To be fair, since earlier this summer I wished Sen. Lindsey Graham a Happy Birthday (here), I am now wishing ex-Governor Mike Huckabee a Happy Birthday.
Huckabee celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday, and as I said in the article about Graham, in some places (such as Japan and other Asian countries) one’s 60th birthday is considered especially momentous.
I am writing this, however, mainly to question one of Huckabee’s recent assertions. We all know that he is very much on the political right. But is he right (correct) in all he says about the highly controversial matter of abortion?
During the August 6 Republican presidential debate, Huckabee declared, “I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.”
And then in stringent criticism of Planned Parenthood, he stated, “It’s time that we . . . protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.”
The Constitution is quite clear in affirming personal rights: part of the Fifth Amendment states, “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
And Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment says, “No State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
It is by no means clear, however, when “personhood” begins. How does Huckabee “clearly” know that personhood begins at conception?
If he were a Catholic, he might claim to know that because it is the Church’s dogma. The Catechism of the RCC states, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person” (2270).
But Huckabee is a lifelong Southern Baptist, and not long before his 16th birthday the SBC adopted a resolution that expressed support for abortion in cases of “rape, incest, clear evidence severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”
In a 1974 resolution, the SBC adopted an official position that “reflected a middle ground between the extreme of abortion on demand and the opposite extreme of all abortion is murder.”
And Foy Valentine, the executive director of the SBC’s Christian Life Commission at that time, was particularly vocal in his support of abortion rights.
I was a SB missionary in Japan in those years, so I was not at the 1971 and ’74 annual meetings of the SBC. But I would, no doubt, have voted for the resolutions had I been there.
What does Huckabee know about the beginning of personhood now that Baptists didn’t know then?
What new scientific, or other, discovery in the last 40 years clearly substantiates the claim that a human zygote or embryo is a person, qualifying for protection under the Constitution?
None that I know of.
Even though I disagree with many (most) of his political and some of his ethical views, I am serious in wishing Gov. Huckabee a Happy Birthday. I affirm the sanctity of his life—and of all persons who have been born, as he was 60 years ago yesterday.
But I still insist that he is not right in his beliefs about when personhood begins.