Codifying Abortion

2021 | Week of September 27 | Radio Transcript #1431

Hammurabi. I hadn’t thought of this ancient Mesopotamian Babylonian King in a long time. I always enjoyed teaching about him in history of the world courses, but his name hadn’t come to mind in probably years—until last week. After all, how often does someone living in the 1700 B.C.’s affect us?

Hammurabi’s main claim to fame is his code of laws.[1] Like other codes of laws that preceded Hammurabi’s, his laws were inscribed—in other words, they were organized and written down and displayed for all to see. Hammurabi put his on a basalt stele that was discovered in Susa, present day Iran, in 1901.

Because Hammurabi’s code of laws contained some elements that had not been seen before in these ancient codes, his is probably the most famous. This stele reminds us of the importance of codifying—organizing and writing down laws so that everyone knows them and they are enforceable.

Hammurabi and his code came to the fore of my thinking last week when I heard H.R. 3755 passed in the US House of Representatives. This bill, deceitfully dubbed Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021, was introduced this past June.[2] The stated purpose is quote “[t]o protect a person’s ability to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services.” End quote. As an aside, note the use of the word person rather than woman. I can assure you no man ever had an abortion.

The text of the bill goes on with stated “Findings and Purpose,” noting in part, that quote, “Congress finds the following: (1) Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States. Abortion access allows people who are pregnant to make their own decisions about their pregnancies, their families, and their lives…        .”

Further in the “Findings and Purpose,” we read: “Abortion is essential health care and one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.” Following the “Findings and Purpose” section comes the specifics of the proposal.

What H.R. 3755 is, is an attempt to codify abortion in US law. Up to this point, abortion is not part of federal law. It hasn’t been codified. All the states and really even the federal government have been relying on the opinion of the US Supreme Court given in 1973 when the high court handed down its ruling on Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade did not codify abortion. That’s Congress’s job. This proposed bill would do that. Why is that significant? If abortion is codified in federal law, then in the event that the US Supreme Court ever overturns the wrongly decided Roe v. Wade decision, the impact of that decision would essentially be meaningless since Congress would have superseded that move with this codification.

To be clear, if abortion is not codified in federal law and the US Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion does not become automatically legal in all fifty states. The issue then would revert to the states. In states where statutes that criminalize abortion are in place, like we have in Wisconsin, abortion would be illegal. In states without such laws, abortion would be legal. To make it legal in states with criminalizing statutes, those statutes would need to be rescinded or replaced. To make abortion illegal in states without criminalizing statutes, laws would need to be passed to make it illegal.

But none of that really matters if abortion is codified at the federal level. And that’s exactly what the 218 Democrats who voted last week in favor of H.R. 3755 want. All 210 Republicans who voted, opposed the bill and were joined by one courageous Democrat.

Obviously this bill is dangerous. It’s predicated on the idea that abortion is healthcare. Any medical procedure which has as its sole purpose the killing of a human being is not healthcare. Words have meaning, and liberals are great at playing with words. In this instance, should this bill become law, abortion being equated with healthcare would be codified—made part of the written law. Codification is meaningful. It’s significant. It makes a difference.

Turns our Hammurabi has a pretty significant impact on us. He understood the power of codifying laws. We better have at least as much understanding as this pagan ancient king.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

[1]An excellent short video on Hammurabi and his Code,




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