Abortion is not a constitutional right according to the strict text of the Constitution, but it has been justified as a constitutional right under the Fourth Amendment’s protection of privacy. In short, the constitutional right to abortion is found not in the Constitution itself, but in a loose reading of it.
This constitutional argument is often used by pro-abortionists. As former U.S. President Barack Obama once asserted, “I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.”1 Obama, once a law professor, should have known that this right doesn’t actually exist ― the Supreme Court literally conjured it out of thin air.
Creating a Constitutional Right to Abortion
In the 1960s, revolution ― especially of the sexual variety ― permeated the air, wafting even into the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States. The justices set about finding a means by which they could enact a far-reaching liberal agenda, and concluded that extending the right to privacy beyond its natural and legitimate dimensions would be the ideal means for accomplishing this objective.
Of course, we do indeed possess an authentic right to privacy, founded in the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from, among other things, unreasonable searches and seizures. Others enjoy this genuine right to privacy, including married couples, doctors and patients, attorneys and clients, people engaging in business transactions, and priests and penitents.
But deadlier activities require a manufactured legal cover. As the Gospel of John says, “The light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” [3:19-20].
The Courts Extended the Right to Privacy
Presently, the courts found the perfect segue into creating a constitutional right to abortion in Griswold v. Connecticut, the decision overturning a Connecticut law prohibiting the sale or distribution of birth control devices.
The court system of the State of Connecticut correctly believed that the use of contraceptives would eventually lead to the breakdown of the family and the degradation of marriage. In fact, the State’s Supreme Court had already turned back several constitutional challenges to the law. But it could not withstand an activist U.S. Supreme Court, which handed down its Griswold v. Connecticut decision on June 7, 1965. The majority found that the Connecticut law violated the “right to marital privacy,” which was found in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections. Justice Arthur Goldberg thought that this protection might lie in the Ninth Amendment, and Justice John Marshall Harlan speculated that it might lie in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
In Griswold, Justice Harry Blackmun, who authored Roe v. Wade, wrote that “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right to privacy. In a line of decisions, however, the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy . . . does exist under the Constitution. In varying contexts, the Court or individual Justices have indeed found at least the roots of the right in the First Amendment, Stanley v. Georgia, and in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights.”
In his dissent, Justice Potter Stewart wrote, “With all due deference, I can find no such general right of privacy in the Bill of Rights, in any other part of the Constitution, or in any case ever before decided by this Court.”
Next: “Constitutional Right to Abortion”
The stone was rolling: the Supreme Court quickly expanded the right to purchase and use contraceptives from married to unmarried people in its 1972 decision Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972). The third word in the “right to marital privacy” quickly disappeared. Soon after, of course, came the January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which have led to the extermination of nearly one-sixth of the American population under a supposed constitutional right to abortion.
This “right” had escaped undetected by two centuries of legal scholarship, so to justify it the justices once more turned to the nebulous privacy “right.” The Legal Times exposed the negligence of the reasoning process of the justices: “Looking back on that argument, [Sarah Weddington] laughs as she recalls that Justice Potter Stewart asked her where in the Constitution she found the “right” to abortion she had so fervently argued. “Any place we find it will be okay with you, right?” Stewart asked Weddington.”2
The Illicit “Right” to Privacy Leads to Other Grave Injustices
The paramount damage done by the illicit privacy “right” is to the cardinal virtue of justice, “The moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor” [Catechism, ¶1807].
The best way to determine whether or not an activity should be legal is to determine whether or not it honors justice.
