When Roe v Wade was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1973 abortions were made legal in all fifty states throughout all nine months of pregnancy based on the “right to privacy”. This “right”, not found in the Constitution, was nonetheless used by Justice Blackmun to explain why abortion should be legal: it is a private decision between a woman and her doctor; the State has only limited interest.
On the one hand this makes sense. Even if privacy is not defined in the Constitution, it is common sense that we all have the right to privacy. But how far does privacy go?
Abortion rights advocates say that a woman has rights over what goes on in her own body. This is indisputable. But what if that which is “in her own body” is not really hers? Can a child developing in her womb be hers in the same way that organs of her body are hers? The answer of the Supreme Court and abortion advocates is that whatever is in her body – even though it is in reality a unique, separate human being dependent on her – is private and belongs to her; she alone can decide what to do with (it).
Using the same logic, let us go one step further. In the privacy of my own home am I allowed to own a slave, download child pornography, or abuse a spouse or a child? The law correctly deprives me of these “rights.” Thus the slave, the one abused, and for that matter even the unborn, have rights that take precedence over the “right” to privacy.
Our society suffers from an unfair application of the law when it comes to abortion; private life is protected at any cost as if it trumps all other rights. However, authentic, inalienable, and God given human rights never invalidate other human rights. The right to privacy, which is common sense, does not have the power to negate the right to life of the unborn child. Thus jurists, lawmakers and citizens alike claim rightly that Roe v Wade was wrongly decided.
Abortion is an indefensible attack on an innocent human life. A child in the womb of her mother is not her mother’s property, not her right, not her body, not her private matter, but rather an individual with needs and rights of her own. If slavery, downloading child pornography, or abusing others are not allowable in the privacy of our homes, then neither should abortion be protected or promoted as a private “right”.
We must and should fight the evils that take place in the privacy of our homes, this is deeply Christian. So too, we must and should fight – through just laws, love and persuasion – the evil of abortion and stand for the right to life for the unborn. Privacy is a means to a good end, not an end in itself.
All efforts of social justice are important, as is our common work for creating a just society. But the right to life is the foundation of all other rights and its defense begins with the unborn. Unless life is defended from the moment of conception onward, all other human rights are contingent and, therefore, meaningless.
+Gregory John Mansour
(Reprinted with permission.)