Right to Life Presentation
by John C. & Zora L Darrow

This presentation was prepared, but not used, for a panel discussion at DU Law School on April 1, 2004. Zora was the designated backup presenter for CRLC if the primary presenter had been unable to attend.

Good afternoon. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.

In 1809, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." Decades earlier, he had written in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, declares in Article 3: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

These all express the concept that law exists for the protection of each human being equally and without exception, a principle understood by all civilized people. Whether we speak of higher law, Nuremberg principles, the conscience of mankind, or unalienable rights, it is clear that there are certain behaviors that one human being should not inflict upon another human being. One of the primary functions of law and government is to curtail these oppressive and harmful behaviors.

In modern history, we’ve seen the results when entire classes of people were excluded from the protection of the law: genocide, slavery, apartheid, and other forms of oppression. The preamble to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights put it this way: “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”. The oppressors generally described their victims as somehow less than fully human.

In 1973 another class of people was removed from the protection of the law on the basis of age and place of residence, and once again the premise was that they somehow didn't measure up as human beings. I’m speaking, of course, of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions.

The justices of the Supreme Court reached this astonishing conclusion from several different starting points. One was a profession of ignorance as to when life really begins. This is amazing in the light of the following statement written by Doctor Alan Guttmacher 40 years earlier, in his 1933 book Life in the Making: "We of today know that man is born of sexual union; that he starts life as an embryo within the body of the female; and that the embryo is formed from the fusion of two single cells, the ovum and the sperm. This all seems so simple and evident to us that it is difficult to picture a time when it was not part of the common knowledge." Today parents frequently announce a pregnancy to family and friends by proudly showing off ultrasound images of their baby. Only when a pregnancy is unwanted does "baby" become "fetus", and therefore dehumanized.

The core of the Right to Life movement is the recognition that the unborn, like any other group of human beings, have basic human rights, and that these rights should be recognized by law. When the rights of two groups or two individuals come into conflict the law should be evenly and fairly applied to all. When one person's right to life comes up against another person's right to liberty or the pursuit of happiness, the right to life must prevail. When the right to life of two individuals come into conflict, the death of one is acceptable only when both cannot be saved. Laws that fail to meet this standard violate the most basic of human rights, the right without which all other rights are meaningless, the right to life.