Monday, June 16, 2008

Life Locke

The abortion debate has dominated our nation for forty years. Yet, if we understand our own intellectual history, this is a slam dunk. Our nation was founded upon pro-life principles.

Much of our intellectual foundation was laid out by political theorist John Locke (1632-1702). Locke explained that human beings are given, by God, the rights to life, liberty, and property. But when you boil it down, Locke really only believed in the right to life. All other rights are simply corollaries to the right to life. The right to life trumps all other rights. One has to have the right to liberty, so that one could relocate to protect one's life in the case of natural disaster, war, or famine. One had to have the right to property, which for Locke means the fruit of one's labor, in order to sustain one's life.

Justice Harry Blackmun asserted that the constitution granted women a right to privacy which therefore meant that the government could not insert itself into her decision to have an abortion. Many judicial theorists have argued that the constitution does not grant a right to privacy. It certainly does not explicitly grant such a right. But even if it did grant an expectant mother the right to privacy, their child's right to life would trump it. The right to life stands above all other rights. This is the basic understanding of our founders, who were clearly students of John Locke. After all, they even paraphrase Locke in the Declaration of Independence.


Kari said...

Is the right of privacy even addressed in our constitution? I can't understand how anyone can deny that the unborn isn't just a smaller child, with all the technology that has been developed through the years since Roe v Wade. We live in a different world, at least as far as seeing who we are dealing with in the uterus. How can anyone that sees it deny it?

Walt's World of Religion and Politics said...

You are certainly right in terms of the technology we have today. But of course John Locke didn't have that technology. The point is something far deeper. Justice Blackmun was a notoriously poor jurist. It is clear that he didn't understand the philosophical underpinnings of the constitution. Even without the modern untrasound, the right to life should be a slam dunk.