The Department of Health and Human Services has published a draft of a new strategic plan that states in its introduction that life begins at conception.
The personhood of the unborn child is central to the abortion debate — as even the justice who wrote the landmark Roe v. Wade opinion has acknowledged — because, if established in law, it would nullify a “right” to abortion.
The largely overlooked HHS strategic plan for 2018-22 states the agency “accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.”
Bioethics specialist Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, wrote at National Review’s The Corner blog that while life “beginning at conception” is a “fact of basic biological science,” expect “the usual suspects to be furious about the proposal.”
A columnist for the Gawker Media website Jezebel who said the Trump administration “is following the standard, discriminatory conservative orthodoxy on women’s health” and blogger Dr. Jen Gunter were two examples of harsh critics of the new HHS language.
The draft strategic plan is open for public comment through Oct. 27.
Smith noted the proposed mission statement also indicates HHS is against assisted suicide.
The draft plan states a “core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death, but especially those individuals and populations facing or at high risk for economic and social well-being challenges, through effective human services.”
WND columnist Michael Brown recalled that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton upset both sides of the abortion debate by declaring “the unborn person does not have constitutional rights” while acknowledging the personhood of the unborn.
Diana Arellano, community engagement manager for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, charged Clinton “stigmatizes abortion.”
“She calls a fetus an ‘unborn child’ and calls for later-term restrictions,” Arellano said.
Guidelines issued by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Brown pointed out, “discourage the use of terms such as ‘baby,’ ‘dead fetus,’ ‘unborn baby’ and ‘unborn child’ when discussing abortion, instead recommending ’embryo,’ ‘fetus’ and ‘the pregnancy.'”
Pro-life advocates, on the other hand, criticized Clinton for insisting that while a fetus is an unborn child, it doesn’t have any rights.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a strong pro-life advocate who chairs the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, said: “The analytical coldness with which [Clinton] dismissed rights of unborn children reveals a type of hardened core that shocks the conscience.”
The nationwide effort to establish state constitutional rights for unborn babies targets the foundation of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It’s based on Associate Justice Harry Blackmun’s acknowledgment in his majority opinion that the landmark case would collapse if “the fetus is a person,” because the unborn’s “right to life would then be guaranteed” by the Constitution.
“When does life begin?” A scene from the movie “Come What May” gives the simplest answer to the question of conception: