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death.” Lincoln argued, essentially, that at the heart of political freedom stands man’s free choice and that the choices man makes have profound importance and consequences. Douglas argued that the most important thing is that we can choose. Lincoln argued that the most important thing is what we choose. Now here we are, almost 170 years after Lincoln and Douglas faced off in Peoria, and the nation is at a similar crossroads in another issue of grave moral consequence — our responsibilities to the unborn. Justice Samuel Alito, in his opinion in the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, argued from a legal, constitutional perspective. His conclusion, contrary to the court’s conclusion in Roe v. Wade, was the U.S. Constitution does not contain a right for a woman to abort her child. However, the practical, moral result of this decision is that Alito put the nation on the moral footing where Lincoln argued regarding slavery.

The mora l consequence of Roe v. Wade was to institutionalize Douglas’ argument that our ultimate American value is choice — not what we choose.

The mora l consequence of the Dobbs decision is to secure the notion that where, in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, it says its aim is to “secure the blessings of liberty,” that what the Constitution protects is our responsibility to make the right choices. Choice is not the ultimate end, but what we choose. But it’s not over. Now we have clarification that it is not moral relativism that our Constitution secures, but deeper truths of right and wrong. Now that we know what the Constitution does not do, we will find out what our 50 states will choose to do, meaning where the consciences are of the individual citizens in those states, who will determine these outcomes. We are in a place eerily similar to what Douglas wanted regarding slavery. Now states will choose yes or no on abortion. In other words, will states decide that the ultimate value is the ability to choose, or is the ultimate value what choices are made? Is our ultimate value that a woman have the option to destroy her unborn child, or is our ultimate value sanctity of life? These are the questions before us and that will define who we are as a nation and as a people. Although in the 1850s the country was deeply divided on the issue of slavery, one would be hardpressed today to find anyone who would agree with Douglas that democracy and the vote should decide whether slavery would be permitted. I predict that history will take the same course regarding our increasing awareness regarding the sanctity of life and our responsibility to protect the unborn. But clearly, we are in for the long haul.

Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “Cure America with Star Parker.” To find out more about Star Parker and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.


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