Governor Rick Scott of Florida is no stranger to using the state to sanction abuses against individual liberty with the explicit approval of the Christian right. With a reelection bid coming up and a still-strong challenger in Charlie Crist leading him in the polls, Scott has elected the sure battleground to achieve cheap political capital among the hard right; the womb. His bill, H.B. 1047, will challenge the long-standing precedent established by Roe vs. Wade, allowing the state government act in preventing abortions within 24 weeks if it can be established that the fetus is viable and requires that a doctor certify in writing that an abortion was necessary to protect the life of the mother or her well-being.
A recent story in the Florida Times-Union mentions that if a doctor can determine that a fetus can exist outside of the womb, a woman will not be legally allowed to abort the pregnancy. One has to wonder by what criteria this conclusion is going to be made. Much of the right's argument begins with the film Silent Scream that came out during the Reagan era, that advanced the specious argument that fetuses feel pain when aborted. The problem is that the prevailing evidence of the time exposed the film as a fraud due mainly to the weak argument that reflex actions were a response to stimuli. Much of the debate now stems around whether a fetus, as it did then, can feel pain. The reliable science indicates that that of physical development doesn't occur fully until after 24 weeks, yet the "pro-life" movement isn't satisfied with science unless it affirms their views. They're equally not very concerned with the detail that the brain and other organs aren't fully formed enough within 24 weeks to exist in their own. It would seem that the only way viability can be confirmed is by removing the fetus from the mother, clipping the umbilical cord, and hoping that it can survive on its own. Whereas then, if life succeeds or fails, it took an abortion to settle the question: an irony as grotesque as the act itself.
And yet these real questions are often lost in the minds of the religious zealots within the, so called, pro-life movement who construe the "potential of life" with life. Arguably, it can be said that pro-choice crowd may even get caught up in a similar debate over viability, despite the fact that the facts are largely in their corner, in that they still entertain debate on the matter. Social conservatives seeking to use the government to force a morality that abortion is murder and that all life is sanctified, do so perfectly willing to use the government to coerce women who, of their own conscience, decide to reject motherhood. So in adopting this position, if passed in Tallahassee, a young girl may be forced to have a child forced upon her by a rapist either by a stranger, friend, or family member so long as it has the potential of being viable. Their argument is that all life is precious, which is a convenient position considering that, aside from their legislative dictates, there is no more involvement they will have in the matter aside from, perhaps, figuring out ways of avoiding pitching in for things such as education, or any public assistance should the child be born in poverty. As doing "God's work" is what they're really after.
What the law really does is establish the right of certain people in society to demand that an individual do specifically what they mandate with respect to their body. We don't have to agree with the idea of abortion, or even like it, but there is always the question of fundamental rights of the individual: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Christian right is altogether too willing at times to pursue happiness by showing a tendency to deny others the right to pursue the same free of their tyrannical dogma. The "right-to-life" faction sincerely believes in this mission enough to where they will commit acts of terrorism - mental, physical, and now, legislative - in order to enforce their moral view on an act that they are free to not participate in. This law, if passed, may endear Rick Scott to Florida's religious right in a reelection year, but it indicts them all as supposed lovers American traditions such as liberty.