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The Right to Reproductive Autonomy

If the court makes this mess, America will have to clean it up.

If the circulating draft is anything like the decision by the Supreme Court, there is but one remedy: amending the Constitution.

To that end, here is a draft article of amendment:

Section 1. The right to reproductive autonomy must not be denied or abridged by the United States nor by any State.
Section 2. No pregnancy may be terminated upon viability, except when it particularly threatens the mother’s life.
Section 3. The Congress has the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

What does that mean?

  1. Abortion will be legal and not subject to the whims of madmen. Any pregnancy may be terminated, whether for rape or incest or any other reason, up to viability.
  2. Pregnancy cannot be terminated once a fetus can live outside the womb. The only exception to that is when continuing the pregnancy or inducing labor or caesarean birth would result in death or major health complications for the mother.

I am not sure this would be the best language for a Constitutional amendment, but it’s what I think would work. Lawyers and experts will surely propose their own language and whatever is eventually ratified will differ somewhat.

It will take time and work to achieve such an amendment, but it is the only reasonable guarantee of a natural right to reproductive autonomy. The people of the United States will support the passage of such an amendment, though it will take a decade to get there.

First, what is required to amend the Constitution? Either you go through a convention (called by two-thirds of the states; has never happened before) or you get two-thirds of both Houses of Congress to propose it to the states. Three-fourths of the states (that’s 38 total) must ratify it.

Efforts will be made on both methods of proposal. Liberal states will quickly pass resolutions calling for a constitutional convention, and there will be proposals in states with mixed government, some of which may pass. There will be proposals floated in Congress. But without a reshaped politics, it will come down to grinding out better elected representatives to make it happen.

For the court to strip away women’s rights would reshape politics. There will either be moderate pro-choice Republicans elected, or that party will be throttled in their ambitions to allow for a mixture of independents, third-parties, and Democrats to do the work needed to enshrine this natural right in our written Constitution. Some of that will require new political alliances and forms. Some of it will result naturally from the media publication of the harms of denying women bodily autonomy.

That last part means citizens will suffer very real oppression from a pseudo-Christian cult’s misinterpretation of scripture and law. Some will die from bleeding and sepsis. Some will be imprisoned for working to secure healthcare for the vulnerable. But we live in a media age where hiding or dismissing the real harms will be impossible. Politicians, likely including Republicans, will have no choice but to affirm women’s rights.

That’s not to say it will be an easy struggle, but it will be necessary and it will happen. All of it will take a lot of work and voting. Please register to vote. Go on Ballotpedia and other resources to look into who’s and what’s on your ballot and when you vote on it.

There are other things that will likely happen along the way. The Supreme Court will be reformed. The filibuster rule may go away. But none of that changes the fundamental goal and outcome: Constitution or bust.

Thoughts on the Direction of the Gun Debate

Rubio’s “Laws Don’t Work” Argument

Senator Rubio argued that if someone is truly determined to carry out a horrific act, the law will not stop it. This is true, to a point. The argument bears much more heavily on demand-driven products like illicit drugs, but we don’t hear Rubio calling for the end of prohibition.

The gun case, if sensible legal hurdles block even one in a hundred, without significantly infringing on sportsmen, it’s hard to understand why we shouldn’t make that change in law. More importantly, if it fails to stop the madman from acquiring on the black market, then we can at least bring extra charges, ensuring the liability toward those supplying murder weapons.

All in all, we should take the steps we believe will help, and evaluate as we go (i.e., use science and reason).

Mental Health

Pass a bill if you think mental healthcare is the way to go. Please pass one anyway, as it’d do us all a lot of good to have the ailing be treated.

But it takes multiple components to create these massacres, and one of the necessary components is the gun and the ammunition. Over time, our ability to predict and treat may improve. For now, it is inadequate. Restricting guns is our best bet.

The NRA and Paid Actors

One of the repeated attempts to undermine changes to gun laws is to accuse people of being “paid actors.” Family members, schoolmates, and other community members affected by a shooting are all targets of this tactic.

But the people putting forth these accusations are invariably paid actors. Politicians that take money from the NRA. Right-wing media types are paid to be extremist soapbox goons. The NRA’s actual spokespeople, from their executive on down, are literally paid to stop proper functioning of government to regulate commerce.

If the gun regulation community wants to pay people to advocate, they should feel free to do so. The NRA has done it for over a century.

