Per the US Code at Title 18, “murder” is defined as: “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed, is murder in the first degree” (US Code, 2010).
By the very definitions of “murder” and “murder in the first degree,” it would seem that abortion would not only be illegal, but also that it would be murder. However, one little word stops this from being so. That word is “unlawful.” The Supreme Court, in a pair of highly controversial, precedent-shattering decisions, Roe against Wade and Doe against Bolton, ruled that a pregnant woman has a constitutional right to destroy the life of her unborn child (Buckley, 2010).
There is legislation in place to protect the lives of animals and even the lives of some plants and trees, but there is no legislation in place to protect the lives of the unborn. There is only legislation in place to make the destruction of their lives lawful. In Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (2006), a New Hampshire abortion law that did not provide an exception for the woman’s health was ruled unconstitutional (Ayotte, 2005). The Human Life Amendment was introduced in an attempt to provide the aforementioned protection, and to provide for the protection of the mother if medically necessary. I believe that The Human
Life Amendment should be ratified to make abortion illegal with the exception of instances where the mother’s health or life is at stake, because without the right to live there can be no other rights.
There are several strong opponents of the decisions of Roe against Wade and Doe against Bolton– and in my opinion, rightfully so. The Human Life Amendment is the name for any amendment to the United States Constitution that would have the effect of overturning Roe v. Wade. Most of them go further, by forbidding both the federal government and the states from making abortion legal (Buckley, 2010).
The main purpose of the Human Life Amendment is to restore a constitutional-link of equality between the biological category “human being” and the legal category “person.” Some would argue that a fetus is a human being, but not a person. I find this to be ridiculous, because never in the history of mankind has a woman given birth to anything other than a person. I feel that if it is a person when it is born, it was a person in the womb.
Rep. Lawrence Hogan, Rep. G. William Whitehurst, James Burke, Sen. William Scott, Rep. Romano Mazzoli, and Sen. Orrin Hatch all introduced versions of a Human Life Amendment to Congress from 1973-1981 in hopes of achieving unilateral equality between “human being,” and “person” as per the Constitution. The Senate Judiciary Committee held twenty days of hearings in 1974, 1975, and 1981, and there were several other hearings before other committees, as well as a number of floor debates.
Under Hogan’s amendment, no human being would be denied life without due process from the moment of conception. Whitehurst’s amendment stated that there was nothing in the Constitution that allowed for the regulation of abortion and that the decision was left up to the
states. Burke’s amendment called for the word “person” to apply to all human beings and asked for abortions to only be performed when medically necessary. Scott’s amendment, like Whitehurst’s before him, called for state-regulated abortion laws. Mazzoli’s Paramount Amendment called for the moment of fertilization to be recognized and respected as the beginning of human life. The amendment of Senator Orin Hatch again called for the states to have power over abortions, but that this power should be concurrent with Congress. Senator Hatch later partnered with Senator Thomas Eagleton to restate that abortion was not a matter secured by the Constitution.
A total of 330 proposals were reported by the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, but most of the proposals died in committee. The only version of the Human Life Amendment to reach a formal floor vote was the Hatch-Eagleton Amendment, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Thomas Eagleton. That amendment stated, “A right to abortion is not secured by this Constitution.” It received 49 supporting votes in the Senate on June 28, 1983, falling 18 votes short of the 67 required for passage (NCHLA, 2004). Human life amendments continue to be introduced and referred to committee.
One reason a Human Life Amendment should be ratified is that our country was founded on the belief that every living person had certain inalienable rights, which included the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some would argue that it is not wrong to terminate a pregnancy because the fetus is not yet a person. However, scientific and medical discoveries over the past three decades have only verified and solidified the age-old truth that life begins at conception. (Harrison & Holland, 2008) So, if the unborn child is in fact alive, how is it possible
that it does not have the right to live?
Life begins when the sperm from the father unites with the egg from the mother during fertilization. When the DNA from the parents combines, the fertilized is egg is called a zygote. From there it will split into an even number of cells and become an embryo, which is recognized as the youngest form of a being. An embryo that is protected and cared for will become a fetus, and from there, a newborn, toddler, child, teen, adult, and older adult.
I find it compelling that a pregnant woman has a constitutional right to destroy the life of her unborn child, yet in the 14th amendment, it is clear that Congress intended to make the terms “legal person” and “human being” equal. This essentially means that all humans possess certain rights by nature, and among these rights is the right to life. No court or law should be able to remove this right, because it was not given to us by a court or a law.
So, what gives a woman the right to end a life? Is it because we don’t value the unborn human life? Historically, human life has been valued above all else. For example, if we had a choice between saving a dog and a person, most of us would save the person because that life is more valuable. Perhaps, those that favor abortion feel that a fetus is not as valuable as an adult, so the right to protection and life does not pertain to the fetus.
Ratifying a Human Life Amendment would also end the senseless use of abortion as birth control. There are too many viable options for preventing the births of unwanted children that do not include injuring either the mother or the child. The most obvious of these options would be prevention. It is a woman’s body and she should have the right to choose, but the choice she makes needs to come before she is carrying an unwanted child. The choice she makes should be one of which contraception she or her partner wishes to use.
Birth control options for women include hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills; intrauterine devices (IUDs); barrier devices, such as condoms, diaphragm, and the cervical cap; fertility awareness methods; and sterilization. Barring sterilization through vasectomy, birth control options for men are generally limited to the usage of condoms.
