Whimping Out on When Life Begins

"New Jersey's Top Court Rejects Suit on Abortion" reported The New York Times today. Here's how the story begins:

NEWARK, Sept. 12 -- Because there is no consensus on the issue of when life begins, a doctor does not have to tell a woman considering an abortion that the procedure would result in % an existing human being," the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, rejecting a woman's arguments in a medical malpractice suit.

In choosing the lame nobody-knows-for-sure-when-life-begins line of reasoning in ruling, New Jersey justices took a page from the playbook of the U.S. Supreme Court justices who ruled on Roe and legalized abortion in 1973.

Before noting in the Roe ruling that "the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense," Justice Harry Blackmun wrote:

We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a positon to speculate as to the answer.

U.S. Supreme Court justices in the Blackmun court bear a heavy ethical burden for legalizing abortion without answering "the difficult question of when life begins." Their predecessors who dance around that question in rulings, as Jersey justices did, add more weight to thi esthical burden.

Like it or not, all Americans must bear it with them.

Some of us -- like Rosa Acuna who lost her lawsuit in New Jersey and wants her lawyer to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case on behalf of the unborn -- bear it better than others.

(c) 2007 Marybeth T. Hagan
Crossposting with http://www.mothermayibeborn.com




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