Wrong Again

Gov. Kathleen Blaco, a Democrat in heavily Democrat Louisiana, is expected to sign the nation’s first anti-abortion law into effect.

I’m anti-abortion. I should think that Democrats taking this very un-Democrat position is great, right? That it signals a national trend toward a position I hold, or if not that, then that at least one state is doing the right thing.

I don’t think it’s great. I think the people of Louisiana should recall the woman and hold an election for a new governor.

Why? Because Queen Kathy and the Democrat-majority Louisiana government have decided by legislative fiat what will be best for the people, just as the activist court decided for the entire nation in Roe vs. Wade. The results are dead opposites, but the wrong that is being done remains the same: Getting the result you want by flaunting the will of the elecorate causes nothing but deep divisions between people, enmity among those who should be allies, and years upon years of fights to repair the damage that was done.

The ends do not justify the means.

This is a nation where the voice of the citizenry is supposed to be heard. Democrats, by majority count, are pro-abortion. I assume this to be the case in Louisiana as it is elsewhere. Republicans, by majority count, are anti-abortion. Elected officials in a Republican-majority state could have some claim to be serving the will of the people in voting in such a law. In Louisiana, however? I don’t think so.

Abortion needs to be decided state by state, and majority by majority, by a vote of the total population. You should vote, I should vote, every citizen of this nation should vote.

The results will be a mess. There will be states in this country where everything is legal from morning-after pill to third-trimester partial birth abortion, and states where saving the life of the mother is the only sure thing. I wouldn’t choose to live in a pro-abortion state; a lot of abortion advocates wouldn’t choose to live in an anti-abortion state. But once again, that’s the way it should be. Democracy is messy. American citizens have the right to create the governments they want, and to get the government they deserve, state by state and federally.

We the people have been falling down on our job of creating the government we want. We have passively accepted bad candidates at all levels of government, we have meekly looked the other way while laws and taxes have been imposed without our consent, we have quietly stood by and watched as our rights have been eroded by a series of presidents and congresses and governors and local officials whose main goal seems to have been to make government a growth industry at the expense of individual rights and well-being.

As a result, right now we have the government we deserve, at the federal, state, AND local levels. We can do better. But until we take a hand in getting candidates into office who will actually represent us, and until we start making a point of throwing out of office those elected officials who fail to represent us…

…we deserve no better than what we’ve got.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

19 comments… add one
  • hollylisle Jun 12, 2006 @ 8:53

    arainsb– Agreed that the more local we keep government, the more likely the governed will agree with the laws that govern them. Some issues are best handled locally (school issues come to mind.) Those that directly relate to the Constitution or the Bill of Right will have to stay Federal. What locals can’t handle and the Feds shouldn’t (anything that isn’t guarding the borders or the protection of the Constitution/Bill of Rights) should be the realm of the state.

  • arainsb123 Jun 11, 2006 @ 14:56

    “As for the states’ rights issue: The US is one country, but we’re a country of independent and enormously varied states, many of which are larger than most European countries or Great Britain. Each state has a distinct history and approach to government, and none of them are alike. To attempt to shoehorn everyone in the country into one lump via Federally legislated fiat is bound to cause rage. Legislating heavily-contested issues at a state level would give citizens more control of their own lives.”

    And yet, is keeping things at the state-level sufficient to ensure that the most people get what they want out of the government the most amount of time? States like Colorado have only a small gap between the number of Democrats and Repulicans living within.

    Maybe it would be even better to have most decision-making take place at a county, or even city, level. Just as the opinions of the majority of US citizens at large don’t go along with those of the majority of citizens of numerous states, the opinions of the majority of citizens of a state may differ from those of the majority of citizens within several counties within that state.

    The more localized we keep government, the more likely that lawmaking will suit the wishes of the governed.

  • hollylisle Jun 10, 2006 @ 8:44

    Rereading this whole abortion-sidetracked thread, I realize I need to clarify something.

    I do not think the young women who have had an abortion in our current social climate are criminals, or should be treated like criminals. In a society where every television show including sitcoms pushes the idea that having the baby after you’re pregnant is a choice, and not all that big a choice (witness Friends and Rachel as probably the most watched and rewatched example of this), the question an accidentally pregnant young woman today is probably most often is “Are you going to have it?”

    When that is the question, a lot of young women, scared and presented with the option of what seems like an easy, socially acceptable way out, will take that easy way out, especially when friends and family and perhaps the father are saying “It’s just a lump of tissue, get rid of it.”

    This social climate was created by women’s rights activists of the Baby Boomer generation who would have done anything to get out of the house, into careers, and away from the Donna Reed Mom path that was, in the post-war years when men came home frow WWII and took their jobs back, pushed as the only acceptable career path for women.

