Abortion: The Tyranny of Rights

I am hard pressed to find a more polarizing issue in American politics today outside of abortion. Sure, you have critical race theory, division over LGBTQ+ ideology, and other crucial issues. However, abortion has remained on the top list of quarrelsome social issues for nearly half a century thanks to Roe v. Wade. Since the monumental decision in 1973, abortion has found its way to the courts on multiple occasions. In this year’s term (that commenced a few weeks ago), the Supreme Court will be taking on a monumental abortion case: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In Dobbs, Roe v. Wade is directly challenged as being unconstitutional--not just appalling jurisprudence on part of the 1973 bench, but a direct violation of the 14th Amendment. I will not be dealing with this case directly in this piece, but I encourage you to read a powerfully lucid and succinct summary of the case, and a great brief from Princeton University’s renowned political philosopher and legal scholar, Robert P. George.

I felt led to mention this case because it will be garnering inordinate amounts of attention over the next few months, as it should. It also led me to write this piece and begin detailing my opinions on abortion as I will be writing two separate pieces dealing with two separate aspects of abortion. I hope that in both, our readers will find fresh thoughts on this pressing issue as I attempt to use the conservative ethos to compose these arguments. This piece will directly confront the liturgical cries that “abortion is a women’s health right.” The proper place to start is in asking quite an important question: What is a right?

Read an opposing viewpoint: Georgia Hinders Women's Right to Choose

In the wonderful HBO miniseries “John Adams,” the prudent author of the Articles of Confederation, John Dickinson is found in a disagreement with John Adams over whether or not there should be an Olive Branch Petition. Dickinson, arguing for it, makes a sagacious statement to Adams (who has just given a speech on the violation of their natural rights by the English government):

I have looked for our rights in the laws of nature and can find them only in the laws of political society. I have looked for our rights in the constitution of the English government, and found them there.

I am not sure as to whether or not this is an actual quote from Dickinson while convening with the Second Continental Congress, but it is a profound statement and does seem consonant with Dickinson’s philosophy. Contextualizing this quote, and the sentiments of the Congress at large, we can see that not everyone was quiet on board with Jefferson’s radical liberalism. That is why there was an Olive Branch Petition before a Declaration of Independence: Many of the founders understood, keenly, that the human individual is a social artifact and that the self does not exist prior to society but is created through civil association. After all, as many political philosophers point to, Aristotle did claim that we were political animals. This idea comes from The Politics, and I believe it is true--perhaps so true that is has been one of the primary building blocks of Western Civilization--but I think he makes the same point, more romantically, in The Nicomachean Ethics: