Kaddatz: Is it time for Roe to go?
Since 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision has prominently protected a woman’s right to choose. In effect, Roe v. Wade, as clarified in several subsequent Supreme Court cases, limits states from passing laws that restrict a woman’s right to abort a pregnancy.
Not satisfied with the current impact of the decision on a child’s right to life, state legislatures continue to challenge Roe v. Wade and pass laws that limit or restrict abortion choices. In turn, Roe v. Wade, advocates attempt to block these state laws with lawsuits. No matter the case, the legal contest is over whose right prevails: the woman’s right to choose or the unborn’s right to life.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. This case comes out of a 2018 Mississippi state law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation. The law moves the point of fetus viability up nine weeks from the 24-week standard. Similarly, the recently enacted Texas’ Heartbeat Act bans abortions after six weeks. It, too, has been the subject of intense litigation. A ruling is expected on the Dobbs case next spring.
Proponents of these and similar laws in other states point out that modern science supports reducing the number of weeks after which abortion is disallowed. We now know, for example, that the embryo’s developing heart starts beating as early as 22 days following conception. Its brain waves can be detected shortly thereafter. The embryo is growing. It has 23 pairs of unique human chromosomes. It is alive, just not ready for the outside world.
Dr. Jerome Lejeune, widely regarded as the father of modern genetics, affirmed that life begins at conception when he wrote, “[T]he fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence.”
What Lejeune and other well-regarded scientists conclude brings into question our current abortion practices. In the United States, we abort at least 600,00 children every year. That’s right, every year. And we do this, many would say, in the name of liberty: a woman’s freedom to choose what happens to her body. True, this being living within the woman cannot yet survive on its own. But does not this innocent child have a right to life?
The biology of how human life begins is not a mystery. Except in rare instances, pregnancy results from a consensual act between two individuals. When the outcome is not anticipated or planned for, it usually creates stress, even social pressure, for the involved individuals. They now have a responsibility for a new life. If based on nothing else, their status as living human beings instills in them a sense of accountability for that life. Individually and collectively, all of us value and take steps to protect life, especially innocent life.
Over 75% of states have laws that treat unborn children the same as born children when they are the victims of homicide. Drug use by pregnant persons is considered child abuse in 24 jurisdictions. Statutes and regulations in other areas of the law otherwise recognize the value of innocent life.
We protect children riding in vehicles with minimum standards for car seats. Similar regulations for toys, cribs and highchairs are geared toward protecting young, innocent life. As a society, we value and look to insulate from harm those who cannot protect themselves. Our abortion laws and practices seem incongruous with that stance.
Long ago, my belief in God as our creator and the author of all life instilled in me a passion to defend human life, especially for the innocent. I pray for an end to our abortion practices of the past and movement away from the impact of Roe v. Wade on our society. I am emboldened in the revelation that respected scientists confirm my heart’s conclusion that life begins at conception.
40 Days for Life is an organization that advocates for the end of abortion with biannual campaigns in hundreds of cities around the world. Next spring, I intend to lead a 40 Days for Life campaign in our community. Regardless of the outcome at the Supreme Court, we will advocate locally for the lives of the unborn, offering pregnancy resources wrapped in prayer, peace, love, and respect for all involved. You are invited to join the campaign.
Michael Kaddatz is an Eagle resident. Married and the father of three and grandfather of five, he plans to lead a local 40 Days for Life campaign that begins in March. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.