The Right to Life Act

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution includes among its provisions that no State shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." I have no doubt that the unborn enjoy these constitutional rights. However, the Supreme Court, in its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, tragically disagreed. As you know, Roe v. Wade was the landmark case in which the state of Texas was challenged for invoking the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of life as a justification for the state's anti-abortion statute.

In rejecting the state of Texas' justification, the Supreme Court refused to decide when human life begins and therefore found nothing to indicate that the unborn are persons protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Blackmun concluded that "the word person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn." This decision was based on the Court's self-confessed inability to determine when human life begins. The Court noted that a decision of when life begins is "sensitive and difficult," and that there is a "wide divergence of thinking" on it, and that the judiciary "is not in a position to speculate as to the answer." The Court went further by conceding that, "If the suggestion of personhood is established, the appellants' case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment." In this point, the Court is actually admitting that if personhood were to be established, then abortion would indeed be murder.

Because the Constitution gives Congress, as well as the courts, a role in enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment, it can easily be argued that we have the authority to determine when life begins. Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." This legislative authority recognizes the proper fact-finding and policy determination role of the Congress. As attorney Stephen H. Galebach has noted, "Resolving sensitive and difficult policy questions, deciding between conflicting interests, making speculative judgements where no judicial standards can offer guidance -- these are functions inherent in Congress' role and appropriate for Congress to perform." This power is most especially clear when these questions relate to the enforcement of rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. If Congress has a legitimate role in enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of life, which I believe it does, then Congress can and should resolve the fundamental issue of when life begins -- an issue which the Court has refused to address.

For these reasons, I have introduced the Right to Life Act (H.R. 1625). This legislation, requiring only a simple majority of the House and Senate for passage, recognizes the personhood of the unborn for the purpose of enforcing four important provisions in the Constitution: 1.) The due process clause (Sec. 1) of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving any person of life; 2.) Sec. 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which gives Congress the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this amendment; 3.) The due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, which concurrently prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life; and 4.) Article 1, Section 8, which gives Congress the power to make laws necessary and proper to enforce all powers in the Constitution. H.R. 1625 would effectively overturn Roe by prohibiting any state or federal law that denies the personhood of the unborn.

The Right to Life Act is currently being reviewed by the House Subcommittee on the Constitution. Please know that I will continue to support legislation that would protect the lives of our most innocent Americans -- the unborn.


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