On March 30, 2005, Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court gave a speech at Grand Valley University. I was thinking of attending but didn't because of the lateness of the event (starting at 9:15 p.m.), the weather (Thunderstorms), and a tragic accident closed part of the highway. And I partly would prefer to watch Lost with my wife as opposed to listen to a pro-abortion speech. I was mostly looking forward to asking some questions to Ms. Weddington. Questions like:
Do you think abortion should be rarer than it currently is? If yes, why?
Do you think that it is a problem that approximately 50% of our nation's abortions are performed on women who've already had at least one abortion and approximately 20% of abortions are performed on women who've had 2 or more abortions?
Is human life intrinsically or instrumentally valuable?
Do you think that an child who survives an abortion attempt deserves the right to life? Or in other words, does the "right to abortion" include the right to a successful abortion?
I missed the Weddington speech but after reading some quotes compiled by the Grand Rapids Press, I realized that I didn't miss much.
For the reporter's synopsis it appears that Ms. Weddington focused a lot on back-alley/coathanger abortions but it also appears that she attempted to address the question of when life begins. Here's her response:
"The law never treated fetuses as persons. The Constitution says 'all persons born or naturalized.' We celebrate birthdays not conception days. We don't have funerals for miscarriages. With child custody laws, it always was birth as the critical moment."
I'm relying solely on the reporter's quotes but this to me shows why the pro-choice establishment is losing the struggle for America's heart over abortion. Ms. Weddington simply cannot answer the question. Instead of talking about when life begins, she immediately talks about personhood and law. She can't say "life begins at birth" because anyone who's felt the kick of unborn child or heard a fetal heartbeat knows that life begins long before birth. Instead, Weddington is forced to rely on ludicrous arguments.
Section 1 of the 14th Amendment reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Weddington seems to intrepret this to mean "All (who became) persons (by being) born or naturalized in the United States...." The problem with this intrepretation is that immigrants who aren't legal citizens wouldn't be constitutional persons and would therefore not have the right to life under our Constitution. It seems that the correct intrepretation of this should be "All persons (who were) born or naturalized in the United States." Which means that neither birth nor naturalization is what makes one a person. It is fairly clear that naturalization doesn't make one a person so why should being born make one a person?
The "celebrate birthdays not conception days" line seems like an argument a middle-schooler would use. How does whether we celebrate birth (an event whose exact time can be easily known) or conception (an event whose exact time is up in the air) determine whether a being is deserving of rights or not? I guess if you get one of these cards your life was valuable before birth?
We don't have funerals for miscarriages? So whether we bury something or have a ceremony when an entity dies determines if that entity is valuable and deserving of protection? Does that mean some goldfish (remember the Cosby show where they had a ceremony for Rudy's goldfish before flushing it) are more valuable than human fetuses? Besides being illogical, Weddington is also factual wrong. There are numerous funerals and other types of memorials for miscarried children. Here are just a few examples.
Maybe it's me but just saying that miscarriage line seems to show a certain level of heartlessness towards miscarried children and the parents who lose a child by miscarriage. Many of these people grieve for extended periods of time for their child yet Weddington is more than happy to depersonize the unborn because a large portion of miscarried children aren't buried.