Baby Chloe was born on April 30, 2007, about four weeks premature. Because her lungs had not fully developed, Chloe had some difficulty breathing on her own. Thanks to prompt medical attention and the loving care of her proud parents, Chloe was eventually released from the hospital safe and healthy.
As you can see, her eyes were closed for her first picture, but that is because this snapshot was taken when she was only 28 weeks old and still in the womb. Advanced ultrasound technology allowed her mom and dad to see Chloe’s tiny face almost two months before she was born.
Only 12 days before her birth the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart that babies like little Chloe would never have to endure the cruel and inhumane procedure of partial-birth abortion. Abortion itself had been declared to be legal by the Supreme Court in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, and since that time over 45 million children have been killed before birth. In one particularly outrageous procedure known as partial-birth abortion, the baby is partially delivered feet first and then a sharp instrument is stuck into the back of the child’s skull and the brains removed by a suction device. In some cases, the child’s skull is simply crushed with forceps before the lifeless body is removed from the mother.
A great majority of Americans are opposed to such a barbaric act, which led Congress to pass the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003. Nevertheless, in three separate cases, federal district courts promptly declared the Act to be unconstitutional. Two of those cases reached the Supreme Court, and the Court properly recognized the right of Congress to prohibit this gruesome procedure.
I applaud the Court for ruling that partial-birth abortion is no longer legal, but its reasoning in the case leaves much to be desired. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia said it best when they noted in a separate opinion that while the majority opinion did an adequate job of applying the Court’s current jurisprudence, that “jurisprudence, including … Roe v. Wade … has no basis in the Constitution.” (Emphasis mine) Until the Court rules that the taking of the life of an unborn baby is not a constitutional right and overturns Roe, babies like Chloe will still be in danger.
While pro-life advocates have reason to celebrate the victory in Carhart, the battle is not over. Because the Court conceded in its opinion that “the government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life” and “may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman,” there are good signs that more laws restricting abortion will be upheld by the Court.
Pro-life advocates and state legislators have somewhat of an open door for more laws restricting and regulating abortion. They may pursue informed-consent laws that require a woman seeking an abortion to be given detailed information about the abortion procedure, advised of the potentially dangerous physical and emotional side effects of killing her child, and even informed of other alternatives to abortion. Legislators may also be encouraged to require minors to get parental consent for an abortion. And the new ultrasound technology may inspire more lawmakers to require women to view pictures like that taken of Chloe before making a decision to take the life of their child.
While the preservation of the lives of some unborn children is a step in the right direction, we cannot rest until the lives of all unborn children are protected. After all, we would never think of telling a thief in our house that he could take only some of our goods but not others – we would stop him from taking anything at all! Our children, born and unborn, are of greater value than our possessions and deserve no less protection. The “profound respect for the life within the woman” the Supreme Court has now recognized should move state legislatures and even the United States Congress to ban abortions altogether.
Like abortion today, there was a time in America when slavery was thought by some to be proper, a time when the Supreme Court itself ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that slaves were mere property and not people or citizens. But that terrible decision was eventually overruled and slavery was abolished. The time has come for Roe v. Wade and abortion to meet the same fate.
Chloe’s parents never considered abortion, and I am very grateful for that. You see, Chloe is my first grandchild, and her mother, Heather, is my only daughter. The question of whether a baby should be killed in the womb is not just a legal issue, but also a moral one. And the answer is found in the tender, sleeping face of baby Chloe.
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