Many of us fundamentally disagree about when life begins. I believe that life begins at conception. There is no greater miracle we will witness during our time on Earth than our ability to create life. We must protect these miracles and advocate for their right to exist.
Whether or not you support the holding in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, we are well-acquainted with the pro-abortion movement that has followed. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court established a balancing test that weighs the mother's rights against the state's interests in protecting life to determine if terminating a pregnancy is permissible under criminal abortion laws.
The court spent a large portion of the decision weighing when the state can assert a compelling interest in the life of the fetus versus the life of the mother and is therefore able to regulate abortion decisions. The court noted that “with respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the ‘compelling’ point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications” (401 U.S. 113, 163).
While this test allows for a woman’s ability to have an abortion up to the point of viability without interference of the state, it clearly establishes the state’s interests in fetal life. This test was later affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 and has been the law of the land ever since.
While I clearly and unequivocally believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned — and I believe that is possible in the coming years — we cannot cede what little ground we hold to protect the lives of the unborn. Now, more than ever, the rule of law must prevail.
Recently, New York passed a law allowing for third-trimester abortions, essentially abdicating their interest in the life of the child. Virginia has pending legislation that would allow the same.
While the governor of Virginia has claimed that his statements have been taken out of context, he is on record supporting the proposed law and saying that it allows for a full-term child to be born, and THEN the parent can make a decision to end the child’s life.
While those who support the legislation have attempted to justify these laws as merciful to both the parent and child, this is and should be an alarming moment in our nation's history. Euthanizing a living, breathing child outside of the womb should shock our collective conscience regardless of political party.
While I believe that we are on the wrong side of history with where things stand under Roe v. Wade, this has gone too far. We have to defend the innocent unborn lives of future generations on all fronts — and this has to happen on both the state and federal levels.
Just last week, I proudly joined dozens of my Republican colleagues in introducing the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This critical piece of legislation would ensure that any infant who survives an abortion would receive the same medical treatment as any other newborn baby.
If we cannot come together in this moment to fight to hold the precious little ground we have, then where are we as a nation? This is bigger than politics. We are fighting for the soul of our country.
William Timmons is the U.S. representative for South Carolina’s Fourth Congressional District.