The Right To (A) Life
Washington Weak, this morning, woke me with a panel discussion of the nomination of Judge Sotomayor (whose introduction, this week, revolted me with its Traditional American Family Values prelude — very like an Oscar-acceptance speech). The panel’s conclusion was nebulous and conditional (as ever) with regard to the eventual outcome of the partisan squabble that will rage and languish through the remainder of the year, but one insightful remark put something else in perspective for me.
A veteran reporter said that looking back on the record of Ms Sotomayor’s opinions provides a useful lever for neither her conservative nor her liberal scrutinizers, but that looking forward to her views on abortion rights may yeild significant purchase for the opposition to her nomination. It may have been Gwen Ifill who said in response that abortion rights is last year’s issue, that same-sex marriage is the new polarizer.
The RightToLife of an unborn fetus continues to be yet another unresolved American controversy from which the spotlight of national attention has moved on. We seem to do that moving-on thing more than we come to definintive conclusions. What struck me as interesting about this exchange was that the right of a fetus to be born guarantees exactly nothing with regard to its sexual orientation, nor, pretty much, anything else.
I think sexual preference is a good deal more complex than binary labels like straight or gay. Even the four-part coalition of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender simply reduces the vast spectrum of sexual orientations to a five-part disharmonious choir. Anyone whose intimate union with other people is sanctioned by majority opinion is a deviant whose right to A life is discouraged to some extent by somebody. We are, all of us, deviants from any standard definition of normative behavior. Not only aren’t people perfect or normal or standard, it’s a wonder we’re even reasonably similar.
In fifty years of encounters with male homosexuals in and around San Francisco, I’ve come to believe that a guy comes here escaping FROM a family and community that squelched and impugned his right to an honest life. Heterosexual parents, and an orthodox midwestern upbringing don’t guarantee the heterosexuality of the box of chocolates incubating in pregnancy. What comes out of that belly has a right to make A life that’s every bit as high a priority as the right to be born in the first place.
Sexual orientation isn’t a function of choice. Whether to abort or not is a choice, but once the child is born, its parents and community, state and nation are Constitutionally obligated not to impede that child’s making an optimal life. In the same way that the Constitution doesn’t act as a practicable example to the macrocosm of the private sector, it also doesn’t proscribe the behavior of the microcosmic personal sector, either. We, The People, don’t privately practice what it preaches about the use and abuse of power: “Do Better”.
If an unborn fetus truly has a right to life, the quality of that life falls within the province and responsibility of the passionate RightToLife advocates. If their arugment makes any kind of sense, the folks who bomb Planned Parenthood clinics would also be after hate-criminals. They aren’t. Ironically, people who oppose abortion seem to be disposed to attack sexual deviation, and any deviation from the standard American Way of impugning the rights of others to make an authentic life for themselves and their significant others.
So from the comfort of my armchair, I’m philosophizing that the lives of serial murderers, pedophiles and sociopaths have undiscovered value that won’t be revealed in this beknighted country until the RightToLife argument is taken several steps beyond its current impasse. The thing is that same-sex marriage (the current media hot-button issue) isn’t a different controversy. It too requires sustainable, supportable resolution:
We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I like to think it was a declaration of independence from the Bible, and that the minor faults in the language in that particular sentence reflect an adolescent (evolving) perception of sustainable, supportable rebellion from the more significant failures of our pathetic past. The Declaration didn’t explicitly identify chicks, niggers, dirt-worshipers, chinks, spicks, micks and sexual deviants/defects as exempt from rights endowed by the right to life. Neither do I.
If the choice to be born is made on your behalf by people who did not consult you, they’re conscientiously obliged to get out of your way in your pursuit of conscientious happiness.
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