Andrew P. Napolitano*
The recent broadcast of videotapes taken of persons employed at Planned Parenthood -- the prolific and notorious abortion provider -- has brought the issue of abortion to the national consciousness again and front and center to the Republican presidential primary campaign. The tapes were made secretly by a pro-life group determined to show to the world the dark side of Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds.
What the world saw was terrifying and damning. The tapes are difficult to watch, just as any discussion of human slaughter is difficult to watch. If you have seen these tapes, you witnessed physicians and others talking about the profits Planned Parenthood is making in the sale of baby body parts, even though such sales are criminal under federal law.
The cavalier demeanor of those who profit from this slaughter is chilling, and the moral punch in the nose to the Democratic Party is excruciating. That’s because Planned Parenthood is virtually a branch of the Democratic Party. It has a lock on the federal treasury to the tune of $500 million per year. It pays for or performs more than 325,000 abortions a year, which is about one-third of all abortions in America. It contributes heavily to the campaigns of Democratic office seekers. You can see the cycle.
Even though federal law has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions for nearly 18 years, money is fungible. The Planned Parenthood folks may be baby killers, but they are not dumb. They know how to dedicate federal funds for maternal health and free up maternal health funds for the slaughter of babies -- and make it all look legal.
The reason these tapes are so upsetting to the Democrats, and to some Republicans as well, is that they have convinced themselves that the fetus in the womb is not a person. Yet, watching their abortionists graphically discuss the monetary value of body parts and the physical manipulation of fully formed babies so as to maximize the harvesting of their organs ironically humanizes the body parts and the babies from which the parts came, and is thus so upsetting to those who deny fetal personhood.
But this is more than upsetting -- it seriously challenges the underlying commitment of today’s Democratic Party that the fetus is not a person. This is, of course, the central holding of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Just as in Dred Scott v. Sandford, wherein the court held in 1857 that African-Americans were not persons, so did Roe v. Wade make that holding for fetuses.
And the stated reason for the holding was the absence of consensus in 1973 among philosophers, physicians, theologians and scientists about when life begins. Yet, the duty of the court is to say what the Constitution means, not to count noses. Roe is the only Supreme Court decision in history grounded on the absence of discernible consensus among the populace.
Is the fetus in the womb a person? Before answering this, consider the depravity to which we have sunk due to its legal non-personhood. The slaughter of babies, some where it is legal in their ninth month of gestation, the sale of their body parts, and the taxpayer financing of this have become so morose that even their staunchest supporters cannot confront these realities publicly for fear of losing political support.
Is the fetus in the womb a person? Before answering this, consider the danger of a Supreme Court possessing the power to declare any human offspring to be a non-person. Two months ago, we witnessed the spectacle of the court finding four plain English words -- “established by the States” -- to be ambiguous and, 21 pages later, telling us that legally those words do not mean what they say. If the court can change the meaning of ordinary words, can it change the meaning of life?
Is the fetus in the womb a person? Of course it is. It has two fully human parents and the fully actualizable human genome to achieve post-natal existence. The single-cell zygote in the mother’s womb came from her flesh and cannot be anything but a human person. For 600 years, the law has permitted the fetus in the womb to inherit property. How could that be if the fetus were not a human person? If you kill a pregnant woman and the fetus dies, you can be charged with the murder of two persons. If the reason for government in the first place is to protect rights, the government’s prime obligation is to protect the rights of persons to live.
The Democrats are not alone at fault here. In the first six years of the presidency of George W. Bush, when the Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress, numerous efforts were made to introduce a simple one-line statute: “The fetus in the womb shall be, for all constitutional and legal purposes, a person.” Republican congressional leaders kept all such proposals from being voted upon.
But seeing is believing. The tapes are the abortionists’ nightmare, because in their wanton slaughter they have let slip the utter humanity of their victims. And the souls of the Holy Innocents who have been slaughtered before drawing their first breaths are no doubt praying for the conversion of the hearts and the salvation of the souls of those who killed them.
*Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.