By Jim Sedlak
Forty-five years ago, the United States Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, thrust abortion on the American public in the decision known as Roe v. Wade. That decision has been read and reread by thousands of people over the years and many have noted the fact that the court refused to make a statement on when the life of every human being begins. In fact, the court specifically said that was a question it would not answer. It did say that, if it is ever determined by Congress that every human being’s life begins at conception, then the right to life of that human being would supersede the woman’s right to abortion.
The court left it to Congress to make that determination. Congress has not yet done so.
However, in Congress today there exist two bills that would do just that. One is good and the other not so much. The problem is that the two bills carry the same title, but different numbers.
Let’s first look at the good bill that, if passed and signed into law, could end abortion-on-demand in the United States.
This bill is in the House of Representatives and is entitled House Bill 681. It is called the Life at Conception Act. The actual relevant wording of the bill states: “To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of the Congress . . . the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. However, nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.”
The bill then defines what is meant by the terms “human person” and “human being”: “For purposes of this Act: (1) HUMAN PERSON; HUMAN BEING.—The terms ‘human person’ and ‘human being’ include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.”
This is a straightforward bill that simply declares that every human being’s life begins at its very beginning. If enacted by Congress, it would effectively make the Roe v. Wade decision null and void.
HB 681 was introduced in the House by Rep. Alexander Mooney (R-WV) and has 146 cosponsors. That means one-third of the House already supports the bill, and, if we can get 72 more votes out of the remaining 289 representatives, the bill can pass the House. Surely, if every pro-life group made this a priority, we could get this bill passed very quickly.
Now for the other bill.
The bill in the Senate is Senate Bill S.231. It is called the Life at Conception Act of 2017. The actual relevant wording of the bill states: “To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of Congress . . . the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child, a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.”
The bill then defines what is meant by the terms “human person” and "human being": “In this Act: (1) HUMAN PERSON; HUMAN BEING.—The terms ‘human person’ and ‘human being’ include each member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization or cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.”
This bill is almost the same as the House bill but includes references to allowing in vitro fertilization and birth control that prevents fertilization. Since the bill does not define the terms “birth control,” “fertilization” or “in vitro fertilization,” these inclusions leave the bill open to interpretation by the courts. The intention of the bill is to define when every human being’s life begins. It can do that very effectively without the inclusion of these statements on IVF or birth control.
It also leaves the definitions open to random redefinitions by medical organizations for political reasons. The history of the birth control movement shows the real dangers of undefined terms and redefined terms. When the abortion pill was first introduced and approved by the FDA in 1960, scientists knew that it acted some of the time as an abortifacient—killing a child after fertilization by preventing implantation. In 1965, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued Terminology Bulletin #1 that arbitrarily redefined “conception” as implantation in the womb (5-7 days after fertilization). Then it defined pregnancy as “beginning at implantation” (the new conception), and “abortion” as terminating a pregnancy.
Thus, in the stroke of a pen, the pill was changed from being an abortifacient to being a contraceptive. It still kills babies in the womb, but that is not called an abortion for political reasons.
The Senate Life at Conception Act (S.231) has a lot less support than the House bill. It was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and has just 11 cosponsors.
What we now need is for the pro-life community to work together to push H.B. 681 in the House. Then we need to have Senate sponsors of S.231 amend the bill to match the House version and work to get that passed.
The babies have waited 45 years. HB 681 is there today to end the slaughter. Let’s get it done in 2018.
Jim Sedlak is vice president of American Life League, founder of STOPP International, and host of a weekly talk show on the Radio Maria Network.