In a recent letter to the editor, Mary Beth Pieruci of Planned Parenthood protested the invocation of the Pledge of Allegiance by pro-life demonstrators. She stated the American flag is a "symbol of liberty throughout the world" that is being "cynically appropriated" by pro-life forces to impose a "religious viewpoint" on others.
This two-thirds dilution of our nation's highest principles by Ms. Pieruci compels me to respond. Have we forgotten the Declaration of Independence? The flag is not just a symbol of liberty. It is a symbol of each individual's "unalienable" right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Our Founding Fathers chose this specific order of rights as a moral, ethical and judicial road map for future generations: the pursuit of happiness can't come at the expense of another's liberty, and liberty doesn't extend to the point of freedom to take human life.
A baby's heartbeat can be heard at eight weeks gestation. It moves and withdraws from pain. It has brain wave activity. A recent Life article contained a picture of a baby at 21 weeks gestation grabbing a surgeon's hand during an intra-uterine surgery. These examples meet every standard of life, and defy every criterion for death that I can think of as a physician.
That millions of children have been denied their right to life inthe name of liberty is a desecration of our great nation's bedrock principles rivaled only in American history by slavery, another "constitutionally protected" subordination of rights.
Abortion is no more a purely religious issue than slavery or women's suffrage was. It is also an "unalienable rights" issue. The casual disregard of personal rights may fly at Planned Parenthood, but it doesn't with many loyal Americans.
That's why we in the pro-life movement consider it a patriotic imperative to protest what's going on at Planned Parenthood. We honor the heritage the Founding Fathers entrusted to us by giving voice to those unable to speak, by saying for them: "Let me live. It's my unalienable right."
William J. Conkright, M.D.Augusta
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