July 4th 1776, the United States Congress ratified the final language of the Declaration of Independence. Independence from what, from whom? These people were British colonists, and the Declaration was the beginning of an attempt to get back the rights that were taken from them. These words should be familiar to Every American. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The order of the rights should tell us something. The right to life is so basic, it shouldn’t need defining, and only human life can be endowed with rights.
What about liberty? Is liberty the same as freedom? Why should we, in 2018, care about words written in 1776? Did these so-called “Founding Fathers” even have the same understanding of those concepts as we do today? Let’s begin by defining rights. I think they can best be understood considering restraints. We can do anything that our minds can comprehend and our bodies allow in the absence of external restraints. We can, but should we?
Consider rights as the inherent or enforced (by law) ability to pursue something. The Declaration of Independence used the phrase “the pursuit of happiness.” Happiness covers a lot of ground, so that will serve. A right is the ability to pursue happiness, within the boundaries of your physical ability and protection of law. The law can only protect rights when it is enforced. It can only be enforced when it is written. Even then, what is written might be misinterpreted or ignored. The clearest example is the First Amendment of the constitution. The text is not ambiguous. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Okay class, let’s see if the language is plain to you, fill in the blanks. The first amendment is clearly addressed to ____________. If freedom of speech is not to be abridged by government, then it is a right ______________. Exercise of religion is neither to be ____________ nor ___________ by Congress.
The correct words in order (synonyms acceptable) are: Congress, assumed, promoted, prohibited. Now consider how this very clear amendment has been twisted to selfish ends. It has been used to justify pornography and exploitation under the guise of “freedom of speech”. It has been used to bludgeon schools and sports teams to prevent voluntary prayer under the guise of “separation of church and state”, which doesn’t even appear in the entire Constitution (it was a phrase Thomas Jefferson used in a personal letter) and has no force of law. Misinterpretations of it have been applied to individuals, businesses, schools, and all manner of organizations other than Congress!
Roe v. Wade was a legal decision issued on January 22, 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Texas statute banning abortion, effectively legalizing the procedure across the United States. The court held that a woman’s right to an abortion was implicit in the right to privacy protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion had been illegal throughout much of the country since the late 19th century. What does the 14th Amendment actually say? There are 4 clauses in the first section, one of which is the “due process” clause, which forms the basis for this right to privacy: Due process clause: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
If we extend this “honest reading” exercise to the 14th amendment, wherein do we find this right of privacy? We don’t. What we DO find is the right to life! It is a great irony–and tragedy–that this amendment, created with the intent of providing former slaves with all the rights of citizenship, was used to justify a “right to abortion”, which deprives the right to life and has been used to kill a disproportionately large number of babies in the lineage of former slaves!!! Even more important, since our rights are secured by an honest reading of the law, and the highest court ignores the clear injunction to not deprive any person of their right to life, in favor of an imagined right to privacy, which isn’t written, how secure can we be in our rights? The Supreme Court covered itself with shame and odium with this decision, and has thus inherited the ridiculous spectacle of the Kavanaugh confirmation circus (next post).
There are those who would try to argue that the unborn aren’t persons, and have no right to life, and I can shred that argument. That is a subject for another blog.