I was shocked to hear how and what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke this past week. Before I share what she said, let me give you the context in which she said it.
On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court declared its decision regarding the case of Roe v. Wade, when the highest court in the land ruled that individual state laws banning abortion were unconstitutional. From that point onward, abortion-on-demand was legalized in all 50 states.
It is staggering to think that, since 1973, 61 million humans and Americans have lost their life in the womb due to being aborted, or terminated, by their parents.
Abortion has been slowly losing support among Americans, especially in later months of a woman’s pregnancy. An AP-NORC poll earlier this year revealed that most Americans say abortion should be restricted after the first trimester. While polls showed that 61% believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester, only 34% in the second trimester and 19% in the third.
That is why legislatures in Texas, Mississippi and other states are reexamining their laws on life in the womb and drafting more restrictive laws against late-term abortions.
Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could roll back abortion nationwide and overturn Roe v. Wade: Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization).
NPR reported, “21 states are poised to ban or severely restrict abortion if ‘Roe v. Wade’ is overturned.” Eight states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin – still have unenforced pre-Roe abortion bans in their laws, which could be enforced if Roe were overturned.
But shouldn’t the states be able to wrestle with and decide such a critical issue as abortion? What’s the 10th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution about if it doesn’t apply here? It states: “any power that is not given to the federal government is given to the people of the states.”
Enter liberal Justice Sotomayor into the debate. Wednesday she clearly became upset and even political when she could see the writing on the wall that the highest court in the land could go against its precedent rulings by giving such (restrictive) power back to the states.
First, Sotomayor worried more about the Supreme Court’s political survivability than babies in the womb, as the Washington Post reported her questioning: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible.” She added that there were other sets of constitutional rights – including the Second Amendment – that others believe the court has misinterpreted. “If people actually believe that it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?” she asked.
Then, when discussing the viability and science of life in the womb, she had the audacity to compare the living baby in the womb with a brain-dead adult!
The Catholic News Agency (CAN) reported, “Sotomayor’s comments came on the heels of Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart’s argument that advances in medical science over the past 30 years have helped Americans grow in ‘knowledge and concern’ about whether the unborn child is ‘fully human,’ which are based in part on increased knowledge of the pain experienced by fetuses in the womb.”
As she rebutted Scott, Sotomayor appeared mad when she said: “Virtually every state defines a brain death as death. Yet, the literature is filled with episodes of people who are completely and utterly brain-dead responding to stimuli.”
“There’s about 40% of dead people who, if you touch their feet, the foot will recoil. There are spontaneous acts by dead-brain people. So I don’t think that a response to – by a fetus necessarily proves that there’s a sensation of pain or that there’s consciousness,” the justice said.
What?! I ask again, What?! I had to keep rereading her words because I couldn’t even believe they came out of her mouth, comparing a baby in the womb to a brain-dead adult regarding their ability to feel pain?
Immediate criticism of Sotomayor’s basic understand of science and human life filled the airways and internet, including from scholars in scientific and medical fields.
“To compare an unborn child to a brain-dead person or a corpse flouts science which tells us that at 15 weeks gestation, a baby’s organs are fully formed, her heart pumps 26 quarts of blood a day, and her lungs are already practicing drawing breath,” said Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., a radiology specialist with more than 20 years of experience.
Dr. Christie, who co-authored a science-based amicus brief presented to the Supreme Court in the Dobbs case, criticized the Supreme Court justice for her assertions, calling them “wholly ignorant of the tremendous scientific advances in fetal medicine.”
“As recently as last year, doctors in the Journal of Medical Ethics wrote, ‘Current neuroscientific evidence supports the possibility of fetal pain before the ‘consensus’ cutoff of 24 weeks’ and may be as early as 12 weeks,” Christie said.
With all respect, Justice Sotomayor is clearly and definitely no pro-kid Santa Claus! I wouldn’t want her coming down my chimney to be with or bless my kids and grandkids.