When people claim a ‘right’ to privacy in order to cover illicit and sinful actions, as in a constitutional right to abortion, justice always suffers grave damage, because the rights of God and of other persons are simply disregarded. Some examples:
- Partial‑Birth Abortions and Starvation Deaths. Nurses working at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital were forced to assist in partial‑birth abortions over their strenuous objections in 1999. The hospital starved to death all babies surviving their abortions, some of whom were aborted at full term. The Calgary Regional Health Authority, which oversees the Foothills Hospital, filed suit against the newspaper that exposed the killings in order to “protect the privacy of its patients and staff.”3
- Child Pornography. United States District Judge Stanley Sporkin overturned a Congressional child pornography statute, holding, “Many of the artists and adult models engaged in sexually explicit visual imagery have an interest in maintaining their anonymity to avoid stigmatization, harassment and ridicule from others.” The American Library Association (ALA) cheered this decision and, within days, porn shop operators specializing in child pornography threatened legal action against local citizens who photographed their patrons.4
- AIDS. The powerful homosexual lobby has taken the quest for absolute privacy to a life‑endangering extreme. In most states, a physician cannot even inform another doctor that a referred patient has AIDS under pain of losing his license to practice. A doctor cannot even tell an infected man’s wife that he has AIDS, thereby potentially sentencing her to certain agonizing and lingering death in the name of privacy.5
- Frozen Heads and Other Body Parts. It has even been suggested that the right to privacy be extended to cover those who want to be frozen in liquid nitrogen before they die in the hope of being revived in future centuries. California’s Alcor Company was investigated in 1991 for severing Dora Kent’s head before she was dead. The primary argument in defense of this bizarre incident was the allegation that people should be able to do anything they want to with their own bodies ― in private, of course.6
Every American cherishes his privacy. Everyone believes that “a man’s home is his castle,” and almost everyone wants the government to interfere with his private life as infrequently as possible while still maintaining society’s fabric.
Since Americans value the concepts of ‘privacy,’ ‘freedom’ and ‘choice,’ anti‑lifers illegitimately extend them to cover their own behavior. Thus, they label any opposition to abortion, homosexual acts, euthanasia, and other abuses ‘intrusive,’ ‘anti‑freedom,’ and ‘anti‑choice.’
Pro‑lifers and other pro‑family activists must not feel guilty in the least when opposing abortion, euthanasia, homosexual acts, child pornography and other hideous sins/crimes by the extreme Left. After all, anti‑lifers simply use the ‘right’ to privacy as a license to abuse ― and kill ― other human beings. This is not a constitutional right to abortion but rather a twisting of the language Constitution for ideological purposes.
The great weakness of the illicit privacy right is becoming more and more obvious. The more illicit individual freedoms we demand, the less genuine individual freedoms we actually have. We cannot walk down the street in safety, we cannot drive without being endangered by road rage and drunks, and our children cannot even attend public schools without putting their lives and their souls in danger.
If the anti‑lifers have their way, they will continue to extend the ‘right’ to privacy until it destroys any chance we have of living together without seeing each other as mere objects to be exploited for personal pleasure and gain. The supposed constitutional right to abortion is just a beginning.
After his ignoble disgrace, Satan was being expelled from Heaven. As he passed through the Gates, he paused a moment in thought, and turned to God and said, “A new creature called Man, I hear, is soon to be created.” “This is true,” He replied. “He will need laws,” said the Demon slyly.
“What! You, his appointed Enemy for all Time! You ask for the right to make his laws?”
“Oh, no!” Satan replied. “I ask only that he be allowed to make his own.”
It was so granted.
― Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.
- President Barack Obama, on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 2012.
- Legal Times, March 4, 1985, page A35.
- “Personal Qualms Don’t Count: Foothills Hospital Now Forces Nurses To Participate In Genetic Terminations.” Alberta Report, April 12, 1999; LifeSite Daily News, April 29, May 6, and May 7, 1999.
- “Part of Child Pornography Law is Overturned.” The New York Times, May 28, 1992; Samuel Francis. “Librarians Work to Overturn Child Porn Law.” Conservative Chronicle, June 17, 1992, page 30.
- Senator H.L. Richardson of the California State “AIDS ― Deadly Disease with Civil Rights.” National Federation for Decency Journal, August 1987, page 13.
- Jacob Sullum. “Cold Comfort.” Reason Magazine, April 1991, pages 22 to 29.