Thursday, November 8, 2012

Entitled to Respect and Dignity

Several weeks ago, I asserted that Hunterdon County should not do business with Planned Parenthood.  Never once did I say I was doing this because I am Catholic or because my faith tells me too.  But that is exactly the spin on my stand by the press.  They cited my service to and attendance at St Ann’s Church as the motivation for my policy choice.  While I am proud to be Catholic you need not be conservative (see Mary Meehan), Catholic, Christian or even a theist (see Nat Hentoff) to oppose abortion, all one needs is to have passed high school biology and a normal sense of right and wrong.

Life begins at conception, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female join to form the blastocyst, zygote, a new distinct organism [Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3].  That organism has DNA, that DNA is human, that human DNA is unique and distinct from the father and the mother.  It is its own human life.  There is no moral difference from a zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, adolescent, teenager, adult, or senior citizen.  Each is entitled to respect and dignity and the government must protect each equally.

The right to abortion as embodied in Roe vs. Wade relies on the premise of a right to privacy.  The notion that a right to privacy is greater than the right to live is folly.  As the Reverend Jesse Jackson stated in his article in Right to Life News in 1977:

“If one accepts the position that life is private, and therefore you have the right to do with it as you please, one must also accept the conclusion of that logic. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside of your right to concerned.”

Roe is not the first grave mistake our Supreme Court has even made.  The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was overturned by the 14th Amendment following our Civil War and   Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896 was reversed in Brown vs Board of Education in 1954, 58 years later.  One day Roe too will be overturned.

The other assertion is a right to one’s own body.  True enough, you have a right to do with your body what you please up to and until the point you do harm to another.  You cannot use your body to hurl your fist at another or kick someone nor can you use your body to do harm to the unborn baby.

Some also state that an abortion ban would lead to many social problems like unwanted children, handicapped children, etc.  While these concerns are usually overstated and beside the point, the answer is not to kill children who would present problems, but solve those problems.  We don’t kill seniors because social security is insolvent, we don’t kill the poor to solve poverty, nor should we slay the unborn to avoid some social ill.

Another familiar line of attack is to dehumanize the unborn baby.  You aren’t killing a baby you are aborting a pregnancy.  This is the same tactic used to justify passed evils this country long ago overcame.  Again as Jesse Jackson wrote:

“That is why the Constitution called us three-fifths human and then whites further dehumanized us by calling us "niggers." It was part of the dehumanizing process. The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do and not even feel like they had done anything wrong. Those advocates of taking life prior to birth do not call it killing or murder; they call it abortion. They further never talk about aborting a baby because that would imply something human. Rather they talk about aborting the fetus. Fetus sounds less than human and therefore can be justified.”

Whatever linguistic gymnastics and contortions abortion advocates use, it is inescapable that abortion is the taking of a human life, an innocent, defenseless one.  This is not a statement of religious dogma but one of science and reason, morals and ethics.

Once one concludes that life begins at conception, our policy choices become clear, although sometime painful. Our Declaration of Independence states our nation’s credo in direct unapologetic terms:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If the right to life can be taken then how can a right to bear arms, to assemble, to exercise your religion, and on and on have any credence.   The first job of government is to preserve our rights, first among them is life.

The main criticism of my stand has been that I am imposing my religion on others.   This is false.  I am not advocating putting statues of Mary  at our county parks, I am not promoting closing county offices on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I am advocating respecting the wishes of our constituents and not have tax dollars go to an organization that provides elective abortions. 

We can still provide the health care for low income residents without subsidizing abortions.  Recently the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a state health program that excludes abortion providers from receiving government funding.  We should do the same, not because it is the teaching of the Catholic Church, but because science and ethics demonstrate that it is wrong, gravely wrong to abort babies.  Furthermore and perhaps more importantly from a governing standpoint, a majority of Hunterdon taxpayers, prolife and prochoice do not want their tax dollars spent on providers of elective abortions.

I do not mean to diminish the importance of my faith.  My faith informs and buttresses all that I do.  My faith gave me the strength to stand up for the unborn,  the perseverance to withstand the anti-Catholic condemnations, the assaults from intolerant abortion advocates for whom it is not enough to have the freedom to obtain abortions,  rather they demand that taxpayer fund their choices.  Most importantly it’s put into perspective the judgment that I will get from the residents of Hunterdon County.  While I am concerned about representing my constituents well and cognizant that I will face their judgment in 2014, I am far more concerned about passing the judgment of my Lord at the end of my days.  I believe my position will be approved by both.