Good News About Choice

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Three very different state referenda attempting to limit Americans’ freedom were defeated last week. They happened to be about the ability to decide when and if to bear a child.

In South Dakota, voters defeated a sweeping abortion ban that was to be a vehicle for challenging Roe v. Wade. In California, voters refused to require teens to inform a parent before receiving an abortion (the issue’s third ballot defeat in California in four years).

In Colorado, voters rejected by almost 3 to 1 an initiative amending the state’s Constitution to bestow complete personhood on fertilized eggs—prior to implantation in the womb. Not only would it end abortion, it would have banned fertility clinics, most birth control, and lots of medical care.

It is encouraging to see ordinary people in diverse places halting the relentless assault on reproductive freedom.

While anti-choice forces frequently cite religious or spiritual reasons for opposing others’ abortions, they too rarely support the sex education and contraceptive encouragement that would actually decrease the need for them. Until all so-called religious arguments against abortion include the demand—not just tolerance, but demand—for comprehensive sex education and universal availability of contraception and emergency contraception, these arguments should be seen as little more than personal opinion dressed up in fancy, hypocritical, anti-sex clothes.

It’s time to stop all referenda and other forms of voting about the right to choose an abortion. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution affirm that rights are not given to people, they belong to people. Our Founders and contemporary society agreed to limit others’ rights primarily when science strongly suggests facts that require it: Stealing hurts the victims. Improper food handling makes consumers sick. Driving drunk kills people.

Democracy does not mean that people can vote on anything they want to. We can’t vote to imprison all left-handed people. We can’t vote to reinstitute slavery. And we shouldn’t be voting to limit the right to control one’s child-bearing.

People who don’t “believe” in abortion shouldn’t have one. There are no actual facts in dispute here, only personal philosophies. And like religions, philosophies are not something Americans should ever vote on.

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