On March 7, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law a bill passed by the General Assembly which legally requires abortion clinics to perform an ultrasound of a woman’s fetus prior to an abortion.
The bill, as it originally stood, includes victims of rape or incest and required an invasive form of the ultrasound, which many Democrats in the General Assembly equated to “legalized rape.”
In response to the wave of protests the bill originally engendered, McDonnell and his party revised the bill to exclude victims of rape and incest and required the routine transabdominal ultrasound instead. With the revised bill signed into effect, Virginia joins a myriad other states that have passed similar bills over the past few months, with the purpose of intentionally persecuting women who make the legal choice to abort their fetuses.
Virginia’s bill is certainly the most moderate of the anti-abortion bills passed this year, but the fact that it is not as extreme in its attack on reproductive rights does not justify its existence. Instead, it’s the opposite.
The moderate nature of this bill is far more dangerous to abortion rights than extreme variations. As with all other freedoms, the slow chipping away of reproductive rights is far more effective at eradicating the free individuality of women than by extreme acts of persecution.
Forcing women to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure that seeks to only add more emotional suffering to an already arduous process shows how sadistically cruel some anti-abortion advocates are in this country.
I understand being in opposition to abortion as a matter of moral principle. Indeed, I personally would prefer living in a world where no abortions ever occurred. But personal feelings toward a political issue, whether they be feelings originated from religious orientation or moral sentiment, do not constitute valid reasoning behind an opinion on the topic in the public sphere.
Instead, the purpose of political discourse is to recognize the subjective differences between us and seek to establish an environment in which each individual can realize their full potential without the coercion of others.
This is what conservatives claim constantly behind their “small government” mentality, making their drive for stricter anti-abortion laws even less understandable.
I understand the anti-abortion argument as stemming from the belief held by many that “life” does begin prior to birth. I further hold that this opinion is one that has a great amount of merit and justification to it, and I understand why someone would believe in this proposition. My issue comes when an individual who personally feels human life begins prior to birth takes the further step to persecute women who are legally given the right to abort a fetus.
At the heart of this controversy is the fact that this nation is supposed to be based on laws — not personal sentiment. Regardless of the desires we may have to mirror our societies values, we can legally act on the base of reason oriented toward the public sphere of life.
Subjective sentiments are fine for our personal life, but the legal structure that governs our political life must be structured on reasoning that is void of the moral and religious justifications used on personal levels.
Our ability to disconnect personal values from political and legal issues is the foundation for this nation’s ability to allow for a lifestyle of freedom. When we fail to do this and instead model our political and legal beliefs on our personal religious or moral values, we allow ourselves to fall into the destructive abyss of
If they are going to espouse limited government and radical individuality as their basic tenets, conservatives must see that granting freedom to the body politic comes with its unfortunate sides: People can do things that are often against our personal moral and religious sentiments.
At the heart of a free society is respect among individuals by making use of discourse over force, as well as a cultural mode of shaping society over political and legal ones.
Believing that abortion is an unfortunate part of our society and that it would be better for women to find other options regarding pregnancy than this is a perfectly respectable position. But by translating this belief into such degrading and offensive actions such as Virginia’s ultrasound bill does nothing to serve the cause of bettering society, and merely serves to further subject women to increased social abjection.