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Abortion: Deal With It Ethically, Not Politically

Saurabh Malkar

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President Trump’s executive office, on October 2, backed the US House of Representatives ban on 20-week abortions, labeled the H.R. 36: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill, if signed into law, will outlaw termination of pregnancy past the 20-week mark, except if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or if it’s the result of rape or incest.

The administration rationalized their stance with their support for a ‘culture of life’ – a talking point and issue that is close to Republicans and Conservatives, alike. The Trump team also added the unborn baby’s capability to feel pain around the 20-week mark as a second reason to bolster their support for the bill. Overall, it seems that the Executive Office tried to cover both the moral and scientific bases to make a strong case.

Abortion has become a heated topic in recent times, especially in the US, with the pro-choicers pushing for more bodily autonomy and freedom of choice and the pro-lifers retreating to the traditionalist positions of respect for life – born and unborn.

While the pro-lifers have definitely ramped up their campaigning and messaging effort, the pro-choicers seem to have gone off the deep end with over-the-top rhetoric and a glib attitude towards unborn life.

My dilemma begins with the Left’s dichotomy over its show of love and compassion towards human life. On the one hand, leftists and contemporary liberals seem willing to sacrifice just about anything for the sake of the weak, the marginalized, and the vulnerable, regardless of their age. On the other hand, however, this unyielding concern seems to dry up when it comes to unborn babies.

In the Left’s vision, the birthing process is a value-added phase that represents a cut-off point, beyond which an entity becomes a human being and, thus, should be afforded rights and protection. Prior to this rite of passage, which seems to confer personhood, the entity is merely a clump of cells whose existence is made subordinate to the conveniences of the woman housing it.

I must make it terribly clear that ‘conveniences’ doesn’t include life-threatening circumstances that a woman might face on account of her being pregnant. Abortions for the sake of saving the mother’s life account for less than 1% of total abortions in the US. The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed for convenience or financial reasons. I shall elaborate on ‘life-saving abortions’ in the later part of this article.

The abortion debate as it hangs now seems to be hinging for the most part, if not completely, on the idea of personhood. The unborn entity, whether it’s a clump of cells or a human-looking organism, is still not a human as it doesn’t exhibit human traits like conscience, self-determination, free will, and other ontological characteristics, hence, hasn’t attained personhood and, thus, should be held subordinate to the mother, who does exhibit these characteristics.

In a survey of models of personhood, Bruce A. Ware describes two competing and prominent models: the functionalist model and the essentialist model. To summarize, the functionalist model confers personhood upon those who exhibit certain measurable and appreciable traits like self-determination and self-control, to name a few; and the essentialist model confers personhood based on the inherent capability to develop the traits referenced in the functionalist model.

The functionalist model runs into serious trouble as its proponents set, without justification, arbitrary indicators of human personhood. It almost seems that the model is set up in the image of its creators, leaving out everyone who doesn’t resemble them. It reflects one of the most serious and widespread elements of human condition – bias. This unfortunate setup leaves out not only unborn babies, but it also leaves the fate of comatose and vegetative patients hanging in the balance.

The essentialist model takes a holistic view of human personhood and ontological characteristics, avoiding arbitrary standards and being rational and ‘inclusive.’ The embryo, although lacking in resemblance to a mature human being in function and structure, contains the data and autonomic behavior to carry on concerted growth that leads to a fully developed human being. Somewhere in this unassuming mass of cells, there lie the seeds for human conscience and free will. Personhood is a function of these natural preponderances, manifest or otherwise.

Interestingly, such results are not seen of any other clump of cells, including, isolated cells derived from the embryo.

Cue human embryonic stem cells.

These cells are just one component of the embryo and by themselves cannot perform the mammoth task of creating a human being. They, thus, don’t constitute a person and can be manipulated for scientific research. The essentialist position is, thus, compatible with human embryonic stem cell research, in that it states that personhood arises out of the ‘ontological wholeness.’ This also follows in a post-birth human, where personhood is conferred upon the physio-psychological entity and not individual components, i.e. organs.

