21 June 2008

Just for the record

McCain has cultivated his image of a moderate, non-partisan sort of guy, someone who's not as ideological as the rest of the crowd. It's true that he's occasionally been against his party's orthodoxy, but not on one issue: a woman's right to choose. On this, he has been consistent in his belief that Roe v Wade should be overturned:

No disrespect to those who differ on this issue. But if you are concerned about the rightward shift on the Supreme Court, remember that Sandra Day O'Connor was the vote that kept abortion legal, and she was replaced by Alito. Justice Alito does not believe in stare decisis, that precedents (like Roe) should be allowed to stand. Abortion rights hang by a thread as it is, and it's no stretch to say that the next president could appoint two or three new justices to replace the aging liberal members of the SCOTUS.

The Supreme Court recently upheld habeas corpus rights by one vote. We can't afford another president who will appoint more right-wind ideologues like Scalia and Alito.

Elections matter.


  1. The SCOTUS ruling on Roe vs. Wade unconstitutionally took power away from the States, power which was rightfully delegated to the States through Amendment 10 of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. What the SCOTUS did in the 1970s was absolutely appalling, not because of the ramifications in the legality of abortions, but how a court of lawyers can so destructively trash the founding document of this country. If States want to legalize or illegalize abortion, they are completely within their constitutional authority to do so; no previous court ruling, especially a court ruling which contradicts the U.S. Constitution, should be allowed to dictate the powers that the States rightfully have. Just because you agree with the end result, namely the prevention of States' legislatures from illegalizing abortion, does not mean the methods to get there are justified, namely the illegal ruling of the SCOTUS against the explicit text of the U.S. Constitution.

    Second, your comment about habeas corpus being upheld is quite silly. The U.S. Constitution grants the rights therein to citizens of the United States. Non-citizens are not under the jurisdiction of this country and thus are not entitled to the rights granted to the citizens. Habeas corpus was never meant to be extended to foreign citizens, especially foreign combatants. What the SCOTUS ruled is yet another example of dismissing the U.S. Constitution and ruling at a whim. It is really quite shameful what these lawyers have ruled.

    These decisions should not be cheered; the citizens of this country should be mourning how a handful of lawyers are trashing the U.S. Constitution on a whim.

  2. It bewilders me why both sides rabidly care about the issue and why so bitterly opposing a person for what they believe either way.

    Why do libs seem to have such glee about killing unborn babies?

    As a conservative ER doc I would rather see someone have an abortion than try to resuscitate a bruised, battered child in shock because it was unwanted and uncared for. Why don't conservatives recognize those future consequences?

    Flip side, If abortion were illegal the dependent helpless liberal population would swell even more than it is.

    But why do libs they care more about a spotted owl, sandfly, kangaroo rat than an unborn child?

    Why, why, why? There is such rabid disagreement that their will never be agreement so people should just quit getting worked up over it and accept it for what it is. Allow a woman to kill her baby if she wants, but let pro lifers try to talk her out of it or encourage other alternatives (adoption, preconception education)

  3. Peter,

    You state the roe decision contradicts the constition. Not so. It interprets coflicting provisions, in this case that guarantee of personal privacy over the states' sovreignty.

    I'm all for federalism in principle, but I think that fundamental rights (in this case bodily autonomy) should not vary by municipality.
    Furthermore your habeas point is completely ignorant. Nowhere does the constitution explicitly guarantee habeas rights to anybody. It is assumed. The CONUS certainly does not restrict habeas to us citizens.

  4. Anon,

    1 We care passionately because we believe bodily autonomy to be a fundamental human right.

    2 There is no glee.

    3. Understand that I and many others do not believe that a embryo is a baby. Therefore I reject your whole formulation of "killing babies."

    However, I respect and commend your tolerant approach. I wish more people carried the same attitude.

  5. Shadowfax,

    There is no provision for privacy in the U.S. Constitution. Certain aspects of privacy are implied in some amendments, such as the privacy of your own home not being violated by quartered troops, and the privacy of your belongings not being violated unless the court orders such a thing (lawful search and seizure). Amendment 10 states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The power regarding "privacy of abortion" is strictly not delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution, and there's no prohibition related to abortion either. There is no conflict with provisions as you claim. It is a very clear constitutional case that many would rather obfuscate for the sake of personal beliefs, namely that abortions should be allowed for whomever whenever. Further, Amendment 14 guarantees "life, liberty, or property" to all citizens of the United States. Unfortunately, this principle was abrogated by the ruling in the Roe vs. Wade case such that the government allows the legal deprivation of life of humans without due process.

