hot rhetoric used in this debate doesn’t add to its civility. “Slaughter an innocent child” is not the right more than half of us in this country support, it’s the right of a woman or girl to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. 

    I do think reasonable people might agree that politically it was wise for Biden — I’m not a fan, by the way, I don’t even think he was properly elected — to single out abortion rights in his speech. The Supreme Court was probably his intended audience, and there they sat. I didn’t watch, but if the director was any good at all you saw a shot of Kavanaugh and Roberts when he brought it up.

    The second audience wasn’t people like you, it was people like me. Some of us are Republicans, maybe 30% or so of the GOP if you believe Pew. Biden wants us to get riled up should the Court reverse or weaken Roe to 10 or 15 weeks of privacy rights for pregnant females. [If they decide on 20 weeks, just past half of the usual incubation period, they just might hit a political sweet spot.] And yes, it’s fundamental, constitutional privacy rights that Griswold codifies, an increasingly important “emanation” of freedom which does cover more than a woman’s right to birth control in all 50 states — unless you’re opposed to that, too.

    Young voters, those most susceptible to accidental pregnancy, are a major voting bloc in this country nowadays. When I was in the coveted 18-34/18-49 demographics back during a prior milennium, the issue of abortion rights alone was why I voted Democrat for too long. So maybe it was a good plan for him to bring it up, because by this point a lot of us have taken reproductive rights for granted for half a century. 

    At this point I’d vote for President 45/47 regardless of his present take on abortion rights. But my advice to Governor DeSantis would be to hold off signing that 15 weeks bill on his desk until the court decides, or better yet send it back and tell them to write 20 weeks instead, better to position himself for a someday State of the Union speech where both sides of he aisle will have reasons to stand and applaud.

     

    • #8
  9. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    To avoid Ricochet becoming an echo chamber on this sensitive and divisive issue, I’ll speak on behalf of reproductive rights as they’ve been defined by our Constitution for the last 49 years.

    First of all, one person’s “baby” is another’s “fetus.” The hot rhetoric used in this debate doesn’t add to its civility. “Slaughter an innocent child” is not the right more than half of us in this country support, it’s the right of a woman or girl to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    I do think reasonable people might agree that politically it was wise for Biden — I’m not a fan, by the way, I don’t even think he was properly elected — to single out abortion rights in his speech. The Supreme Court was probably his intended audience, and there they sat. I didn’t watch, but if the director was any good at all you saw a shot of Kavanaugh and Roberts when he brought it up.

    The second audience wasn’t people like you, it was people like me. Some of us are Republicans, maybe 30% or so of the GOP if you believe Pew. Biden wants us to get riled up should the Court reverse or weaken Roe to 10 or 15 weeks of privacy rights for pregnant females. [If they decide on 20 weeks, just past half of the usual incubation period, they just might hit a political sweet spot.] And yes, it’s fundamental, constitutional privacy rights that Griswold codifies, an increasingly important “emanation” of freedom which does cover more than a woman’s right to birth control in all 50 states — unless you’re opposed to that, too.

    Young voters, those most susceptible to accidental pregnancy, are a major voting bloc in this country nowadays. When I was in the coveted 18-34/18-49 demographics back during a prior milennium, the issue of abortion rights alone was why I voted Democrat for too long. So maybe it was a good plan for him to bring it up, because by this point a lot of us have taken reproductive rights for granted for half a century.

    At this point I’d vote for President 45/47 regardless of his present take on abortion rights. But my advice to Governor DeSantis would be to hold off signing that 15 weeks bill on his desk until the court decides, or better yet send it back and tell them to write 20 weeks instead, better to position himself for a someday State of the Union speech where both sides of he aisle will have reasons to stand and applaud.

     

    Why am I thinking of King Solomon?  “Cut the baby in half, it’ll be fine.”

    • #9
  10. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    … .

    Why am I thinking of King Solomon? “Cut the baby in half, it’ll be fine.”

    If Justice Roberts proposes a permanent, national 20-week definition of pre-viability as a compromise, Justice Thomas may say just that.

    Then one of the two justices representing the actual faith of the Old Testament might correct him: “a fetus, not a baby yet.”

    And maybe a swing Justice will respond “a crude compromise perhaps, certainly crudely expressed, but worth considering.” Could most then agree to throw the rest of the fight back to the states, once and for all? Because that’s what a majority would surely like to do.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    … .