    The Boomer response to the confinement of women’s roles was understandable, and in many ways laudatory, but they went too far. They tied the hippie/pothead ideals of free love and a lack of sexual responsibility to the idea of women’s rights and power, and the Boomer Female social agenda ever since is that in order to be equal to men, women should be free to have sex at any time, with any one, without being tied to the consequences of their sexual freedom. Even if another life was involved. And in order to press the issue, they have worked tirelessly to convince everyone that a baby in utero is not another life, not another person, just a clump of tissue, something that may be freely disposed of up until just about the moment of birth, so that they can maintain this fiction that equal rights for women demand the right of sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility for the consequences.

    Their agenda is being taught in schools. It’s pushed on television, both in serious dramas and sitcoms. It’s pervasive in movies. When is the last time you saw a movie in which a woman didn’t have sex because she was concerned that she might become pregnant? When is the last time you saw a character on television who turned down sex because she considered the possible consequences?

    The fact is that women do not have to have to be sexually promiscuous to have equal social standing with men. And they have both the right and the responsibility to consider the consequences of having sex before jumping in the sack with someone, whether they’re using birth control or not (birth control does fail).

    But passing on sex isn’t an option anyone is going to be pitching on television or in the movies any time soon. Parents of young women going out in the world, either Boomers with agendas or the children of Boomers who were raised by absentee parents, aren’t going to tell their daughters, “Sex is a responsibility, and you will have to live with the consequences of your own actions.”

    And, sadly, young men who benefit greatly by the access of easy sex without consequences, aren’t going to be jumping on the “sex is an act that requires forethought” bandwagon either.

    My take then, is this is a social problem that is going to take more than laws to fix. It’s going to take people thinking things through.

  • hollylisle Jun 9, 2006 @ 6:00

    Hi, Monica — on the viability issue, I default to the “innocent until proven guilty” rule. We as a nation bend over backward to prove that a serial-killer-rapist-cannibal like Jeffrey Dahlmer is guilty before imprisoning him, and because of some shadow of a doubt about his intent, give him life in prison instead of the death penalty. But on the question of “when does life begin, when is this baby a real baby?” the law has chosen to take the “guilty until proven innocent” approach, ruling that, since no one can prove when it’s actually a human being, killing the baby is legal in some instances even if it could survive outside the mother’s womb.

    And, as I noted before, I think a woman has the right to full control of her own body. The baby is not her body. And the fact that it is helpless and dependent on her for survival — for air and food — is not a mitigating factor in giving her the right to kill it. All of us have been or will again be dependent upon others for our survival. Helplessness and dependence are not signals to call out the executioners. Though the executioners seem to be waiting in the wings, breathless for the opportunity to weed out the unnecessary people.

    On states’ rights — it’s a tough question. The country was founded with the promise that states would maintain individual rights, and the federal government has repeatedly broken that promise. On the other hand, states have screwed up and made bad laws repeatedly. On the third hand, the federal government is a far bigger screw-up than the states in most issues. When the feds weren’t spending a dime on education, high school grads were ready for employment. Now we’re being taxed out the eyeballs for federally funded education, and kids graduate high school unable to balance a checkbook or figure out a 1040-EZ form. Or, in a lot of cases, even read one.

  • hollylisle Jun 9, 2006 @ 5:43

    Hey, Jim! Well, it wasn’t supposed to be a debate on abortion, actually. Or states’ rights. It was supposed to be a call to action to those on both sides of the liberal/conservative Great Divide to throw out incumbent bums and find some decent candidates.

    All I found on the issue was the strong Democrat majority in both the House and the Senate in Louisiana, which to me suggested that, no matter what the elected representatives were voting in regards to the issue, the populace at large probably had other ideas on how that vote should have gone. I may be wrong. The problem with issue like this is that, unless the general population gets to vote, we can guess all day long and not know how the vote would have gone.

    Which is why I think the population at large should be the ones to vote.

  • Jim Jun 8, 2006 @ 23:17

    PS, the state House of Representatives is 64% Democratic (105 members) and the state Senate is 62% Democratic (39 members).

    I’m inclined to believe that the representatives and senators voted their constituencies. But would listen to contrary data.

  • Jim Jun 8, 2006 @ 23:06

    First, permit me to say that I’m very pleased and happy that the discussion on this very heated subject has remained civil. That is as it should be.

