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Joke’s On Us: The Manipulation of Abortion in American Politics

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Let me start by saying this article IS NOTPro-Choice.” Nevertheless, this is article IS NOTPro-Life” either. This isn’t me attempting to give my personal feelings on abortion in any way. This is simply an observation where I have connected a few dots and used the process of elimination to conclude the information which follows (or as they call it in the scientific community, a “theory”). I felt obligated to begin this discourse with the disclaimer provided above because as I typed the headline I literally pictured Conservative Christians becoming infuriated at the prospect of me insinuating abortion may be “a joke.” However if you fit the demographic I just described, let me tell you this – I totally agree with you that it isn’t a joke; in fact, when I wrote this I specifically tailored the material to you more than anyone else.

A Brief History

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There is no American social issue that evokes a higher level of emotion than abortion does. I’m a firm believer in the notion that to have a clear understanding of where you’re headed, it’s imperative to know how you got there in the first place (particularly dealing with history) – so our journey begins in 350 BC with none other than Aristotle himself. His statement from almost 2400 years ago is precisely what our modern day argument’s STILL fought over:

[T]he line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive.

Talk about having a keen sense of foresight. Yet the lineage of abortion has roots in history dating as far back as 2700 BC to the Chinese empire.

Be that as it may, in American culture the practice was broadly unregulated heading into the 19th Century despite the fact that midwives who performed these services were systematically martyred as witches. In 1821 the first abortion regulation was enacted in Connecticut, but by 1880 abortion was criminalized in every American state. Then 1873 seen the passing of the Comstock Act which banned access to all information regarding abortion and birth control. This was more or less the sentiment in the country until the late 1960’s seen a shift in social ideology. Then it began – in 1967 the Therapeutic Abortion Act was signed into law by none other than *drum roll in the background* Ronald Reagan *gasp!* making California the second state to legalize the practice under special circumstances  (the first was Colorado). The American Medical Association took a firm stance in 1856 against abortion until they reversed it in 1970 – which proved to be a big year being that Hawaii and New York became the first states to legalize abortion at the request of the woman. Then this was abruptly followed in 1971 by repealing of the parts of the Comstock Act dealing with contraception and abortion. Still, all this was just a precursor leading up to the big one……

ROE v. WADE

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The date is January 22nd, 1973 – Roe v. Wade (along with the lesser known Doe v. Bolton) becomes one of the most controversial court decisions in modern American history, it read as follows:

State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a “compelling” point at various stages of the woman’s approach to term.

Ever since that critical juncture in time this has been the law of the land and abortion has remained legal. So that means next month will mark 44 years of Americans possessing the right to choose. During every election cycle I can’t help but notice a vast group of people using this very issue as a standard to base their voting preferences – on both sides of the aisle too which is perfectly fine. The thing that got me thinking though was this; what has happened in the past 43 years that’s kept Roe v Wade the status quo? What has been done to try and overturn it and what’s kept that from happening? My initial thought was 43 years seems like a terribly long period of time for this to be going on, but I get it – I really do. People will (and should) always fight for the issues that are nearest to their hearts, and that’s why this issue hasn’t lost any steam in nearly half a century.

Confusion Begins To Set In

My first thought in all this was Liberals must have fought vigorously to keep Roe v. Wade the law of the land. The opposition to the court decision seems nearly insurmountable and hasn’t waned in over four decades. Step one for me was to look into the Supreme Court so I could see the balances of power – what I stumbled into left me dismayed. To my surprise, Liberals lost control of the Supreme Court to Conservatives in 1971 – meaning what? You guessed it! Roe v. Wade was passed by a Conservative court. Upon reviewing the votes it gets even more interesting; not only did it pass, but it passed at a margin of 7-2. Those two “dissent” votes you ask?

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Above is a screenshot from the Roe v. Wade decision, the initial dissent vote was cast by Byron White, a Liberal justice who was appointed by John F. Kennedy. The other dissent vote that was cast was by William Rehnquist, ironically enough the ONLY Conservative to vote against it (that leaves FOUR Conservatives voting in favor of Roe v. Wade). Not only that, the Chief Justice during the decision was Warren E. Burger -a steadfast Conservative appointed by Dwight Eisenhower and made Chief Justice by Richard Nixon. Plus the court’s opinion was written by Harry Blackmun – another staunch Conservative at that time, who was also an appointment from Nixon. Now I can honestly say I’m puzzled. We have a ruling Republicans have been fighting to overturn for 43 plus years.. that was actually implemented.. by other Republicans? Those who identify as pro-life Conservatives should be furious this occurred – this is easily one of the biggest gaffes the Republican party has ever done to itself. Still I shrugged it off as a coincidence after coming to terms with how we got in this mess. That’s when I decided to look and see how hard Liberals had to fight to keep the decision alive post-1973… Yet once again… I was perplexed…

