Wrong rationale

Posted By Horizon Staff March 3rd, 2013 in Opinions & Editorials : 0 COMMENTS

As I read Ms. Postal’s response to Mr. Gruber’s article this week, I couldn’t help but cringe at the sight of the Roe v. Wade facts. This is not due to my pro-life views particularly, but because Roe v. Wade is one of the worst rationalizations for legalized abortions. The string of rationale for writing the right to an abortion has some legitimate points, but in the end is a terrible way to set precedent.  Caitlin clearly asserts her right to privacy and does so with the Courts on her side, but where is this right really?

In order to explain this I have to go back to a case called Griswold v. Conneticut (1965)#, in this case Justice Douglas explains where we can find the right to privacy.  He uses the most solid form of evidence: an analogy (for those who are unclear, I am being sarcastic).  He points to the 5th and 14th amendments as lights that shine across the other amendments, casting shadows.  These shadows are where the specifics of what the rights protect lie. The freedom of the press does not specifically include television (mostly because we did not have television at the time of the Constitution’s ratification), but we see this as a form of media that should be protected within that freedom; this freedom lies in the shadow of the 1st amendment.  So one of these shadows must be where we find the right to privacy, right? Not exactly.  He continues to expand the analogy by saying some rights lie in the “penumbras1” of shadows. What is a penumbra? I am glad you asked.  According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary it is “a space of partial illumination between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light.”# You know when you cast a shadow and there is that thin line of not-quite-shadow-but-not-quite-light? That’s where your right to privacy is. Yep. It lies in a fuzzy, almost non-existent line.

Now that you understand where your right to privacy lies, let us find where a women’s right to have an abortions is. Justice Blackmun, who gave the opinion in Roe, says with obvious confidence that: “In varying contexts, the Court or individual Justices have, indeed, found at least the roots of that right [privacy] in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights.”# So now we have only the roots of privacy in the penumbra of the shadows of rights…that sounds compelling.  He also assures us that the legal definition of privacy is “broad enough to encompass a women’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”3 No reason is given for why this is, but with that the court gives a brief summary of why pregnancy is a potential burden, ignoring alternatives completely.

There is no question that pregnancy can be uncomfortable, but if you haven’t dealt with the question of personhood that isn’t any reason to include it in this so-called “broad definition” of privacy…. I had no idea you could fit anything broad into a root on the edge of a shadow anyway.  This article is far too brief to deal sufficiently with the faulty reasoning behind the Court’s ruling on viability, but I would encourage you to read the actual text of the case yourself.  To those on the pro-choice side of this debate, I would strongly encourage to look into the reasoning behind the right to your choice. Because if you are going to stake your claim on your right to privacy and your subsequent right to an abortion, know that you are standing in a tiny dot off a root on the fuzzy edge of a shadow in a Court analogy.

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