|Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced|
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Oliver Willis's page the other day, I ran across a rather long essay on abortion by Ben Kepple. What is interesting about this essay is the sentiment that he believes abortion is morally wrong, period. No caveats, no argument. This is a perfectly ok perspective to have (although I disagree vehemently), and he goes on to say that it is his religious beliefs that lead him to the conclusion, which brings us to the rub. We simply cannot make laws based on religious beliefs. That is far more wrong than any given act that we wish to outlaw. The establishment clause of the First Amendment is crystal clear on this point. This is why no judge, IMO even one that believes abortion is wrong, is likely to outlaw all abortions. There is lots of legal wriggle room, but to adopt the Catholic position that life begins at conception, and that contraception or abortion is wrong, would be a clear violation of the establishment clause. Some might argue that our Constitution and common law are based on the "Judeo-Christian ethic", but I don't believe that is true in the strict sense. All cultures and societies, I think (fact check my ass if you like), have basic prohibitions on anti-social or pathological behavior, at least against other members of that society. Although there are tribal societies in which very high murder rates are tolerated, in general a successful, cohesive society is dependent on some degree of guaranteed public safety. This naturally evolves to a larger code of laws, that tend to expand over time to include property rights, personal freedoms, etc as the society matures and advances. Getting back to the issue at hand, those of us who dislike the influence of religion on public life can take some solace in the strong Constitutional protection, and the likely protection it will give us to the interference in our lives by the "Religious Right". In the cases of abortion, homosexuality, contraception the battle has already been won by the forces of secularism and freedom, against religious oppression. That may seem like pretty harsh language, but it is actually a statement of fact. Organized Religon has oppressed freedom of choice at every turn in these and other areas, mainly to protect and enhance its influence. In fact, if you think about it, the list of topics I started with can be compressed by simply putting abortion and evolution under the umbrella of religion. My quick note has gone on too long, so I will come back to it later. The topic of evolution has been covered in these pages before , and although I will probably rehash it over and over again, I don't feel compelled to do so now.