Saturday, January 22, 2022

Science may rescue Roe. . .

It was a terrible time in America.  Coming out of Vietnam and the race riots and the sexual revolution and political crisis, the Supremes were given an opportunity to address the subject of life.  Roe v Wade was a foray not simply into morality but into the science that could have and should have given definition to the question before an answer of right or wrong was applied.  We all knew what the culture wanted us to say.  Years of birth control pills and the removal of stigmas attached to the purchase of a condom left us with but one choice -- what to do with what happened when they did not work.  But the court was not ready to apply simply a moral judgment.  They wanted some objective fact to support them.  At that very “point in the development of man’s knowledge,” as Justice Harry Blackmun put it in Roe, science failed.  There was not a uniform understanding at the point at which life began.   It was anyone's best guess whether the fetus was a person or that person was really alive or if that person really alive deserved all the legal protection afforded life in the law.

Now, as it seems the SCOTUS is poised to reconsider Roe, things have changed.  Decades of division of the rightness or wrongness of abortion have not given way to an overpowering consensus on the matter.  We are as conflicted as we ever were over abortion.  But what has changed and what might give us some hope is that the science has changed.  It cannot tell us what is moral or immoral but it can give us clues to the life growing in the womb.  The technology of the ultrasound so new to the 1970s has become absolutely normal, reliable, and trustworthy.  With those machines we have discovered that what lies in the womb is not some faceless clump of cells but the image of a child startlingly real to a culture that wanted it to be fake.  Now we take those ultrasound pictures and pass them around with all the photos of childhood.  The fetus has become a child to us -- even to the promoters of abortion -- and it has changed things profoundly.

Viability of the fetus outside the womb has changed dramatically.  The smallest of infants have survived their delivery from the safety of the womb into a world they were not quite ready for.  If the court had the science of today perhaps the abortion decision might have been different.  I do not know.  But I know that the science that we love has changed the way that baby in the womb has been seen.  So the Supremes will have to choose either to listen to science and adjust their decision or change it entirely OR they will have to admit that science does not matter to this morality call.  It will be day of decision for more than the court -- for America.

I can only lament for those children killed simply for being children.  I can only hope that this scourge across our national identity will come to an end and we will admit that we were wrong as a nation -- just as the Supreme Court was wrong, to decide a question of life on the basis of privacy and convenience.  Until that happens, we are left with this open wound that divides us as a nation and remains a conflict for religion, politics, and ethics.  Pray, brothers and sisters, that it comes to an end sooner and we rediscover a bit of our humanity, perhaps prompted by the changing science that forced us to see the face of a child in the womb of his mother.


William Tighe said...


"The earliest a baby has been born and survived is 21 weeks and 5 days. Two premature babies hold the record for this.

However, this is well before the accepted age of viability. Usually, the earliest a baby can survive is about 22 weeks gestation. The age of viability is 24 weeks."

Carl Vehse said...

"At that very “point in the development of man’s knowledge,” as Justice Harry Blackmun put it in Roe, science failed."

NO!! Blackmun fiendishly tapdanced around the issue of when human life (a person) begins and moved the goalpost to a nebulous "viable life." Blackmun actually stated (and in doing so, became a willing participant in genocide, crimes against humanity and treason):

"Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. 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."

Unless a Christian position opposing abortion has a concurrent recognition of the need for justice, such a deficient position reduces the pro-life opposition to the equivalent of opposing the wearing of wrong-colored socks.