“It is so ordered” - The Abortion Debate

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By Camille McClanahan

When my daughter proudly presented me with an ultrasound of my grandson, to be honest, I didn’t see anything that made sense to me. I was excited at the prospects of my first grandchild, but I had no connection to the gray swirls pictured. I had no emotional bond to what my daughter told me was my grandson. But, sure enough, a few months later, he was born. He looked a lot different, but it was the same child that I had strained to see in the cloud of gray swirls, and he’s the same child who is one of my greatest joys today.

On Jan. 22, 1973, with these four words: “It is so ordered,” Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun gave American women a legal choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The case of Roe v. Wade was decided on the premise that an unborn baby is not a “person” and therefore, not afforded the protection of the U.S. Constitution.

Blackmun acknowledged the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy: The Court held that a woman’s right to an abortion was implicit in the concept of “liberty” guaranteed by the first section of the 14th Amendment. While the Court broadly interpreted the concept of liberty to include the right of “personal privacy” and encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy, it narrowly defined the Constitution’s reference to “person.” Since the Constitution does not define “person,” the Court looked at the definition of “citizen,” which speaks of “persons born or naturalized” in the United States and by this definition, the Justices concluded that the unborn had no rights. Justice Blackmun further stated that the predominant belief is that “life does not begin until live birth.” With regard to the States interest in “potential life,” the Court found that regulation that protected fetal life after viability (about seven months development) was logical.

Even most pro-choice advocates consider abortion a difficult and heart wrenching decision. The reasons behind the abortion decision are many and varied. But today, women have many birth control options that were not available in the early 1900s. Women are free to exercise control over their bodies and use one of the numerous methods of birth control now available.

In his book “Abortion: the Silent Holocaust” John Powell looks at our society and our approach to the “good life.” Powell says we have become a society that believes we must anesthetize immediately all pain. A part of the process of societal rationalization is cleaning up the language. Powell gives the following examples: It’s a lot easier to swallow dishonesty, if you call it “a fast buck.” It’s easier to commit adultery, if you trivialize it as “fooling around.” And it’s a lot easier to kill a baby, if you call it “terminating a pregnancy.”

Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist and Byron White were the two dissenting voices on the Court. Rehnquist challenged the rationality of the courts application of the term “privacy.” White said the following: “The court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries.” He concurred with Rehnquist that the Court had moved into the role of legislators.

In Jeremiah 1:5, the Bible says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you ....” And I believe it.

Nevertheless, if you don’t believe the Bible, please consider that our country was founded on the premise that all people have certain “unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Therefore, how can we define privacy as the right to an abortion, and an unborn baby as a non person?

(Linda Lawrence is the editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She can be reached at 824-3343 or at e-mail gcneditorial@grantky.com.)