There is good news in North Dakota this week as the legislature there has passed two bills: one outlawing gender-selective and eugenic abortions rooted in genetic anomalies, and the other outlawing abortion once a heartbeat is detectable. Get the N.Y. Times story here. 
This news comes hot on the heels of Arizona’s banning abortions at 12 weeks, and adds to the victories in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, which have banned sex-selective abortions. While this is all good news, we must stop and consider what is happening here, what is being accomplished, and how far we have fallen.
There was a time when the American Civil Liberties Union actually championed the rights of the weakest and least among us to the fullest protection of the law. Times have changed, as we’ve seen last week in North Dakota. From the Times article:
“We urge the governor to veto all of these bills to ensure that this personal and private decision can be made by a woman and her family, not politicians sitting in the Capitol,” said Jennifer Dalven, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
But again, and again, the central issue remains the great unanswered question, one which Ms. Dalven and her organization would have answered with ease in a bygone era:
Do politicians sitting in the capital, or judges in courtrooms have the right to determine who among us is human and what the criteria for being considered human ought to be?
This isn’t a religious question, but a civil one, and hinging on it is nothing less than the fate of American jurisprudence, as well as scientific and biomedical ethics. Before one can pass a law, make a legal judgement, or perform a scientific or clinical manipulation, one must first determine the identity and status of the object under consideration.
People of reason and good will recoil at the consideration of our slave-holding past in America. They similarly recoil at our segregationist past, as well as our past with eugenic sterilization. All of these issues are repellent to the ACLU as well, and as Ms. Dalven would have to agree, these issues scorched the American landscape precisely because the legislators sitting in capitals failed to rein in justices and judges who were out of control.
Ms. Dalven would also have to agree that these issues scorched the American landscape precisely because a political elite arrogated to themselves the power to define personhood criteria. This was done as the sole means of usurping the ability to control those rights defined by the Founders as unalienable and granted solely by the Creator.
Having abandoned the protection of the weakest among us and championing the “rights” of those who prey upon the weak, the ACLU has gutted itself. In championing the right to murder little girls for being little girls, and for championing the murder of the genetically imperfect, the ACLU has become indistinguishible from the slaveholding and segregationist class it once despised and against whom it found its organizational identity.
Such is the malevolent power of abortion to corrupt.
In Roe v. Wade the justices argued that the absence of scientific evidence supporting a definitive beginning of life was their rationale for permitting abortion. Using arguments from the Middle Ages, such as ‘quickening’, they ignored the embryology texts of their day that fixed the beginning of human life at fertilization. With the advances in embryoscopy and ultrasonography today one would think that the last vestige of doubt would have been destroyed by science, warranting a revisiting of Roe by the Court; but that would require intellectual honesty and human decency.
Instead, today, forty years later we are now arguing the right to target what science shows as fully formed human beings because of their genetalia, or because of some atypical genetic constellation.
Instead,, today, forty years later Planned Parenthood has dropped the euphemisms such as “pro-choice,” no longer seeing them as necessary or servicable.
Similarly, the attempts to defeat the fetal heartbeat bills bespeak a duplicity from the outset. What can be more human or romantic than the sound of a beating heart?
Taken together, those are profoundly troubling developments. We have defined deviancy down. We are arguing over a degree of malevolance that makes the original argument pale in comparison.
The Democrat Party defeated attempts in Congress last year to outlaw sex-selective abortions. In those and other similar measures, both they and the ACLU have abandoned the moral high ground. Let’s hope that the Republican governor of Montana has the courage to pick up the fallen battle standard of the left and soldier on.