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|Slavery, Abortion and the Supreme Court
Slavery, Abortion and the Supreme Court
A speech delivered by Russ Dearborn at Moscow English Conversation Club on December 17, 2006
In 1973 the Supreme Court issued a decision in the Roe vs. Wade case legalizing abortion in America. This was a decision that created one of the biggest and most volatile political debates of our time. Not since the 1857 Dred Scott case where the Supreme Court determined that human beings who happened to be black slaves were more like property than humans has the Court stumbled so badly.
The two cases are similar in that they both assert that a certain group (blacks in Dred Scott and the unborn in Roe) lack constitutional protections. Both decisions relied on “substantive due process”—a doctrine which has been used by the Supreme Court to do things never described in the constitution. Under this doctrine, the "life, liberty, or property" clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments are interpreted to give the courts the authority to strike down laws that constitute an "undue" restriction or confiscation of "life, liberty, or property." By this theory slaves were considered property which enabled the court to prefer their owner’s rights and ignore the rather obvious fact that slaves are human beings too. The 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling was based on the very same principle except this time it was the “liberty” of women which was preferred to the lives of their unborn children. And just like viewing slaves as property instead of human beings, the Roe decision denies protection for the lives and liberty of unborn children by classifying them as not fully human.
And that is still the essential question. Are the unborn human or not? If they are not, they have no rights and can be destroyed without a second thought. But if they are, abortion is a holocaust that has so far destroyed 47 million American lives.
It is frequently claimed by abortion supporters that determining when a fetus becomes a human being is a complicated question. But is it really? How could we tell if the unborn are human or not? The debate involves a couple of other questions and a little logic which I will briefly review.
Louis Pasteur was a nineteenth century scientist who along with others developed a notion called the Law of Biogenesis. It's a very well-established law and you can find information about it in most American high school biology textbooks. Now, the Law of Biogenesis said two things. It said that life comes from life; it does not come from non-life. And each being reproduces after its own kind. Those are the two principle aspects of the Law of Biogenesis.
The question is: What kind of being is the unborn child? There is something in there and clearly what is in there is alive, it is not dead. So the question of when life begins is kind of a non-question because there is no interruption in life between when a child is conceived and when she is born.
Let’s take it step-by-step. Mom and Dad get together. One contributes a sperm, the other an egg. Both the sperm and the egg are alive. The sperm and egg get together and form a zygote. The zygote is alive. There is no death at any point. There is continuous life from beginning to end, so the question shouldn’t be, “when does a baby become alive?” There is life throughout.
So that leads to a slightly different question. When does a new individual being come into existence?
At the point of fertilization something remarkable takes place. In the case of human beings, an egg with 23 chromosomes unites with a sperm with 23 chromosomes and creates a zygote with--guess what--46 chromosomes. Not all the chromosomes of the mother, not all the chromosomes of the father, but a unique chromosomal mix. In other words, at that point, by scientific assessment, we have a living thing that does not have the chromosomal makeup of either of his parents, but a combination of the two. In other words, he has his own unique chromosomal pattern of 46 chromosomes that are his own as a living being. That's how we know the zygote is not mom and is not dad. He is something different and he is alive. If he is alive, and he is not mom and is not dad, he must be a separate organism--living in mom, sure enough, but a separate living entity. He is a living being. That is why every single biological textbook that deals with the beginning of biological life, identifies the beginning of individual life at the time of conception. We know for sure that life begins at conception for fish, for birds and for all other animals. Why is this so hard to understand when it comes to humans?
Life comes from life and all life reproduces after its own kind. Mommy and Daddy are human beings. They reproduce another individual thing. It is a living being. The question is what kind of being is it? Answer: According to the Law of Biogenesis, it is a human being. Why? Because Mom and Dad can't produce any other kind of being.
My point is simply this. By using biology, the laws of science, and some fairly straight-forward common-sense, it is not very difficult to demonstrate that an unborn child at every stage of its development is a separate individual human being from its parents, even though she is living inside her mother. All she needs is time and nourishment and she will become an adult capable of reproducing herself. Come to think of it, time and nourishment are the same things that a two year old needs or an eight year old or you and I need. That and a government capable of recognizing we are all human beings worthy of being protected from beginning to end just because we are all human beings.
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