    Second, I’ll note that I’ve not looked very far into this. I did see in the original article I read that the Louisiana law only takes effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Further checking shows that the bill passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of the Louisiana legislature (30-7 in the state Senate, and 85-17 in the state House of Representatives), but as much time as I chose to take checking newspaper websites in New Orleans and Baton Rouge turned up only individual, anecdotal opposition to the bill (and the ACLU protest) but nothing at all about overall public opinion. Since Louisiana is an overwhliming Roman Catholic/Conservative Christian state, and the governor is a Catholic, this is fact may or may not be majority opinion in Louisiana; I can’t tell.

    According to Wikipedia, 90% of the state population claims to be Christian, with 30% Roman Catholic, 30% Baptist, and 30% other denominations. Their Congressional delegation consists of six Republicans and three Democrats, suggesting a strong Republican preference statewide despite the strong Democratic base in New Orleans. So there could easily be an equivalent popular majority favoring the strict abortion ban.

    Do you have data that the bill was passed in opposition to the majority (or even plurality) will of the populace? I’m certainly willing to listen.

    3. The individual opinions I’m finding expressed in blogs and webboards is about the range one would expect, from “Look at what we get for trying to elect a Democratic governor who’ll stand up for national party principles” to “Maybe this will avert the wrath of God from our state during this year’s hurricane season” (despite quotes, both are paraphrased). But I sitll cannot find anything like a “Newspaper X conducted a poll and Y% of the population supported the abortion ban as voted” anywhere on the web.

    (And for the record, I’m in the “abortion is a moral wrong but should be a matter of individual choice” school. Call me a fencesitter if you will.)

  • Monica Jun 8, 2006 @ 7:05

    As a black person, state’s rights make me nervous. In my lifetime, I remember when certain states placed a lesser value on MY life. On my born and viable child’s life. Fleeing the state was often only an option for the affluent.

    If people truly remembered or experienced the evil the state is capable of without federal and constitutional checks and balances, the idea of state’s rights would be quite unpopular.

    Mention states rights to my near-ninety great-aunt who fled a state where a black person ‘s experience living was similar a Jewish person living in preWW2 Nazi Germany. My ninety-plus year-old grandfather will come out of his senile dementia to shudder if you talk about state rights to him. States rights are evil to people who experienced them before the Civil Rights act. Don’t forget!

    It’s NOT always pro-abortion to be pro-choice.

    I consider myself against abortion. But I’m more allowing Government to step into morality that involves its citizen’s bodies.

    Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.

    Personal morality should not be legislated by the state.

    Beyond the quibble over whether eggs, embryos and fetuses are a part of the mother or not until they could be viable (survive independently of the mother), is that we *are* allowing the state to legislate women’s bodies if we allow it to legislate something that is still a part of it.

  • klharrds21 Jun 8, 2006 @ 6:33

    Thanks for taking the time Holly, I’ll shut my yap now so you can concentrate on work. Perhaps we’ll pick this up another time when schedules are not so tight.

  • hollylisle Jun 8, 2006 @ 6:18

    Noel — I’ve never heard of the Free State Project. I’ll have to do research before commenting. (But not today. I’m back on the clock now.)

  • hollylisle Jun 8, 2006 @ 6:12

    Lot of comments. Not a lot of time. So, in order:

    Kalliope–the difference between making law and ruling on law is the difference between coming up with an original intent, and saying either “Yes, you can do that” or “No, you can’t.” Legislators–that is, the House and Senate federally, and the state legislators locally, sit down, and bash out new laws, and argue them out in their various chambers. That’s their job. If we the citizens who elected them don’t like the way they do their job, then it is our duty to remove them from office and replace them, and we have the power to do this.

    The job of the Supreme court is to look at the laws legislators make and say, “Yes, you can do that,” or “No, you can’t” about the law in question. With Roe v. Wade, they abrogated states’ rights to decide their own laws, and imposed by fiat a new Federal law unlike anything that had previously existed, without either the vote of the populace or the votes of the nation’s elected representatives. Since the judiciary is the only unelected branch of the government, and exempt from recall by the citizenry or removal from the bench by any force save death, they cannot be permitted to make laws, since the nation has no means of correcting the laws they would make. (Roe v. Wade can stand as a good instance here.)

    Rick — This isn’t a NIMBY thing. For me the issue is stopping the murder of children. I know that sounds harsh, and is politically insensitive, but I think political sensitivity is the single biggest problem we have as a nation right now.

    If we’re discussing the women’s rights issue here, and we must, if abortion is going to have any excuse for existing whatsoever, then here are the following unquestioned rights that women have:

    1. The right to choose a sexual partner
    2. The right to abstain from sex, even when married
    3. The right to use birth control, even when married
    4. The right to seek and obtain a divorce for cause, or without cause, without question

    Each of these rights gives a woman control over her body and her reproductive cycle. A woman cannot legally be given or sold to a man by a third party, whether her parents, elders, or a broker; her express consent is mandated in any union, whether marriage is a factor or not. A man cannot legally force her to have sex, even if he is married to her; he cannot legally refuse her the right to use birth control, even if he is married to her; and he cannot legally prevent her from disposing of him, even if he is married to her.

