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Roe v. Wade at 40

At last week's signing of "executive actions" designed to combat gun violence in America, President Barack Obama, flanked by schoolchildren, said, "when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now."

There's no doubt that children, especially schoolchildren, are vulnerable to all kinds of threats, but are they "the most vulnerable," as the president claimed, or is there another category of human life that qualifies for that designation?

Forty years after a Supreme Court majority opened the door to legalized abortion nationwide, the number of aborted babies has reached roughly 55 million. Think of that. Fifty-five million potential what -- doctors, athletes, mothers and fathers who would add branches to family trees?

There are no new arguments about abortion, and most of us can probably recite the old ones by heart.

It's a woman's right. It's her body.

No, it's a separate life that is initially dependent on the woman for nourishment but is independent of her in that it is a separate human being.

Who will take care of the unwanted child if it is born? Meanwhile, adoptive parents wait desperately for a child to love.

If one adopts the utilitarian view, the 55 million aborted in the U.S. robbed America of potential taxpayers. Pro-choice liberals may have lost a good chunk of their political base, as well as a large revenue source.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is a pro-choice liberal. In a column last week about the availability of guns in America, Mr. Kristof wrote, "When I travel abroad and talk to foreigners about the American passion for guns, people sometimes express a conclusion that horrifies me: in America, life is cheap."

He doesn't say why he thinks foreigners believe life here is cheap, but let me try to explain it. I believe it begins with the killing of unborn babies. Once the value of life is diminished in the womb, it seems to be a short step to devaluing life at other stages, such as killing someone for their sneakers or gunning them down in the street for no reason.

If one wishes to stretch the point even further, add easy divorce, neglected children, out-of-wedlock babies (which is better than aborting them), spousal abuse, sex trafficking and pornography. All of these -- and more -- contribute to a cheapening of life and of what it means to be human.

For many, pleasing self and not wishing to sacrifice for another were hallmarks of the tumultuous '60s, which led to what's often called the "me" decade. The growing secularization of America has also contributed mightily to the cheapening of human life. If there is no Creator, who made us and endowed us with a right to live, and if we are mere evolutionary accidents without purpose, direction or destination, then we might as well eat, drink, and be merry -- and abort at will.

Sophisticated ultrasound technology didn't exist 40 years ago. Today, it gives pregnant women an opportunity to be fully informed about what it is they wish to terminate. According to the Guttmacher Institute, "Since the mid-1990s, several states have moved to make ultrasound part of abortion service provision." As of Jan. 1, it reports, "Six states mandate that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion ..." It is the ultimate empowerment tool. I have talked to many women over the last 30 years who've changed their minds about abortion and have given birth with no regrets, once they've seen their developing baby.

Mr. Kristof says that even if President Obama's "modest" gun control proposals reduced deaths by one-quarter, he calculates it could mean 7,500 lives saved a year.

Ultrasound, if made a requirement nationally, could save millions at a time when we have made life cheap.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. Readers may email him at tmseditors@tribune.com.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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