A civilized society places, rightfully, a huge premium on human life and should do everything it can to protect it. Laws exist, or ought to exist, not so much to protect the strong, as to protect the weak, the vulnerable, and the voiceless.

Upholding the sanctity of life will mean making abortion illegal, with an exception for safeguarding the mother’s life. While my libertarian side grimaces at the thought of this prospect, my conservative side stridently calls for government intervention to protect this divine gift called ‘life.’

This raises the questions of offspring resulting from rape/incest.

While rape is a horrid crime, the offspring of such an act bears no responsibility for the crime. Abortion should be forbidden, but the woman shouldn’t be under any duress to take custody of the baby. Adequate counseling, support, and adoption advice should be offered, which is what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are for – a lesser known, yet effective, service. What is even lesser known is that close to three-fourths of rape victims decide to raise the offspring from the act and over three-quarters of those who opt for abortion regret their decision.

In extreme situations that require picking between the mother and the unborn child, the mother should be given the preference based on the fact that she possesses the capability to give rise to another offspring that can be raised in a two-parent family and given optimum life. Saving the offspring at the expense of the mother will simply relegate the child to a less than optimum upbringing.

Abortion is a sensitive and polemical issue that causes tensions to flare up at the drop of a hat. While it has been co-opted into the political battlefield, its edifice remains steeped in the age-old debate over personhood and sanctity of life and that is where it should be fought and resolved.

An ex-dentist and a business graduate who is greatly influenced by American conservatism and western values. Having born and brought up in a non-western, third world country, he provides an ‘outside-in’ view on western values. As a budding writer and analyst, he is very much stoked about western culture and looks forward to expound and learn more. Mr. Malkar receives correspondence at saurabh.malkar[at]gmail.com. To read his 140-character commentary on Twitter, follow him at @saurabh_malkar

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Americas

A self-inflicted wound: Trump surrenders the West’s moral high ground

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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For the better part of a century, the United States could claim the moral high ground despite allegations of hypocrisy because its policies continuously contradicted its proclaimed propagation of democracy and human rights. Under President Donald J. Trump, the US has lost that moral high ground.

This week’s US sanctioning of 28 Chinese government entities and companies for their involvement in China’s brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in its troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the first such measure by any country since the crackdown began, is a case in point.

So is the imposition of visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of being involved in the detention and human rights abuses of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.

The irony is that the Trump administration has for the first time elevated human rights to a US foreign policy goal in export control policy despite its overall lack of concern for such rights.

The sanctions should put the Muslim world, always the first to ring the alarm bell when Muslims rights are trampled upon, on the spot.

It probably won’t even though Muslim nations are out on a limb, having remained conspicuously silent in a bid not to damage relations with China, and in some cases even having endorsed the Chinese campaign, the most frontal assault on Islam in recent history.

This week’s seeming endorsement by Mr. Trump of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds, who backed by the United States, fought the Islamic State and were guarding its captured fighters and their families drove the final nail into the coffin of US moral claims.

The endorsement came on the back of Mr. Trump’s transactional approach towards foreign policy and relations with America’s allies, his hesitancy to respond robustly to last month’s missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, his refusal to ensure Saudi transparency on the killing a year ago of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his perceived empathy for illiberals and authoritarians symbolized by his reference to Egyptian field marshal-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as “my favourite dictator.”

Rejecting Saudi and Egyptian criticism of his intervention in Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the United States and Mr. Trump a blunt preview of what they can expect next time they come calling, whether it is for support of their holding China to account for its actions in Xinjiang, issues of religious freedom that are dear to the Trump administration’s heart, or specific infractions on human rights that the US opportunistically wishes to emphasize.

“Let me start with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Erdogan said in blistering remarks to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). “Look in the mirror first. Who brought Yemen to this state? Did tens of thousands of people not die in Yemen?” he asked, referring to the kingdom’s disastrous military intervention in Yemen’s ruinous civil war.