    In many other contries, women have none of these rights, and so have no control over childbearing. American women have complete control. If they choose not to use these rights–if they choose to have unprotected sex and if that act results in the conception of another human being–then they have made the final choice that they should be permitted to make. The rights of the individual then switch over to the innocent human being they carry. I’ve heard women say, “My body, my choice.” But the choice they are making doesn’t involve their body, which will still be their body after the delivery of a living infant. Their choice involves someone else’s body, over which they should have no legal right of murder.

    All other arguments for abortion (save rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother) are arguments that a woman should not be held responsible for the choices she made, and that irresponsibility is a valid excuse for murder. I don’t accept that.

    Kate–abortion currently isn’t a crime by legal definition. I think it should be. This is not an issue of esthetics. It’s an issue of life or death, which is why emotions run so hot on it, and why the furor has never died down since the day a law was imposed on this nation from outside legitimate channels.

  • klharrds Jun 8, 2006 @ 2:58

    I can’t agree with your comparison with breaking and entering I’m afraid. I can’t think of a place where that is not a crime (there might be one I just can’t think of it.).

    I’m not suggesting that people will break or subvert the law. I’m saying that if a person wants to have an abortion and a place fifty miles down the road will do it perfectly legally then of course they go there. (Unless of course they can’t afford to, but that is a completely different social discussion.) In this same way people from Ireland used to come to England for abortions and people who fancy a joint may pop over to Amsterdam. When they are at their destination the laws of that place apply and their activity is legal.

    Your suggestion may create a system where women will have to cross some invisible line in order to take up this service. If the lines are going to be drawn in such an arbitrary fashion (I say arbitrary because people do not make a conscious choice to live somewhere because of a small issue like abortion, tax rates, employment opportunities, education, housing costs, friends and family, are much more important factors, in my mind anyway) it seems like a waste of time.

    The aesthetics may change but the reality will stay the same. People who want abortions will have them legally and people who don’t want abortions will be stuck with children they didn’t want or give them/have them taken away. The only difference is that one section of society will be able to proudly say ‘Not in my back yard!’

    For me the satisfaction they may feel does not out weigh the convenience to a person who may want to use the service.

  • NoelFigart Jun 7, 2006 @ 13:46

    This gets waaayyy the hell into political theory, so bear with me.

    In its original form, the United States of America was not intended to be a single large country but a confederation of several small ones. You may recall from your social studies classes, the word “state” means “country” rather than “small political jurisdiction of a large nation”.

    If you check out Article III of the US Constitution, you’ll note that the Supreme Court, while an arbiter of arguements BETWEEN states (or, citizens of two different states) is not meant to judge the laws OF a state.

    “Legislating from the bench” has long been a practice when engaged in unpopular social reform. In Vermont, for instance, the legalization of civil unions happened not through the legislative branch, but through the judiciary. If you talk to most Vermonters who are part of the “Take Back Vermont” movement, their objection is not that they give a rip what contract two people choose to make, but that they did not want to be denied their say in the goverment of their own damned state!

    I’d be curious, Ms. Lisle, to know what you think of the Free State Project. (I’m a Old Dominion transplant to New England, and live in New Hampshire these days.)

  • Rick Jun 7, 2006 @ 13:39

    Saying that if people are going to get or perform abortions anyway, the procedure might as well be convenient, is like saying that if people are going to commit break-and-enter robberies anyway, people should just leave the locks off their doors and save everyone the hassle.

    See, that’s a bit of a distortion, I believe. It’s not a matter of convenience, for the most part – people are going to get or perform abortions anyway… so it might as well be safe.

  • kalliope Jun 7, 2006 @ 12:51

    Re: Holly’s #4 comment:

    I’ve always been a bit confused about the argument against the courts “making laws”. Isn’t it inevitable that the Supreme Court will sometimes declare a state law unconstitutional? That is its job, correct?

    Is this being interpreted as creating a new law (since subsequent courts and judges tend to follow precedent)? I suppose one could say this is akin to creating a new law outlawing the original law’s content, but if a law unconstitutional, why is this wrong?

    Not trying to be difficult here, just trying to understand the perspective.

    (If the objection is that you don’t believe the court interprets the constitution CORRECTLY when ruling a state law unconstitutional, for instance in the Roe vs. Wade case, then that’s another matter and discussion entirely, and my question is irrelevant.)