Beyond prevention, a woman can choose to carry the baby to term as opposed to aborting it. Every year, thousands of expecting women have to make the agonizing decision whether to keep their unborn child, have an abortion performed, or place the infant once born for adoption. Birth mothers can range from young teenage girls to single mothers to even rape or incest victims (Nielsen, 2007). There are those that believe that abortion is the answer in instances of rape and incest. I can understand and empathize with the pain that a situation such as those must surely cause, but destroying the life of a child will not erase that pain. Regardless of the circumstances of the pregnancy, there are too many potential parents waiting out there to love and care for a child. If the Human Life Amendment were ratified, more children would be placed in loving homes as opposed to being senselessly destroyed.
Another reason that a Human Life Amendment should be ratified is that abortion can have negative physical and psychological effects on the expectant mother, because the actual process of abortion is an act of violence against the unborn child as well as the woman about to have a baby. The early abortion and suction aspiration/ vacuum curettage both involve an abortionist widens the cervix and inserting a suction tube into the uterus in which the tube is attached to a vacuum syringe and the embryo is torn from the uterus. In the suction aspiration/vacuum curettage method, the body of the fetus is dismembered and it and all its surrounding attachments are sucked into a bottle for collection.
In the dilation and curettage method, the suction tube is not needed. After the cervix is dilated a looped shaped steel knife is inserted and the baby is then cut into pieces and removed and the remaining placenta is scraped off the wall of the mother’s womb. The RU 486 procedure takes up to 3 visits to the abortion facility. During the first visit, the actual RU 486 pills are ingested. These pills block the hormones that maintain the lining of the uterus that normally nourishes the baby. During the second visit thirty-six to forty-eight hours later, the woman is given medication that starts contractions so that the fetus can be expelled. The final visit is about two weeks later to make sure that the embryo has been expelled. A small percentage of RU 486 abortions require additional surgical procedures.
In another multi-visit procedure, a woman is given a shot of methotrexate, which is used to treat cancer. In this case, it’s used to attack the fast growing cells that will become the placenta, thus depriving the baby of air, food, and fluids from its mother. Three to seven days later, the woman is given a vaginal suppository that will expel the fetus. Again, the last visit is to make sure the procedure worked. At least one in 25 women require surgical abortions after the fact.
In the dilation and evacuation method, sharp metal-jawed forceps are used to grasp the baby and twist and tear it away. In the installation method, chemicals are injected into the amniotic sac to kill the baby and start contractions. Partial-birth abortions are used later in pregnancies. Guided by ultrasound, an abortionist uses forceps to grab the baby’s legs and pull it through the birth canal except for the head. The base of the baby’s skull is then punctured with surgical scissors. The baby’s brain is then sucked out and the rest of the baby-collapsed skull and all- is pulled from the uterus. In situations where hysterectomies are used, incisions are made into the abdomen and the uterus, the baby, placenta, and amniotic sac are all removed.
It has been discovered that there are many emotional aspects that can affect the psychological well being of women who undergo an abortion. These emotions include guilty feelings, anxiety, depression, loss, anger, and even suicide. Clinical research has found that when women are in trusting, sharing relationships, they report deep-seated feelings of exploitation over their abortion experience.
In a survey taken in the first few weeks after the abortion, between 40 and 60 percent of women questioned reported negative reactions. Within 8 weeks after their abortions, 55% expressed guilt and 31% had regrets about their decision. In a different survey of women who were experiencing negative post-abortion reactions, 53% felt forced by others to have the abortion and 95% of these women were not at all satisfied with their choice today.
There are some rather serious physical problems that may result from an abortion. Complications such as future miscarriages, infertility and ectopic pregnancies, and even breast cancer can be attributed to abortions. Too often abortion is thought of as a way to get rid of a problem, when it can create a whole new spectrum of problems (Abortion, 2010).
In regards to the child, I would not deem any of these procedures to be painless or devoid of physical trauma. By the 20th week of gestation, the baby’s tissues, muscles and nerves are developed and studies have shown that a fetus can feel pain as early. This is believed to be a late estimate (Hermes, 2010). Under the Eighth Amendment, even those who have committed crimes are protected against cruel and unusual punishment. This protection is not carried over to the unborn that are innocent of committing any crimes, save for the “crime” of existing at all!
While I am steadfastly for the passage of a Human Life Amendment, there would be some drawbacks. The implications of broadening the definition of “person” to include unborn individuals could have potentially serious, negative effects in areas that are not related to abortion (Westfall, 1982). For example, it could be argued that both eggs and sperm are unborn individuals and therefore “persons.”
There also does not exist a uniform platform on the points of whether or not medically necessary abortions should be permitted. Some would have abortions outlawed altogether without regards to the health of the expectant mother.
There might also arise issues in which a pregnant woman is functioning in some capacity that others believe is detrimental to her unborn child. For example, a woman might work in what some consider to be a dangerous profession. This could be seen as endangerment to the person she is carrying and the courts would have to get involved.
Political issues as well might arise as these new “persons” would have to be represented and their rights would have to be protected in all manners. A host of issues would arise, such as counting these individuals and determining their ages (Westfall, 1982). This is why there needs to be a stipulation that the amendment only pertain to instances of abortion, and that abortions should be performed when it is in the best medical interest for the woman.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly believe that a Human Life Amendment should be ratified. The United States Constitution is the single most important piece of legislature in our country’s possession, and it should definitely be amended to provide for the protection of unborn children, making abortions legal only when the mother’s welfare is at stake. Abortion is detrimental to both the mother and the unborn child, and the senseless destruction of the unborn need not continue when there are viable options and alternatives.
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