“A whole, separate, unique, living human being”

“Abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being”. With such a powerful and explicit stance on the sanctity of life in the womb, one would think these words would have come from a religious figure, a social leader in the pro-life movement, or some other position of prominence that is associated with the pro-life movement. These words came from no such person. These words came from our government.

Last Friday, a victory was once again claimed for the unborn when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a monumental decision. In this decision the three judge panel finally put to rest the legal controversy surrounding a 2005 provision of a South Dakotan law. The provision in question would have required abortion doctors to inform their patients of the before mentioned quote, that the mother has an “existing relationship with that unborn human being”, as well as the known medical causes of an abortion, which the law explicitly stated includes suicide.

The law was immediately challenged by Planned Parenthood and taken to court. As it went through the district court it was determined that requiring doctors to inform the patient of the known risks as well as telling the patient that the abortion will terminate a living human being was constitutionally acceptable, but the relationship and suicide clause of the law were not constitutional. Both parties were not happy with this decision, however, and the state of Dakota and Planned Parenthood both appealed the case.

In retrospect, Planned Parenthood should have been content with the decision they got in the district court, because things did not go their way in the appeals court. In its decision, the appeals court upheld that the clause which stated that an abortion killed a separate and unique human being, as well as the clause which stated the mother had an existing relationship with the baby. In the decision it partly upheld the medical risks clause, but the judges determined that, among the known risks, suicide was not medically proven to have an explicit connection with abortion but all the other unspecified risks should be conveyed from the doctor to the patient. The decision was clear and decided; the unborn baby is a living human being.

But what is not so clear is what this means for the unborn. We have the state of South Dakota proclaiming the unborn has life and the federal courts affirming that proclamation. But if abortion terminates life, how can abortion still exist? These two ideas, that of abortion and the life of the unborn, cannot coexist. And hopefully they will not. The language is clear, but the actions have to match it.

The unborn need more than words; they need protection. We can only pray that America starts to live by the words given to us by our own federal courts; “Abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being”.

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