My reflections and musings on the struggle to leave a Christ-shaped impression on the world of law and public policy.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Yesterday I had the privilege to speak at Rally for Life 2012 at the Capitol Bell Tower in Richmond. This is what I said:

There are many mistruths surrounding House Bill 1, but here is the truth. This bill recognizes that life begins at conception and expresses an intention to protect that life to the fullest extent possible. While it does not affect abortion directly or challenge Roe v. Wade, it lays a strong foundation of legal sustainability for future pro-life efforts. House Bill 1 recognizes the very moment of conception—and not some arbitrary later date—as the time when basic rights accrue to a distinct human being.

As usual, opponents of this type of legislation engage in fear-mongering. They allege that House Bill 1 is just like personhood measures that have failed in other states. However, this is not Personhood Mississippi, and this is not Personhood Colorado. This is Science 101 and Basic Human Rights Virginia—an unborn child is a human being and nothing less! Since time immemorial, life has begun at conception!

Some politicians—even those who call themselves pro-life—have dismissed a life-at-conception bill as too radical, too extreme. They say we’re overreaching to try to codify this most basic human rights principle. Well, I say to them, “We are the people, and we’re here to speak truth to power. And we’re here because we’re ready to take back our government from lobbyists and politicians who think that way.” There is a time and a place for bargaining and compromise, but it is NOT over the issue of who is a human being and who isn’t. That is a non-negotiable because life does begin at conception.

At The Rutherford Institute, we have a motto. We say, “Speak Truth to Power.” So Governor McDonnell, please hear this: The pro-life movement is not some pack of dogs who will be thrown off the scent by specious concerns of constitutionality—concerns that the U.S. Supreme Court has already dismissed. Neither will we be content to be thrown a bone in the form of an alternative law that does not accomplish our long-term objectives. We are the voice of the unborn, and we will not rest until their humanity is fully recognized.

We need officials and organizations who will stand for the sanctity of human life. But friends, if we want these politicians to stand, WE must stand and lift our voices. We must insist that the simple recognition of the humanity of the unborn is never permitted to be played as a political bargaining chip. Some principles are too fundamental to be bargained. Life begins at conception.

Let me make one thing clear: House Bill 1 will not end abortion in Virginia, just as the Declaration of Independence, with its noble recognition of inalienable rights, did not end slavery. But just as those lofty words were the North Star that guided men to justice and liberty, so may the words of simple legislation steer our Commonwealth to justice for the unborn. And some day, I pray that certain unalienable rights will be recognized for all members of the human family. Life begins at conception.

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