    Regarding habeas corpus, it is explicit that congress can not suspend habeas corpus except in "Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." In other words, all those under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution, which means all U.S. Citizens and not foreign combatants, have the privilege of Habeas Corpus unless Congress suspends it. Where in this is there a provision for foreign combatants to receive these privileges? There is no such provision, but a small group (5 judges) have declared into law something which was not in the U.S. Constitution.

    Legislating from the bench is a power not given to the Judicial Branch, yet this is a power which some in the SCOTUS have taken upon themselves. This is, again, unconstitutional.

  6. Peter,

    What fun! It's "amateur lawyer day" here in the medical blogosphere.

    Before you get all Tenth Amendment, "Powers reserved to the states" on me, take a moment to review the Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." That's the one conservatives like to pretend somehow the Founders didn't really mean. The SCOTUS held that there was a reasonable expectation of the privacy and integrity of one's body (as well as certain other things such as sexual practices and contraception) and this right, retained by the people, may not be restricted by any governmental body -- state, local or federal.

    So it's not a case of the Federal government arrogating powers to itself which ought to be left to the states. If you disagree with Roe, the logical point of disagreement was that the SCOTUS was wrong to find that such a right exists. Which is a valid, though disputed, argument.

    The 14th Amendment does not apply because an embryo is not defined as a human being under Federal Law. Only human beings have due process rights.

    As for Habeas, I am not sure where you get the contention that the rights of the people, in the CONUS, are restricted to citizens only. All people, be they citizens, resident aliens, or even illegal aliens are possessed of their rights. "Foreign combatants" is not a construct recognized under constitutional law. Witness the cases in which an illegal alien has their convictions overturned because their due process or fifth amendment rights were violated. The best argument against the Boumediene decision would be that it inappropriately extended habeas outside of the territory of the US, not that it was extended to non-citizens.

  7. What Peter said.

    As a fun fact, I was "okay" with abortion with the caveat that I'd never have one myself until I saw enough 2nd trimester miscarriages @ my job to say "um, no". Seeing a 16 or 20-week miscarried baby is one thing, but the idea of seeing the same baby knowing that it was living just fine until the "autonomous" termination of its life is another. I think as a legal compromise, a first-trimester abortion could be appropriate for legislation (with each state deciding), but I think a 2nd trimester abortion is unethical and not-to-mention creepy, except in extreme circumstances.

  8. Civics 101 lesson:

    The point of the Constitution was to keep the government from turning into England's with a king or queen holding most of the power and the people having little-to-none. Anything outside of a government taking control over peoples' homes and things without them having any (representative) power to change that (except during very special circumstances) is really outside the scope of the Constitution. The President can't just take over your land for himself because he's the President. The President and Congress have to be elected by the people, not simply declared President due to birth into a specific family. People should get trials and be treated fairly in court, not imprisoned for things like political dissonance. People should be able to discuss politics freely without fear of retribution, etc.

    It's not "doctors should be able to terminate pregnancies" if a woman wants it to be terminated. Doctors couldn't even do a pelvic exam in 1776 (and really couldn't until the early 20th century) for religious and politeness reasons, and such things have nothing to do with the intention of the Constitution. America was at war with the monarchy system of government and arbitrary laws from unelected people with no course of action to rid the country of said laws. I don't see how legalizing abortion specifically prevents tyranny.

  9. 3. Understand that I and many others do not believe that a embryo is a baby.

    a.) If it's not a baby, what is it?

    b.) When you are treating a pregnant woman in the ER, do you ever refer to the embryo as 'baby' and if so, why?

    The problem of abortion is never going to be solved politically.

  10. Yeah, what Theresa said. I am curious for you answer.

    SF, when a concerned woman comes in to the ER with first trimester bleeding and/or pain and concerned about their baby do you say, "OK let's check out your embryo" ??

    Even the most liberal people I know would say:

    "Your baby looks ok on ultrasound"


    "I am sorry that you lost your baby"

    Come to think of it, I don't think I have ever heard even the most liberal patient refer to their baby as a fetus.

  11. he has been consistent in his belief that Roe v Wade should be overturned

    Not exactly consistent.

    I don't think either of the candidates up for POTUS will make a particularly good President. For the first time, I'm conflicted about whom to vote for. I really don't want to vote for either of them. I go back and forth between the known bad candidate and the unknown bad candidate. Sort of a devil-you-know vs. devil-you-don't-know dilemma. Whichever devil wins, let us all pray that the losing party this year will nominate someone truly great in 2012.

  12. @teresa & anon:

    3. Understand that I and many others do not believe that a embryo is a baby.

    a.) If it's not a baby, what is it?

    Biologically, it is an embryo.

    Conceptually, it depends on your point of view. How you define your variables will determine at what point you call it something else. In this particular instance and debate, I would define and embryo as part of a woman's body, insofar as it has no ability to survive outside of that environment. Just as any other part of her body would not survive, if removed from her body.


