Published February 4, 2008
A letter to the editor Friday by Ida Callan of Girard took on a Vindicator editorial commemorating the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. The reader may remember that the Roe v. Wade decision centered on the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause and one's constitutional right to privacy in its decision.
In other words, the court emphasized the government at neither the state nor the federal level can take away the mother's liberty or privacy rights to intervene on behalf of a non-viable fetus (that cannot survive outside its mother's womb, this is typically up to 28 but as early as 24 weeks, according to Wikipedia), except where it can prove a "compelling interest", such as for the sake of the mother's life.
While Ms. Callan focuses on life beginning at conception, she skips over the definition of what life is, "When life begins is not a personal opinion or a religious belief, rather, it is a scientific fact which is presented in first year biology. It is also defined in the dictionary; look under conception or fertilization."
There is a plant alive in my living room. Am I immoral for plucking its leaves, depriving it of water, or cutting it from its roots? Certainly not in any comparison to human life, therefore there is a difference between a human life and a plant life. The question is: when does this tangible or intangible difference manifest itself from the time sperm and egg join to when the newborn leaves the birth canal? The Vindicator's editorial stated the following:
"There are tens of millions of Americans of good conscience whose religion does not teach that life begins at the moment of conception. Their religion does not hold and they do not believe that every fertilized egg has rights that supersede the right of a pregnant woman to decide whether she wants to carry a child to term. And that’s not to mention people of fine moral standing who are nonreligious or who disagree with their own religion on some points."
The statement suffices. Reasonable people have differing beliefs on how to deal with the issue in their own lives. So, in a country as diverse as ours, the reasonable solution is to let each person choose her own path. To borrow from Jefferson, this shows, at least, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.
I can't help but return to Ms. Callan's final paragraph. I don't mean to be unkind, but it really does leave all logic behind, "[A] nation without a moral compass… Once objective standards fall, it becomes a free-for-all, and you can eventually end up with a police state."
This seems backwards. It's actually the overzealous enforcement of morality by an authoritarian faction, for example fascism, that leads to a police state. Since she seems to have so missed the point of the editorial she was critiquing, it seems only fair to return to it for the last word: "Beware of those who pine for the good old days when abortion was illegal. They are often the same people who would convert from church doctrine to civil law their religious beliefs on stem cell research, gay marriage, gay adoption, inoculations against cervical cancer, abstinence for teenagers, even birth control for adults.
If ever there was a time when Americans should beware of mixing religion and politics, this is that time."