The Roe v. Wade Decision: Self-Aborting Lawlessness

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by Dr. Alan Keyes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 13, 2019   

1973 abortion ruling irrational, unconstitutional

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Dr. Alan Keyes

After so many innocent millions have been slaughtered, it's tragic irony that the Supreme Court decision that unleashed that hecatomb to evil must fall of its own weight.

Its main author, Justice Harry Blackmun, stated the terms for its demise. In regard to the impact of the 14th Amendment, he wrote:

The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, [410 U.S. 113, 157] for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on re-argument.

Of course, the language of the 14th Amendment simply applies the understanding of right in the Fifth Amendment, to wit: "[N]or shall any person … be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."

That language has to guide the judgments of the Supreme Court in any cases that come before it. The 14th Amendment simply acknowledges the fact that the constraint of government power in respect of the God-endowed unalienable right of liberty applies to government in the United States at all levels.

As defined in the 1828 edition of Webster's Dictionary (generally taken to reflect the usage of the founding generation), the word "person" signifies "an individual human being, consisting of body and soul. We apply the word to living beings only, possessed of a rational nature."

The word "person" thus appears to encompass all living bodies who follow the course of nature (today we might call it natural programming) observed in all human beings. It's noteworthy that this in no way requires a specific level of human development, only the natural disposition that ordinarily determines it.

A simple question self-evidently overturns the Roe decision: Is the otherwise unlawful killing of any person made lawful simply because it occurs in private?

Now, since all parties to the outcome in the Roe case conceded that the whole issue turned on the word "person" as used in the Constitution, it follows that, if the Constitution uses it in a way that speaks directly to the condition of human offspring in the womb, the implications of that use would properly govern the Supreme Court's reasoning.

Once we confirm that the Constitution's use of the term encompasses the nascent human child, a simple question self-evidently overturns the Roe decision: Is the otherwise unlawful killing of any person made lawful simply because it occurs in private? Would a parent who orders the murder of his or her offspring have any prerogative to kill the person in the womb without regard for law or justice?

Blackmun and all the parties to the Roe case agreed that she or he would not. That's why, as Blackmun attests, in the presence of constitutionally conferred personhood, "The appellant's case, of course, collapses." No private prerogative allows the willful murder of an innocent, helpless human person simply because he or she is wholly subject to the perpetrator's superior power. That would constitute atrocious despotism.

In his analysis, Blackmun admits that the right to privacy his logic requires is nowhere explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Yet he ignores the pertinent facts of the Constitution's use of the word "person" (Article I.2, §3) in regard to enslaved blacks:

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

In regard to this constitutional provision, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution notes, "The three-fifths rule for counting slaves is often misunderstood."


People who are thoughtless or uninformed often assert that it is a racist interpolation intended to stigmatize blacks. In fact, Northerners deeply opposed to slavery, but anxious to preserve the union, accepted the provision as a compromise so as to prevent the slave states from getting "greater representation in the House of Representatives."

Be that as it may, the procedure called for by the Constitution requires that each enslaved person be counted as a whole. The number of those persons was then to be curtailed by two-fifths, thereby reducing the number of representatives in Congress from the states reliant on slavery.

Obviously, the three-fifths clause of the Constitution refers to and treats enslaved blacks as whole persons. Otherwise, the mathematics it requires would be applied to an empty set.

To be sure, apologists for chattel slavery often suggested that blacks were sub-human. Some took this to the point of denying that they were, in fact, human at all.

At the time of the American Revolution, even people outside the slave-holding regions were wont to doubt that blacks qualified as fully developed human beings.

The Supreme Court's Roe decision shows itself to be self-aborting lawlessness without a rational shred of constitutional authority. 

Yet the word "person" — as used in the clause cited above — was especially intended to encompass enslaved blacks. This usage plainly refutes Justice Blackmun's assumption in Roe that, for constitutional purposes, the word "person" cannot be applied unless the question of fully developed humanity be resolved.

But since the Constitution obviously did not allow the controversy about the human development of enslaved blacks to nullify their personhood, what sense does it make for Blackmun to assume that the exactly similar controversy about the natural development of human offspring in the womb nullifies their personhood? 

It makes no sense — no sense at all. If enslaved blacks were persons for constitutional purposes, so are human beings in the womb, from the moment of their conception as such. Given what our science now tells us about the physical conception of humanity, the atrocious Roe decision utterly collapses, as Blackmun admitted it must.

The Supreme Court's Roe decision shows itself to be self-aborting lawlessness without a rational shred of constitutional authority. All law enforcement officers in the United States are sworn to uphold the Constitution, according to its terms. They are, therefore, duty-bound to hold the decision in contempt and move without delay to end the wholesale atrocity it entails.

Dr. Alan Keyes served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Ronald Reagan and ran for president in 1996, 2000 and 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard and writes at his website Loyal to Liberty.

 

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