Crawling through the mud to find true meaning in a Pennsylvania Crusader’s Words

Posted by By at 25 January, at 12 : 52 PM Print

Scott Paterno

The recent flare up of hackles across the left and within the professional victim class over comments made by former Senator Rick Santorum regarding abortion, race, and the President show the shallowness of Rick’s opponents. In an interview, about abortion – the left “celebrated” Roe v. Wade’s 38th birthday  this past weekend – Rick made the factual claim that an embryo is a distinct (if dependent) human life, scientifically speaking.

This is hardly groundbreaking to anyone who has seen an ultra sound – at a mere 8 weeks you can see the formation of a distinct life. That does not mean it is a life under the law, something that has been debated for a lot longer than we all realize and a question whose answer – affirmative or negative – is loaded with meaning, emotions and responsibility.

Rick (and myself, I might add) answer that it should be a life under the law. It is not currently. Which was the issue Rick was addressing: we do not recognize this distinct entity as a full human life, much like African Americans were considered 3/5s of a man under the law until 1868. It was this paradox – a President who was not viewed as a man under the constitution 7 generations ago choosing legally to define the right to life of an unborn child – to which Rick was alluding.

I admit, when I first heard the comment out of context I assumed Rick was discussing the number of black children aborted in the wake of Roe v. Wade. But it was a more fundamental question than that – how can any of us legally define away the rights of a distinct human being?

I know the arguments from the anti-life crowd (hey, I’ll call you pro-choice when you call me pro-life and not anti-choice) – these are nothing more than dependent cells that can be removed at will under most circumstances within stated time frames. That is the legal standing of the unborn. There are legal arguments that you may legitimately make to support that position, even if I feel the foundations of those arguments are severely flawed.

But conversely it is legitimate to compare that legal standing – and the use of the Constitution to defend the same – to the 150 year-old arguments against emancipation and for counting slaves as 3/5s of a man. These were legal defenses of practices we later came to acknowledge were indefensible. A result that, someday, Senator Santorum, myself and a plurality of Americans would like to see happen with the aborting of unwanted children.

For in our minds the practice and the definition are equally indefensible.

(Santorum’s connection created a firestorm across the political aisle, read more about that by click on Rock The Capital.)


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Scott Paterno is an accomplished policy analyst and political consultant based in Hershey, PA. Mr. Paterno, never one to sit still, has practiced law, run for a house seat, and worked as lobbyist in Harrisburg and Washington. Paterno is Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Fund and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science. He is happily married with three children. - Email scottp

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