Today, tens of thousands of pro-life supporters rallied at state Capitols all across the nation and at the national mall in Washington D.C. The events today symbolized a Memorial for the Unborn, marking the 36th Anniversary of the Legalization of Abortion. Now, these rallies for the unborn face a questionable fate with the election of President Barack Obama. Since women were granted suffrage, a woman's right to choose has been on the national agenda, polarizing the nation, creating individuals who are vehemently either pro-life or pro-choice. Often, only few straddle the fence.
In 1973, the Supreme Court decided that most anti-abortion laws were unconstitutional and violated a woman's right to privacy as stipulated by the Fourteenth Amendment. The landmark ruling Roe v. Wade changed the landscape of abortion on a federal level. Regardless, states still had the right to exercise what kinds of abortion laws would be permitted, and some states like South Dakota were able to enact laws to counter the ruling. Besides South Dakota, most states redefined the ruling by including some stipulations. Stipulations such as minors requiring parental consent, spousal consent, a waiting period before the abortion, laws requiring that abortions be performed only at hospitals and not clinics, and other such laws. It seems however, that the laws most states have fought so hard for may soon be pulled from underneath their feet.
On the campaign trail, President Barack Obama spoke about abortion at a number of rallies. During the third Presidential debate, he expressed his views on abortion in what seemed like support for a pro-life agenda. But, his speech at Planned Parenthood rallies did not reflect what seemed to be his conviction on the night of the debate. On July 17, 2007, President Barack Obama promised that one of the first things he woud do once he assumed office was sign the "Freedom of Choice Act." Once in effect, the Freedom of Choice Act would make abortions a fundamental right, erasing many hard years of pro-life effort. The Act will in essence take away any rights states currently have. It would uphold Roe v. Wade to the full extent of the law, even erasing the need for parental notification that is still required for minors in most states.
The argument over abortion is sensitive. It has polarized the nation and has disallowed room for logical reasoning. Quoting President Obama, I would like to say that no one wants an abortion, but I know that statement is untrue. I understand the position of pro-life supporters because they echo my sentiments. On the other hand, I have never understood if the fight for a woman's right to choose was to provide a level playing field for women where they had access to making their own decision without interference or if abortions simply were just justified. I understand that in cases of incest or rape the decision to have an abortion provides recourse, albeit temporary. However, I am unable to reconcile giving minors who choose to engage in cavalier activities the right to terminate a pregnancy without parental cosent. If minors are refused dental procedures without parental permission then why should they be permitted to decide the fate of another individual without such.
I understand that abstinence does not work in all cases and it does not provide for a moral society. However, there is room for common ground and compromise. Compromise that makes sense, compromise that is within the confines of what we can agree on as a suitable definition for morality. Morality is relative, but I would like to think that we would all agree that a sexually active 13-year old is cause for concern. We may not agree on vending machines that dispense condoms or on birth control in our schools, but we should agree that sex education makes sense. We should agree that making individuals aware of the choices before them makes reasonable sense. My argument thus far seems narrow because it alludes to young people. However, the choice to have an abortion is not a decision only young people make. It is also made by women who are of age, who for some reason decide to terminate a pregnancy. The will is hard to bend and education and dialogue will serve both sides of the argument as we seek to forge ahead.
Tomorrow marks the third day of Obama's presidency. Over the coming days he will feel the pull of special interest lobbyist and will be expected to make good on most of his promises, the Freedom of Choice Act being one of them. Divesting any power states wield will only prove to so many that Obama was the wrong choice. Afterall, during the campaign, I heard expressed on several occassion how the "idea" of a "Barack Obama" was great. Nonetheless, some wished he were packaged a little differently or in some cases was a different person entirely. Already, the Obama adminstration seems hard at work. But in their quest for change, they might be undoing what others saw as a movement towards real change.