Abortion and the U.S. Constitution

By Andy Kirchoff
“I’m personally against abortion, but the US Constitution guarantees the right of a woman to choose. I can’t enforce my beliefs on others.” Amongst the pro-choice political class in particular, this refrain enjoys a peculiar popularity. That so many politicians have successfully won office using this slogan is a testament to its viability with the American electorate at large. But can you imagine a politician saying this about any other political issue? For example, who would dare to say that they are “personally opposed” to slavery or homicide, but would never “force their beliefs on other people” by acting to make such practices illegal?
The absurdity of such a position is self-evident. No one who “personally opposes” murder of kindergartners would hesitate to utilize civil law in hopes of preventing it; yet a politician that embraces the “personally opposed, but…” mantra is specifically saying they wouldn’t act on such a belief regarding the murder of unborn children. The logical inconsistency is obvious.

Similarly, those who defend abortion on grounds that “the United States Constitution guarantees a woman’s right to abortion, so I can’t sign laws restricting that right” are also demonstrating a lack of moral conviction, if not total moral depravity. Roe V. Wade (the Supreme Court Decision that legalized abortion) doesn’t, in fact, guarantee a “woman’s right to abortion” per se; it merely states that, because an unborn child isn’t a citizen with constitutional rights. With a woman’s right to privacy having been established in Griswold vs. Connecticut in 1967,the Supreme Court ruled that this right to privacy thus included a right to terminating pregnancy.

By itself, this is unimportant, but when contrasted with the Dred Scott decision, the moral parallel becomes blatantly obvious. Scott vs. Sanford has been memorialized in US history as the case that brought about the civil war; by explicitly denying that blacks had citizenship rights under the Constitution, a “right to slavery” was thus recognized by the US government much the same way as a “right to choose” became a Constitutional right following Roe V. Wade. Had the Dred Scott case been accepted as sacrosanct by politicians of that era as Roe has in our contemporary political environment, slavery would never have been eradicated as it was.

Of course, the moral imperative of opposing an immoral public policy such as slavery is demonstrated quite easily in retrospect. It’s far more difficult to convince citizens (much less politicians) to support the right to life of a child in a society that oftentimes refuses to recognize it. Yet this is precisely what the institution of slavery was in early 17th-century America: to support abortion today on Constitutional grounds today in morally congruous to the position of a politician of the 17th century that opposed slavery, but refused to legislate the issue because of the Constitution. Politicians that support such an absurd political position deserve to be held accountable, and voters should know better than to be swayed by the sound-sounding rhetoric of a placid supporter of murder.


Court Blunders on Slavery and Abortion. National Right to Life Committee. http://www.nrlc.org/news/1999/NRL699/slave.html

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