By Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
It was a momentous week for the Federal Government. Two of the biggest issues of our day were changed dramatically: a woman’s “Right to Choose” when it comes to unwanted pregnancy,and reining back on America’s ongoing fetish regarding unrestricted ownership of guns. There will be many commentaries on both issues going forward, predictably even more than there have been in the past; my own commentary will, therefore, be short and to the point.
First, on the issue of abortions. The question is one of balance: does a woman have any right to make decisions regarding an unwanted pregnancy? Does this right extend to forced pregnancies, those that were consequences not of a choice she made but to rape or incest? What if the woman is too young to protest, or to make reasoned decisions? What if her own life is threatened by the medical consequences of her pregnancy? On the other hand, what about the unborn baby – the fetus – does he or she have rights separate from those of the mother, even if those two most interested parties have interests that directly conflict? One argument that I find particularly offensive is when self-styled Pro-Lifecommentators and politicians refer to “God-given rights” in the context of banning abortions. These arguments bring in the speaker’s own religion, not necessarily those of the mother nor of others in society. I should note that not all religions are opposed to abortions. The Episcopal Church, for example, has reacted to the Supreme Court’s negation of abortion rights with a statement in opposition, a statement that focuses on respecting the conscience rights of pregnant women and the inequity of setting up women with access to resources the ability to exercise their own moral judgment while denying those without such access, and ends up urging Congress to pass legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights.
Second, on the issue of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which increases funding for mental health services (which may or may not affect gun safety). More significantly, the act expands criminal background checks for some gun buyers, including those under age 21; it increases the category of domestic-violence offenders who will be prohibited from purchasing guns; and it funds programs, including state programs, that would allow governmental authorities to seize guns from individuals who are “red flagged” as being the most likely to commit gun-related crimes, such as mass shootings of innocent people. How “bipartisan” was this legislation? Among the Republican members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation, only Sen. Lindsey Graham (not running for re-election this year) and Rep. Tom Rice (already defeated for re-election in this month’s Primary) voted in favor. All the other Republicans representing South Carolina opposed it.
We are sure to be inundated with political ads this year either praising or castigating this week’s federal actions. Rightly or wrongly, the elections will be advertised as bellwethers of these two issues alone, moving to the background such issues as the continuing COVID pandemic, inflation, and the war in Ukraine. Here is my prediction: both issues will continue to elude anything like a final resolution, and heated discussions of both – “God-given rights” to abortions and to gun ownership, where most people will favor just one and not the other – will continue for years to come. We have most definitely not heard the last word on either subject.