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Conservatism and Abortion

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Roar writer Samuel Pennifold on how political conservatives square individual rights with banning abortion, and why they need not. 

Every day it becomes harder and harder to be able to maintain a conservative ideology and a moral conscience. Since Roe vs Wade was ruled into law in 1973 it has come under assault from American political conservatives as a wedge issue for Americans around the country in elections at local, state, and federal levels. The original ruling was predicated on the judicial opinion that under the 14th Amendment of the American Constitution, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”, the government could not impose on the right to privacy and therefore the reproductive rights of females. This was balanced off with the duty of the state to also protect prenatal life by ruling that in the first trimester of a pregnancy the state had no right to intervene, during the second trimester the state could reasonably require health regulations on abortion, and in the third, the state could entirely prohibit access to abortion with clear exceptions for the health of the mother. Now, in a leaked court opinion on Roe vs Wade, SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) could be set to overturn this original ruling, citing it as unconstitutional and believing it should be an issue returned to the voters. 

The court may have a reasonable point that it should not be up to the partisan Supreme Court to dictate policy to the electorate, but in so suggesting this SCOTUS may as well overturn all its rulings where it has directly affected public policy. The Supreme Court should work to protect constitutional rights of every American and the laws of the American state. This ruling will not do this and only serve to damage the supposedly inalienable rights of American citizens. 

This ruling is little more than another twisting of the knot that conservatives in America, and for that matter in the UK and around the world, find themselves in to drive wedge issues whilst theoretically protecting individual rights. How the 14th Amendment can be interpreted in any way other than individuals have a right to do as they please and the state cannot impose upon this is beyond me. Conservatives will hold up this 14th amendment as evidence of a right to liberty and individual freedoms but simultaneously seek to limit these freedoms.

As a conservative, one should believe in small government, in the reduced overreach of the central government, in the rights of individuals over groups, and crucially in liberty and freedom. However, it seems many American conservatives are happy to throw out individual rights and freedoms in favour of a government just small enough to fit into a female’s reproductive organs. It is fundamentally unconservative to block a woman’s right to privacy, freedom, and the right to choose. Conservatives seem to forget that just because you allow abortions communists are not going to drag females out of Sunday morning church service and force them into having one. Pearl clutching conservatives view the figure that 1 in 4 American women have an abortion before they are 45 as terrifying, forgetting that means 3 in 4 do not. 

I believe most would say there should be reasonable limits on abortion such as over the gender of a foetus, or genetic conditions such as down syndrome. Only the most hardened would argue for abortion truly without limits. Most people are therefore on a scale of where they would personally draw the line, but to block access entirely is beyond extreme. It is archaic and truly ridiculous. If one cannot see the obvious need for the absolute minimum exceptions to total abortion bans in the cases of rape and incest then one truly does not have a heart. In the pursuit of the culture wars, the individual rights of females across America are being foreclosed upon.

Thankfully in the UK our unwritten constitution and lack of a truly American-style Supreme Court have so far managed to protect us from the whims of partisan judges and lawyers. But this should not be taken for granted, and any self-respecting ideological conservative should staunchly defend a women’s right to choose. Conservatives need not fear this choice but embrace it as the archetype of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 



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