Jun 23 2008 -
In one of our country’s most defining documents, our founding fathers stated very clearly that every person in our nation is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While most Americans are familiar with this famous passage from our Declaration of Independence, many forget the millions that have never been granted these rights due to abortion. It is estimated that nearly 50 million unborn children have been lost to abortion since 1973.
I have introduced legislation that would guard life by establishing personhood for the unborn, which would allow for their recognition and protection under our Constitution.
LIFE AT CONCEPTION
My legislation, The Life at Conception Act, declares that life begins at conception – something that most Americans believe and that science has long supported. Rather than attempting to amend the Constitution, which is a much more difficult process, my legislation addresses the question of when life begins, an issue the Supreme Court left unresolved in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Specifically, the legislation declares the unborn to be “persons” under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
In ruling on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court refused to answer the question of when life begins, leaving the door open for Congress to declare legislatively that life begins at the moment of conception. In their decision, the court acknowledged that “if this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case [i.e., “Roe”], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.” To date, I have obtained twelve Senate cosponsors for this bill, a number that provides a solid foundation upon which to speak about this important issue as my colleagues and I try to advance this measure.
PROTECTING THE UNBORN
Protecting the unborn in order to uphold and honor the sanctity of life is something that is deeply rooted in my beliefs. When I served in the Mississippi State Senate, I authored the legislation that gave Mississippi the toughest restrictions on abortion in the country.
During my thirteen years in the U.S. House, I had the opportunity to continue backing legislation that respects life. I was a strong supporter of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, legislation that made it a separate crime to kill or harm an unborn child during an assault on the mother, and was glad to see this legislation signed into law. I also supported legislation that banned partial-birth abortions, and was one of 77 members of Congress to file a brief with the Supreme Court urging them to uphold the ban after a pro-abortion group challenged the law. Thankfully, the court upheld the ban last year and it remains law.
THE ROAD AHEAD
In its Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court virtually erased many laws prohibiting abortion. Since then, our country has made small steps forward towards overturning Roe v. Wade, but there is still more work ahead. In the Senate, I will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn.