Live and Let Live

America's Founding Fathers, God-fearing men for the most part, made clear in the Declaration of Independence that our "unalienable rights" come from God, not government. Their words, as written and attested on July 4, 1776, describe some of the rights that are "endowed by our Creator," such as "life" and "liberty."

Some people confuse "rights" with "privileges." "Privileges" are typically man-bestowed authority to engage in a particular act, such as driving a car. A driver's license is a privilege, and man, as government, can insist on a person qualifying before the privilege is bestowed. For example, a person may have to be of a certain age and pass a written and driving test before the privilege of driving is granted. Certain actions can cause the
privilege to cease, such as a propensity to drive recklessly, or driving under the influence of a substance.

"Unalienable Rights" are given by God, and no one has to first qualify in order to possess the right. However, man, through government action, can suspend those rights and even take them away altogether if a person, for example, is convicted of a crime. A conviction can cause the right to liberty to be suspended, with the person confined to jail. A person's right to life can also be forfeited if that person commits murder and is duly convicted and sentenced under the law. Thus, even a "right to life" is not absolute.

So, just what is a "right to life?" Certainly the U.S. Constitution references "due process of law" before rights are suspended or revoked. As a society we bend over backwards to ensure that someone accused of a crime is given every benefit of the doubt. This can be illustrated by a trip to a local law library. Ask a librarian where the books are on criminal defense. You will likely be pointed to several rows of books that deal with case law on criminal law and procedure, books that discuss how to fight criminal charges, and even books on how to expunge criminal convictions from your record. Then ask where are the books on victim's rights? After a puzzled look, the librarian will either tell you that none exist, or that there might be one or two that discuss such a topic.

A burning question in American society is whether the Creator-endowed right to life applies to babies in the womb. I recently read about a politician who is conservative on fiscal issues, but on social issues holds to a "live and let live" philosophy. Just before that philosophy is stated, the article says the politician calls himself "pro-choice." I wondered how many people saw as I did an inherent contradiction between "live and let live" and being "pro-choice." "Pro-choice," usually a euphemism for being in favor of abortion on demand, means it is up to the putative mother to decide if the baby lives. No one consults the unborn baby, even though it is a living human being. It would seem that a "let live" philosophy would be "pro-life," and would not allow the innocent unborn to be killed because of being the wrong sex or simply unwanted.

One aspect of the "life" issue that was glossed over by mainstream media was the vote last week by the U.S. Senate on whether to protect unborn girls from being killed because of their gender. World-wide it is estimated that tens of millions of girls are missing because in certain societies, such as China and India, boys are prized more than girls, and abortions are allowed for "sex selection" purposes. Saddled with an unborn girl? You may kill it, with the help of the abortion doctor. This is not a new phenomenon. There is an ancient papyrus letter written around the time of Christ from a man to his pregnant wife Alis. He tells her simply, "If its a boy, keep it; if its a girl, kill it." In those days they generally lacked the skill of modern medicine that can now efficiently kill the unborn baby in the womb, so, instead, the babies would be abandoned and left to die of exposure. In ancient Greece there were actual drop-off points where unwanted babies could be left, which were picked up and delivered to the Spartans to either be killed or raised up as warriors.

It is sad that our President did not want to interfere with "a woman's right to choose," so he did not support the Congressional efforts to make sex selection abortions illegal. Live and let live? Only if you've managed to escape what has become one of the most dangerous places for human beings--the womb of a mother who thinks it is okay to end the life inside her--can a person "live and let live."

Why does America allow abortion on demand? Because in 1973 our U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Roe v. Wade and its companion case of Doe v. Bolton determined that the unborn baby was not a "person" under the 14th Amendment (and thereby not entitled to equal protection and due process of the law). Instead, the 7-2 opinion elevated the pregnant woman's "right to privacy" above the unborn's right to life, and disallowed any restrictions on abortion during the first three months (first trimester) of pregnancy. During the second trimester states were told they could regulate how abortions can be performed, and during the third trimester states could, theoretically, outlaw abortions altogether, although in practice all a woman has to do is state that her mental health is in danger, and that overcomes the unborn baby's right to life, even up to the moment of birth.

Is overturning Roe v. Wade the answer? It would help to have laws that protect the unborn. However, the issue of abortion is for the most part a matter of the heart. If there were abortion clinics on every street corner of America, but pregnant women were determined to give life to their unborn child, there would be no abortions. If abortion was outlawed, but women in their hearts elevated their own convenience above that of their unborn babies, abortions would go on as they do now. Thus, in addition to needing laws protecting the unborn, people's hearts need to change. The good news is that the majority of America now identifies as "pro-life," and the numbers are growing, while the percentage of those calling themselves "pro-choice" is shrinking.

I agree with the politician who said, "live and let live." But I mean something different than he does when the statement is applied to unborn human beings. I mean that the unborn should also enjoy the unalienable right to life. Isn't that the logical application of the last two words of the statement, "let live?" Perhaps it is time to point out the illogic of those who fail to give to the unborn the right to life that born people enjoy, and ask them to rethink their position. Doing so could save lives.