Addressing Mr. Al-Sisi, Mr. Erdogan charged: “Egypt, you can’t talk at all. You are a country with a democracy killer.” The Turkish leader asserted that Mr. Al-Sisi had “held a meeting with some others and condemned the (Turkish) operation – so what if you do?”

The fact that the United States is likely to encounter similar responses, even if they are less belligerent in tone, as well as the fact that Mr. Trump’s sanctioning of Chinese entities is unlikely to shame the Muslim world into action, signals a far more fundamental paradigm shift:  the loss of the US and Western moral high ground that gave them an undisputed advantage in the battle of ideas, a key battleground in the struggle to shape a new world order.

China, Russia, Middle Eastern autocrats and other authoritarians and illiberals have no credible response to notions of personal and political freedom, human rights and the rule of law.

As a result, they countered the ideational appeal of greater freedoms by going through the motions. They often maintained or erected democratic facades and payed lip service to democratic concepts while cloaking their repression in terms employed by the West like the fight against terrorism.

By surrendering the West’s ideological edge, Mr. Trump reduced the shaping of the new world order to a competition in which the power with the deeper pockets had the upper hand.

Former US national security advisor John Bolton admitted as much when he identified in late 2018 Africa as a new battleground and unveiled a new strategy focused on commercial ties, counterterrorism, and better-targeted U.S. foreign aid.

Said international affairs scholar Keren Yarhi-Milo: “The United States has already paid a significant price for Trump’s behaviour: the president is no longer considered the ultimate voice on foreign policy. Foreign leaders are turning elsewhere to gauge American intentions… With Trump’s reputation compromised, the price tag on U.S. deterrence, coercion, and reassurance has risen, along with the probability of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation.”

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Trump’s effects on diplomacy

Irfan Khan

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No longer has Trump’s haphazard behaviour persisted, more will be easy for his administration to enact actions against China, Iran and Taliban. The state department is in a quandary because of it, on each front. Trump’s entrenched eagerness to remain “great” and “first” on the chessboard of International power, could damage the world more ahead than before.

Following the Iran’s attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia’s oil infrastructure, US wanted to deploy troops to the Kingdom. It is primarily a justification for why the US has been imposing sanctions over Iran. Is troops deployment a solution? Or will it provide safe horizon to Kingdom oil’s installation? Or will it be revolutionary in oil diplomacy? Or is it the only target retaliated on, by Iran. However, such kind of engagement has short term beneficiary spots, while in broader perspective it has consequential effects for all stakeholders. The episode of nuclear deal has, as a factor of quid-pro-quo, been further dramatised by the state department, withdrawing from. Notwithstanding, the deal has advantageous prospects for the Middle East, and an exemplary for rest of nations, has been further dramatised by the US, in order to seek its diplomatic wins. What significant at this point, is an agreement to reback to the deal.

Embracing a different economic model, China, is plausibly on a runner-up position to the US. Whether it’s 5G tech. Or leading status of green energy, or ultra-scales exports or its leading developments for the nations having indigent economies, is a source of chaos for US administration. The current trade war is an antidoting tool for the whole scenario. The US should, I assume, eye China’s hegemony a piece of cake, and welcome its come out while securing its interests under the umbrella of cooperation. This logic, while posing no threat, seems to be long term functional. Is it?

Trump, according to many native writers, is psychologically unfit, unstable and fickle, however have had strong narrative to prevent America’s engagement into “useless wars” and end “endless” wars. Following this token, Trump announcement of troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan put the world politics and even his administration into chaos. This divided strategists and Washington security officials, which was underpinned by the resignation of James Mattis and recently John Bolton. The ten months of peace process which followed the US’s announcement of troop withdrawal, precipitously ended, putting once again the international and national politics into chaos. Trump, grandiloquently fired a tweet that talks with Taliban are dead and futile. The argument he contended was the Attack in Kabil, where one American soldier with 12 other people were lost. The policymakers and high officials in Washington who already negated the policy of troop withdrawal and then after peace deal. They, of course are winner in this policy discourse, have staunch beliefs in their opinion, who may make Trump’s change of heart. The Kabil attack was given, probably, an agent of resurgent for Obama’s approach. However, Trump’s administration had already scripted their policy framework for the region, and pretending Kabul attack was perhaps a way of redemption from the peace talk.

