It’s been year of disappointment. From the beginning of the campaign season to the impending days of Trump’s inauguration, 2016 has been a complete disaster. Honestly, what more must we endure?
But in the midst of our seemingly self-induced suffering, we’ve allowed a misguided philosophy to interfere with lawmaking—that being moral relativism. And I know, it’s been around for centuries, but hear me out. It became dangerous when we as a nation allowed it to be the basis of our decision-making, especially at a time of political importance.
In recent news, for example, abortion has become a growing debate again as Ohio Governor John Kasich enacted a controversial 20-week abortion ban in the state. This decision came after his surprising veto of the “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks. Both liberals and conservatives are angry with this compromise, proving that a compromise won’t please either side. Because that’s just it—you cannot compromise on a moral issue.
But to give him some credit, pro-life Kasich’s vetoing of the “heartbeat bill” is likely due to the improbability of the bill becoming law. This tight restriction would likely be intercepted by the courts before it would be enacted. Abortion bills are often stopped before they are enacted if they contradict Roe v. Wade—a landmark 1973 court case that is the national basis for abortion law (which can be accessed here). Under the case’s current guidelines, women are permitted to terminate their pregnancies up to a point that is “viable,” and viability is defined by the case file as, “usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.” A six-week restriction like the “heartbeat bill” contradicts this guideline. While it is still technically possible for the bill to become law eventually, it is unlikely with the case ruling still enacted.
The possible future of abortion law
However, under the Trump administration, this may change. Trump is pro-life, and will choose his Supreme Court justices accordingly. He has said that he plans to overturn Roe v. Wade entirely, and having pro-life Supreme Court justices would be one step in that direction.
After overturning the case, he plans to give the states the authority on abortion law. This would allow pro-life governors like John Kasich the opportunity to enact abortion laws such as the “heartbeat bill” without having to go through the red tape.
While this would allow states to directly change abortion law, it still won’t solve the problem. We still are allowing moral relativism to answer ethical questions. If Roe v. Wade is abolished, we wouldn’t have to compromise nationally, but we would still be compromising. The answer to a moral question like abortion should not change state-to-state. When it comes to morality, there is a right answer and a wrong answer, because morality is not relative. Morality is founded upon universal truth.
Under current law, most states adhere closely to the parameters of viability in the Roe v. Wade case. However, certain viability restrictions are waived in the case of rape or incest (which is less than 1 percent of abortion cases) or if the life and health of the woman is threatened. Additionally, seven states have no restrictions on some abortions (like ones due to rape or incest) at a certain point in the pregnancy. This means that in some states abortions are still taking place past the point where an infant could survive outside the womb.
The fact that we have state-to-state disparity in abortion law is illogical. This moral dispute should not vary across the nation. To solve this problem, we must make our decisions based on same foundation of truth. The only way we can do that is to reaffirm our pledge to be “one nation under God.” Nation-wide unity on moral issues is not only possible, but necessary. In 2017, I hope that not only our lawmakers, but we as a nation choose to root our morality in universal truths as it should be.