    Why am I thinking of King Solomon? “Cut the baby in half, it’ll be fine.”

    If Justice Roberts proposes a permanent, national 20-week definition of pre-viability as a compromise, Justice Thomas may say just that.

    Then one of the two justices representing the actual faith of the Old Testament might correct him: “a fetus, not a baby yet.”

    And maybe a swing Justice will respond “a crude compromise perhaps, certainly crudely expressed, but worth considering.” Could most then agree to throw the rest of the fight back to the states, once and for all? Because that’s what a majority would surely like to do.

    I wasn’t referring to splitting-the-difference in terms of legalese, I was referring to legalese viewing this as an issue of legalese, ignoring that even a fetus is a genetically different individual from the parents.

    • #11
  12. Jay Hobbs Contributor
    Jay Hobbs
    @Jay Hobbs

    Max Knots (View Comment):

    Jay Hobbs:

    …That’s why, when the Supreme Court did just that in its 1973 Roe decision, the Court relied not on established constitutional law, but on a so-called “penumbras formed by emanations” of actual rights it had only recently identified in its 1965 decision Griswold v. Connecticut.

    …: “As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible.”

    In Dobbs, the Court has before it an ideal opportunity to correct its past error and finally return the question of abortion to the people. Finally, the people would have their own chance to craft law and policies aimed at protecting innocent life.

    That may not be good news for President Biden and his fellow abortion advocates, but it’s certainly closer to what America’s founders had in mind. And it’s the clearest path to advancing a culture of life—where every innocent life is valued, celebrated, and protected—once and for all.

    Nice job capturing the key ideas and problems. Most abortion advocates deal with the cognitive dissonance of the “protecting the rights of the mother (mother of what?)…” by ignoring it or by a convenient (for them) definition of when Life begins.

    The “right to kill” is an ideology and not impeachable by logic and facts for its more fervent believers. Seldom mentioned is the mental health of a woman who aborts her child and must live with that guilt. That is perhaps why so much effort goes into convincing themselves it isn’t really a baby.

    Like you, I hope SCOTUS returns this to the states. Then there is a chance to change the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens.

    Thanks Max. “Mother of what” gets right to the heart of the issue, doesn’t it? It’s so common that it’s easy to swallow, but Biden’s reference to “protecting maternal health care” shouldn’t go unnoticed. Like you said, “mother of what”? If she’s not a mother, why use the word “maternal” there? Is there some alternative definition we’re not privy to or what?

    • #12
  13. Jay Hobbs Contributor
    Jay Hobbs
    @Jay Hobbs

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Jim Kearney (View Comment):

    … .

    Why am I thinking of King Solomon? “Cut the baby in half, it’ll be fine.”

    If Justice Roberts proposes a permanent, national 20-week definition of pre-viability as a compromise, Justice Thomas may say just that.

    Then one of the two justices representing the actual faith of the Old Testament might correct him: “a fetus, not a baby yet.”

    And maybe a swing Justice will respond “a crude compromise perhaps, certainly crudely expressed, but worth considering.” Could most then agree to throw the rest of the fight back to the states, once and for all? Because that’s what a majority would surely like to do.

    I wasn’t referring to splitting-the-difference in terms of legalese, I was referring to legalese viewing this as an issue of legalese, ignoring that even a fetus is a genetically different individual from the parents.

    Jim, thanks for presenting your view on this. I think you’d do well to consider what “fetus” means in the first place. As I’m confident you know, it’s just Latin for “offspring,” which in common parlance is what we call a “baby.” In other words, just saying the same thing in two languages doesn’t carry much freight.

    I don’t disagree with you all that much on the sheer political calculations, but I also can’t help but notice your admission that support of abortion is based on self-interest. At least that’s what I take away from you saying that you voted Democrat during your younger years because you really wanted to keep it legal. You wanted to be able to have sex without having to deal with the inevitable outcome, which is fatherhood.

    My question is how does that self-interest stack up ethically to the intentional ending of a defenseless, innocent human life? Put another way, how many innocent people are you willing to have killed so that you can have consequence-free sex?

    My answer is zero, and that’s why I don’t see polling approval of abortion as some morally neutral feature that we just have to live with. We need to be about the business of changing hearts and minds on this issue–starting with our own.

    • #13
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