Thursday, October 23, 2003

Partial-Birth Abortion, v.2003

The U.S. Congress passed a bill yesterday that bans partial-birth abortions. While I am no fan of abortion, I sense that I'm among few conservatives who oppose this bill.

Why? Because of the first line of the proposed statute. "Any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs..." Like so much other national legislation, Congress is claiming the power to pass this legislation through the Commerce Clause. And as one who believes in a limited federal gov't and prefers that power be more in the hands of state and local gov'ts, I don't favor expansive views of the Commerce Clause and the like, which result in the feds' limited power being not nearly so limited.

Instead, I think the matter of partial-birth abortion should be confronted on the state level, and not the federal one. The 'Findings' preceding the bill state that over half of the states currently ban partial-birth abortion, and Georgia is among them. So this new bill will have no effect here.

One of the costs of a defined political theory is consistency. If I want to criticize Congress for federalizing matters that I don't like, I can't then exploit the same means to federalize issues that I support. If more conservatives in DC held to this, it would make for much stronger arguments on other debates on federalization (e.g. health care).


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