Beyond her hideous comparison of a baby in the womb to a brain-dead person, what’s even more startling for someone of her status is that she’s not even following science regarding a basic understanding of viable life and response in the womb.
Dr. Dianne Irving, a biochemist and biologist who is a professor at Georgetown University, wrote the following about the scientific evidence for human life in the womb:
- To begin with, scientifically something very radical occurs between the processes of gametogenesis and fertilization – the change from a simple part of one human being (i.e., a sperm) and a simple part of another human being (i.e., an oocyte – usually referred to as an “ovum” or “egg”), which simply possess “human life,” to a new, genetically unique, newly existing, individual, whole living human being (a single-cell embryonic human zygote).
That is, upon fertilization, parts of human beings have actually been transformed into something very different from what they were before; they have been changed into a single, whole human being. During the process of fertilization, the sperm and the oocyte cease to exist as such, and a new human being is produced.
To understand this, it should be remembered that each kind of living organism has a specific number and quality of chromosomes that are characteristic for each member of a species. (The number can vary only slightly if the organism is to survive.)
For example, the characteristic number of chromosomes for a member of the human species is forty-six (plus or minus, e.g., in human beings with Downs or Turner syndromes). Every somatic (or, body) cell in a human being has this characteristic number of chromosomes. Even the early germ cells contain forty-six chromosomes; it is only their mature forms – the sex gametes, or sperms and oocytes – which will later contain only twenty-three chromosomes each.
Sperms and oocytes are derived from primitive germ cells in the developing fetus by means of the process known as “gametogenesis.” Because each germ cell normally has 46 chromosomes, the process of “fertilization” cannot take place until the total number of chromosomes in each germ cell is cut in half. This is necessary so that after their fusion at fertilization the characteristic number of chromosomes in a single individual member of the human species (46) can be maintained.
To accurately see why a sperm or an oocyte are considered as only possessing human life, and not as living human beings themselves, one needs to look at the basic scientific facts involved in the processes of gametogenesis and of fertilization. It may help to keep in mind that the products of gametogenesis and fertilization are very different. The products of gametogenesis are mature sex gametes with only 23 instead of 46 chromosomes. The product of fertilization is a living human being with 46 chromosomes. Gametogenesis refers to the maturation of germ cells, resulting in gametes. Fertilization refers to the initiation of a new human being.
(For more proof about human life in the womb, I recommend starting with the article, “Scientific Evidence for the Personhood of Unborn Children,” by Dr. Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., University of Cambridge.)
Thomas Jefferson explained in the founding of our country that preserving human value and life was government’s primary role: “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
That is why Jefferson created and penned in his own hand the words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. …”
The right to life, liberty and happiness reminded me of Justice Samuel Alito’s wisdom last Wednesday, when he said during the Supreme Court proceedings: “The fetus has an interest in having a life. And that doesn’t change, does it, from the point before viability to the point after viability?”
That enduring human value and fight for life in the womb is echoed in the Bible in Psalm 139:13-14: “For You, God, created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s deliberations over abortion occurring during this Christmas season, it prompted me to ponder what a young teenage mother named Mary, who must have socially wrestled with her divine pregnancy out of wedlock, might have felt and thought if she had abortive rights in her day. I am certain of course that Mary would have never consider it with her deep Jewish devotion, but what about a fleeting thought in father Joseph or some other “embarrassed” family member in their small rural community?
Thank God that abortion was never an option for them. Where would Christmas, our world and my life be without Jesus?
(For those who are thinking of having an abortion or if you want to help someone who is thinking about it, please read this free e-copy of my friend Randy Alcorn’s small book, “ProChoice or ProLife: What Do Facts & Common Sense Tell Us?” You will also find help in Dr. James Dobson’s online article, “How to Help a Friend Who Wants an Abortion.” Further personal help and counseling can also be found HERE. )
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