Russell and Duenes

Eros, We Exalt Thee!

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righttochooseWe’re coming up on the 40 year mark since Roe v. Wade was decided (I simply won’t call it an “anniversary” because the word anniversary should have positive connotations, and Roe is not entitled to any such connotations). In Roe, Justice Blackmun, ignoring the facts available to him at the time, infamously asserted: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” In other words, the Court did not really want to answer the question of when the unborn becomes a “child,” in the true sense of that word.

Yet in an Alabama Supreme Court case decided just this past Friday, Ankrom v. State, the court held that “the term ‘child’ as used in [Alabama’s ‘chemical-endangerment statute’] includes an unborn child.” The court further held that “[t]he legislature has stated that ‘[t]he public policy of the state of Alabama is to protect life, born, and unborn. This is particularly true concerning unborn life that is capable of living outside the womb.'” Justice Parker, who wrote the Alabama decision, cited the South Carolina Supreme Court with approval in its ruling that “[w]e have no difficulty in concluding that a fetus having reached that period of prenatal maturity where it is capable of independent life apart from its mother is a person.” (emphasis in original).

This argument is a welcome development, and one can only hope and pray that it will gain traction. Yet what I found most compelling about the decision is its explicit showing that our legal system upholds the humanity of the unborn in myriad arenas, but when it comes to abortion, suddenly we do not know when life begins. Again quoting the South Carolina Supreme Court, Justice Parker stated: “Indeed, it would be absurd to recognize the viable fetus as a person for purposes of homicide laws and wrongful death statutes but not for purposes of statutes proscribing child abuse.” In property law, “if a father (or, in some states, a close relative) died before his child was born, that child would inherit from the father as if he or she had already been born at the time the father died.” According to the court, “in Florida, a killing that would be capital murder if the pregnant woman died is capital murder if the mother survives but her unborn child dies.” See Fla. Stat. Ann. § 782.09(1)(a) (2012). Moreover, “[t]hirty states permit recovery of damages for nonfatal prenatal injuries, regardless of the gestational age of the unborn child at the time the child suffered those injuries.” Under guardianship law, “[a]ll states — by statute, rule, or precedent — permit a court to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of an unborn child in various matters including estates and trusts.” Indeed, “[w]ith a few limited exceptions…most states prohibit the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant woman, regardless of her advance directive.” Thus, the court concludes, “Today, the only major area in which unborn children are denied legal protection is abortion, and that denial is only because of the dictates of Roe.

In my view, that denial is because of the dictates of the false god: Radical, Individual, Sexual Autonomy (RISA)! We simply must not touch the Golden Calf of sexual license and “freedom.” As Jon W. Davidson, the legal director at Lambda Legal (“the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS”) wrote: “Justice Blackmun…recognized in his separate opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that “restrictions on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy also implicate constitutional guarantees of gender equality.”  Similarly, in her dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart, Justice Ginsberg wrote that “Legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures … center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.” (italics mine). Gussied up in the language of “gender equality” and “autonomy to determine [one’s] life’s course,” what is really being exalted is the unfettered Eros, free from marital commitment, from children, and from community. This is the idol worship from which we, from which I, must turn aside in repentance. That is the primary lesson of Roe at 40 years.



Written by Michael Duenes

January 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm

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