How Could Jefferson Have Known?
In our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson drew upon the life experiences and scholarship of the ages by declaring “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” inalienable rights granted to man by their creator. His words were actually wiser than he was since he never freed his own slaves. His words have stood the test of time for no document since has been able to lay out the case for the rights granted to man that no man may take away.
Over 200 years have passed since Jefferson penned those words. It is obvious his words showed more wisdom than the abolitionists of the 19th century and Civil Rights Pioneers of the 20th century could have known. How could he have known that these rights would take on new meaning with the advances in medicine, allowing us to extend life and see life growing in the womb? The womb is life, and is protected as much as life outside by the design of the Creator.
However, once man decides that he wants to do something, he will cross Heaven (maybe not) and Earth to craft an ethic that allows, even demands that a baby growing in a womb is not really life. He has renamed it a fetus, or tissue. He has affirmed that this “tissue” should not ruin a woman’s opportunities or “shackle” her to a life of poverty. Ethicists have struggled to find the nuances in the sanctity of life by using science, modern testing, and arguments about the “life” and “health” of the mother.
The right to “Life” is not nuanced. Jefferson may not have meant life “in the womb” when he wrote those words. But his genius shines forth as a beacon across the centuries. We have no excuse. He could not see into the womb. We can. Life is an inalienable right and deserves protection. No living man should be at risk from his fellow man. Nor should any living baby whether 10 weeks or 10 minutes.