Abortion Meets Newton’s Laws of Motion
Newton’s third law of motion states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Although Newton was describing the movement of physical objects, it turns out his laws are also predictive of political issues, the latest example being abortion.
Think of Newton’s third law as overreach and pushback. In politics we see this frequently. Sequential presidents are often of different political parties and philosophies, meaning that after four, or usually eight years of action in one direction, there is an equal push in the opposite direction with a new administration of a different political party.
Abortion provides a good example of Newton’s law, particularly this year with legislative pushback, an equal and opposite reaction to in this case, Democrat overreach.
Abortion was in a steady state, a truce of sorts between opposing views, after Roe v. Wade was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. The high court ruled that a right to privacy trumped states’ rights to regulate abortion, resulting in a court-determined right to abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
Casey v Planned Parenthood in 1992 provided further clarification, eliminating an arbitrary third trimester prohibition but instead permitting abortion only until fetal viability, typically in the late second trimester.
In the mid-1990s, the official position of the Clinton Administration was that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”. This position was a reasonable compromise, given the two Supreme Court rulings and unlikelihood of Roe being overturned. Although not ideal for either side of the abortion issue, it created a truce.
Not content, the left couldn’t leave well enough alone. They challenged the axiom, “perfect is the enemy of good”, and kept pushing against any limits on abortion. Planned Parenthood thrived under taxpayer largess, but actually against the will of many taxpayers. The abhorrent practices of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts like a chop shop sells auto parts, was offensive to the sensibilities of most Americans.
Newton’s pendulum was beginning to swing a bit too far on one direction. Democrats, as they are prone to do, were overreaching on this issue. If the action is small and insidious, according to Newton, so will be the reaction. But that’s not how it is playing out.
Democrats, channeling Frank Sinatra and his famous song about New York, thought that if they could expand abortion there, they could expand it anywhere.
Their first overreach was in New York State earlier this year when lawmakers applauded a bill that legalized abortion up to the time of birth. A standing ovation for legalized infanticide was a strong action and Newton was readying a reaction. The city lights of New York City may glow pink in celebration, but most people don’t share in the glee.
Next came Virginia, where a proposed bill allowing post-birth abortion, also known as infanticide, fortunately did not pass. Virginia Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam, a former pediatric neurologist defended the bill in a radio interview, talking about how a full-term baby, after a failed abortion, “would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated, if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Further action in one direction and Newton was now ready to give the left a big-league physics lesson.
First came the fetal heartbeat laws, restricting abortion after a heartbeat can be detected. Depending on how it’s detected, this can occur in the five to seven-week range, well within the first trimester. Ohio, Mississippi, and Georgia have passed such laws.
The left howled in outrage. Hollywood wants to boycott Georgia for filmmaking, despite the 92,000 jobs provided for Georgia residents. Actress Alyssa Milano called for a sex strike over the abortion bill. Ironically liberal women not having sex and becoming pregnant will only hurt Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, something Milano apparently didn’t ponder before tweeting her proposed sex strike.
Newton’s reaction was stronger in Alabama where this week an even more restrictive abortion bill was enacted. This law “Would ban abortion -- with the exception of when the life of the mother is in jeopardy -- in all circumstances.” Going further, the law, “Could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.”
Other states are pushing back as well – Missouri, Mississippi, and Kentucky – to name a few. Each state slightly more or less restrictive than their neighbors, but a strong reaction to Democrats pushing abortion into the realm of infanticide. Missouri’s legislature just passed an eight-week abortion ban.
Alabama is not just pushing back against abortion overreach. Instead the state is hammering at the foundation, namely the Roe decision itself. The bill’s sponsor in the Alabama Senate, Sen. Clyde Chambliss, describes his intentions:
The way that this bill is drafted -- it goes to ask the question of personhood. The 14th Amendment gives people, a person the right to life, liberty and property. But it doesn’t say when a person becomes a person. Obviously, if somebody is walking around, we know that’s a person. In the womb, do we know if that is a person or not? Unborn babies can hear, they can feel -- at what point can they hear and feel and think and feel pain.
We need some guidance from the Supreme Court. So this bill has been drafted so that it goes directly to that question. It goes to the Supreme Court, hopefully. And we do expect it to be ruled unconstitutional at the lower court. It has to be. It has no choice because they have to follow Supreme Court precedent. That’s no surprise. We know that’s going to happen. We know that will be found unconstitutional on appeal, but hopefully, we’ll have the Supreme Court to take up the matter. And we hope and we feel that the Supreme Court will rule this law constitutional because it gets to that personhood issue that is so, so important.
Couple this with a recent Supreme Court decision, Franchise Board v. Hyatt, a low-profile case with big time implications, that reversed a previous Court decision, or the legal principle of stare decisis. If the high court can toss away “let the decision stand” regarding something as mundane as states being sued by a private party, why can’t they do the same with Roe, or same sex marriage, or a host of other “settled law” decisions?
We don’t know if the Alabama law will make it all the way to the Supreme Court or how it might be decided, but the table is now set for a decision overturning Roe and leaving the abortion issue to the states, just as the Tenth Amendment prescribes.
Alyssa Milano can have a full-term abortion in New York if she so pleases, but not in Alabama. That’s the principle of federalism. Similarly if she wants to gamble, she has plenty of states giving her that option, but not in Hawaii or Utah.
The left pushed too far on abortion and Newton’s law of motion is now pushing back in a way they didn’t anticipate and don’t appreciate. This is a microcosm of pushback, something we see frequently from President Trump, much to the dismay of those who still haven’t accepted the fact that he won the 2016 election.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.