COLUMN: Abortion law endangers civil liberty | Columns

Oklahoma leaders wasted $2 million suing tribes. They’re back to suing for extreme anti-abortion laws, undermining the individual liberties of Madison’s 1789 Ninth Amendment. If they win in court, all citizens lose some of the entire uncharted territory of “things that the Constitution does not take away in exchange for a social pact”. Unintended consequences have profound ramifications for every citizen across a wide range of impacts. Civil liberties are at stake.

This election cycle, Oklahoma’s aides will prove their passion and validate their husbands’ gospel calling by voting for cowboys, ranchers and plumbers whose resumes lack the technical skills to legislate. Well-meaning Oklahomans are not so different from Middle Eastern fanatics drawn into one-size-fits-all church-state fundamentalism: Khomeni’s Iran, the Taliban, etc. The stakes are high for civil liberties.

Instead, may we keep the society we currently live in. Adults, even in the strictest and most God-fearing states, break the law. They take lovers. They experiment. They fornicate. They commit adultery. They like lovers of the same sex. They start doing these things when they’re barely of age. If you don’t believe it, talk to any high school chaperone, high school counselor, or social worker.

If we don’t let confirmation bias lead us down the less traveled path of incredulous irrationality, we accept that humans are naturally sexual and sometimes don’t wait until marriage to have sex. Being discreet is admirable. But imprisoning women who refuse pregnancy is like turning Oklahoma prisons into brood farms. It’s getting worse.

Ten years ago, Oklahoma lawmakers drafted comprehensive, far-reaching, and some would say overly inclusive bans on child abuse. Lawmakers are about to do to women what they did to teenagers. High school 17 year olds who have sex and their parents are criminals who deserve the shiny machete punishment in the form of a longer prison term than it takes to become doctor. The parents of sexually active minors are accomplices after the fact, subject to punitive incarceration in prison for not confessing the secrets of their adolescence to the district attorney.

In Oklahoma, if your 17-year-old has sex twice and you don’t stop him, you can go to jail for life. It’s the law. Cue Oprah on Prison Sentences: ‘And Everyone Has One!’

Taxpayers pay the onerous cost of $40,000 a year to incarcerate an overburdened teenager, parent or single mother. Fortunately, district attorneys are elected to serve one or a few counties. They are local leaders. DAs use common sense and prosecutorial discretion to avoid jailing parents whose teens are sexually active. But selective enforcement is no safeguard against excessive laws. They are sleeping giants. Throw big fundamentalist bucks into district attorney races, and bam! The stage is set to radically pursue social behaviors. It’s not about whether Oklahoma could incarcerate thousands of accomplices in teenage sex or abortion. It is only a matter of when the elect will turn to do so. How many people would it be if these laws started to be enforced? We saw.

Pro-choicers have a thousand sensible personal reasons for the 2% abortion rate: human trafficking, rape, trade clause, equal pay, professional equality, medical fragility, quality of life for the children we already care for, free will personnel, financial responsibility, and more. There is a huge difference between our personal choices and the choices they take off the table for others. Unsafe abortions increase when rights decrease. Women are dying. That’s not what we’re voting for. The medicine and science of historic abortion laws should not be abrogated by disbelief, however passionate.

Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, lawyer and artist living in Lake Tenkiller.

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