Next week our nation commemorates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King and the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. And, with the inauguration of President Barack Obama also next week, we have ample evidence that Dr. King’s dream has, in large measure, come true. So what does all this have to do with Roe v. Wade?
I believe it means there is still hope.
Under a different Supreme Court ruling in 1857, Dred Scott v. Sandford, Dr. King and President Obama would not even be considered citizens under our Constitution. Dred Scott, an African-American slave, had sued for his freedom and lost. Fortunately, this 7-2 ruling was not “settled law” and, following passage of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, is now widely regarded as one of the worst decisions ever handed down by the Supreme Court.
In 1973, our Supreme Court rendered another 7-2 ruling – Roe v. Wade. The parallels between Dred Scott v. Sandford and Roe v. Wade are striking. In the Dred Scott case, the court ruled that African-Americans were not “intended to be included as citizens in the Constitution and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges to which that instrument provides for and secures to the citizens of the United States.”
Similarly, in Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that “The word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn . . . The unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.”
Dred Scott was declared chattel (human property) and the Constitution “provided for the protection of private property.” In Roe v. Wade, another form of privacy was asserted by the court – a “right to privacy . . . broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision . . . to terminate her pregnancy.”
Finally, just as Dred Scott might have been “reduced to slavery for his benefit,” the unborn child faces the “problem of bringing an unwanted child into a family unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it” in Roe v. Wade. In other words, just as Dred Scott was better off as a slave, the unwanted child is better off dead.
Some claim Roe v. Wade is also “settled law.” Yet after 40 years of Roe v. Wade and the resultant 55 million abortions, an overwhelming portion of our citizens have a sick feeling that something is terribly and morally wrong.
Just as it is difficult to imagine a time in our nation when an African-American was not considered a person, I believe future generations will someday say, “I cannot imagine a time when an unborn child was not considered a person.”
If you agree, wouldn’t you like to proclaim that you, too, marched for life? Please join me and hundreds of thousands of your countrymen at the 40th Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Jan. 25.
Jeffrey E. Knight