In 1973, our government passed the Endangered Species Act. Twenty-eight years later, on April 6, 2001, the federal government’s Bureau of Reclamation cut off irrigation water to 1,500 family farms in the Klamath Basin on the Oregon-California border. Government bureaucrats decreed that, by law, all available water would be reserved to save fish, primarily the sucker fish. A federal judge denied an appeal by the farmers saying, “Congress has spoken in the plainest of words, making it abundantly clear that the balance has been struck in favor of affording endangered species the highest of priorities.”

On July 10, in the early stages of a quickly spreading fire in the Okanogan National Forest in Washington state, urgent requests for helicopter water drops were delayed for hours. There were bureaucratic concerns that scooping water out of the Chewuch River might endanger fish, including bull trout fingerlings. In the meantime, four young firefighters burned to death as they huddled in survival tents amid a firestorm.

One wonders where in the Constitution may be found the authority of the government to forfeit human lives in the interest of saving fish.

Also in 1973, 28 years and 45 million abortions ago, our government again used the Constitution to degrade human life. It gave us Roe v. Wade. The esteemed legal scholar Robert H. Bork, in his book, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah,” described the action of the Court this way: “Roe v. Wade … was a radical deformation of the Constitution. The Constitution has nothing to say about abortion, leaving it, like most subjects, to the judgment and moral sense of the American people and their elected representatives. … Roe is nothing more than the Supreme Court’s imposition on us of the morality of our cultural elites.”

In 1977, on the occasion of receiving the William E. Ladd Medal, the highest honor given to pediatric surgeons in America, future Surgeon General C. Everett Koop delivered an address entitled “The Slide to Auschwitz,” to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Koop described how medical scientists and physicians in Nazi Germany collaborated in an assault on life, including the extermination of the sick, the aged, the useless, and the genetically flawed. He described how physicians were actively involved in the planning and ruthless use of “human experimental material” in medical research.

Koop warned of “the progression from abortion to infanticide, to euthanasia. … I view what we are experiencing now as a dynamic situation which can accelerate month by month until the progress of our downhill momentum cannot be stopped.”

When Pope John Paul II visited the United States in 1993, he warned that we have created a “culture of death.” He implored us to face the truth that “threats against life are becoming more insidious. … Abortion and euthanasia – the actual killing of another human being – are hailed as ‘rights’ and solutions to ‘problems’ – an individual’s or society’s.”

Writing in “The Wanderer,” Paul Clark observed that “‘Fetal stem-cell research’ is a euphemism for carving up week-old humans and using their parts.” He vividly described the insidious process by which we became morally numb to the horror of infanticide: “The cultural revolution proceeds by gradually drawing back the veil of evil so that people can become accustomed to it. The government funding research on ’embryos which would die anyway’ is simply drawing back the veil a little more and getting us one step closer to the day that human life is simply a commodity like hamburger.”

The issue of what to do with embryos is not new. On Aug. 10, 1989, the world-renowned geneticist Professor Jerome Lejeune, recipient of the Kennedy Prize for the discovery of the first disease due to a chromosomal mistake, Down’s Syndrome, testified before a Tennessee Circuit Court in the case of Davis v. Davis. The case revolved around a custody dispute over seven frozen human embryos.

Dr. Lejeune answered a question about the legal rights of an embryo as compared with an older being. He said at any age both are members of the human species and this status is not a function of “the amount of kilograms.” He conceded that one may argue about what rights this human life may have, but the argument is over about when it begins or what it is.

It is horrible enough that we have countenanced the wanton wholesale killing of the preborn. We are now on the dangerous threshold of offering them up like laboratory rats. It is time for President George W. Bush to declare and defend the God-given right to life of the most vulnerable and innocent members of the human race. It is time to give the preborn their full constitutional rights and protections.

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