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To the question, "Do premature U.S. citizens have constitutional rights?" the Senate just voted no after the House of Representatives, last fall, voted yes, both bodies almost entirely along party lines. The Pain-Capable Unborn Children Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, failed to earn the 60 votes needed, receiving a majority of 51 but nine short. Only three Democrats, Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Penn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin III (W. Va.), voted yes but that may have been because Trump won their states in 2016 and they are up for reelection this year. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), voted no with the Democrats.

There was no question where President Trump was on the issue: "Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence and that is the right to life," Trump added. "We are protecting the sanctity of life and the family as the foundation of our society." Prior to the vote, he said, "There is no reason why this should be a partisan issue ... I hope that my Democratic colleagues will not obstruct the Senate from taking up this bill."

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said, "I'm pleased ... to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain."

The House passed the measure the previous October, 237 to 189, on similar party lines. President Trump thereafter pushed for a vote in the Senate, banning abortions after 20 weeks when there is little question of the survivability of the baby outside the womb and most physicians felt that the human body inside did feel pain when aborted. To some degree, this measure was already in place in 43 states.

Trump's position on abortion is the strongest of any president since Ronald Reagan, who was the first to defend the unborn using the Declaration or Constitution. Reagan did so in his Proclamation of Personhood, Jan. 14, 1988, when he wrote, that the God-given right to life, identified in the Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right, extended to all humans whether born or not yet born. That the "right to life belongs equally to babies in the womb, babies born handicapped, and the elderly or infirm." He continued, "The right to exist, once existing, is defended in the Constitution under the Fifth and 14th Amendments, both declaring that "no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law." Article II, Section 1, Clause 8, requires that the president swear an oath "to preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution; and this includes protecting all persons without respect for their age.

Reagan ended his proclamation, saying, "I will take care that the Constitution and laws of the United States are faithfully executed for the protection of America's unborn children. Upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God."

Since Roe V. Wade, we have aborted more than 60 million babies in the U.S. -- more than 78,000 already this year and nearly 4,000 of those after 16-weeks gestation ( A review of abortion pictures on the Internet show tiny human body parts separated from the whole body, but these are depictions largely prior to 20-weeks of gestation when a scalpel was used to cut up the body, making it easier to expel.

To be clear that we are intentionally killing premature humans, the law of the land regarding partial-birth abortion, 18 U.S. Code 1531, reads: "The term 'partial-birth abortion' means an abortion in which the person performing the abortion -- (A) deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother or, in the case of breech presentation any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and (B) performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus."

In practice, and depicted graphically on the Internet, a physician inserts forceps into the womb, guided by ultrasound, and grabs an infant leg, pulling it into the birth canal and out. When all but the head is outside the mother's body, scissors are used to make a hole in the back of the infant's head large enough to insert a tube, sucking out the brains and collapsing the skull, killing what in a few seconds would be a living baby. The breach method is favored because the baby is killed in the womb rather than outside, which feels too much like murder.

Although small, it is clearly a human, not just tissue of an unfeeling fetus. And if it has constitutional rights five seconds after birth, how could it not have them five seconds before?

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are supposed to apply to all, including citizens almost born, and Reagan and Trump defining partial birth death as unconstitutional, even evil, is justified. When we finally get justices that use the Constitution as framed, it will protect even the babies. Then the darkness of killing those not fully born will be exposed and removed, and Planned Parenthood will not be secretly selling baby body parts for research.

Harold W. Pease, Ph.D., is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Do premature citizens have constitutional rights?

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