Thursday, May 28, 2015

Missteps or Next Steps: Is this Federal Statute the Answer

I won't defer to others on the following point:

I am unapologetically anti-abortion and unashamedly pro-life. Given the ability to do so, if, like Obama, I could play emperor, I would make abortion always a prohibited criminal act. By the way, just as in history, I could do so without the prospect of women being tried for participating in the abortions of their own children.

Now, of course, criminalizing abortion can be justified from a religious, particularly Christian, perspective. "Suffer the little ones to come unto me, and forbid them not," after all, is one of the more memorable and kindly counsels that event ardent atheists recognize as a teaching of the Savior. When Mary, recently having become pregnant, visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth reported to Mary that when Mary spoke, the child leapt in her womb. In Aramaic, she used the word, "blephos." That word means "child" or "little one." Still, while it suffices for people of the Christian faith that Jesus took a most solicitous view of the value of children, that perspective would not suffice to justify such a restriction in an irreligious, or religiously pluralistic society. While it constitutes a valid reason to criminalize abortion, it is not, by itself a sufficient one.

Criminalizing abortion can be justified from concern for the life and health of women that resort to abortion. Abortion is a violent physical assault on a woman. There is, after all, an atmospheric about the decision by the Republican Leadership to have held this vote on the day it chose. Kermit Gosnell, a licensed medical doctor, is in prison because he killed a woman as part of providing her with a safe legal abortion; a jury also convicted Gosnell of three separate counts of first degree murder because, after three infants were born alive during abortions, he cut their spinal cords, killing them. Abortion disrupts a natural process. Often, particularly later abortions, involve even more dangerous assaults on the woman's body to accomplish the killing of her child. There is little doubt that abortion never helps women. But in a society where genuine concern for women is portrayed as shameless chauvinism, that concern would not suffice.

The better ground on which abortion should be criminalized pertains to the civil and human rights of the fetal child. That ground is, in its essence, indistinguishable from the ground on which this Nation ultimately rejected the legality of enslaving others. Remember, the American experience with the Peculiar Institution of Slavery depended in large part on a view that blacks were not persons in the same sense that whites were. That view is the one expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on Virginia. There he wrote, “I advance it as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind."

In the same fashion, though by different terminology, abortion advocates have denigrated the separate and equal status of fetal humans as persons. They denigrate the personhood of fetal children in both biological and constitutional senses. As to the former, arguments for abortion that dispute the biological evidence for the fetal child's separate existence and identity have hung on long after the medical and biological evidence resolved those questions in favor of the humanness and separate existence of the fetal child.

Frankly, the persistence of that view as a matter of biology is decided in conflict with science, as testimony going back to the Senate's Hearings on S. 158, "The Human Life Bill," established. What remains then, is an argument derived from Roe v. Wade's judicial usurpations, that fetal children are not persons, at least not persons in a constitutional sense. That the Court necessarily rejected the personhood of the fetal child as part of deciding Roe v. Wade is no more dispositive there than was the Supreme Court's determination in Roe that blacks are not persons, but chattel goods.

Ultimately, as our national history showed, the one sure way to end slavery, the sure means of tattooing equality regardless of race or national origin on the skin of our governmental framework was to amend the Constitution. I have no remaining doubt that amending the Constitution is the only adequate and complete remedy to the current injustice of legalized abortion.