In Harold Henderson's thought-provoking piece (October 22) on the unintended consequences in the age of the rise of reproductive technology of defining the unborn child as a potential but nonhuman, "a nameless piece of disputed property" is a quote from Chicago-Kent law professor Lori Andrews that shows what shoved us down this slippery slope: "If we humanized the embryo too much, the court might declare the embryo to be a person....Turning the embryo into a person with legal rights of its own might set a dangerous precedent." In 1861 a sizable number of states and people thought "turning" blacks into people with legal rights of their own, instead of pieces of property, might set a dangerous precedent as well.
We do not sentence convicted killers to death unless their guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet we abort 1.5 million fetuses every year with their humanity clearly in dispute and with pro-abortion advocates unwilling or unable to define either when life begins or by what mysterious process merely passing through the birth canal bestows humanity and human rights upon us. It has been said that if ultrasound pictures of the unborn had been available in 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision would have been different. Three decades of medical advances have changed the meaning of the word "viable." But our human rights should not be dependent on technology.
Such advances as gene therapy will soon allow us to correct such conditions as Down's syndrome, but since the fetus is not officially a human, abortion will remain an option. Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former surgeon general, once testified that abortion "has had an important, and positive, public-health effect" because it had cut the number of Down's syndrome babies born in Washington State by 64 percent. Abortion eliminated the syndrome by, of course, eliminating the babies, and this in turn preserved the health of the mother by eliminating the trauma of bearing and the burden of raising a handicapped child. Dr. Mengele, paging Dr. Mengele.
Suppose the homosexual lobby is right. Suppose there is a "gay" gene. Would that be considered a birth defect, something to be eliminated? Wouldn't it be ironic if the human and civil rights of gays are ultimately denied by the denial of life itself, with abortion becoming a constitut- ionally protected method of gay-bashing? After all, the liberals tell us, the fetus is not a human being.
Those who doubt that we are talking about human life when we talk about the unborn should talk to Gianna Jessen, who a few years ago testified before a committee chaired by Representative Henry Hyde. Gianna was aborted by her mother while in her seventh month. As Gianna testified in testimony few covered, "I lived instead of died. Some have said I am a 'botched abortion.'"
Gianna survived the saline abortion and was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy due to the loss of oxygen from gulping saline, as well as spina bifida. I would suggest to critics of the GOP abortion plank that they try telling Gianna she was a mistake and ought to be dead. Why was Gianna Jessen not considered a person while inside her mother but seconds later, as she emerged gasping for breath, she inherited the full protection of the law?
Recently a Wisconsin state appeals court threw out the case against a woman accused of trying to drink her fetus to death, ruling that she could not be charged with attempted murder because a fetus is not a human being. Neither is a baby seal, yet if the woman had clubbed one to death she would have been prosecuted. If she were selling eagle feathers, she would be prosecuted. But attempt to kill your unborn child through alcohol abuse? At least she wasn't wearing real fur at the bar.
To remedy this absurdity, Senator Bob Smith (NH) on April 28 took the courageous action of introducing the 1999 Right to Life Act, the purpose of which is to guarantee to unborn children the 14th Amendment right to "equal protection" under the law, stating that the "Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at fertilization."
This may seem to fly in the face of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and be ripe, even if passed, to be declared unconsti- tutional, but it was in the majority opinion written by the late Justice Harry Blackmun that the door was left open to congressional action to protect the unborn. Blackmun wrote: "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins." He also wrote that if the unborn life was proven to be a person, "the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus's right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."
Recent news reports detailed the use of a procedure known as "live birth abortion" practiced at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn in which, after the injection of prostaglandin, the fetus is now allowed to be born, only to struggle for life for six or seven hours, essentially left to die at a faith-based hospital named after Christ, which begs the question liberals should answer--was the fetus Mary carried the Son of God or not, and did she have the right to abort the lump of fetal tissue that would be called Jesus Christ? It is a question never asked of pro-abortion "Christians" and others who insist you can do to a fetus what you couldn't do to a cat on the grounds the fetus is not a human being.
Daniel John Sobieski