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National Legal Summit
Created Equal: Reflections on the Unalienable Right to Life

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A Lifeless State of the Union

By Thomas A. Glessner, J.D.
February 12, 2007

Along with millions of other American citizens I anxiously sat in my living room the night of the State of the Union address waiting to hear words of assurance from President George Bush. The war in Iraq and the war on terror have brought the nation to a level of insecurity not seen since the Carter days and the Iranian hostage crisis. Public uneasiness with the president's handling of the war is reflected in his very low approval ratings in the public opinion polls.

The president was, in my view, serious and articulate in defining the nation's mission in Iraq and the grim consequences that would occur in the event of an American withdrawal. Clearly, President Bush understands the diabolical nature of the enemy we are fighting, and he knows what defeat at the hands of the Islamofascists would mean to the future of this country. Since the tragedy of 9/11 Mr. Bush has stood firm against these forces that would destroy this nation, and he has not backed away from confronting a great evil that has befallen the entire world.

I applaud the President's resolve to prevail in the current international conflict. However, I must express my disappointment with the President's failure to show the same resolve in another diabolical conflict in which America is currently involved. The cultural war over abortion and the sanctity of human life has been raging for over three decades. This is a conflict for the very soul of the nation. It is a battle of right versus wrong, life versus death, and good versus evil. The conflict is over our foundational belief system as to what it means to be human and why out of all of God's creation human beings are to have dominion.

With such at stake one would think that President Bush, a professing Christian, would place top priority in his speech in mentioning this cultural war and why the stakes in this battle are as high as the stakes in the war on terror. Yet, the State of the Union speech was lifeless as it failed to mention this ongoing struggle for the lives of millions.

After more than three decades of abortion on demand one might be tempted to believe that abortion is a fact of life and here to stay. Indeed, it would appear that many in the public square who are opposed to abortion have given up the battle and have thrown up their hands in defeat and despair. However, before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat perhaps we should stop to ponder the overwhelming casualties from this war and the dire consequences America has suffered because of her tolerance of abortion on demand.

In 1973 the United States Supreme Court opened the ultimate Pandora's Box with its decision of Roe v. Wade. Since this decision abortion has taken the lives of more than 46 million unborn children. Today in America abortion destroys the lives of 1.2 million unborn children every years, 4,000 per day and one every 25 seconds.

As disturbing as these abortion numbers are they do not, in fact, paint the complete picture of America's slide down a slippery slope that took one great European nation in the last century to the camps of Auschwitz. In Roe the Supreme Court said while unborn children might be human beings they are not "persons" under the Constitution. Therefore, according to the all-knowing and wise justices of the high court, since the Constitution only protects the lives of "persons" abortion — the taking of the lives of unborn human beings — is not prohibited. Further, according to the Court, an unspecified general right of privacy exists in the Constitution that gives liberty to a mother to decide to take the life of her unborn child without state prohibitions or interference. The Court went on to pronounce that unborn life could only be protected after viability — the point the child can live outside the womb albeit with artificial means. The reason the Court drew a line at viability is that it said that at this stage in pregnancy the child is capable of "meaningful life" outside the womb.

So now under the Roe decision only those capable of "meaningful life" are afforded constitutional protection. We must then ask the obvious. If unborn human beings are not protected under the law because their lives are not "meaningful" what about the infirm, the terminally ill, the comatose, the handicapped and the elderly? If humanity in and of itself is not sufficient to provide legal protection to a class of humans, i.e. the unborn, why should it be sufficient to provide legal protection to other classifications of humans? Who decides what lives are "meaningful" and thus, protected and what lives are not?

Indeed, the debate over euthanasia, assisted suicide, stem cell research and cloning has intensified over the years precisely because we have crossed the line legally in our definition of the nature of human life itself. The classical and traditional view taken from our Judeo-Christian heritage says that all human beings are made in the image of God and, as such, are afforded legal protection under the law. The new view, as stated by the Supreme Court in Roe, says that some human beings are not "persons" under the Constitution, do not have "meaningful lives" and thus, can be destroyed and manipulated for the selfish convenience of others.

Can you imagine if tomorrow's headlines reads "Four-Thousand Americans" killed in Iraq in Day Long Violence"? And then the next day and every preceding day thereafter the newspaper headlines read the same reporting 4,000 daily American casualties in the current war. What would the reaction of the American public be to such savagery? I don't believe that any church gathering would end without fervent prayer for the end of the killing. Yet, where are the voices crying out in our churches today over the wholesale slaughter of the innocent unborn of our nation? And where is the leadership from our elected officials, starting with President Bush, calling for a restoration of legal protection for those who cannot speak for themselves.

During his presidency President Bush has shown true leadership in defense of life. He has spoken out eloquently against the brutal act of partial-birth abortion. He has signed every prolife piece of legislation sent to his desk and he has appointed some brilliant justices to the Supreme Court who will undoubtedly vote for the protection of life when cases come before them in the future. However, more is needed if we are truly going to transform this nation into a culture of life. We need leadership that will continue to educate and inform the public about the issue and that will not back down from confrontation on the critical issues that will determine the ultimate outcome of this struggle. President Bush's State of the Union address failed to do this.

Victory in this ongoing war for the sanctity of human life requires courageous leadership. In the same way that he has stood against the terrorists who would destroy us President Bush needs to stand tall and lead the nation to a new day where a culture of life becomes the norm in every community in America. Timidity on this point from him and others in public life will only guarantee the continued slaughter of the innocents.

During the days of the Civil War and the battle against slavery President Lincoln reminded us that no nation could live half-slave and half-free. It was because of his courageous leadership and resolve to do the right thing that America ultimately ended the brutal institution of slavery.

In regards to abortion America today is half-slave and half-free. If we continue to destroy our posterity as we have over the last thirty years we cannot survive as a free nation. Only principled leadership from all levels of society — political, corporate, religious — will turn around the present anti-life tide in American culture today. Such leadership starts at the top with Mr. Bush.

Copyright © 2007 by Thomas A. Glessner. All rights reserved.

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