“S.1696, The Women’s Health Protection Act: Removing Barriers to Constitutionally Protected Reproductive Rights.” Sounds like a wonderful piece of legislation, doesn’t it?
How about this one: “Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.” This law appeared to be so charitable!
Also referred to as the Enabling Act, this 1933 disaster allowed its leader to enact laws without the participation or approval of the legislature. It “effectively mean(t) the end of democracy in Germany and establish(ed) the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.”1 How euphemisms can deceive!
Now, of course, the U.S. Senate Bill 1696 would not grant President Obama the same kind of all-encompassing powers granted to the murderous German chancellor. It doesn’t even address the executive branch directly. While it doesn’t pertain to our President’s unconstitutionally expanding powers, this law does give a steroid shot in the arm to the federal government. The overreaching of its authority, under a carefully crafted misnomer, is still cause for serious concern.
S. 1696 is designed to elevate the authority of the federal government as supreme over the states with regard to the states’ right to moderate the killing of babies. It wants to override “heartbeat laws,” those laws which respect the pain and suffering of the unborn being destroyed and laws which require information be given to the pregnant woman prior to her final decision.
FIRST OBJECTION: IT IS A MISNOMER
This law is not really about “women’s health protection.” Its aim is to permit abortion under any and all circumstances. The truth is, abortion is “a social decision, a decision made by women to deal with situations in their life that almost never have anything to do with their life or their health.”2
CONSTIUTIONAL ELEMENTS OF ROE V. WADE HAVE BEEN DISTORTED AND MISUSED
The proposed law claims that “… there has been a dramatic increase in the passage of laws that blatantly violate the constitutional protections afforded women, such as bans on abortions prior to viability.”3
What constitutional protections for abortion? The majority decision for Roe v. Wade was authored by Justice Harry Blackmun who wrote that the Court’s decision was with regard to privacy and that “it is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”2
The issue was privacy. Justice Blackmun even stressed the limitations to be placed on abortions and its inherent dependency on medical consultation when he wrote: “For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician.”2 With S.1696’s abortion on demand, a doctor’s opinion is rendered unimportant.
The Court’s unconstitutional attempt to legislate in this case is further repudiated by Justice Antonin Scalia’s reference to Roe v. Wade in his dissent from the majority opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He wrote:
“The issue is whether it [abortion] is a liberty interest protected by the Constitution of the United States. I am sure it is not. I reach that conclusion, not because of anything so exalted as my views concerning the ‘concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.’ [Quoting the rhetoric in the majority opinion]”
“Rather, I reach it for the same reason I reach the conclusion that bigamy is not constitutionally protected—because of two simple facts: 1) the Constitution says absolutely nothing about it, and 2) the longstanding traditions of American society have permitted it to be legally proscribed.”4
14th AMENDMENT DOES NOT APPLY TO S.1696
Section I of the 14th Amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.5
OK, so the supporters of S.1696 believe that they are permitted to abolish all existing state laws prohibiting any aspect of abortion because these laws deprive women of an essential “right.” Unfortunately, they are mistaken. In writing part of the dissent to Roe v. Wade, Justice William Rehnquist stated:
“To reach its result, the Court necessarily has had to find within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment. As early as 1821, the first state law dealing directly with abortion was enacted by the Connecticut Legislature. By the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, there were at least 36 laws enacted by state or territorial legislatures limiting abortion. While many States have amended or updated their laws, 21 of the laws on the books in 1868 remain in effect today.”6
He concluded that, “There apparently was no question concerning the validity of this provision or of any of the other state statutes when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted.” Therefore, in his view, “the drafters did not intend to have the Fourteenth Amendment withdraw from the States the power to legislate with respect to this matter.”6
CONTRACEPTION ISN”T HEALTH CARE
“These restrictions harm women’s health by reducing access not only to abortion services but also to the other essential health care services offered by the providers targeted by the restrictions, including contraceptive services…”7
To begin, human pregnancy is not a disease. Worse yet, contraceptives are not medicines for this non-disease. The evidence is obvious. Or as Katie Short put it: “It stands to reason that drugs specifically designed to disrupt the normal functioning of healthy women’s bodies would not be good for them. And indeed, among other problems, hormonal contraceptives increase the risk of various cancers, tumors, heart disease and strokes.”2
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE S.1696?
This proposed law uses a precedent which “was litigated with one half-truth and lie upon another.”4 It treats a disease which isn’t a disease either with a method which either kills one of the two humans involved or endangers the health of the woman. And, it acts as if a certain constitutional amendment supports its sweeping action when it doesn’t.
How did this bill manage to get out of committee?
1 – from http://www.historyplace.com
2 – from “Will Roe Survive Us? By Katie Short, summer 2013 edition of Lifeline.
3 – from the text of S.1696 under “Sec.2.Finding and purpose,” paragraph 4
4 – quote from Michael Acquilano’s talk as presented in “Educating Students and Equipping Pro-Life Leaders,” by Dana Cody, summer 2013 edition of Lifeline.
5 – http://www.law.cornell.edu
6 – from Wikipedia
7 — from the text of S.1696 under “Sec.2.Finding and purpose,” paragraph 7