Friday, May 25, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #58 - Part 1

Using the 14th Amendment to restrict reproductive rights

I mentioned last week that there had been arguments advanced about changing our understanding of the meaning of the 14th Amendment as to just who is a citizen. I said not much had been heard about that of late, but it turns out I was wrong at least in a way. I was referring to the idea of restricting the reach of the 14th Amendment to exclude children of immigrants. The 14th Amendment says that if you're born here and subject to the laws, then you're a citizen. Some folks want that to not be true for the children of certain immigrants. We haven't heard too much about that for a year or two.

However, it develops there is also a push, not to restrict the understanding of who is a citizen to eliminate some immigrants, but to expand the understanding of who is a citizen to include the so-called "unborn." And on that score, we're heard things much more recently.

(I'll note here as I always try to do when this comes up: There is no such thing as an "unborn child." Referring to a fetus as an "unborn child" makes exactly as much sense as referring to a tadpole as an "unborn frog." If it's not born, it's not a child. But leave that aside for now.)

Last fall, then-GOPper presidential candidate Rep. Michelle Bonkersman told a GOPper forum that she would rely on the part of the 14th Amendment that empowers Congress to pass legislation to enforce the guarantee of equal protection under the laws and support a bill to overturn Roe v. Wade by declaring "the unborn" to be "persons" under the meaning of the amendment.

And just recently, in a fundrasing letter dated May 14, Sen. Rancid Paul proposed a "Life at Conception Act" that would do just what Bonkersman proposed: define fetuses as "persons" under the 14th amendment.

This is - not surprisingly - complete nonsense, as Congress can't simply decide what the 14th amendment "means." Such interpretation is the job of the courts. What's more, the Roe decision itself specifically said that “the word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.”

But simple facts won't stop them here any more than they do about things like evolution or global warming. It's another example of that "right-wing reading comprehension disorder" I mentioned last week, the inability of right wingers to recognize the meaning of the words right in front of them.

And as a footnote to this: Credit where it's due. The guy I mentioned last week who came up with the phrase "right-wing reading comprehension disorder" is Kevin T. Keith and the blog is


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