The Pro-Abortion Crowd Wants To Pretend That Infanticide Is A Constitutional Right 

We know that babies in the womb are human, and we also know they’re alive.

Woodman. DailyWire+.

This is the first part of a speech delivered by Michael Knowles at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

For most of American history, the intentional killing of unborn babies was illegal. From the colonial period through the middle of the nineteenth century, when abortion was surgically impossible and chemically dubious, it was not a major public issue. In that era — obviously long before ultrasounds — people did not know exactly when or how conception occurred, outside of the basics. Inasmuch as they did know, and in so far as it was addressed by the law, abortion was outlawed.

By the turn of the twentieth century, abortion was a felony in every state. The legal distinction between early abortions and later-term abortions also began to disappear as scientists came to understand that the first movement of the unborn baby — known as quickening — did not represent a particularly significant moment in the development of the baby.

One can understand why earlier generations might have thought that “quickening” would be morally and legally significant. But scientific advancements revealed details about human physical development that thinkers such as Aristotle simply would not have been able to know. And as our understanding of when and how conception occurs changed, our laws changed to reflect it. Simple enough.

A couple of decades into the twentieth century, with the rise of the eugenics movement that sought to exterminate disfavored populations such as the mentally handicapped and certain racial minorities, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which became Planned Parenthood a couple decades later.

By the late 1960s, after decades of activism, the pro-abortion movement successfully decriminalized abortion in certain limited cases — rape, incest, threat to the health of the mother — in one state: Colorado. Several states soon followed. By the early 1970s, some states, such as New York, had gone further, legalizing abortion all the way up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Then in 1973, the Supreme Court discovered a previously unidentified constitutional “right” to murder babies. 

That supposed “right” seems to have eluded the men who wrote the Constitution, as well as the nine generations of Americans that lived between ratification and Roe v. Wade. Perhaps the abortion clause of the Constitution was written in some secret code known only to twentieth-century liberals.

Whatever the case, in 1973, the Court pretended that the Constitution granted a right to kill babies through abortion. 19 years later, as the pro-life movement picked up steam and Roe began to crumble under its own incoherence, the Court revisited the question in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

WATCH: The Michael Knowles Show

In Casey, the Court made an even stranger ruling than it had in Roe, deciding that the practical outcome of Roe — the license to kill unborn babies in the first trimester, sometimes in the second, and usually not in the third — was sound, but that the reasoning around the decision was not sound. So the Court threw out Roe’s trimester system and changed the reasoning to argue that women had a right to kill their kids until the baby was “viable,” after which point they might still kill their kids, but it depended on state law. Maybe. 

The Casey decision changed some of the other constitutional reasoning — or lack thereof — from Roe as well. But the practical implications — now even more legally and constitutionally preposterous — remained unchanged until the Dobbs decision a couple years ago, which happily overturned Roe and Casey and returned our law and jurisprudence to what had been the norm for most of American history, when abortion was not considered a right and usually was simply outlawed.

That is about three centuries of American abortion law in under ten paragraphs, all of which I mention because the pro-abortion crowd wants to pretend that infanticide is a constitutional right deeply embedded in the American political tradition. And it just simply isn’t. In fact, the license to abortion is an aberration that even its most significant defenders have admitted is legally dubious. Very sus.

Justice Harry Blackmun, the most liberal justice on the Court who wrote the majority decision in Roe v. Wade, admitted in writing that the Court’s logic was more or less gobbledegook. While some justices favored the viability standard that came to be adopted in Casey, Justice Blackmun pointed out the pointlessness of quibbling over the precise moment at which infanticide would be acceptable. “You will observe,” Blackmun wrote, “that I have concluded that the end of the first trimester is critical. This is arbitrary, but perhaps any other selected point, such as quickening or viability, is equally arbitrary.”

Of course it’s arbitrary, as must be any selected point other than conception, which by definition marks the beginning of the individual human life. Some of the sillier abortion advocates today will sometimes claim that a baby in the womb does not constitute a “human life.” They will say, “It isn’t a baby; it’s a fetus” — unaware that the word fetus is just the Latin word for “offspring” — in this case, the offspring of two human beings, also known as a baby.

Or they’ll say that the baby, at an early stage of development, isn’t a baby but rather a “zygote” or a “blastula.” They make the baby sound like a Pokemon or something. But of course, we have all sorts of different terms to denote different stages of human development: zygote, blastula, embryo, fetus, baby, infant, toddler, kid, teen, adult, old man, geezer. All the stages are distinct. Teens can do some things that babies can’t — like speak. Adults can do some things that teens can’t — like control themselves. Sometimes. Geezers, oddly enough, start to act like toddlers again. (At the extremes, human development starts to look a bit more circular.) But in any case, no particular stage between the beginning and the end either confers or negates our humanity. We’re human the whole time.

We know that babies in the womb are human because they have human parents. If a woman gave birth to a platypus, that would be a cause for great concern. If I were the husband, I would have questions. But it wouldn’t happen because that’s not how reproduction works. We know that babies in the womb are human, and we also know they’re alive. We know they’re alive because they exhibit the characteristics of life: cellular organization, growth, the potential to reproduce, adaptation, etc. All the characteristics you learned in middle school science class.

The baby in the womb is obviously human, just as the baby in the womb is obviously alive. If the baby were not alive, there would be no cause for an abortion. There would be nothing to terminate. Liberals sometimes try to deny these facts or at least to soften them with euphemisms. They do so because, even as they advocate for abortion, they recognize its moral repugnance. They don’t want to admit what everyone with even a modicum of sense and honesty knows, which is that abortion is a type of homicide.

The feminist writer Naomi Wolf discussed this fact bluntly in the mid-‘90s. She wrote, “Abortion should be legal; it is sometimes even necessary. Sometimes the mother must be able to decide that the fetus, in its full humanity, must die.” Wolf was wrong, obviously, in her conclusion, but at least she was honest. Abortion, by definition, ends a human life.

Already have an account?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  The Pro-Abortion Crowd Wants To Pretend That Infanticide Is A Constitutional Right