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Reclaiming the Civil Rights of the Unborn

Posted by James P. McGarvey , 22 July 2011 · 985 views

Abortion is “...‘too nice a word for something cold, like murder.” Rev. Jesse Jackson, 1973

Addressing the marchers at the pro-life “March on Washington” in 1977, then pro-life civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said, 

“There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of [a] higher order than the right to life,…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 your right to be concerned. What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually? It is that question, the question of our attitude, our value system, and our mind-set with regard to the nature and worth of life itself that is the central question confronting mankind. Failure to answer that question affirmatively may leave us with a hell right here on earth.”

Rev. Jackson failed to answer his own question in the affirmative, eventually embracing a pro-abortion position when he ran for president in the 1980’s. Nonetheless he spoke prophetically. America has followed his lead in answering his question in the negative and our “hell” can be measured by an unprecedented holocaust. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, over 52 million pre-born human beings have lost their lives to abortion, 15-16 million of them African American. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, abortion has had a genocidal effect on the African American population. Today African Americans are the only minority in America that are experiencing a decline in population.  (see www.toomanyaborted.com and the 60 & 90 second videos “Epidemic” and “Number One Killer” at http://www.blackprolifecoalition.org/)

Since every abortion takes the life of a defenseless human being, abortion is the preeminent civil rights issue of our day as slavery was in years past. The humanity/personhood of the unborn is now an irrefutable fact. Douglas Erlandson writes, “When the fertilized egg (or zygote) is first formed, it already possesses its full complement of DNA or genetic information. That information never changes. A person’s sex, blood type, hair and skin color, and future height are all determined in that first cell. From that moment on, unless its life is terminated, it will develop until it becomes an adult human being.” 

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, M.D., of Harvard University Medical School agrees, “…It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception…” Renowned Professor of genetics, University of Descartes, Jerome LeJeune, M.D. concurs, “…after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.” The evidence is incontrovertible. The unborn are distinct, living human beings from the moment of conception.

This has significant legal implications. The Declaration of Independence, states “…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.” (emphasis mine) Therefore as Randy Alcorn has written, “The ‘right to life’ is not some modern antiabortion slogan. It is the most fundamental assertion of the most significant founding document of out nation.” 

In other words, the unborn are guaranteed the right to life under the U.S. Constitution, a right Roe v. Wade failed to uphold in denying them personhood. This injustice paralleled the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision of 1857 that denied Dred Scott, a freed slave, personhood because his skin color was black. Justice Harry Blackmun, writing the prevailing opinion in Roe v. Wade, acknowledged how central personhood of the unborn was in that decision. He wrote, “The appellee…argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment…If this suggestion of personhood is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.” The scientific evidence that has come to light since Justice Blackmun wrote these words conclusively substantiates the personhood of the unborn. 

The Court, however, has lacked the integrity and moral will to revisit the case. And they are not alone. Many Americans have turned their back on the plight of the unborn, as did Jesse Jackson, for various reasons, be they political, financial or personal (convenience, sexual freedom). In its haste to embrace moral relativism and abandon the historic commitment to transcendent moral truth,  America has been willing to sacrifice the most innocent and vulnerable segment of its population for personal gain.

Randy Alcorn has rightly pointed out that “...The right to a certain lifestyle is never absolute and unconditional. It is always governed by its effects on others...One person’s right to a preferred lifestyle is not greater than another person’s right to life...Even pochoicers must acknowledge that the ‘right to control one’s body’ argument has no validity if the unborn is a human being.” 

From both a legal and moral perspective, the central issue in the abortion debate is not “women’s rights” but “human rights,” the “civil rights” of the unborn.