Could this Obscure Survey Be the Tipping Point in the Abortion Debate?

Jul. 22, 2019
Bob Adelmann

Steven Andrew Jacobs, working on his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago last summer, published a survey that answered Associate Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun's query about when life begins. Wrote Blackmun in the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade in 1973:

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, in this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

Thanks to Ph.D. candidate Jacobs, Blackmun (now deceased) and his majority on the Supreme Court have their answer. According to Jacobs, 95 percent of 5,500 biologists – with specialties in such various fields as anatomy, biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics, and physiology – believe that "a human's life begins at fertilization."

More remarkable is that 89 to 97 percent of them believe it despite describing themselves as "very pro-choice," "very liberal," and "strong Democrats."

What if Blackmun and his majority were given a "mulligan" – a do-over – about abortion? The New York Times thinks it's just a matter of time, and wrote about how life, and abortion rates, would look onceRoe is overturned. Looking at a "post-Roe" world, the Times concluded that eight states with "trigger" laws would ban abortion immediately, while at least 13 more would probably ban it shortly thereafter. Looking at a study conducted by researchers from Middlebury College, the Guttmacher Institute, and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, the Times concluded that the America's abortion rate "would be at least 13 percent lower … 140,000 fewer abortions a year."

This conclusion was no cause for rejoicing by a long-time pro-life advocate, David French. A senior fellow at the National Review Institute, French asked: "Am I the only pro-lifer who is sobered rather than enthused by the idea that ending Roe would cut nationwide abortions by less than 13 percent?"

After looking carefully at the study, French concluded that already high abortion rates in east and west coast states would remain high, while those in southern and Midwestern states, already historically low, would be nearly unchanged. French wrote that abortion is not so much a legal problem as a cultural one: "These numbers highlight two central realities in the fight for life: cultural change precedes legal change, and cultural change is more potent (his emphasis) than legal change."

For example, says French, there were 202,000 fewer abortions in the United States in 2015 compared with 2006: "That's a greater reduction in the United States in 2015 than the one projected [by the Times] … and it was accomplished while Roe remained intact." Simply put, said French, "the pro-life movement is one of the most successful cultural (his emphasis again) movements in American history."

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Added French:

Win the culture, and you win the war, saving countless lives even before you can change a single law. Lose the culture, and not even a repealed Roe will end the terrible scourge of abortion in the United States.

That Blackmun and his majority got it wrong – fearfully and dreadfully wrong – has been clear to legal scholars such as Edward Whelan. He has called it, "an unconstitutional act of aggression by the Court against the political branches and the American people." Whelan, whose legal career included clerking for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and who now serves as president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, compares Roe to the Dred Scott decision inflicted on the American republic in 1857:

Roe is the Dred Scott of our age. Like few other Supreme Court cases in our nation's history, Roe is not merely patently wrong, but also fundamentally hostile to core precepts of American government and citizenship. Roe is a lawless power grab by the Supreme Court….

Roe imposes on all Americans a radical regime of unrestricted abortion for any reason all the way up to viability – and, under the predominant reading of sloppy language in Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton, essentially unrestricted … in the period from viability until birth….

Roe disenfranchises the millions and millions of patriotic American citizens who believe that the self-evident truth proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence – that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with an unalienable right to life – warrants significant government protection of the lives of unborn human beings.

There is another player in the abortion controversy, the Creator of life Himself. He has provably had a direct hand in the creation of the American republic, and has watched as His people have turned away from Him. He must grieve immensely at the murder of more than 60 million lives since Roe. And one must ask, just how much longer will the Giver and Creator of life wait until He withdraws His hand of protection from that republic, and lets its people suffer the consequences of their rejection of Him and His laws?

Evangelist Billy Graham asked for His forgiveness:

We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values … we have killed our unborn and called it "choice."

Search us, Oh God, and cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

With the revelation from an obscure Ph.D. candidate, that day of recovery of our faith and belief in the nation's right to life may be closer. One can hope. And pray.



Biologists' Consensus on 'When Life Begins'

Biologists' Consensus on 'When Life Begins' – the study in PDF

The New York Times: Where Roe v. Wade Has the Biggest Effect In a Post-Roe World, Pro-Lifers Would Still Have a Lot of Work Left to Do

Background on David French Senate Testimony on Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade

Background on Justice Blackmun

Background on Edward Whelan

Background on the Dred Scott decision

Background on Doe v. Bolton

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