  • hollylisle Jun 7, 2006 @ 12:04

    Chrysoula — I’m entirely in favor of the Constitution as the highest authority. I’m just not in favor of activist judges of any stripe rewriting the Constitution to suit their fancy, or in writing brand new laws based on nothing but their personal opinions.

    Roe v. Wade was the judiciary branch of the Federal government making law, not ruling on the law, and that is unconstitutional. Writing law is the job of the legislative branch (House and Senate), which the Supreme Court bench usurped in ruling on Roe v. Wade.

  • hollylisle Jun 7, 2006 @ 11:56

    Hi, Kate. Some clarification. I wouldn’t suggest that people who are anti move to anti states, or that people who are pro move to pro states. To a small extent, I’d guess that would happen, but moving is a pretty big deal. The vast anti-Bush migration to Canada never occured, for instance. It’s usually easier to stay put and complain, and that is what, in the end, most people do.

    As for the states’ rights issue: The US is one country, but we’re a country of independent and enormously varied states, many of which are larger than most European countries or Great Britain. Each state has a distinct history and approach to government, and none of them are alike. To attempt to shoehorn everyone in the country into one lump via Federally legislated fiat is bound to cause rage. Legislating heavily-contested issues at a state level would give citizens more control of their own lives.

    As for people who choose to subvert the law, well, they’ve always been around. Those who are determined to kill their unborn children will do it. They used to go to Canada or Mexico, or claim to their family practitioner that they were raped. These folks, wherever they live, will in some cases continue to seek out abortions if states outlaw them. But states where majorities of the population believe those who perform abortions are commiting murder by doing so should not be forced permit abortions within their borders, and should be legally able to prosecute the practitioners who carry them out.

    Saying that if people are going to get or perform abortions anyway, the procedure might as well be convenient, is like saying that if people are going to commit break-and-enter robberies anyway, people should just leave the locks off their doors and save everyone the hassle.

    As a side note on the differences between British and American government: We can recall our representatives at any time and remove them from office by putting through a referendum, but we don’t do it often enough.

  • Chrysoula Jun 7, 2006 @ 11:40

    I thought South Dakota got its Roe vs. Wade challenge law in first?

    I’m generally in favor of the Constitution as the highest authority, rather than the will of the people. People, especially uneducated people, are easily seduced by promises that cater to the LCD rather than than… well… almost anything else. Thus all the ‘for the children’ mandates…

  • klharrds21 Jun 7, 2006 @ 7:33

    Hi Holly,

    I hope the writing is going well and the above situation isn’t having too much of an affect on your blood pressure.

    I can understand your anger at this elected officials actions, I feel that way myself a lot of the time. You spend time formulating your views on various issues, you read the literature or attend meetings and get the feel for who feels the same way. You vote for a party because they represent your views more closely then the other lot. I won’t say it’s a perfect match because you get to vote on each issue, just for a guy who you think will match your opinions more often than not.

    Then they go and change their minds, completely rip up their manifesto and jump the other way. And do you get to do the same? No you’re stuck with them for the next four or five years before you get to change you vote. It sucks, big time.

    In the UK we’ve had various litigation on this. People trying to get their politicians to stick to their manifesto promises. No such luck unfortunately. Apparently it’s the person you vote for not the policies and if they lie through their teeth about who they are to get you to vote for them, then you should know better next election time. Simple as that.

    The democrats of Louisiana have my sympathy.

    I was a little surprised at your abortion stance. Not that your anti, I’ve seen that before, but at your attitude to state level decisions and that people who are anti live in anti states and people who are pro live in pro states. I’m sure this is normally the case, as people tend to pick up the values of those around them. I did wonder though if you were going to look at the issue that way all states might as well be pro.

    I suppose you don’t have to have a registered as a resident in a state to get an abortion there, or if you do you can just rent a place, an apartment, a motel room, stay with a friend. Then even if you live in an anti state you get your abortion no questions asked.

    It seems from that, that you might as well have hospitals and clinics as pro-choice locations, instead of states, then the people who want an abortion can go there for an hour or two instead of trekking over the state line, costing themselves a lot in gas and getting the same result. After all, gals who are anti wouldn’t go to a clinic in the same way they wouldn’t go to another state.

    Anyway, that’s just my take on the debate and I’ll understand if you pull it. I’m sure this is not the best time be getting into all this, what with your schedule, but if you do have a moment I’d appreciate your thoughts, I don’t have much of a grip on US policies/politics and would be interested in learning more, especially from someone who has a different stance to mine. We’re never too old to learn.

    Kate

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