Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Decision That Changed Our World

35 years ago, on January 22, 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States authored a majority opinion that has ever since affected everyone in this country and influenced every political contest for the presidency. The decision was regarding a woman's right to privacy manifested in her right to have a legal abortion. The decision title was Roe v. Wade, and it changed the course of political history forever. Justice Blackmun was writing for a 7-2 majority that held a woman's right to privacy was the primary issue. Using a previous case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that recognized an inherent right to privacy, the majority opinion identified that the "liberty" protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution included "a women's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy," which decision was a fundamental interest that could be restricted only on a showing of a compelling state interest.

Unless one has been living on another planet or in a cave in the darkest regions of the Amazonian rain forests, everyone that has been to high school has heard of Roe-v-Wade at one time or another. Indeed, it is because of Roe-v-Wade, that we have abstinence only education regarding sex education in schools. It is because of Roe-v-Wade that we have had interest groups such as NARAL, Planned Parenthood and others on the side of abortion rights, and others such as NRL (National Right to Life), Operation Rescue, and religious organizations such as Focus on the Family, and Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority on the anti-abortion or pro-life side of the argument.

There have been subsequent opinions that have altered Roe v Wade by either affirming the general opinion (as in the case of Planned Parenthood v Casey, in which the court reaffirmed the opinion in Roe, but the dissenters, including Antonin Scalia who noted that abortion rights are of great importance to many women, but he found no constitutional guarantee of the right of an abortion), or that have restricted abortion rights as in the cases of Gonzales v Carhart where in April of 2007, the court in a 5-4 decision upheld the constitutionality of a Nebraska law outlawing Partial-Birth abortions. The court had earlier struck down the law because it lacked a provision for the health of the mother.

Suffice to say, this issue will be with us for some time. Since Roe v. Wade, there have been approximately 48 million abortions performed legally in the United States (Source: National Right to Life website) The number is dubious because of the bias of the organization conducting the count, who have decided the Centers for Disease Control have a significant under count in the number of abortions and have inflated it to the aforementioned number.

Regardless of the total numbers, abortions are declining in number and have been since 1990. There was a small spike in the number of abortions in 2002, but according to the CDC, the number has been falling since. This is encouraging news, as it seems that there is a leveling factor in the circumstances that occur when an abortion is sought. Indeed, the majority of the abortions that occur are among women lower than the age of 20. The highest amount of reported abortions are among those who are at the age of 15 or less. Comparatively speaking the ratio of abortions per 1000 live births is at it's highest among those 15 years of age or less, with a number of approximately 800 abortions for every 1000 live births. The numbers decline sharply between the ages of 15 and 34 where the ration drops to under 200 abortions per 1000 live births. At ages 35 through 40+ years, the numbers increase as the chart above indicates.
One can read many things into the data. One could say the declines in abortions are the result of the active and vigorous promotion of abstinence in schools. One could attribute this to the high-profile protests of groups such as Operation Rescue and other "Right to Life" groups. One could argue that people are smarter, and are using more contraception in order to avoid pregnancy, are abstaining from sex prior to marriage or the decision to have a child. It's almost impossible to determine the reason for the declines, because of the emotion around the organizations who track the data. There will be a bias in favor of one opinion or the other. However, it doesn't really matter why abortions are declining, only that they are.
OK, as anyone who has read this site knows, I'm a Liberal. I completely subscribe to the notion of the "Right To Choose". However, I also abhor abortion. I also believe that most people do. The myth that women use abortion as a means of birth-control is a specious and egregious lie. Abortion is a life-changing event. It is a termination of a life, no matter how one decides to argue it, and women who decide to have an abortion must make a decision that anyone not of their gender (guys such as me) have no conception of what they go through to make the decision. I've known several women who have had abortions and indeed when I was a young man, drove one of my best friends to the clinic to have her abortion. I can say without fail that these women were conflicted and did not make the decision lightly.
My opinion regarding abortions are as former President Clinton had said, "Abortions must be safe, legal and rare". I'll add to that the following: This is a woman's issue. Period. This is a democracy, and if the woman of this country through a super-majority (2/3rds of women of child-bearing age) decide to ban abortion, then I'll go along with it. Until then, the right to an abortion must remain.
Roe v. Wade or a variant thereof will be with us for some time. Supreme Court Justices will be selected (as they have been) on whether or not they will support Roe v. Wade. It is a tangled web of politicization that drives the opinion and perhaps it should be. The Court changes in accordance with general popular opinion, good or bad. It is one of the prices of liberty.
Tell me what you think,

Friday, January 18, 2008

Is Mike Huckabee Serious?

