Church and State Weigh in on Abortion

On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on Gonzales v Carhart, et al. (Legal Information Institute, 2007). The decision, important to pro-life advocates, has been published in its entirety on the internet. In a nutshell - and "nutshell" is where much of the abortion debate belongs - the decision supports and leaves unaltered the partial birth abortion law (Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003) making it illegal to perform an abortion beyond the first trimester of a woman's pregnancy if that procedure to terminate the pregnancy involves the physician brining the fetus - viable at that point - outside the womb, thereby effectively making that fetus a person residing in the locale into which it has at that moment been delivered. At which point the attending physician takes deliberate action, an action arising out of medical expertise and medical knowledge, to cause the living fetus which is present in the environment before him or her, to die by inflicting an injury to the fetus that ensures termination of life.

Conservative pro-life advocates are - in a nutshell - ecstatic; while liberal pro-abortion advocates - in a nutshell - are disappointed, and if recent history is reliable, both groups will rush to their special interest inspired attorney offices and enrich them with dollars as a motivation to churn out more appeals in support of either position. The time has come to put an end to the use of the courts as a battle ground of special interest in this argument and, since both groups have brought the state into business that the Church (of all faiths) should have effectively dealt with. Now is the time to put the issue to rest by outlawing abortion, except in those cases where it has been medically determined that the pregnancy or birth would lead to inalterable harm or death to the mother. Even then, it should be at the discretion of the mother - who is responsible for her child until the age of majority - to make that decision on behalf of herself and her unborn child.

For those conservative pro-lifers who would applaud these last few sentences as sentences in support of their conservative views and their right to impose those views on society, the caution is to go forward carefully, because that is not the case. Nor is it in support of the liberal pro-abortion lobby and supporters. The liberals, who in some ways are more mysterious than the conservatives in that they are the very same people who stand outside prison gates with candles in protest of humane administration of a lethal combination of chemicals that ensures the termination of the life of a mass murderer, or another felon whose crime is so heinous as to warrant social intervention in deciding whether or not that individual should continue to draw breath. Do not rally, because this writer finds it extremely odd that this group advocates on behalf of the life which walks the earth, having committed heinous acts of violence, and is at the same time not willing to afford the same support or opportunity for life of a viable fetus whose value to society has yet to be determined. Rather, both groups have driven this writer to the narrow edge of law, considering the law in its legalese only and in its role in the order of society and especially in light of separation of powers.

Thusly, here, forward is the legal opinion of this writer on abortion. The subject never belonged in the courts, and especially not the before the Supreme Court. It is a matter that has nothing to do with the Constitution, or with privacy, and when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Roe v. Wade, they opened Pandora's box effectively unleashing conservatism and liberalism to duel upon the battlefield of the Supreme Court where matters of Constitutionality had historically been heard and decided (Randolph, 2006). Rather, abortion is something that, if there indeed be a question as to the nature of its rightness or wrongness, should be decided by elected officials, representatives, of the people (Rudolph, 2006).

What is striking about Gonzales v. Carhart, et al., is that the language of the appeal uses the language,.".. To proscribe a particular method of ending fetal life (Legal Information Institute, 2007)," is in and of itself disturbing, because the laws of the land are intended to protect the well being of human beings, and that the prerequisite that those human beings be birthed into existence as opposed to being determined to have a right to live at the point at which they become, by way of the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm, life; goes against human nature's desire to protect and improve the human condition and the quality of life.

For those who might argue that the quality of life is reduced when a woman, and in some cases, a child, becomes pregnant and suffers the hardship of pregnancy and the dismal outlook associated with single parenthood and raising a child at a young age; for those arguments there can only be concurrence that indeed those circumstances present hardships. However, with the dollars that have been spent on advocating special interests on the subject in the legal arenas, much could have been done to improve the quality of life and to reduce the hardships of not just one, but many a young mother who might in fact benefit from the emotional ties and the special relationship that comes to exist between a mother a child - at any age.

The courts do hear issues that concern life in death, but it is only on the issue of an unborn fetus and in matters of death row inmates that the courts decide the right of a human life that is viable - able to sustain itself without artificial intervention - to exist. In all other instances that come before the courts, the decision is how to protect and how to improve the condition and life. Whether or not the action taken by a physician at the time that an infant - no longer a "fetus" once it passes through the birth canal and is in the open world; is murder, or not, as a debate is remarkable in that it clearly constitutes a hostile act against a life intended to end that life. There are - abortion laws notwithstanding - laws against terminating the life of a human being.

What is really of great concern is that the courts have begun enacting laws of public opinion as opposed to Constitutionality (Norrander, 1999). In 1996, journalist Suzanne Fields reported on a story in the Washington Times about two young college students, a young man and a young woman. The couple, in a motel room, gave birth to a child, a boy, and then killed the child and left its corpse in a dumpster (1996). "A pediatrician friend of mine was perplexed," Field reported (p. 14). Apparently Fields' pediatrician friend could not fathom how two young college students had given birth to a viable baby boy, and killed that child, then gone on about the daily business of their lives. The young woman and young man, charged with the crime of neonaticide, face the death penalty if convicted (Fields, 1996; Moll, 2002).

In the case of these two young people, the public was outraged; it is difficult, however, to discern the difference between what these young people did, and what a physician does in a partial birth abortion. A public that stands aghast at what these young college students did, and other teenagers who have been reported as doing likewise; has not far to go to find the answer "why," as Fields' pediatrician friend wondered.…