  13. As a biology major I understand that it is an embryo or fetus depending on the developmental stage....even the most liberal in ideology would generally refer to it as a baby. If you (or your wife) were expecting I highly doubt you would refer to it as an embryo or fetus. If you do (or did) that would be creepy.

    However, when a different outcome is desired liberals are great at playing at defining definitions that allow them to feel less guilty and better about themselves.


  14. I generally call it a baby if it's viable, and a fetus or embryo if it's dead or threatened. This is not for politics, but because when you've just finished evacuating the contents of a partial miscarriage, "dead baby" are not the words the patient wants to hear -- and no matter how you phrase it, that's what she'll hear. Clinical terms like embryo or fetus are less likely to provoke the emotional reaction -- believe me, this is first-hand knowledge. (and yes, I do express appropriate empathy, support, etc.)

    But just because we refer to it colloquially as a "baby" at 8+ weeks does not mean it is a baby at 8 weeks. If it were, would we not hold a funeral and bury the deceased in the event of a miscarriage?

    I think Nurse K said it well above, and I think we agree on this fundamental point -- there is a world of difference between a blastocyst and a 38-week fetus. While I personally have zero moral concerns for the soul of the blastocyst, as a pregnancy enters and progresses through the second trimester, well that is different, and like many others, I am uncomfortable with late-term abortions.

  15. K,

    Re: Civics

    Strange as it may be to say twice in a row: we have a lot of agreement. The Bill of Rights exists almost exclusively to limit the power of the government. Exactly. I think the government does not have the right to outlaw my wife's contraceptives (Griswold v Connecticut, 1965), nor to forbid sodomy(Lawrence v Texas, 2003), nor prevent women from terminating their pregnancies.

    Put more simply, I want the government out of my bedroom and hands off my body.

    I have always found it odd that the conservative movement which generally favors limited government intrusion into our lives, also promotes increased government regulation of private personal (typically sexual) behaviors. I have always thought this was an odd consequence of the unholy alliance the Goldwater conservatives made with the culture-warriors, but wither way it's a striking inconsistency.

  16. "Hands off my body" and Roe v. Wade =The baby has no inalienable rights to its "life" nor "pursuit of happiness" until after it is at 20 weeks gestation. Until then, it's a uterine free-for-all.

    You think that the baby is not a separate human being with individual rights, I do. The point at which said baby is granted his or her inalienable rights is up for debate and will always be arbitrary, but the current "20 weeks" is far too late of an arbitrary limit.

    You've seen them be miscarried at 20 weeks, and so have I. That's a baby, dude, and the state should protect its inalienable rights. Next time you catch a dead baby, let's see if you can look at it as a right-less mass of cells dependent on the whim of the mother's "choices" to determine whether it should live or die. I dunno, maybe you don't think about dead babies, but I do.

    By the same logic, there should be no concern given to the baby when the mama drinks a fifth of whiskey daily because drinking is not illegal and mom has a right to drink even though the first trimester is where most of the rock-solid brain damage occurs in fetal alcohol syndrome, for existence.

    Also, "hands off my body" should make all drugs legal. Crack, meth, heroin... you name it, it should be legal to use it.

    Hm, on second thought, maybe government SHOULD try to stop people from doing certain things to their bodies? There are tons of laws protecting people from their own whims, choices, and idiocy.

    For the record, I don't give a rip-roaring F what anyone does in their bedroom as long as it doesn't involve violating the rights of the other person. Word to the wise: What you do in that bedroom may cause the "inconvenience" of a baby after about 9 months, however. Luckily, there are thousands of people in line for the opportunity for to relieve you of your inconvenience that aren't doing abortions.

  17. Oh, and PS...the blastocyst stage is done with before you even miss your first period, so abortions and blastocysts really shouldn't be talked about together.

    I'm still confused as to why when you can have a positive home pregnancy test the day after your first missed period and an abortion soon thereafter that anyone can really consider an abortion on an 8 or 9 inch-long baby ethical and a "viable" choice and a choice that is protected by the Constitution of the United States.

  18. Stare decisis is a faulty premise in law, equity and basic humanity.

    If stare decisis were a binding tenet of US Law, then the Dred Scott decision would still stand (For those who suffered a modern public school education, that USSC decision ruled that slaves were property, and helped precipitate the Civil War in the US). Further, the court would NOT have been able to issue the ridiculous Boumediene decision (or Hamdan) - the USSC had already adjudicated the issue in WWII in ex parte Quirin and again in Eisentrager

    And beware of unintended consequences: The treatment the terrorists received by the US, including indefinite detention at Gitmo is far better than what international law allows to be done to them: Immediate battlefield execution as spies (bearing arms, obeying orders of a an enemy leader, not wearing a uniform).


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