Something exciting and hopeful happened this past Thursday: a federal judge in South Dakota ruled that doctors and abortionists in that state must tell women seeking abortions that the procedure terminates the life of a human being.
The ruling was issued in a lawsuit filed several years ago by Planned Parenthood to enjoin the enforcement of an informed consent law passed by the South Dakota legislature, which required the following matters to be disclosed to women seeking an abortion
• That the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;
• That the pregnant woman has an existing relationship with the unborn child, and the relationship is protected by the Constitution and the laws of South Dakota;
• That by having an abortion, the existing relationship and constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated; and
• That the abortion will cause the woman to be subject to significant risk factors, including depression and other psychological stress, and an increased risk of suicide (including suicidal thoughts)
Reportedly (I haven't yet been able to locate a copy of the court's order yet, if it's even been released), U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier upheld that part of the South Dakota law requiring women to be told that abortion ends a human life, reasoning that such a statement can be expressed and interpreted in a biological rather than an ideological sense. However, the judge held unconstitutional provisions of the law requiring disclosure that an abortion increases the likelihood of suicide and that the mother has an existing relationship with the fetus.
The decision has been acclaimed as a victory for a woman's right to know the consequences of an abortion procedure, and as a devastating blow (see here and here) to the main pillar supporting Roe v. Wade. I'm not aware of any other federal judge or judicial panel making a substantive determination, as here, that human life begins at conception. Could this be where science and faith begin to intersect and undermine the narcissistic, nihilistic, anti-life ideology undergirding today's depraved secular culture? Could it be the seed of ultimate recognition by our legal system that unborn children are human beings with constitutional rights to life and due process? If so, abortion defenders may rue the day that they took this matter out of the hands of the several states, where it was determined before Roe v. Wade, and made it a federal constitutional issue.
It took hundreds of years and a civil war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives before people of African descent won nationwide legal recognition as human beings with fundamental legal rights. Let us pray that Judge Schreier's ruling is the opening salvo of the last battle in the quieter, but no less important, war to win such protection for the unborn.
Appeals by either side in this case are still a possibility, so we'll have to wait and see what fruit the judge's ruling bears. But it's such a heartening step in the right direction!