Thursday, December 29, 2011

Utah court gets it right on right to life

The Utah Supreme Court recently ruled that an unborn child qualifies as a minor and wrongful-death claims can be filed on behalf of a fetus who dies before birth.

The decision stemmed from a 2006 medical negligence lawsuit filed by a Utah County couple after their baby was stillborn.

A few other states have also extended liability for wrongful death of unborn babies, and some states are proposing ballot initiatives to recognize the legal personhood of a fetus.

I applaud the Utah court’s ruling. The recognition of a fetus as a person promotes the sanctity of life.

The crux of the pro-life argument is that life begins at conception and thus terminating a pregnancy is equivalent to ending a life.

Scriptures teach that a fetus in the womb is a living being who has a divinely ordained purpose. The prophet Isaiah said, “The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart.” The psalmist declared to God, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

From a biblical perspective, ending a life in the womb is unthinkable.

While the pro-life premise has scriptural backing — and the termination of a pregnancy violates the tenants of many faiths — opposition to abortion is not simply a religious issue. These recent decisions are giving the movement legal merit.

Abortion-rights advocates base their arguments on the right of women to dictate the course of their own lives. By opting to have an abortion, the woman elevates her right to choose over her child’s right to live.

Courts have asserted in several cases that children under a certain age suffer a legal disability because they are unable to make sound judgments. For this reason the government has an interest in protecting the well-being of minors. At times this may require infringing on the personal freedoms of adults. For example, the law mandates that parents secure their children in car seats while riding in vehicles. The protection of children from physical harm outweighs the parents’ right to do as they please in their own car.

If Utah and other states acknowledge the personhood of an unborn child, then it stands to reason that a fetus deserves the same legal protections as minors. Thus, the unborn child’s right to live should be safeguarded — even if it may violate a parent’s freedoms.

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