Trump’s factor in US foreign policy was chaotic to his subordinates for which, he attempted to compensate by cancelling peace deal with Taliban. However , on the domestic front, it is likely to be more pluses than on diplomatic front given to Trump in next year’s presidential election. Let’s see which side the wind blow. 

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Americas

Trump Cannot Be Impeached Over Ukrainegate, But Pelosi and Schiff Can Be Charged Criminally

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.

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Pursuant to United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court issued an unmistakable clear edict concerning the foreign affairs powers of the President of the United States.

In its majority opinion, the Court held that the President, as the nation’s “sole organ” in international relations, is innately vested with significant powers over foreign affairs, far exceeding the powers permitted in domestic matters or accorded to the U.S. Congress.

The Court reasoned that these powers are implicit in the President’s constitutional role as commander-in-chief and head of the executive branch.

Curtiss-Wright was the first decision to establish that the President’s plenary power was independent of Congressional permission, and consequently it is credited with providing the legal precedent for further expansions of executive power in the foreign sphere.

In a 7–1 decision authored by Justice George Sutherland, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. government, through the President, is categorically allowed great foreign affairs powers independent of the U.S. Constitution, by declaring that “the powers of the federal government in respect of foreign or external affairs and those in respect of domestic or internal affairs are different, both in respect of their origin and their nature…the broad statement that the federal government can exercise no powers except those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and such implied powers as are necessary and proper to carry into effect the enumerated powers, is categorically true only in respect of our internal affairs.”

While the Constitution does not explicitly state that all ability to conduct foreign policy is vested in the President, the Court concluded that such power is nonetheless given implicitly, since the executive of a sovereign nation is, by its very nature, empowered to conduct foreign affairs.

The Court found “sufficient warrant for the broad discretion vested in the President to determine whether the enforcement of the statute will have a beneficial effect upon the reestablishment of peace in the affected countries.”

In other words, the President was better suited for determining which actions and policies best serve the nation’s interests abroad.

Period.

It is important to bear in mind that we are here dealing not alone with an authority vested in the President by an exertion of legislative power, but with such an authority plus the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations – a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course, like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provisions of the Constitution.

Separation of Powers Doctrine

In other words, neither the U.S. Congress nor the U.S. Senate can say or do very much of anything to prevent or interfere with this power, and if they do, they can in fact be held responsible for violating the Separation of Powers doctrine pursuant to the U.S. Constitution wherein the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) are kept separate.

This is also known as the system of checks and balances, because each branch is given certain powers so as to check and balance the other branches.

Each branch has separate powers, and generally each branch is not allowed to exercise the powers of the other branches.

The Legislative Branch exercises congressional power, the Executive Branch exercises executive power, and the Judicial Branch exercises judicial review.

National Security and Foreign Affairs

The Curtiss-Wright case established the broader principle of executive Presidential supremacy in national security and foreign affairs, one of the reasons advanced in the 1950s for the near success of the attempt to add the Bricker Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would have placed a “check” on said Presidential power by Congress, but that never passed, or became law.

If Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats really wanted to interfere with or prevent President Donald Trump from engaging in the activity that they are trying to prevent vis-a-vis Ukraine, China, and Joseph Biden’s alleged corruption and its effect on National Security, they would have to first draft, propose, enact, and pass sweeping legislation, and this could take years and would most probably never pass.

Even so, it could not affect President Donald Trump’s actions already occurred, since the U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto criminal laws.

Turning This All Against Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff

To that end if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff persist in pushing said “impeachment proceedings” against President Donald Trump, it is actually they who could find themselves on the wrong side of the law, with formal and actual charges of Treason, Sedition or Coup D’ Etat being levied upon them by the U.S. Government.

The consequences of that occurring, are truly horrific indeed.

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