On the night of November 12, Ohio University Assistant Professor of Philosophy Amy White appeared before a meeting of the ACLU in Columbus, Ohio to deliver an assessment of the results of the election of 2008. Like most observers, White discussed the implications of the presidential race, but then very quickly turned local. My transcription of her remarks regarding election results in the area of reproductive rights:
Reproductive rights? This is an area, I believe, in which we can breathe a huge collective sigh of relief, yes, with the election of Barack Obama. We have great reason to be optimistic, I believe, concerning future selection of Supreme Court justices. I think, had it gone the other way, considering that John McCain explicitly said in his second televised debate that he did not believe anyone who supported Roe would be qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, we can basically give a cheer here. Barack Obama has shown support for Roe over and over. The National Right to Life Coalition rates him as having a completely pro-choice stance. He voted No on preventing minors from crossing state lines for an abortion, he voted No on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. In 2006 he also sponsored bills providing contraceptives to low-income women. In general, it seems that reproductive rights have a friend in Barack Obama.
In Ohio, we still have Governor Strickland. He’s not generally supportive of choice. He’s rated 30% by Pro-Choice America; he’s generally supported pro-life measures. But there a couple of, you know, positive points. I think that having a Democratic-controlled House might be good, but again, they’re individual people. However, we can be thankful that the sponsor of the Ohio abortion ban, Tom Brinkman, his run for Congress was not successful. I think we should keep a close eye on the mandatory permission slip bill, HB 287, which is just for civil liberties a horrible bill.
Good news, too, at other state levels: several bills were opposed in this last election that limited reproductive rights. In California, Proposition 4 (while they’re still counting) seems to have been defeated. That was a proposition for mandatory parental notification. In Colorado, voters overwhelmingly opposed Amendment 48. That amendment would have defined human life as beginning from the moment of conception. Yes, indeed! Not only would that have put limits on reproductive rights, it would have also put things like in vitro fertilization in jeopardy. In South Dakota, Initiative 11 was rejected. It would have prevented abortion in all cases except to save the mother’s life, or in case of rape or incest up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. So some good news on that front. Some very good news, I believe.
Share these results with that friend of yours who keeps repeating the line that this is a center-right country. At least on the subject of women’s right to self-determination, it appears that this country is tilting in the direction of liberty.