Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What is Mark Trahant Talking About?

Editorials like this are a large part of the reason this blog was started. The combination of ignorance and misinformation contained in this one editorial on the issue of abortion continues to reinforce our opinion that we will get neither honest debate nor truthful information about abortion from the Seattle MSM.

Mark Trahant the editor of the PI editorial page doesn’t seem to know what he's talking about when it comes to abortion. He certainly doesn't understand the history of the abortion debate when he says “we haven’t had a thoughtful debate” about abortion. Thoughtful debates did happen prior to Roe in legislatures around the country. So much so that 23 states (including Washington) had laws legalizing abortion to one degree or another. We could go back to having the thoughtful debates Mr. Trahant seems to want if the court would overturn Roe.

Mark Trahant says “Even this current Supreme Court barely supports Roe and has chipped away at the decision”. Oh really? Where would the evidence for that be? In Washington state approximately 25,000 abortions were performed last year out of about 1 million-plus nation-wide. If the court has somehow "chipped away" at the scope of Roe is has had little effect on the availability of abortion. There are effectively no limitations on abortion in this country because the Supreme Court hasn’t allowed any, not even a ban on partial birth abortion. That doesn’t sound like “chipping away” to us.

Does Mark Trahant even understand the Constitution, the role of the courts, and the forces that gave us Roe? He says “We want the court to take the heat” and “We want the court to make the decision.” No we don’t. The American people actually like constitutional democracy and law making in the hands of the people and that’s what we had before certain groups took the abortion debate to the court because they had lost in the state legislatures. Contrary to what Mr. Trahant says the court could have decided “not to decide” by telling the plaintiffs in Roe that the Constitution was silent on abortion and that legislature was the place to change the law – not the courts.

Worst of all Mark Trahant doesn’t seem to understand the specifics of Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton, and continues to perpetuate the urban legend that the majority of Americans support NARAL’s vision of abortion rights. These two Supreme Court cases legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, or no reason at all—That’s why they call it “abortion-on-demand.” Mr. Trahant doesn’t reference a specific poll in his editorial but looking at a CBS poll from last week, 59% of the respondents think Roe v Wade was “a good thing”, but only 25 % of the people think abortion should be legal in “all cases.” Why the disconnect between these two numbers? —Because most people don’t understand the scope of Roe and Doe and believe they only legalized first trimester abortions. Poll after poll continues to misinform the public about Roe in their questioning. Besides if most Americans support NARAL and abortion rights then abortion-rights activists have nothing to fear from the overturning of Roe. With the majority of Americans supporting abortion as Mr. Trahant claims they can just pass laws legalizing abortion in their state.

Mr. Trahant seems completely ignorant of the arguments against Roe v Wade and the parallels between the debates over slavery and abortion. In response to Slade Gorton’s comments that other countries have had a “peaceful resolution (of the abortion debate) throughout the political process", Mr. Trahant says that we haven’t had that or a “thoughtful debate” because “we made the courts do it for us...” What Slade Gorton means is that other countries got to actaully vote on their abortion laws, but this point alludes Mr. Trahant. Doesn’t he understand that this lack of democracy when it comes to our abortion laws is what drives much of the opposition to Roe, not that some unknown "we" kicked it over to the court because we didn't want to deal with it. He then makes the comment that “…Roe did not convince the entire country...that a woman has a right to chose. ” How could it when it contains so many serious constitutional, moral, and factual failings? Roe didn’t settle abortion any more than Dread Scott settled slavery.

Mark Trahant laments the lack of debate and consensus on abortion but seems to believe the Supreme Court, the least deliberative and least democratic of our three branches of government, is the proper venue for this. Doesn’t he know that the people who are fighting to take it out of the court don’t “want the court to make the decision” and never wanted it there in the first place. They want to debate and find consensus in the legislature where it properly belongs.

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