The Heritage Foundation 19 June 2014
While it is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life, what is self-evident in the technical philosophical sense is not always readily assented to, or immediately obvious. In many ways this is the story of debates throughout American history, and it is true today in the debate over unborn human life.
That truths are not obvious and are not readily agreed upon, however, is no reason to prematurely accept defeat and to compromise on the rights of others. That the unborn possess a right to life is not necessarily a truth obvious to all, but it is a truth. We must work to help others see it for the truth that it is. Doing so requires a full panoply of defense—intellectual, cultural, and legal—bearing witness to truth.
We thus cannot agree with Peter Steinfels’ judgment that because the pro-life conclusion is not obvious, the unborn must settle for less than equal protection under the law. Steinfels affirms, with us, that “from the very earliest stages of its life, the unborn offspring of human beings constitutes an individual member of the human species deserving the same protections from harm and destruction owed to born humans.”
But he adds that this conviction “is nowhere near as obvious as many of us who hold it suppose.” Steinfels reaches this conclusion while citing the book by Robert George and Chris Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, that one of us (RTA) helped prepare as his first job after college.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, in the shadow of Roe v. Wade, we have never taken the pro-life conclusion for granted or as an “obvious” truth. So we aren’t shocked by Steinfels’ suggestion that.