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Abortion actions won’t change much

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Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial

Some political debates will never end as long as our republic survives. Among them are how evolution should be taught in public schools. Gun rights and firearm regulation are always at center stage in Congress and the Texas Legislature.

But abortion ranks at the top of the list.

The Legislature appears ready to pass a new law that would require Texas hospitals and abortion clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage.

Supporters argue the bill has nothing to do with abortion but is all about ensuring the dignity of "the deceased." Opponents say it's yet another way for the state to psychologically punish women who legally terminate a pregnancy.

Separate bills -- one already passed by the Senate and another pending in the House --would subject hospitals and clinics that don't bury or cremate fetal remains to fines or the loss of their licenses.

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. It legalized abortion. And politics in the United States has not been the same since.

Roe v. Wade essentially said government cannot invade the privacy of a woman who gets an abortion as long as the fetus is not able to live outside the womb. The high court ruled a non-viable fetus is not a "person." And that is why death certificates are not issued for aborted fetuses.

The U.S. is a nation of laws, and Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land. Even so, anti-abortion groups are pressuring Texas legislators to pass a law outlawing abortion even though the federal courts surely would overturn it as unconstitutional based on the Roe v. Wade precedent.

One thought keeps coming to mind. The law is one thing. But good ethics and morals often demand a higher standard than the law. And this is what anti-abortion activists keep saying time and again: Abortion equals murder. It may be legal but it is ethically and morally abhorrent.

The current fetal remains bill does nothing to resolve the abortion issue. It's just another shot fired in the guerrilla war that pro-life groups have been waging against Roe v. Wade for 44 years.

The state of Texas has spent millions of taxpayer dollars defending laws aimed at bankrupting abortion clinics and shaming women who legally terminate their pregnancies.

Consequently, women seeking abortions in Texas must be tough. They have to undergo sonograms and then view images of the fetus in their womb.

Pro-choice activists see the sonogram law as harsh and punitive. The other side believes it rightly forces pregnant women to confront the reality of what is inside them.

Abortion has been with us since ancient times. The U.S. Supreme Court, Congress and the Texas Legislature can take whatever legal and symbolic actions they want and it won't change much of anything in the long run.

Clarification

Wednesday's editorial supported a cite-and-release policy for people caught with small amounts of marijuana. This means police could write a ticket rather than haul someone to jail.

Cite-and-release does not legalize or decriminalize possession of marijuana. The defendant still must appear in court to answer the possession charge. And, under state law, a judge could still assess jail time.

Booking a suspect into jail is time-consuming. Cite-and-release advocates like the idea because it would allow officers to spend more time patrolling the streets and less time doing paperwork. It would also mean defendants would only go to jail after they are judged guilty or if they don't show up for court.