Late last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would be hearing a case that involves Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of gestation. Predictably, the abortion industry and their friends in the media went wild.
For almost half of a century, the United States has operated under the shackles of the Roe v. Wade decision. It is difficult to comprehend how little was known about fetal development in comparison to today.
After 1973, the year Roe was handed down, thirteen more years would elapse before two-dimensional ultrasound images would become widely available for pregnancies. The justices who handed down Roe made a decision in at least partial ignorance. At the time, relatively little could be observed about the how and when of life inside the womb.
But what was once uncertain is now known.
Scientific advances in technology have shown that babies in the womb develop a heartbeat at 6 weeks gestation and pain receptors at 7 ½ weeks. We know babies have fully developed hearts at 15 weeks – pumping 26 quarts of blood per day. We know they have arms and legs, fingers and toes with nails and developing fingerprints, fully formed noses and lips, eyelids and eyebrows. We know they can taste and make facial expressions, yawn, hiccup, swallow, and suck their thumbs.
We can even do surgery on a child while they’re in the womb.
If we can know this much about fetal development – and are able to perform surgery on a living baby before they emerge from the womb – we should be able to acknowledge that the scientific understanding (or lack thereof) that underpinned Roe is obsolete.
This is one more reason that Americans, through their state legislatures, introduced over 500 pro-life bills just this year. It’s why 80% of Americans reject abortion after the first three months of a pregnancy.
The science tells us that abortion is a heinous procedure enabled by an underinformed court precedent set in 1973. Court precedent made under faulty or incomplete scientific premises should be revised.
It is time for America to let science drive the change on this issue. Even Justice Harry Blackman, the author of the majority opinion in Roe, acknowledged that:
“if this suggestion of [fetal] personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] amendment.”
Society doesn’t give any man or woman the authority to choose to end an innocent person’s life or cause them pain outside the womb. Why, knowing what we know about what happens in child development, should we allow these children to be subjected to pain and death inside the womb?
Just as states had legitimate interests in ending slavery, so too do they have interest in ending the practice of abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court has the key to unlock that door, and we hope they choose to return that authority to the states by siding with Mississippi in this case.