- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ken Connor’s argument against abortion rights and stem cell research (“Humpty Dumpty’s world,” Forum, Feb. 5) was based on a string of unsupportable assumptions. Please consider the following, in no particular order:

(1) Abortion was legal and not uncommon when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were adopted. Abortion was outlawed state by state many years later for rationales that do not apply today.

(2) Judicial review of laws goes back almost to the beginning of our republic. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court considered state laws against abortion on the basis of judicial precedent.

(3) Under the 14th Amendment, legal “persons” are those who are born or naturalized in the United States.

(4) Prohibiting abortion conflicts with the First Amendment in two ways: It violates the “free exercise” clause by denying women and physicians freedom of conscience. It violates the “establishment” clause by imposing on women and physicians a particular faith-based view as to when human personhood begins.

(5) Prohibiting abortion conflicts with the 13th Amendment’s ban on “involuntary servitude” when government compels a woman to go through nine months of pregnancy, plus labor, birth and the responsibility for a child.

(6) Banning abortion does not sit well with the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

(7) Roe v. Wade’s recognition, not “creation,” of a woman’s right to follow her conscience does not compel any woman to end a pregnancy if her conscience tells her it is wrong.

(8) The view that fertilized eggs, blastocysts and fetuses are persons is not supported by the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The Jewish scriptures (Christians’ Old Testament) use the word “nefesh” for person, a word that means an entity that breathes and therefore that a fetus is not recognized as a person until birth, though a wanted fetus is undeniably of great worth and value to a woman. Since abortion was practiced throughout the ancient world, if early Jews and Christians had considered it wrong, surely the matter would have been covered in the Bible, but it is not.

(9) Christians and Jews in the United States would generally agree with the biblical view that persons “are created in the image of God,” which would have nothing to do with flesh, blood or DNA. “In the image of God,” then, must refer to such “Godlike” characteristics or abilities as consciousness and will. Modern neurobiology shows these abilities do not exist prior to the cerebral cortex’s being adequately wired up for continuous functioning, some time after 28 to 32 weeks of gestation. About 99 percent of abortions are performed well before 28 weeks.

(10) Opposition to freedom of conscience and choice in deciding whether to continue a problem pregnancy, or to make fertilized eggs available for stem cell research aimed at finding cures for diseases, springs very largely from the desire to maintain male dominance over women.

(11) The most eminent Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), did not consider fetuses to be persons or to have human souls early in gestation. The Catholic Church did not come out against abortion until well into the 19th century, and evangelicals did not come out strongly on the subject until a century later.

(12) Any government that assumes the authority to prohibit abortion also may be assumed to have the authority to mandate abortions. Adolf Hitler forbade “Aryan” women to have abortions but encouraged non- “Aryan” women to do so.

(13) More than 30 years ago a report from the Nixon/Ford administrations, NSSM 200, warned about the dangers of world overpopulation (before the global warming problem was recognized) and said overpopulation could not be completely dealt with without universal legalization of abortion.

The bottom line is that women can and should be trusted to make their own individual decisions about reproduction and that Big Brother government should not interfere with these decisions of conscience.

EDD DOERR

President, Americans for Religious Liberty.

Silver Spring, Md.

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