Definitely Confused Now

So now that we know Conservatives took control of the Supreme Court in 1971 and Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, I’m going to point out that all of this happened during the tenure of Richard Nixon. The last Liberal appointment before the Nixon administration was Thurgood Marshall in 1967 who was followed by Nixon’s first appointment – the new Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. I thought to myself that Liberals must have had a major battle over the Supreme Court that drug these shenanigans out this long, it had to be! I was wrong again. Starting with Warren E. Burger in 1969 (contrary to my expectations) Republicans appointed a whopping TEN Supreme Court justices consecutively! Not one.. Not two…. TEN.. As a matter of fact, Liberals didn’t get any appointments until Bill Clinton was elected. Those two occurred in 1993 and 1994 while passing almost unanimously in both instances (suggesting his picks had a great deal of Republican support). In case you’re not keeping count, that’s an ENTIRE 26 YEARS of consecutive Conservative appointments. Look at the Supreme Court party affiliations for yourself here, since I know this is getting harder and harder to comprehend the deeper we go into this rabbit hole.

Since the appointment of Thurgood Marshall, 16 justices have been added to the Supreme Court and of those, 12 have been Conservatives chosen by Republican Presidents (for the mathematically challenged, that’s 75%). So here’s the recap: abortion was not only solidified into law by Conservative justices – a Conservative majority has maintained control of the Supreme Court for the entire 43 years of the law’s existence – still, they HAVE NOT overturned it in this 43 year span – still, it’s a top social issue in their party platform every election cycle – a law that THEY made – and they campaign against it IN SPITE of the fact they’ve had the ability to overturn it this entire time?!  AND STILL HAVEN’T DONE SO… Please tell me what it is that I’m missing here?

But Why Though?

My conclusions aren’t intended as a means of provocation towards Conservative readers in any way. I stated in the beginning that I tailored this message to you for a reason and this is why – you should be highly upset with the above information. The intent is to have you look at this and ask yourself “how did this happen?” Upon reviewing these facts without a possible motive in mind it’s still rather daunting by itself. Beyond that however when you begin to ask “why did this happen,” that’s when the mind tends to wander to Glenn Beck/Alex Jones territory.

A common cliche I’ve heard people say in the past is “cancer makes too much money off of patients, there’s no money in a cure” – yes I know, another unfounded conspiracy theory that holds zero weight other than it sounds edgy. However if you think back to the start of the article regarding people who allow their passion for abortion lay the foundation for their vote, it kind of does make you think a bit. Could reversing the ruling be “bad for business?” If Roe v. Wade was overturned and the issue lost steam, how many passion votes would be lost? What effect would it have on future voter turn out? Does this potentially change the dynamic in swing states? I hate to say it, but one almost wonders… could this be intentional? Maybe they never intended to overturn it at all. Maybe they realize they would strip themselves of something that guarantees votes. Maybe they never counted on us catching on. The thought of politicians manipulating people by using their purest personal beliefs disgusts me, but can we honestly put it past them? And that goes for both sides. Let me end this section with another cliche: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, flies like a duck, then it’s probably a …..” You see where I’m going with this.

Future Outlook

Fast forward to now: Donald J. Trump was just elected to be the next President of the United States. One of the biggest implications from his victory is he will get to fill the vacancy currently open on the Supreme Court which is currently a 4-4 gridlock. This means Trump gets to add the new justice that will be the deciding vote in future court decisions. That would indicate there is a possibility of Roe v. Wade finally being overturned in it’s 44th year of existence, or at least during his presidency. I know what you’re thinking, “if it gets overturned then wouldn’t this prove your theory wrong?” Not exactly. I believe there’s a way to “overturn” the decision and still keep the passion votes Republicans have obviously been so reluctant to let go of for decades. The answer: State’s Rights. You don’t make it illegal you just overturn the decision which gives the deciding power back to the states, then leave it alone. Now Trump can forever be “the guy who overturned Roe v. Wade” while simultaneously allowing states the chance to embark on internal wars dedicated to abortion which keeps your passion votes alive. This is a clear cut win-win scenario for Conservatives, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned this is how I expect it to play out.

Let me reiterate the fact that I find the idea of manipulating voter values for political gain repulsive. Let me also reiterate the fact that even if this massive miscue on abortion isn’t intentional, the last 43 years have still been a failure on the part of the Republican party regarding staying true to the beliefs of the voters who placed them in office as it was these officials who made these justice decisions. With everything going on today I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for this nation; but as long as we all keep bickering among ourselves we will keep eachother distracted and allow situations such as this to happen right under our noses while those in positions of authority look down laughing at us knowing we took the bait. Unfortunately, I guess the joke’s on us.

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Categorised in: Abortion, Progressive

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