This past week, six justices of the Kansas Supreme Court issued an opinion flipping our very form of government on its head. In a decision telling voters they do not matter, justices determined that it’s not the role of the elected officials of the state to navigate complicated issues of the day, instead claiming that power lies solely in their hands. Kansas now finds itself in a situation where seven unelected attorneys essentially rule as dictators over our state. The argument seems to be that the people are no longer capable of ruling themselves and need this “higher body” to tell them what is good for them.
Even worse than this power grab from the court is how the court chose to exercise its self-anointed new power. Six justices found that a right to an abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution despite there being no language of the sort and nothing in the historical record indicating this to be the case. In addition, the court found that very little can be done to infringe upon this newly created “right.” They opened the door to unrestricted late-term abortion up to the point of birth.
The sickening part of this ruling is what the court did not consider. The majority of the court did not look at the rights of the child. They purposefully avoided discussing the loss of life that occurs when an abortion takes place. They openly chose not to engage in an in-depth discussion of the pain felt by an unborn child during an abortion. They even chose not to delve into the medical advances that can show us when an unborn child has a heartbeat and is capable of feeling pain. The court went out of its way to keep the discussion as clinical as possible in an effort to dehumanize the hundreds of thousands of children killed each year.
The echoes of dehumanization still call to us from Auschwitz and Dachau, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge and the streets of Rwanda. In our nation, the infamous Dred Scott case comes to mind. It was in that 1857 United States Supreme Court case that the majority of the court held that a former slave could never be a US citizen and that slaves were property. The entire opinion is a lesson in dehumanization. When you frame a dispute to present only one side as human and the other side as something less than human, it provides cover to inflict unspeakable horrors.
Abortion is a heated issue that inflames passion from all involved. Navigating this issue requires all sides argue from equal footing. This simply does not occur when those children whose lives are literally at stake are declared to be something less than human. Dehumanization has destroyed nations, killed millions, and during the Civil War literally split our country in half. We cannot be a state where six justices decide that some are more human than others.
We must resist this injustice. Options include a constitutional amendment protecting the unborn and a change in the judicial selection process to ensure that our court is filled with Supreme Court Justices who honor the rule of law and treat every person equally.
Above all, we each have the responsibility to respect the human dignity of every living person. Regardless of political view, race, gender, sexuality, age, born or un-born, we are living, human beings deserving of respect. When we look at each other as something else, something less than human, we lose a piece of our own humanity in the process.