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The Left’s Flexible Attitude Toward ‘Rights’

Selective outrage over abortion restrictions and none over curtailing gun rights.

by
Rand Simberg

Bio

January 25, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Recently, the Texas legislature passed (and the governor signed) a law with a seemingly modest requirement — that any woman getting an abortion in the state of Texas be allowed (and required) to see a sonogram of the fetus twenty-four hours prior to the surgery.

Note what the law doesn’t do. It doesn’t prevent a woman from getting an abortion. It (at most) slows her down by one day from doing so, should she choose to go through with it.

Contrast this with the hoops that gun owners must often jump through to purchase firearms — background checks, waiting periods, purchase limits within a certain amount of time. Or the requirement that they undergo training, spending money and investing time, to get a permit to carry their weapons, even in states where it is allowed. All of these are far more onerous than the simple requirement that a woman have an ultrasound picture taken of her womb, and see it.

Let us compare and contrast the two “rights.” One of them is enshrined in the Constitution, in black-letter law, in the Bill of Rights (the very second one, in fact). The other is a penumbra of a dubious emanation.

The former is violated in multiple ways, in multiple places, every day, and it takes continuous pressure and lawsuits, and sometimes specific laws, to get the government to respect it, and even then, they often continue to ignore the court orders.

Supporters of the “wispy penumbra” don’t believe that there should be any restrictions on it whatsoever, and express outrage at the slightest perceived encroachment.

Predictably, the “pro-choice” community exploded in outrage and lawsuits against this violation of a “woman’s right to choose” (even though it had no affect whatsoever on her “right to choose”). The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit and managed to get a temporary injunction against it, on the ludicrous basis that they were likely to prevail in court, when in fact their case was laughable. The Texas attorney general quickly filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit to lift it, and on January 10, the court agreed that they didn’t have a case, and ruled that the injunction be lifted. On January 13, a three-judge panel authorized the state to start enforcing the law.  With little apparent sense of irony, the CRR characterized the ruling as “extreme.”

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