When the leadership of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives decided as their first act to have members read the U.S. Constitution aloud, there were some who wanted to emphasize that part of the original document which, for taxation, enumeration and representation purposes, decreed that slaves had only "three-fifths" the value of whites. That formula between Southern and Northern states, reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, came to be known as the Three-fifths Compromise.
In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, rendering the three-fifths clause moot, but some House members wanted to read the original article to counter the argument of "original intent" with their own argument that the Constitution is a "living document," which must be regularly updated and interpreted by modern judges.
As horrid as slavery was, at least slaves were seen by some as possessing a percentage of "personhood," which is more than can be said for the unborn. National Right to Life calculates that, since 1973, nearly 50 million fetuses have been denied their unalienable right to live, thanks to a single Supreme Court decision that withdrew their protection as persons, subjecting them to the foulest kind of child abuse.
On January 22, the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, think of it this way: 50 million branches of family trees cut off; 50 million regrets over what might have been; 50 million babies who could have brought joy out of sadness and a future that might have contributed substantially to the human race, snuffed out at the beginning of their lives.
It is precisely because the 7-2 Supreme Court majority vote in 1973 read something into the Constitution that isn't there, to wit, that a "right to privacy" means the right to kill an unborn child -- even when it is capable of living outside the womb -- that Congress must restore the original intent of the Framers, which includes the "endowed by their Creator" clause in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution cannot be separated from the Declaration, its philosophical and moral foundation.
Restoring recognition of an unborn child's right to live is the objective of Rep. Paul Broun M.D., a Republican from Georgia's 10th District. On January 7, Broun re-introduced the Sanctity of Human Life Act, H.R. 212, a bill that states, "human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization." In a statement, Broun said: "The right to life is the most fundamental right, and it should be defended vigorously and absolutely. As a physician, I know on the basis of medical and scientific evidence that human life begins with fertilization. I am committed to ensuring that not one tax dollar is used to fund abortion, but that is not enough. God cannot continue to bless America while we are killing 4,000 unborn babies every day. This atrocity must end..."
This is a debate worth continuing, regardless of how far H.R. 212 gets. Callousness toward human life leads to indifference to other things. When we become comfortable and apathetic about one great evil, tolerance of other evils inevitably follows.
Consider news reports about the pressure on Medicare and Medicaid, along with talk of "rationing" health care due to the growing number of retirees. This will inevitably lead to a question about whose life is "worth" saving and whose is not. Once one category of human life is deemed worthless, it is a short step to devaluing other categories of human life.
Politicians who won't protect an unborn child probably can't be counted on to protect the elderly or the sick and disabled when they begin to cost too much. If personal choice and economics are the new standards for determining human value, is there anyone who should feel safe if they fail to meet those standards, which are ever-changing and subject to the shifting winds of the age?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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