By guest blogger David Persyn
Over the course of the Republican primaries, we’ve seen some discussion about whether or not the issue of protecting life is a federal one, or whether it should be decided by the States. Many are failing to notice that this question has already been decided once in our country’s history.
The issue of slavery was made a “states rights” issue by the Dred Scott decision in the supreme court. Basically, it said that the states individually could decide who was a person. Without going into all of the details, including the bloodiest war in American history, I’ll point out that in the end, it was determined that personhood is, indeed, a federal issue.
Rick Santorum has correctly observed that the Constitution is the “how” document of our great nation, but the Declaration of Independence is the “why”. We have our amazing Constitution so that we might secure the G0d-endowed rights of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness mentioned in the Declaration. What some fail to realize, and as Rick Santorum has again correctly observed, is that these rights are hierarchical. Life is the “sine qua non” of rights. Dead people don’t need Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness. My pursuit of the latter two cannot infringe on someone else’s right to life. My pursuit of happiness can’t infringe on someone else’s liberty. In other words, life is the trump card in the deck of rights.
Slavery violated this hierarchy. It made one group of people’s pursuit of happiness higher than another group’s liberty, and, in many cases, life. A slaveowner could kill a slave with little or no consequence other than the loss of “property”. People instinctively know slavery is wrong – this is why it is so. The question was settled at the federal level because we have to have our rights secure wherever we go in our country. Enforcement may differ from state to state, but I can’t be deprived of rights without due process in any of them.
The unborn are the modern victims of a systematic failure nearly identical to the earlier failure to protect the God-given rights of people held in slavery. We may have incremental success in rectifying this on a state-to-state basis, but it doesn’t fix the problem. Until every human being (unique-from-parent DNA and metabolization being the definition) has been recognized as a person with inalienable, Creator-endowed rights, the American dream is going to have the potential of being a nightmare.