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Abortion, state sovereignty and the Tenth Amendment

By Scott Tibbs, August 18, 2011

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done? -- Proverbs 24:11-12

If one of the states decided that random lynchings should be legal, would the Tea Party movement suggest that the federal government refrain from interfering on the basis of respecting the Tenth Amendment?

Of course not. While states have wide latitude to government their own affairs under the Tenth amendment, they are not permitted to infringe on the basic right to equal protection under the law, not to mention basic human rights. While the Tea Party movement has been a strong advocate for a limited federal government and more state sovereignty, virtually no one in that movement would argue the states should have the right to allow random lynchings.

In fact, this nation decided after the War Between the States that slavery was enough of a violation of basic human rights that it needed to be banned federally, and the 13th Amendment was ratified to eliminate this evil institution.

This is the principle, then, that makes it silly for Leftists to suggest that a federal ban on abortion is somehow inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment advocacy. The Los Angeles Times tried to raise this issue and suggest that the Tea Party movement is somehow in conflict with social conservatives over issues like abortion and homosexual marriage. Never mind that many people in the Tea Party movement are socially conservative themselves.

The real issue is not the Tenth Amendment. The real issue is the humanity (or lack thereof) of the fetus. If the fetus is an "unviable tissue mass" there is no moral issue with removing it. In that case, there is no justification for a federal ban on abortion - or any state ban, for that matter. Women should be allowed to do with their bodies as they see fit.

But that's not the case, is it? We know what abortion is and we know what abortion does. We know that what is growing inside the mother's womb is a human being. That human being is at a different stage of development than those who have been born, (although as the line of viability has moved backward, that is less true today than in decades past) and that human being deserves the same legal protections that born human beings take for granted. Chief among those protections is making it illegal to kill that person.

Banning abortion at the federal level is not in conflict with the Tenth Amendment and is certainly not in conflict with civil liberties. It is the basic responsibility of government to protect those who cannot protect themselves from those who would harm them. If the states shirk that responsibility and allow the unborn to be murdered, the federal government has a God-given mandate to step in and protect the most vulnerable among us.