Thursday, August 12, 2010


In the wake of the Prop 8 decision I went and re-read summaries of Griswold v. Connecticut (the first to dig a right to privacy out of the Constitution), Roe v. Wade (right of privacy gives the right to have an abortion), and Lawrence v. Texas (right to privacy includes sex).

Now, I do believe we should dig a right to privacy out of somewhere in the Constitution, and these are all really important decisions and I'm glad we have them. Everyone deserves access to contraception, women deserve full rights to make decisions about their bodies (not that Roe gives them that exactly, but whatever), and consenting adults should get to have whatever sex we want. The people who hate those decisions are frankly terrifying, with their violent anti-government and anti-liberal rhetoric, and their actions showing that their truly held principle is that the government should enforce the rules of their sub-sect of Christianity. So I'm okay with being stuck with the rulings.

That said, the legal reasoning is a little...weird. I guess you can blame it on the Ninth Amendment, which says:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
To me, this seems to say pretty clearly that just because there are rights enumerated in the Constitution, that doesn't mean that's all the rights we have. I think the writings of the Founders back this up, but for some reason, it seems to get a narrower reading. But for some reason, courts have thrown up their hands and said "We don't know what this means, so we better not mess with it much." (Any lawyers reading, I'd love some help with understanding it.)

The softened shibboleth for "abortion is wrong" on the Right is often "I believe Roe was wrongly decided." There's no denying it's a sort of a tangle, which leaves me in the awkward position of saying "You might be right, except your preferred outcome is INSANE." Unfortunately, that level of honesty is perilous in a discussion with people who only see absolutes.

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