Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Constipation Party, Part II - "Only if you acknowledge the irony."

This is the second post on one of my favorite topics: why the Constitution Party has it wrong. Please understand, I'm glad that they've formed a party and are engaging the country in a dialogue about how the government should operate. I just think that the way they want it to work is. . . stupid.

The Constitution Party includes in its platform the following statements under the heading, "Sanctity of Life":
The pre-born child, whose life begins at fertilization, is a human being created in God's image. The first duty of the law is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. It is, therefore, the duty of all civil governments to secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born....
Aside from the lack of scientific evidence to support the presumption that, "life begins at fertilization", my own religious beliefs do not support this claim. Assuming, however that their claim is true, the position they take based on that claim is inconsistent. They go on to state:
We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all unborn human beings, without exception. As to matters of rape and incest, it is unconscionable to take the life of an innocent child for the crimes of his father.
This language states that there are no circumstances under which an abortion may be legally performed. In a case where the life of the mother is at risk, the CP has already made the decision that the mother must die and the child must live - that the innocent blood of the mother must be shed to allow the innocent child to be born. This position ignores the inherent conflict in choosing which of two innocent people will live, thereby depriving mothers and fathers of the right to make the most personal decision they will ever be faced with. It is an example of the worst kind of state intrusion and is inconsistent with CP principles of keeping government out of people's lives.

Furthermore, their original statement regarding the protection of life states that:
No government may legalize the taking of the unalienable right to life without justification, including the life of the pre-born;
They implicitly make the argument that no justification can be provided for abortion. This position is not only far out of the mainstream, but denies the legitimate arguments to be made for commonly followed exceptions. Is it not 'unconscionable' to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist, or a teenager to bear the inbred child of her father? The CP provides no answer to these arguments.

The CP position of valuing the life of the unborn child above all also invites another level of government intrusion: what to do in the case of miscarriage? If a mother miscarries due to her own poor choices (like poor nutrition, excess physical activity, etc.), does the government have the right to prosecute the 'shedding of innocent blood'? Would the CP support prosecuting the mother for negligent homicide or manslaughter? I would hope not.

The CP lays out its practical application of their sanctity of life doctrine by stating:
No government may legalize the taking of the unalienable right to life without justification, including the life of the pre-born; abortion may not be declared lawful by any institution of state or local government - legislative, judicial, or executive. The right to life should not be made dependent upon a vote of a majority of any legislative body. . . .We affirm both the authority and duty of Congress to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in all cases of abortion in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 2. (emphasis added)
Ironically, the CP wants to limit Supreme Court jurisdiction over cases involving abortion, which would essentially deprive the Federal Government of any real power to prevent states from decriminalizing abortion - completely frustrating their purpose. (In a second level of irony, the CP says that the right to life should not depend on a majority vote, but they support the death penalty, which is enacted by legislatures casting a majority vote.)

Personally, I follow a more nuanced position (read under the "Additional Information" link) and believe that we should let the experiment of democracy work on this difficult issue by leaving it up to the states to decide how best to deal with abortion.

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