Whoever Saves One Life Saves An Entire World
I graduated Yeshiva University in 2019 and remain a proud member of the YU community. Like so many, I’ve followed the various posts and writings about the recent Supreme Court draft leak. Having friends at all points on the political spectrum, I keep an impartial profile online. However, as I look at my seven week old son, I am compelled to respond to the pro-abortion article recently published by The Commentator.
With respect to the author, I believe that her article misses the bottom line of the Roe v. Wade debate. It is not about control or women’s rights, as the article’s author believes. The pro-life versus pro-choice debate can be narrowed down to a single question: when does life begin?
Roe v. Wade states that viability ends a mother’s constitutional right to a choice (Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 163-164 (1973)). When a baby is capable of living outside of his/her mother, s/he is a living human being. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Knowledge about a baby’s development in utero and scientific advances have grown astronomically in the last 50 years. Today, fetuses as early as 22 weeks can survive outside of their mothers. A fetus at 25 weeks has a 67-76% chance of viability. One might deduce from this that Roe v. Wade is outdated and a second look at this ruling is overdue.
Most Americans agree that a fetus is a baby by five or six months, and it is a fringe opinion that fully viable babies deserve no protection. To view this topic solely as a feminist issue means that an eight-month-old fetus, fully capable of living an incredible life, is meaningless. I would be sorry to believe anyone reading The Commentator could take such a stance.
Let’s look at the popular slogan “my body, my choice.” Women should make choices regarding their bodies without interference. This is not being refuted. Such choices include but are not limited to: should I have relations with someone who will be unreliable and undependable in an accidental pregnancy? Will I have unprotected sex? What kind of birth control do I want to use? If I do get pregnant, will I have an epidural or birth naturally? If I raise my child, will I breastfeed or use formula? These are all questions involving a woman’s body that she has a choice on and should decide for herself; although listening to her physician’s opinion is certainly advisable.
The article goes on to say that the Supreme Court’s “ruling would mean the end of the federal, constitutional protection of abortion.” The Constitution was not written to protect abortions. It was written to protect the rights and liberties of American citizens. The Declaration of Independence states that the American government’s objective is to defend each person’s rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — in that order. The woman’s constitutional right for liberty is trumped by the baby’s constitutional right to life. No one is at liberty to drive on sidewalks in pursuit of happiness, as that risks a pedestrian’s right to life. So the question is at what point does the baby have a right to life.
The article goes on to say that with this new ruling, “the power would go to the states, nearly half of which would declare abortion illegal almost immediately.” This is correct and goes to show just how free our country is. The point that half the states would outlaw most abortions means that the elected officials will make decisions reflecting the opinions of the majority of citizens in that state. The other half of the states will do the same. Every state will act based on the will of its residents. Such is the democratic system that was built on freedom and provides freedom to this day.
Still, it is unlikely that many states will abolish abortion entirely. The overturning of Roe v. Wade allows states to answer the main question for themselves. When does life begin? Abortions will be legal until that point in pregnancy and illegal after that point. That is the point when the mother’s liberty takes a backseat to the baby’s life. That is when the mother is no longer making a choice for herself, but for another living being.
I would like to respond to three other defenses that the article brings for a federal legalization of abortion. First, the Supreme Court’s draft “will deny women autonomy and equality to men.” Again, the author’s point is correct. Nature denies this equality by giving one sex the ability to bear children and not the other. The American Constitution did not have a hand in this blatant imbalance of the sexes and therefore cannot be faulted.
Second, that “families who are forced to keep unwanted pregnancies are more likely to lack full-time employment and to live below the poverty line.” There is a leap here from pregnancy to raising the baby. No one is forced to keep the child of an accidental pregnancy. There are families who wait for years to adopt an unwanted child and dream of providing a loving home for him or her.
Lastly, the author goes on to quote the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who stated that “the decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity.” Correct again. All women should decide for themselves if they wish to bear children. As they say, “my body, my choice.” However, once there is a physical life in question, the decision is not whether to bear the child but whether to raise the child.
There is no constitutional right for the mother to exercise her liberties when pregnant with a baby that is ready to live. That baby is the full image of a human being. Only 36% of countries worldwide allow for abortions without restrictions and most of them have a gestational limit of only 12 weeks.
So, I ask again, when does life begin? Each state will have to decide that for itself. So it should be in the Land of the Free.
Photo Caption: Ultrasound of a fetus
Photo Credit: Unsplash