We're the first people in the history of Earth with the wisdom, skill and technology to rescue a distressed infant alive from the womb just 21 weeks and six days into her gestation. Amillia Taylor was nine inches long -- about a man's handspan -- and weighed just 10 ounces, not quite as heavy as an adult human heart.
We spared no expense to save Amillia Taylor. That's the kind of people we really are. We protect and nurture the weak. We defend the defenseless. We speak for the downtrodden. We stretch our minds and bend technology in the service of salvation for persons like Amillia.
This is the true nature of our constitution as a people...and our Constitution, of the people, by the people, and for all of the people.
Today marks the 43rd anniversary of a Supreme Court ruling that reversed and erased a decade of civil rights gains, and created a new Constitutionally-defenseless class of persons with no voice before the bar of justice, no recourse under law.
The high court, on this day in 1973, twisted freedom's charter from a document designed to protect the People from their government, to a death warrant that set the government against some of the people, committing our nation to a ceaseless slaughter of innocents that would have horrified King Herod.
Roe v. Wade was akin to the court's ghastly, racist Dred Scott decision (1857), and more deadly in its consequences. At least Mr. Scott had his day in court, only to hear that he wasn't considered a U.S. citizen and thus had no standing to sue for his liberty, that his cause was beyond the reach of federal jurisdiction anyway, and that the 5th Amendment's "due process" clause had become his shackles rather than his bulwark of defense.
In Roe, the Supreme Court set its face -- and our Constitution -- against an aggrieved, oppressed class that's daily threatened with extermination. The 7-2 majority came down on the side of the exterminators. As in Dred Scott, so in Roe, the Court effectively decided that the victim has no standing, that her cause lies beyond the reach of the federal government, and that no "due process" even exists for these second-class humans.
The Constitution that day became not shackles, but a scimitar.
We, the People, have not only tolerated this egregious reversal of the entire intent of our founding document, but many of us have celebrated our federally protected "choice," as a glistening snake seems to revel in the sun after the shedding of so much dead skin.
The disproportionate toll of the forceps and scalpel falls on persons of color. The vast majority of those who wield the scimitar conceal in latex the lily-white hand that draws innocent blood. The loudest advocates and biggest donors to the cause live in gated, racially homogeneous communities. The best among them comfort themselves with the thought that they're saving millions of babies from growing up in the relative deprivation of black urban life or poverty, or both. It's better never to have lived, they reason, than to live among those people, that way.
Given the chance, their ivory-tower beneficence would have "blessed" others this way: Martin, Malcolm and Jesse; Thurgood, Condoleezza and Denzel.
If a person's character gets measured by how he treats "the least of these" -- the widow, the orphan and the homeless -- then what of a nation? Are we answerable in the high court of eternal justice for whistling past the clinic where two patients arrive but only one departs, as we drive our adorable daughters to gymnastics, our precious sons to soccer?
If you deny divinity, but assert ethical humanity in its place, are there no consequences in your naturalistic "circle of life" for a society that harvests its helpless infants, as a predator cat culls the calf from the herd? (This, of course, is unfair to the cat, who acts on instinct and needs to eat.)
Americans spilled a lagoon of blood to wash away the stain of the Dred Scott decision, yet the stain lingers still in the minds of many. Then, they fought man-to-man, with weapons of war, brother killing brother and each justifying the outrage in his own mind.
Now, the slaughter falls all on one side — parents killing children, and each justifying the outrage in order to sleep at night.
How much blood will yet spatter surgical gowns and pool on sterilized stainless steel before the rationalizing stops and the healing begins, so that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, "that the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the face of the Earth."