Brennan: Barrett should be confirmed

By Tom Brennan |

This week let’s discuss some non-controversial topics.

I don’t know what Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett meant during the congressional hearing when she talked about abortion rights. But here’s what I hope she meant:

Surely she couldn’t be hoping to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. That would turn back the clock to an unacceptable time and result in rioting in the streets. 

Such demonstrations are becoming commonplace these days but public fury about throwing out Roe v. Wade could be unlike anything we have seen in modern history. Hundreds of thousands of women would be out there yelling and marching. And right beside them would be a great many men.

The abortion laws could, in fact, use some changes. Right now abortion is legal in all states, but the rules vary. More uniformity would seem appropriate, which is something that could and perhaps should be determined at the federal level.

Some state limitations on abortion are so difficult that women are forced to seek their medical help in other states, a problem that seems unacceptable to me. The laws should be uniform, if possible, and some kind of national standard should apply.

The activity that sometimes results in pregnancy is a basic human function that is popular both as a recreational activity and often as the ultimate expression of romantic love.

If, when pregnancy results, the woman is married and the couple is prepared for and happy to have a baby enter their lives, being pregnant is cause for celebration. Obviously that is not always the case. 

Here are two such situations: Sometimes unwanted pregnancies occur to single women and sometimes to married women whose career or family situation makes having a child problematic. In those cases, in my opinion, the woman should have the option of terminating the pregnancy under certain conditions.

The abortion should be carried out before the fetus has a heartbeat. Opinions about when a real heartbeat begins vary, but the minimum seems to be about six weeks after conception with the averages being six to nine weeks. And that is generally the window when clinical abortions are available, though there are many exceptions.

When the fetus develops major problems such as Down syndrome the rules change. One woman who wrote about her own case said her fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome and the pregnancy aborted at 14 weeks. That’s three and one half months.

Such decisions are generally difficult and should be discussed seriously with a physician and any family advisors. Allowing a compromised fetus to develop fully and be born can mean a very difficult life for the child. And that can create emotionally problematic years for the parents. 

While loving parents can make a huge difference in any child’s life, each case is different and informed decision-making is critical.

Judge Barrett was also asked about her opinions on the Affordable Care Act. She has made comments suggesting she thinks the act needs change. Democrats worry that she would vote to throw the whole act out, but that is very unlikely. She has said as much.

Judge Barrett has indicated she would never decide to void what many refer to as Obamacare, but she would obviously entertain tweaking the law. One change that seems already in the works is in the requirement that people buy health insurance, which the lawyers say is unconstitutional.

Congress has already zeroed out the penalty for not buying health insurance, but the requirement still exists. Those who don’t buy the insurance pay no penalty, but the law should still be changed.

I’m no expert in these areas, but I am really convinced that Judge Barrett would make a fine Supreme Court justice and should be approved.

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