Today, a small report in the Huffington Post (click the title link and it will take you there) reports on a speech that Mike Huckabee made where he proffered support for those who are upset about John McCain calling the Confederate battle flag, (The Southern Cross) a racist symbol. Mr. Huckabee was given praise by a group known as "Americans for the Preservation of American Culture", and have independently of the Huckabee campaign aired an ad castigating John McCain and praising Mr. Huckabee.

Ok, We don't need to do a history lesson here. Everyone (I hope) who went to high school knows the story of the Civil War. Essentially, 11 states seceded from the United States to form the Confederate States of America. A terrible war spanned the years of 1861 - 1865 before the CSA surrendered at Appomattox. The war was responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 soldiers and countless civilians (and slaves).

The flag has been a hot-bed of controversy for years. "red-necks" bemoan the fact that they are losing their "southern heritage" if they can't wear the flag. Out and out racists dressed as southern politicians (yes, you David Duke), use the flag as an inflammatory device to get those with one less chromosome all excited and to the polls.

The flag is a symbol of racism. The South lost the war. The Southern States were traitors to their country. Why anyone would want to fly that flag is beyond this Southern born and bred (Texas). It is a sign of the worst of this country and should be consigned to the ash heap of history in my opinion. Mr. Huckabee, I hope for your sake that you don't really believe what you said. If you did, you're no better than those nimrods wearing the white hoods.

Tell me what you think,


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Take that Punditocracy!

Well, so much for the talking heads. According to the polls, the pundits and other prognosticators, Hillary Clinton and John McCain were essentially dead in the water. Double digit leads for Barack Obama were getting the talking heads at CNN, MSNBC, Fox Noise, and pretty much any other news outlet so worked up about an Obama sweep, you would think that Hillary had withdrawn her candidacy.

Senator McCain was supposedly yesterday's news, with Evangelical Mike Huckabee, CEO and Olympic saviour Mitt Romney, and Mr. 9/11 himself, Rudy Giuliani all supposed to run rough shod over the septuagenarian maverick from Arizona.

Boy were they/we/everybody wrong. It seems the only people who thought they would win the New Hampshire primary last evening were Ms. Clinton and Mr. McCain.

Just goes to show you how different this country is. With Iowa, you could see the energy that Obama and Huckabee had unleashed. New Hampshire voters said "hang on a minute". We'll vote the way we want to thank you very much.

Ms. Clinton brought women and older voters back into the fold. Mr. McCain, has always had a strong relationship with the folks in the Granite State. They gave him a primary victory in 2000, and have renewed his campaign with another 1st place finish.

So, it's on to South Carolina, Nevada, and Michigan. Who will win? Who knows. That's kind of cool isn't it?

Tell me what you think?


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Iowa's done, now on to New Hampshire

Well, Joe, it didn't work out. I'm sorry your campaign didn't catch fire as I still believe you are the best guy for the job. It's unfortunate that events in the campaign relative to Mr. Obama and Clinton overshadowed a clear discussion on the issues and in particular foreign policy.

So, Vaya Con Dios mi amigo. Go back to the Senate and reclaim the leadership position you've held as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. You and Senator Dodd, who decided to withdraw from the race as well, are examples of good, reasonable and experienced men who are imminently qualified for the job but overshadowed by the hype.

Ok, who do I support now? Well, I'm not declaring at this point. I have to seriously watch and consider the candidates going forward. I like Richardson and Edwards, but not am not a fan of either Obama or Clinton, but favor them over any Republican candidate. So, it's a decision I'll hold onto for a while.

As to the Republicans. It is the same old story, different verse. George W. Bush redux won the Iowa caucus. I'm talking about a former governor who loves the death penalty, has no foreign policy experience, and is a "nice-guy" who talked up a populist agenda and gained the endorsement of the conservative Christians in Iowa in a big way. His victory over Mitt Romney was considerable given the amount of money spent by the former governor from Massachusetts. Romney seems to be imploding taking shots from McCain, Huckabee, Thompson and all the other "stay the course" guys who think the last 7 years have been just great. I'm convinced that the people in this country want to go in a different direction. They want to go in a different direction on the war, on the economy, on our relations with the world, on science (all those who don't believe in evolution, raise their hands) and are tired of the degradation of our standing, our value in our money, our education system and want something fresh.

We'll see.

Tell me what you think,



Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

We here at Indies Are Us wish each and everyone of you a Happy New Year. Here's hoping that the year finds us closer to peace and that everyone experiences a better year than last year.