I have always found it interesting that two polar opposite anniversaries are in January: the life of a man who promoted religion, peace, nonviolence and justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, which allows the violence and injustice of abortion.
Since 1973 there have been 53 million abortions.
It is fitting that this month Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia was arrested on Jan. 19. He is charged with killing seven babies who were born alive during the abortion procedure, killing one patient and a host of other crimes.
The seven babies Gosnell is charged with murdering were born alive during the attempt to abort them. To terminate the babies’ lives, which is abortion’s essence, he shoved scissors into the babies’ necks and severed their spinal cords. For some demented reason, he kept babies’ body parts in jars and left them around his clinic. Regarding the size of one baby, he quipped that the baby could have walked him to the bus stop.
Gosnell is not being charged for the thousands of babies he killed before they were born.
Without a doubt, King would oppose Gosnell’s actions. As a Christian minister and civil rights leader, King would have impressed upon Gosnell and Americans the difference between a just and unjust law.
As King did in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he might quote St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of an unjust law: “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in the eternal law and natural law.”
What are King and Aquinas referring to?
Aquinas taught that the order of all things in the universe comes from divine reason. Since God is eternal, his governing or ordering is called the eternal law. God directs all things to the purpose for which they were made — in and through the natures he gave them. What makes humans unique is that through the faculties of reason, will and sense, we can learn the order of things and participate intelligently, freely and richly in creation. God’s eternal law, manifest to human reason, is the natural law. Out of natural law comes human law.
I think King would say that Roe v. Wade is an unjust law because it is a human law not rooted in the eternal moral law and the natural law. Stated otherwise — mothers or parents, the doctors and the government — do not have the authority to terminate the lives of innocent and defenseless unborn human beings because it is contrary to God’s governing and ordering of human life.
Human beings are capable of knowing by the light of reason, especially by learning about abortion from Gosnell’s actions, that killing babies, unborn or born alive, should not be allowed to happen. Americans can do better.
Benjamin P. Sanchez