We approach this week the forty-first anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling of the Supreme Court. Some people are inclined to call that ruling “settled law,” but it has been a most unsettling law. What Roe did was to abort justice itself. This homicidal ruling said that human lives could be taken for any reason or no reason. It is a ruling against reason.

Many of the state laws against abortion were passed in the era of the Civil War, either immediately before or shortly afterward. Those laws were based on the advances in science that clearly showed that human life begins at conception, not, as previous centuries had thought, at quickening. The passage of protective laws on abortion was promoted by physicians, not by the Catholic Church, the Protestant churches, or any other religious bodies. Science had discovered the beginnings of human life. It was taken as a given that the law must protect innocent human life.

What changed in the century following the passage of those protective laws on abortion? Science didn’t change. Human life didn’t change. In fact, it was during the decade of the 1960s that LIFE magazine published the amazing photographs of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson. In a stunning full-color spread, America’s most popular magazine sent pictures of unborn children into millions of homes, doctors’ offices, libraries, churches, schools, even beauty shops and barber shops. No one looking at those photographs could deny the humanity of the unborn child. At a time when space travel was first opening new vistas to mankind, Nilsson showed the world these beautiful and compelling images from inner space.

What changed was the regard for truth. This was done deliberately and with malice of forethought. California Medicine, the pro-abortion journal of the state’s medical profession, let the cat out of the bag in this 1970 editorial.

…since the old ethic has not been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected.

Forty-four years have passed since that journal embraced “semantic gymnastics” and “schizophrenic subterfuge.” Today, this candid commitment to lying is the ruling orthodoxy of  liberal elites in the media, academia, politics, and much of science and medicine. It is regarded as the necessary lie.

Abortion is the unjust taking of an innocent human life. It is wrong. No one has ever been able to demonstrate a single scientific advance that suggests that the unborn child is not fully human. In fact, in their importunate demand that we kill embryonic children to get their stem cells, pro-abortion liberals confirm the immutable truth that the child is fully human from the moment of conception.

Some things are forever right, forever wrong. Of course, there has been a tug-of-war to claim the allegiance of the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King for one side or another of our modern day cultural clashes. And former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo can be relied upon to embrace Father Abraham as a proto-liberal Democrat. Others liberals chime in.

I have never found a reference by Lincoln to the question of abortion. We know he favored women’s suffrage; he said as much. But the women’s suffrage leaders of his day were strongly pro-life. And Susan B. Anthony was most eloquently so. So we cannot infer that his support for the just claims of women would have included support for abortion.

Lincoln did speak about eternal verities of right and wrong. He offered a parable of the ant. Even the ant, Lincoln said, knows when he is wronged. Take away from the ant the crust of bread he has earned from his own labor, and he will resist you. Lincoln said this as a way of refuting the spurious arguments of pro-slavery politicians of his day. Slavery they argued, is a positive good, benefiting slaves as well as masters. Lincoln rebutted that lie most powerfully. Clearly referring to the massive attempt at justifying slavery as a “positive good” undertaken by such leaders as John C. Calhoun, Lincoln pointedly punctured their balloon. “Though volumes have been written to justify the good of slavery,” he said, “we never see the man who seeks the good of slavery by becoming a slave himself.”

What if Father Abraham could have seen the unborn child on ultrasound? I have seen Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s video of The Silent Scream. I held his monitor for him as Dr. Nathanson addressed a right to life audience with this powerful true record of the abortion of an unborn child at twelve weeks. Even at that early stage of pre-natal development, you can see the child struggling, resisting, trying to fend off the murderous probe that will take her young life. It is a soul-searing experience to see that killing on ultra-sound.

Such irrefutable evidence moved Dr. Nathanson, then an atheist who had presided over 60,000 abortions, to repent and, in time, to come to a saving faith. Dr. Nathanson related the campaign of lies, half-truths, and semantic gymnastics President Reagan authorized Dr. Nathanson to present that video to a White House audience. And Dr. Nathanson sent video copies of The Silent Scream to every Member of Congress.

I do not claim Father Abraham as a right-to-life advocate, but I do ask others what they make of this Lincoln quote from 1858:

Nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon.

Lincoln meant it to refer to the slave, of course. But we have a right to ask: Are not unborn children so stamped?