The National Abortion Federation(NAF) has said that we need Supreme Court justices who will honor established precedent meaning that the abortion decision, Roe v. Wade, should never be overturned. National Abortion Federation, “We Need a Supreme Court Justice Who Will Honor Established Precedent.” July 9, 2018. NAF Blog, https://prochoice.org/need-supreme-court-justice-will-honor-established-precedent/. Those that espouse a duty to honor abortion precedent are mistaken and hypocritical. When abortion was legalized, the Roe court abandoned long held legal precedent that protected unborn life to the celebration of abortion advocates like NAF. What about honoring legal precedent? I see a double standard. There is nothing wrong with upsetting established precedent if the precedent is morally wrong.
History is a great teacher, though very few pay attention to the lessons that can and should be learned from it. The statement about honoring precedent by NAF echoes a similar argument America heard back in the 1800s. When the moral issue of slavery was tearing apart our country, slavery proponents argued that it needed to remain legal, honoring the precedent set in the Dredd Scott decision. I doubt any person in NAF today would say it was wrong for anti-slavery advocates to upset established legal precedent founded in Dredd Scott.
The laws back in the South effectively treated African-Americans as subhuman. It was okay to abuse them, enslave them, deprive them of their rights, and suppress their efforts for equality because after, all, they were “lesser” than whites.
We have a similar law today. The unborn are considered a subhuman class. It is okay to abuse them, to murder them, and to take away their right to live because, after all, they are “lesser” than born humans. This kind of thinking and reasoning is wrong and evil. People that are different than us are not subhuman. Just like skin color does not make someone less human, someone’s size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency also does not make someone less human. The greatest injustices in history were considered by many people at the time to be good, moral aspects of culture. But future generations looked back and rightly found those social institutions like slavery to be wrong. Likewise, future generations will look back and condemn abortion as a gross moral evil that was permitted to flourish for far too long because it was faithfully advocated as a cultural necessity. When are we going to learn?
The argument that appeals to precedent being established is a bad one. It doesn’t matter how established a law or Supreme Court decision is. If it is a bad law that infringes on human rights, then it should be overturned. Precedent has nothing to do with it. Slavery was precedent and was established through many laws in the South. That in no way made it something good that should have been protected and kept legal. When current laws support injustice it is our moral obligation to stand against those laws. Let us do everything we can to change them so that justice and goodness are promoted for every person from the womb to the nursing home.
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