Fetus as human life 'a religious view': Is Justice Sotomayor right?
- On December 1, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard arguments in the case Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a 2018 Missippi law restricting abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy.
- Abortion was legalized nationwide following the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, resulting in roughly 63 million US abortions.
- Sonia Sotomayor served as a US Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge from 1998-2009 until President Obama nominated her for the Supreme Court, which she joined in August 8, 2009.
- In questioning Mississippi Selicitor General Scott Stewart, Justice Sotomayor stated, “How is your interest anything but a religious view? The issue of when life begins has been hotly debated by philosophers since the beginning of time. It's still debated in religions.”
- In the June 22, 2021 Brief of Petitioners Thomas Dobbs, et al. wrote, “nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”
- May 2021 Gallup data reports 49% of US adults are “pro-choice,” 47% are “pro-life.” Additional data shows 23% of those who self-identify as “pro-choice” and 75% of “pro-life” respondents attend weekly religious services. Pew Research reports 72% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans support abortion in all or most cases.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor described a fetus as brain-dead during oral arguments on a Mississippi law restricting abortion. The purpose of Sotomayor's statement was to illustrate the viability line, a key component of Roe v. Wade, referring to when a fetus can survive outside the womb. In this argument, Sotomayor makes a logical connection between science and the law, as most states consider the brain-dead to be dead. As a result of this connection, Sotomayor correctly deduces that believing a fetus to be a human is a strictly religious view.
The religious right vocally believes that life begins at conception. In extreme cases, this belief goes so far as to support the eradication of all forms of birth control. The anti-abortion movement is thought to come from a consolidation of religious power in 1970s America and has worked so well that it affected modern interpretations of the Bible. While freedom of religion is a right all Americans share, the Bill of Rights explicitly calls Congress to 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion,' resulting in the idea of the separation of church and state. The pro-life lobby eschews and distorts science for what surveys reveal to be a religious opinion.
Sotomayor believes the Supreme Court should consider its precedents and that more partisan attacks on established laws will ensue with the dismantling of abortion rights. Pew Research survey estimates 60% of Americans support abortion while, simultaneously, religious affiliation is at an all-time low. To continue considering cases based on religious arguments is not only undemocratic but unconstitutional. The Evangelical power grab is dangerously authoritarian, and to its logical end, would turn our country into an oligarchy.
During oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Mississippi's abortion ban after 15 weeks, Justice Sotomayor suggested arguments around when life begins is a 'religious view.' While many religions and people of faith do believe a fetus is a human being, this view is certainly not limited to those with religious convictions.
Surpassing theology and philosophy, this view of human life is rooted in embryology and the neonatal scientific developments since 1975. Knowing that life begins at fertilization and what abortions do to unborn babies, society has no excuse for denying the human right to life to those still in utero. To do that would mean pro-abortionists have excused millions of deaths of innocent children.
Additionally, medical experts agree fetal anesthesia must be administered during fetal surgery. This shows how unborn babies can feel pain (and can undergo life-saving medical procedures). According to Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a radiology specialist, 'To compare an unborn child to a brain-dead person or a corpse flouts science [...] at 15 weeks gestation, a baby's organs are fully formed, her heart pumps 26 quarts of blood a day, and her lungs are already practicing drawing breath.'
Abortion intentionally ends a human life. Human rights should extend to those residing inside the womb. These views are not exclusively religious. Groups like Secular Pro-Life recognize the same thing, that all human organisms as morally valuable, arguing these facts from a non-religious stance.
Furthermore, 38 states, red and blue alike, currently have fetal homicide laws, recognizing there’s life. Justice Sotomayor, like the rest of the 'follow the science' crowd, seem to ignore science when it comes to abortion since science increasingly falls on the side of recognizing fetuses as the growing, living people they are.