Opinion | Tony Jones: Changing laws and their effect on our lives
My family and I will be hitting the road this summer, including for our usual visit to Florida to see my folks. In addition to that annual trek to the Sunshine State we’ll also be traveling to Idaho for a nephew’s wedding near Boise. As much as I love Colorado, I must admit that I also love seeing the other states of our Union. I enjoy experiencing the diversity in this country, diversity in our communities and the natural beauty to be found from Alaska to Florida, California to Maine, and everywhere in between. That diversity is something to be explored and celebrated.
However, with the polarization of national political thought, a polarity too often predicated on the state or region you live in, crossing state lines at times feels like you’re crossing into a different country. The difference in laws between Colorado and Florida and Idaho is representative of that. For instance, in the Florida county my parents live in the sale of alcohol was prohibited into the 21st century, requiring a person to travel to the county next door to buy a six pack of beer. Eventually those regulations were relaxed, a nod to the fact that the laws in that dry county didn’t necessarily reflect the values of the citizens living there anymore (if they ever did).
We’ve seen loosening of restrictive laws at the national level as well, including with the legalization of same-sex marriage. But that change didn’t open the door for same-sex relationships, those already existed. Instead, it relaxed prohibitions on an existing activity — prohibitions put in place by one class of people on another, forcing their values upon others. We seem to be on the cusp of a similar loosening of laws that outlaw cannabis use nationally, a reflection of the realization and acceptance of how widespread cannabis use is and has been.
Which brings me to the abortion issue. First, I must state that as a person with daughters and granddaughters, I wish for them to never have to decide on whether to terminate a pregnancy. I hope the news of pregnancy will be a moment of joy for them, and that the difficult nine months to come are balanced with eager expectation for both her and her spouse. But should it come down to having to make the excruciating choice to terminate a pregnancy, I also want that choice to be there for them. I do not want them or anyone to be forced by the state to make personal medical decisions based on which political party is in power or which last held enough political power to pass laws outlawing abortion in that state.
Some say that this is simply delegating the authority over abortion to the states and that those who disagree with the change should not move to or should move away from those states where the laws in place do not reflect their values. That’s a cynical viewpoint reflective of an us-and-them mentality that bodes ill for the unity that we all wish for in our country. Additionally, those who have been actively fighting for the demise of Roe v. Wade don’t seem content to leave their values at their state lines. No sooner did it become evident that the national right to an abortion may be struck down and it’ll be come a states’ rights issue, then Republican lawmakers start talking about taking those restrictive values nationwide. So much for states’ rights.
My problem with this change to national law is that it represents taking away an established right. And this is also reflective of my problem with the conservative agenda. It seems like much of the conservative wish list consists of taking away the rights of those whose values differ from their own, whether it be over abortion or when and how you can vote. While today, some may cheer for this potential change to national abortion law, those cheering should be careful because it is illustrative of how fragile established precedent and law can be. So, while some conservatives may applaud this change today, eventually the pendulum will swing the other way and they may be the ones who see rights they cherish threatened.
Tony Jones’ column “Everything in Moderation” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Jones is a veteran of the IT industry and has worked in the public and private sectors. He lives part time in Summit County and Denver. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Jones' column "Everything in Moderation" publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Jones is a veteran of the IT industry and has worked in the public and private sectors. He lives part-time in Summit County and Denver. Contact him at email@example.com.
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