Moral obligation to the unborn

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The primary role of government should be to provide basic services for its citizens and to ensure our safety and protection.

The Alabama Legislature has passed legislation which helps to protect virtually every segment of our society – battered women, abused children, laws strengthening drug and alcohol related crimes, etc.

One glaring weakness, however, has been our inability to enact legislation protecting unborn children from harm.

Years ago, activist judges legalized abortion. In the landmark Supreme Court decision, our nation’s highest court set an artificial mark which concluded that ‘personhood’ begins only at a certain point during pregnancy.

The right of the mother to do with her body what she wished simply outweighed the rights of the unborn child she carried.

The court created a legal environment where, according to the law, child and mother were seen as one being.

Medical evidence over the years has proven time again that the unborn child is a separate being. Since that decision in 1973, many states have tried to help give unborn children the same protections of safety and security that we all enjoy.

The murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, in California recently sparked national attention. In this case prosecutors in California were able to pursue charges against Scott Peterson in the deaths of Laci and Conner.

In other words, the death of the unborn child had meaning.

Without question, there are countless events each year during which the unborn child is also a victim but is simply forgotten because Alabama law does not extend adequate protections.

For example, if a drunk driver in Alabama were to run a red light and cause an accident, slightly injuring the mother but killing the unborn child, the driver could only be charged with assault, assault against the mother that is. The law pretends the unborn child does not even exist.

Progress has been made in protecting women from violence, but we should also make similar efforts to extend legal protections to the unborn child.

Currently, 32 states have laws on the books which protect the unborn.

Legislation has been introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives for the past two years which would extend some meaningful legal protections to unborn children.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Spencer Collier, myself and others has gained footing but has failed to pass the House of Representatives.

While this bill has been derided by liberal pro-choice activists as being pro-life, it is actually about protecting the thousands of unborn children who are being happily welcomed into this world.

Those who wish to label this legislation as anything other than a protection issue are blinded by paranoia. Those who commit crimes against pregnant women should know that their crime is against two, not one.

Legislation to protect unborn children will be introduced during the 2005 Regular Legislative Session as well.

It is time that Alabama follow the example set by other states in recognizing that unborn children should be protected.

Government has an obligation to protect its citizens – all of its citizens. Until we pass this important legislation, many crimes will go unpunished and justice cannot be done.

Cam Ward serves as an Alabama state representative representing Shelby County. He resides with his wife, Julie, and daughter, Riley, in Montevallo