News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Life-at-conception law seems unlikely

Alabama legislators seem more interested in giving lip service to the idea that life begins at conception than in writing it into law.

In an Associated Press survey, 62 percent of House members responding and 58 percent of senators said they would support a constitutional amendment to that effect. During last yearís elections, both Democrats and Republicans said such an amendment was one of their priorities.

A Daily online poll, which ended Sunday, showed almost three out of four respondents supporting the amendment. But the response to this unscientific poll was light compared to polls on other issues, suggesting that the number of enthusiasts is small.

By the end of last week, no lawmaker had said he or she would introduce the amendment, and the regular legislative session starts a week from Tuesday. Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro Life Coalition, says his organization doesnít believe the legislative leadership will seriously consider the amendment.

It could be that legislators think the life-at-conception issue makes better politics than government. But thatís just as well.

Itís one thing to believe, as a matter of ethics or religion, that life begins at conception; itís quite another thing to write that declaration into law and expect everyone to abide by it. We suspect that many Alabamians donít want the government meddling in such matters. They might not speak out, but they can vote. South Dakota lawmakers passed a ban on abortions, but voters rejected it.

Furthermore, the proposed amendment appears to conflict with the constitutional right to privacy that the U.S. Supreme Court cited in Roe v. Wade, its decision legalizing abortion.

For the Legislature to pass the life-at-conception amendment would be politically risky as well as legally futile.

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