Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Roe V. Wade: 40 years Part 2

The Supreme Court, in 1973, decided to allow for “termination of pregnancy.”

“(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.
(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.
(c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”1
That is to say that a state may make abortion against the law in later trimesters., because, to quote the official decision, the wish to protect the life of citizens grows with the fetus. However, to quote: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”2 If they do not know how life begins, how can they speculate as to abortion? Could it be that they are unwittingly murdering? Their own logic leaves the door open to such a possibility.
Justice Stewart, in his concurrence said “Clearly, therefore, the Court today is correct in holding that the right asserted by Jane Roe is embraced within the personal liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”3
The constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law. Thus, if the fetus is a person, than to kill it without a trial is to murder it. The above statement makes clear that the court is not sure if the fetus is a person or not. They even attempt at one point in their argument to give us a sort of possibility that it may achieve personhood gradually.
The prevailing opinion is that when the baby is born it is a person, few would also dispute that a person cannot be killed without due process of law, to violate that is to commit murder. If a child was born a week before its due date it would, in all likelihood, be fine. In fact there have been children born at five months and still they have survived. To say that they only achieve personhood at birth is a misnomer, to say they achieve it gradually is to leave logic behind. If not at conception, then when, and if we do not know when, then how can we ever kill it? If they did achieve it gradually then we could at any moment be killing a person, not a pleasant prospect, unless you do not mind committing murder.
Justice Rehnquist, in a dissenting decision, addressed the argument that the woman has a right to privacy, and thus an abortion. “I have difficulty in concluding, as the Court does, that the right of ‘privacy’ is involved in this case. Texas, by the statute here challenged, bars the performance of a medical abortion by a licensed physician on a plaintiff such as Roe. A transaction resulting in an operation such as this is not "private" in the ordinary usage of that word.”4
The mother cannot plead privacy to murder a child of five, because that child is a person. Nor can she plead privacy to murder a child five months in the womb, because that is also a person.
Rehnquist replies to the argument that historically abortions were fine by stating: “By the time of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, (the due process amendment) there were at least 36 laws enacted by state or territorial legislatures limiting abortion. While many States have amended or updated their laws, 21 of the laws on the books in 1868 remain in effect today. Indeed, the Texas statute struck down today was, as the majority notes, first enacted in 1857…”5(parentheses added). When the law against depriving persons of life without due process was enacted, the overwhelming idea of the time was that “persons” included the unborn. If it is a person, if you kill it you are a murderer. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights is life…”6
“Even today, when society's views on abortion are changing, the very existence of the debate is evidence that the "right" to an abortion is not so universally accepted as the appellant would have us believe.”7

Through His Strength We Will Conquer,
Andrew C. Abbott

1: Roe V. Wade 410 U.S. 164
2: 410 U.S. 159
3: 410 U.S. 170
4: 410 U.S. 172
5: 410 U.S. 175-76
6: The Declaration of Independence
7: Roe V. Wade 410 U.S. 174

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