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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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November 17, 2005

Savage on Privacy

Yesterday Dan Savage, editor of The Stranger, had an opinion piece in the New York Times, here.

It is about the right of privacy--or what liberals call the right of privacy, anyway, which includes abortion and sexual freedom. He admits there is nothing specific in the Constitution about this, even though liberals believe in it. And he says, "Well, if the right to privacy is so difficult for some people to locate in the Constitution, why don't we just stick it in there? Wouldn't that make it easier to find?"

Yes, it would. It would also require an amount of consensus that might be difficult to achieve. But those are political and legal questions. Leave them aside for a moment, for some other thoughts.

First, liberals focus on sexual freedom as if it were the only freedom that mattered. They don't care about the freedom not to join a union, or the freedom not to be in Social Security or the freedom not to wear a motorcycle helmet or the freedom to build a barn on one's own property in rural King County or the freedom to open a cigar bar in Seattle. Freedom to them is about sex, sex, sex. Well, I'm for that. Let's not limit it to that, else we're living in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Second, the Constitution does have the Fourth Amendment, which protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." This hasn't always been followed, but it is in the Constitution. There is also the vague but enticing Ninth Amendment which says the people have rights other than those listed.

Third, what Savage wants is not really privacy, which is about having a curtain behind which other people can't see you. This is about the freedom to make certain sexual and medical choices. I am for that freedom, I think, almost as much as he is, though I'm not sure about late-term abortion. The liberals describe abortion as "Choice"--the feminists around me say, "I'm for Choice!" as if by their terminology they could erase the moral question of unborn life. I think killing unborn life an unavoidable question, and fundamentally one for individuals and couples to answer. I think it's too wrapped up in religion and too personal to be decided by the government, except perhaps to ban late-term abortion when the fetus is viable. But I respect the people who oppose abortion. I cannot refute their arguments, and neither can NARAL, Planned Parenthood or the writers at The Stranger, because if they could they would have done it. Instead, they just hurl invective. I think the anti-abortion position is simply not enforceable by law. It is not practical. People wouldn't follow it. Enforcement of it is too intrusive.

The version of Savage's Amendment I'd accept is to keep government out of consensual sexual acts by adults. Also to permit abortion before the point of viability. I think the Ds would go for it and about half the Rs would go for it. But they'll never reach such an agreement. The other half of the Rs would raise hell in that caucus, and the very partisan Ds would not want to reach a compromise, because they love so much using abortion--or "privacy"-as a weapon against Rs.

I think we'e stuck.

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at November 17, 2005 12:14 PM



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