Other Ideas

Public notice or direct notification to guardians, the school or workplace or therapist, if someone buys a gun or ammunition. This matches with the anti-abortion parental notification laws. At least a heads-up could help either alert security guards and administrators, or maybe even spur reporting or clamoring around an unstable individual so that treatment be rendered before the worst happens.

Learn from previous bans and stop using silly surface characteristics to categorize weapons. Learn from other ban systems. Use a whitelist instead of a blacklist. Use an FDA-style (ugh!) marketing compliance system where they have to apply to sell a gun, an accessory that modifies a gun, etc.

Doing nothing is worse than stupid at this point. It’s grossly negligent. If the Republicans cannot bring themselves to do anything useful, it’s time for them to go. We need a conservative balance to the progressive and liberal impulses of the majority, but we cannot afford that balance to be an anchor against any common sense actions for the general welfare.

The NRA has a lot of sway, but they never actually pass anything or do anything to address the issue. They don’t pass a bill for mental health. All they do is take in money and spew out lies. The only way to stop a bad guy without a gun is to sell the bad guy a gun and let a good guy with a gun shoot him.

The bottom line on guns is as it has been since the late 1990s: with every act of violence the probability of major changes to gun laws goes up. The NRA, gun enthusiasts, whoever, can bitch about that fact but they won’t change the math one bit. If the NRA or gun owners or legislators want to forestall more bad laws from being enacted, they should work on solutions before that probability reaches 0.5 or greater.

The Need for Extreme Moderates

Goldilocks, the famous larcenist and squatter of bear homes, was once noted by the New York Times as being an extreme moderate. Unfortunately, she was devoured by her victims, so the world missed its chance for her to expound on her positions. I’ll try to take up the slack.

Goldilocks, the famous larcenist and squatter of bear homes, was once noted by the New York Times [This is not true.] as being an extreme moderate. Unfortunately, she was devoured by her victims, so the world missed its chance for her to expound on her positions.

But in the current political world of the USA, extremism rules the day. The extremes of corporatism and corporatism. Gone are the extreme moderates that have never existed and yet have prevailed by virtue of the fact that the government used to need to be functional.

These days, the corporations don’t depend on the government being functional, as they have the legal muscle to dodge any stray bullets from the contraption that is the modern government. Indeed, some of the corporations actively bet on dysfunction to keep their businesses thriving.

The only honest course for the world is one of extreme moderation. We must cut spending and raise taxes. We must invest in our infrastructure while avoiding supporting industries that ought to decline. We must provide a climate of relative certainty for our citizens, both against undue regulation and affirmatively that if they take a risk to start a business, their very lives aren’t at stake.

If you read the Constitution, you find extreme moderation. The right to religious freedom is extremely moderate, neither recognizing nor barring any set of religious beliefs. The right to free speech is extremely moderate, neither favoring nor barring speech. The right to keep and bear arms is extremely moderate, neither forcing the issue nor allowing it to be overtaken by an overzealous government.

The whole document is utterly balanced, at least in its intention.

When it comes to our current predicaments, it seems as though moderation is the filthiest word available. Nobody is willing to take the moderate position, in fear that one extreme or the other will drag them askance.

Let me be clear I am not speaking to social issues when speaking of moderation. Social issues have little place in the law. Gay peoples’ right to marry exists, and the government’s failure to recognize it is not legitimate. Women have the right to determine their bodily activities, and the government’s attempt to thwart that is not legitimate. Individuals have a right to due process, and national security is only a legitimate defense if the government can show that they have taken all necessary steps to attempt to mitigate that issue and protect civil rights.

Most of our current issues involve the size and scope of government. It is there that I point to moderation. There is a bright line, where on the one side you have private businesses engaging in public commerce using private resources, and on the other you have private businesses engaging in public commerce using public resources. In the former case, only minimal regulation ought be allowed. In the latter case, the public has the right to the benefit of our shared resources.

On defense, we have an interest in defending our nations, but only to the point needed, and that point is not based on the geopolitical climate of 60 years gone. When you have crossed the river, you do not carry the boat around on your back the rest of your life.

It is disrespectful to the generations past, present, and future, that we would waste our precious time trying to have everything at once, rather than one thing at a time.

The one side speaks of limited government, seeing the glass nearly empty. The other speaks of limited government, seeing the glass as nearly full. I’m not that thirsty, but I am yet thirsty. I’ll take a half-glass of government.