Good afternoon. Welcome to the 1994 Colorado March for Life. We are marking 21 years since the U.S. Supreme Court removed legal protection from unborn children with its Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. Today we're going to look at these decisions, but first we're going to look at another situation with common roots - the long battle over slavery.
In 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. In that document was set forth a philosophy of government which was essentially new to this earth. The portion relevant to this gathering today reads:
"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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..."
Two points were unique at that time: that certain rights are innate rather than subject to the whim or caprice of governments, and that governments exist with the consent of the people primarily to secure, not destroy, these rights. Even today those are the major points separating this nation from the totalitarian nations of the world.
Several years later, in 1787, a working document known as the Constitution was developed to embody this philosophy of government. However, that Constitution included a major departure from these principles - the "3/5 Compromise." This compromise essentially allowed slavery by counting each slave as 3/5 of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. This departure from recognizing the innate, unalienable right of Liberty stood for almost 75 years - even though it was doomed to failure precisely because it was a departure from the principles otherwise set forth. Justice demanded equal protection for all, but was ignored.
The battle over slavery went back and forth for almost 80 years after the Declaration of Independence. Legislation such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1850 upheld the departure from principle. In 1856, James Buchanan, a pro-slavery President, was elected, and he took office in 1857. The Dred Scott decision the same year seemed to seal the pro-slavery victory - a slaveowner had moved with his slave to a free state, then back to a slave state, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that that man - Dred Scott- was still a slave, despite having lived in a free state. This seemed to spread slavery to all the states.
Well, we all know the rest of that story - the election of President Lincoln in a 4-way race, the secession of most of the slave states, a bloody war pitting Americans against each other, the Emancipation Proclamation, several Constitutional Amendments, Reconstruction, and continuing racial tensions for many, many years.
The battle against slavery was not just in this country. Many of us are familiar with the name of William Wilberforce, who fought slavery and the slave trade in Britain for close to 40 years, and was finally successful in this fight.
Why did so many people give so many years to fighting slavery? for most, abolishing slavery brought no economic benefit. Rather, they were involved because Justice demanded it. It was unjust to enslave others of the human family.
So let's jump ahead to the abortion battle. The pro-abortion forces worked state by state to spread abortion, with Colorado being the first to fall, on April 25, 1967. California followed the next year, with other states soon after. Then, on January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions that serve as this generation's "Dred Scott" - Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Roe set up a "trimester" system for dividing a pregnancy into 3 parts, with states allowed to restrict abortion in the 3rd trimester unless the mother's "life or health" was involved. Doe, however, defined health to include "all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age." Roe repeated many of these and even included "the stigma of unwed motherhood." These effectively legalized abortion throughout all nine months, removing the existing legal protection of unborn children. To many of us, that's well known, although it's still news to a lot of society, and even to some of the media.
There's another aspect of Roe we need to be aware of though. Pivotal to the decision was the statement that none of the states really regarded the unborn human being as a legal person - all allowed in some way for exceptions to any legal protection. Some had exceptions for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, some for additional reasons. The Court then decided unjustly, but consistently, that since states were not treating unborn human beings as legal persons in these cases, they must not fall under the Constitutional protections accorded to legal persons in any case. In fact, Justice Blackmun wrote that if the unborn were persons, Roe v. Wade would collapse, because the Fourteenth Amendment would compel their protection. And so, Justice's demand for equal protection has been ignored, and 30 million children have been deliberately killed.
So here we see a similar result as from the 3/5ths Compromise - to not treat black slaves as persons, or unborn children as persons, has led to some of the most unjust and bloodiest chapters of our nation's history.
So we are here today to continue the cry for justice. Again, few if any can benefit economically from restoring legal protection to unborn children. Rather, we are involved because Justice demands it.
Right to Life from its inception has spoken up against the deliberate killing of innocent human beings through abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. Why do we speak up for the right to life of the unborn? Because Justice demands it. Why do we speak up for those who are elderly or terminally ill? Because Justice demands it. Why do we speak on behalf of persons with disabilities? Because Justice demands it.
Keep up the fight. God bless you all.