[Update]A Tenth Amendment Issue?

Midwest Chick has a post regarding abortion as a Tenth Amendment (states’ rights) issue. I left a comment there that I think I’ll share a bit more widely.

While I have a preliminary opinion on abortion itself, I’ve tried to keep that to myself for my adult life.

But I do discuss legal aspects. The Roe v. Wade Court made it a federal issue by invoking the 14th amendment. 10th amendment advocates are simply arguing that the decision should be up to a little state instead of the big state.

I think it should be handled as a NINTH Amendment issue; an individual right to an individual decision about their individual body.

[Aside; And since it would be individual decision, paying for it would be up to the individual.]

And there it should stay unless and until there is an objective (preferably scientific) test of when, from fertilized ovum to fetus to birth, the line is drawn to definitively say, “This is a person.” At that line, homicide/manslaughter statutes would apply.

No; I don’t know where that line is. Am I a person? I think so. But is a live tissue sample from me, living and cultureable, a person (hey, for the pro-life folks, that sample has human DNA; and it theoretically can be cloned into a complete person)? Pending a major scientific breakthrough, I have to say it isn’t.

Unless someone comes up with instrumental detection of “soul” (as opposed to whatever animals use for a “life force”), we may have to settle for something else. Some would use “it can feel pain.”

That’s reaction to external stimuli. Plenty of things most sane people would consider non-living react to external stimuli, including bimetallic strip thermostats.

Heartbeat? Better maybe, but I’m unsure that’s sufficient.

Closer: Dreaming. Is the tissue culture/fetus/baby’s nervous system developed enough for EEG detection of a dream state? But dogs and cats obviously dream, too.

Until we can define and detect “person,” I keep my moral opinions on the subject private.


Non-Original Rants commenter Matthew W has an issue with my comment.

Your argument fails immediately because you can’t define the terms of abortion without determining what “life” is. Under your idea, a baby can be aborted from day one up until it’s 3 inches away from being out of the birth canal.
All life starts with conception.
Not all conceptions lead to life, but all life starts with conception.

Matthew W, I don’t know what you read, but it clearly wasn’t anything I wrote. My only “argument” was that the subject should be addressed under the 9th amendment rather than the 10th. The remainder was a description of the problem of defining “person,” not an argument, pro or con, for terminating pregnancy.

(Just for fun: You criticize me for failing to define “life,” while the crux of my description of the issue (not an argument) is “person.” That’s what sane people in this reality call a strawman argument. Even better you go on to claim “life” begins at conception, without… defining “life.” You might want to consider live tissue samples like unfertilized ova and sperm; then, with just a little mental effort, you might figure out why I specify “person,” not “life.”)

As for “define the terms of abortion”… Defining “abortion,” or what?

Abortion: deliberate termination of a pregnancy

See? Nothing about life mentioned. But terms of abortion? Which ones? I’ve already addressed “person.”

I think what Matthew really wants is to argument the morality of abortion. He missed the very first line of my comment/post.


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2A advocate, writer, firearms policy & law analyst, general observer of pre-apocalyptic American life.

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