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Whose Morality?

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In a 5–4 judicial squeaker, the Supreme Court ruled that a ban on partial birth abortions is constitutional. The pro-abortionists are hysterical. What’s instructive is how the pro-abortion position is being argued. Maureen Downing, writing the lead editorial in the April 20, 2007 issue of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (A10), is a good example of purposeful obfuscation. She begins by claiming that the “Supreme Court violated its own long held position that the court’s ‘obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.’” Did you notice the words “liberty for all”? Abortionists believe the “thing” growing in “its” mother’s womb is akin to a tumor that can be excised from her body like a cyst is removed from an ovary. Pro-lifers believe that what’s growing in his mother’s womb is a person who deserves liberty and continued life.

Downing accuses the five pro-life justices of mandating their “own moral code.” Of course, if this is what they did, then they would be wrong. But I suspect that they came to their decision based on a higher law principle. If the decision had gone the other way, pro-abortionists would have praised the decision as being the moral thing to do. That’s right. For the pro-abortionist, any decision to uphold and expand the practice of abortion is moral. What standard did the four pro-abortion justices use to support their partial birth abortion decision? Downing never says because she and they are operating on the assumption that abortion is by definition the moral position because it is based on human autonomy (self-law). Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said as much when she wrote that overturning any pro-abortion restrictions “deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice.”

The assumption by the pro-abortionists in this debate is that a person’s “autonomous choice” is the moral choice no matter what that choice is. But what about the choice of the pre-born baby? This moral dilemma is easily avoided by redefining the “result of conception” as something less than human even when the about-to-be born child is just inches away from taking the first gulp of air into her lungs. Say “it’s” not human, and the moral dilemma disappears

If we go by the Constitution, a document that the justices took an oath to uphold, then it’s difficult to say where morality is to be found. Contrary to pro-abortionists, there is no right to abortion in the Constitution. If “we the people” are the foundation of morality, then we have to deal with the skepticism that our Founders had in pure democracy. Since the Constitution makes reference to the Declaration of Independence (“of the twelfth”), then we must assume, because our Founders assumed it, that there is a moral authority above the Constitution:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

While these rights are an endowment of the Creator, governments have been “instituted among Men” to “secure these rights.” It becomes a moral obligation of the Justices to insure that life and liberty are protected. The Constitution, however, is not the source of that morality. Morality comes from the outside. The people draw it down from heaven itself. A self-styled moral autonomy was the last thing our Founders wanted. John Adams said it best:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.[1]

Over the years, the same court that plowed the bloody path of abortion in 1973 created a culture where “human passions” became the basis of decision making. Today there is little talk of morality unless it is to denounce anyone who seeks to impose it on people.[2] And when the word religion is used, it’s usually to ridicule and condemn it. We’ve sown the wind, and we are reaping the whirlwind.

Footnotes:
[1]
. John Adams, “To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts” (October 11, 1798). The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States; With A Life of the Author Notes and Illustrations of his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Freeport, NY: Books For Libraries Press, [1850–1856] 1969), 9:228–229.
[2]. Of course, secularists are quite willing to impose their version of morality on everyone and make us pay for it.
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