It happened gradually. The unthinkable becomes tolerable. And then acceptable. And then legal. And then applaudable.

Although illegal in several colonies, it is clear that abortions were performed during the colonial era. The Anglican church and numerous books decried abortion. Usually, both the mother and child died due to the potency of abortifacients. 

Generally, from 1776 until the mid-1800s, abortion was viewed unfavorably. In the 1820s and 1830s, sale of abortifacients was illegal. Even the American Medical Association opposed abortion. By 1900, abortion was a felony in all 45 states. 

Abortion was unthinkable.

In 1973, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, abortion was illegal in 30 states, restricted in 15 and legal on demand in four. Doctors agreed that at conception there was an undeniable process of development which led to the birth of a human being. They even cited abortion as violating the Hippocratic oath of doing no harm.

An overwhelming majority of Americans found abortion to be intolerable.

But on Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court said to heck with what the overwhelming majority of Americans want. Laws against abortion that date back to the colonial era have no basis as precedent, the holy grail for the left. The court’s decision was based on two contraception cases in 1965 and 1972 that allowed the justices to twist into pretzels the 4th, 9th and 14th Amendments.

The justices obliterated the 9th Amendment that emphasized limited government interference with states. 

They incomprehensibly interpreted the 4th Amendment to mean that requiring a woman to carry a baby to term is a physically intrusive “unreasonable search and seizure.”

Although no “right to privacy” is mentioned in the Constitution, the court ruled that the 14th Amendment included such a right. It also ruled that the word “life” in the amendment did not apply because an unborn child is not a person. The mother’s right to privacy trumps the baby’s right to life.

Abortion became legal.

Since Roe v. Wade, 60,069,971 unborn babies have been aborted (number as of 2014).

Abortion has become acceptable.

In the 1600s, infanticide was punishable by execution in several colonies. By 1807, 51 infanticides had been documented in Massachusetts. One execution for infanticide can be traced to 1809 in Pennsylvania. 

The Virginia Legislature recently voted down a provision that would have allowed an abortion on a healthy, unborn child even while the mother is dilating. The governor, a medical doctor, then declared that, after delivery, the mother and the doctor can discuss whether to kill the child. Since his statement, there have been many attempts to clarify what he said on camera. The problem is that he made the political gaffe of speaking the truth.

New York’s recent law allowing abortion until birth and even infanticide has been met with standing ovations. Gov. Cuomo of New York celebrated by allowing the top of the World Trade Center to be lit in pink. New York joins eight states and the District of Columbia with no limits on when an abortion my occur. 

Abortion and infanticide are now applaudable.

The answer to when a “product of conception” becomes a person is foundational to any legal argument.

Is it at conception? Is it when it moves, grows, develops a circulatory system, has brain function, breathes, has a heartbeat, feels pain? Why do those legal and medical indicators of life and death not apply to an unborn child?

In a recent conversation with a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood, the person was asked when life began. This person answered only that “it is complicated” and gave the same answer when asked whether it was at conception. The coward refused to discuss the issue further. Any answer that smacked of an unborn child being a person would destroy the Supreme Court’s flawed rationale.

When asked when a baby born alive acquires constitutional rights, former California Sen. Barbara Boxer replied, “When you bring your baby home.” When asked to clarify whether that meant the baby had rights at birth, thus eliminating infanticide for an unwanted child, Boxer refused to address the question.

If the unborn is not a person, why can someone who kills a mother and her child be charged with a double homicide? Why are unborn children considered legal parties to civil proceedings? How can either of these examples be constitutional if an unborn child has no rights? Or does it have only the right to be dismembered and killed?

That is the position of the left and the Democratic Party, and that is despicable.

Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.