Why aren’t conservative brains exploding from the crazy contradictions in the Republican party line? I mean, how is it possible to believe that government can’t tell you how to use your land, but government can tell you how to use your body?
Recently we learned that abortion rights are being challenged in South Dakota and property rights are being upheld in Oregon. Conservatives were thrilled. But if the right to use your land as you see fit is sacrosanct, why isn’t there a similar right to use your body as you see fit?
I don’t get it. Dave Hunnicutt of Oregonians in Action says that Measure 37, the property rights measure that has been upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court, “provides every property owner in Oregon with the exact same right: the right to use your land in the way that you could when you acquired it.”
Though my wife and I consider Measure 37 a travesty against all that is right and good with Oregon land use planning, for the sake of argument I’ll temporarily agree with Hunnicutt that whatever laws applied at the time a person acquired his or her property should guide the use of that land—even if land use laws are changed subsequent to the acquisition.
And per Measure 37, I’ll also agree that if government wants to enforce new laws on that person’s property it’s “pay up or shut up” time. That is, government either has to compensate the owner for the lowered value of his or her land that was caused by those restrictions, or waive the new laws.
So I hope Oregonians in Action is going to be consistent and lobby hard for the abortion rights equivalent of Measure 37 if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. After all, the Roe v. Wade decision has been the law of the land since 1973. Every woman who has become sexually active during the last thirty-three years has lived in a country bound by that ruling.
Thus conservative property rights activists should agree that these women have the right to use their bodies in the way that they could when they acquired sexual maturity. Hey, I’m just quoting the gospel of Dave Hunnicutt here, not some progressive abortion rights argument.
South Dakota wants women to bear children that were conceived as a result of rape or incest. Well, how much should those women be compensated for this intrusion by government on their freedom to use their body as they desire? A million dollars? Ten million?
I was raised by my mother, a fervently conservative Republican. But her conservatism was of the old-fashioned William F. Buckley variety: keep government out of our lives insofar as possible. Today my mother would be called fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Back in her day she was just called a conservative, because Republicans weren’t into imposing rigid moral standards on citizens. They believed in leaving people alone.
I long for a return of real conservatives who support the right of a woman to control her own body with the same fervor that they support her right to control her own property.
Next day update: I knew I’d get some comments from people who thought that the difference between abortion rights and property rights is that another living being, a fetus, is involved in the first instance but not in the second instance. And, I did.
These commenters are missing the point. Two points, really. (1) The idea that there are “two bodies” involved in an abortion is subjective and open to question. What is a human? When does live begin? Is a fetus conscious? Does it feel pain?
Most people rely on religious answers to these difficult questions. An individual may believe in a particular religion such as Christianity, but governmental laws shouldn’t be based on religion. Our Constitution forbids that. So it makes sense that every individual person should be free to answer ambiguous moral questions in his or her own fashion.
Some moral questions aren’t ambiguous. Murder of a living breathing person obviously takes the life of, well, a living breathing person. Aborting a small number of cells that have not yet achieved living breathing status is much different. So abortion can’t be equated with the “crimes against the person” that one commenter cited.
(2) The commenters don’t seem to understand that, contrasted with abortion rights, property rights unarguably do involve other human beings. There’s no doubt about it, whereas there is a doubt when it comes to abortion. I know this directly, because I’m a property owner who lives next to other property owners.
What they do with their property affects me. And what I do affects them. By contrast, a woman who has an abortion, or not, doesn’t affect me at all. Or, so minimally I don’t notice (welfare costs might go up if an unwanted child is born, but I’ll just pay a miniscule share of this increase).
So this is the crazy thing about the conservative mindset: It doesn’t recognize that how a person uses his or her property really does affect other people, whereas how a woman uses her body really doesn’t affect other people—except insofar as they feel moral outrage if she does something with her body they don’t approve of.
This is the illogic of Measure 37. It presumes that land use occurs in a vacuum, that your right to use your property as you see fit doesn’t affect my right to use my property as I see fit. That’s plain wrong. Near us there is a Measure 37 claim that wants to put 80 homes on 240 acres. Eighty more wells in an area where existing wells already are going dry.
Yet the property rights zealots say, “That person has a right to do whatever he or she wants with the land. It doesn’t matter how other people are affected. This is a free country.”
My point is that if you think that way, then you also should say, “A woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body. It doesn’t matter how other people are affected. This is a free country.”
Be consistent, conservatives. That’s all I ask.