Are These Truths Self-Evident?

On Friday, I brought you the story of Herman Cain’s confusing stance on abortion.  Some of you disagreed with my position on this, citing the notion of federalism as the “out.”  I’m sorry to say that I can’t help but disagree with anybody who tries to evade this issue by pointing to federalism as their escape mechanism.  Federalism is certainly an important principle in our constitutional republic that has been denigrated and dismissed too easily by statists, but in this instance, it’s a concept out of place by virtue of the question at hand.  By the application of federalism that some of you have advanced, I’m confused as to how you see any federal role anywhere in safeguarding any liberty of any American at any time under any circumstances.  Frankly, it’s an absurd claim, and it’s time we debunk it right here, and right now.

Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, sets forth the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of its citizens as the great pursuit and ultimate object of our government.  Our framers were so concerned that they decided to enshrine certain rights within the Constitution in specific language in what was ultimately adopted as our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our federal constitution.  I would like it very much if one of the advocates of federalism would explain to me how it is that our federal government protects the freedom of speech, the press, religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to individual due process if the rights in question are subjected to any level of government outside the federal sphere.  Explain to me why it is that we have need of a federal murder statute, if murder is a crime to be handled by the states.  Explain why we have any protections of any sort, including voters’ rights, that supersede local or state laws in many, many instances.

The argument of federalism really has no place in this argument if you believe there is a right to life, and that life begins at conception.  If there is a right to life, that life gets all the same protections of law from the federal all the way down to the individual, otherwise, why bother with the concept of rights at the federal level at all?  Do not suggest to me that you do not want rights enforced at the local level of government by federal observance of these fundamental rights, else how do you support the rulings of the court that have held that the gun laws of Chicago are too restrictive of the right to keep and bear arms, and are a de facto prohibition.  In this case, most of you cry out for the protection of your rights by the federal establishment.  How do you now suggest that federal authority has no effective reach, in the case of abortion?  This is a preposterous dichotomy that does not withstand even momentary consideration.

There were a few who rightly suggested that this is about when “person-hood” begins, and this is the more effective argument.  If one becomes a “person” under the law only at birth, then no form of abortion can be restricted on any grounds.  To effect this discontinuity, however, you would have to define the legal standard of “person-hood” as beginning at conception.  My point to you is that whether you agree with abortion or not, it’s perfectly useless for the debate to focus on any other object but this one.  If abortion is to be illegal, it must be specified that rights commence not at birth, but at conception.  To obfuscate the matter by putting it off to an issue of federalism has already failed miserably: How many state laws restricting abortion have been overturned by the federal judiciary on the basis that a woman’s right to abort falls under the federal protection of some elusive and illusory right to privacy not mentioned in the constitution?

If the question of abortion is to be attacked in a sincere way, it must be confronted on the issue of when rights commence.  Our constitution is silent on the matter, however, our Declaration of Independence speaks to the matter:

“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.”

Now, armed with that piece, again consider this one:

“…the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”

Once more, if the laws of nature are the point of reference, what does nature tell us about when life commences? A human being becomes an individual at conception, with his own unique genetic code, and from that moment forth, it’s dictated by nature.

You can argue about this indefinitely, but my point to you is that our founders understood that nature dictates the rights of all mankind, and that government exists only to guarantee those rights. They held that God was the author of nature, and in that sense, all rights are therefore God-given, but in any case, as a matter of pure logic, the rights of individuals must be an a priori prerequisite to existence as a person.  If that is the case, the only argument to have is this one.  What I’m saying to you is that this business about Federalism with respect to individual rights negates the entire purpose of the federal government.  If the federal government has no place in the matter of the guarantee of individual rights, then there can be no legitimate purpose to the federal government in any sense.  Again, referencing the Declaration of Independence:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

In this single line is the sole legitimate purpose of our federal government, and indeed any government.  Those of you who would suppose yourselves conservative or libertarian ought to know this well.  To then argue that the abortion debate can be dispensed with by simply passing it off to a lower level of government under the aegis of federalism is to ignore what is the entire purpose of any government, and I simply won’t hear of it.  Not on this site.

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