NRL News

The “Rightest” of All Rights

by | Jun 30, 2015

By Carol Tobias, President

Editor’s note. This appears on page three of the current digital edition of National Right to Life News. You can read this story, and all the other stories, columns, editorials, and commentaries at

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias

I love holidays. Like many of you, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving would be at the top of my list. After that comes Independence Day. I love the flags and the musical, patriotic marches of composers like John Philip Sousa. I love my country and all it represents, to us here at home and to those around the world who still see us as a “shining city upon a hill.”

And, of course, being a good pro-lifer, I love our country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. We all know those famous words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I have just started reading His Excellency George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis. In the preface, Ellis writes, “It seemed to me that Benjamin Franklin was wiser than Washington; Alexander Hamilton was more brilliant; John Adams was better read; Thomas Jefferson was more intellectually sophisticated; James Madison was more politically astute. Yet each and all of these prominent figures acknowledged that Washington was their unquestioned superior. Within the gallery of greats so often mythologized and capitalized as Founding Fathers, Washington was recognized as primus inter pares, the Foundingest Father of them all.” Ellis said he will explain why that is so and I look forward to reading the rest of the book to find out why.

That phrase, “the Foundingest Father of them all,” got my attention. We are proud of our rights in America. The Declaration of Independence lists the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are collectively called the “Bill of Rights.”

We have fought for almost two-and-a-half centuries to protect those rights. It’s almost a cliché to say that without the right to Life, you can’t enjoy or use other rights, but it’s also the truth. The right to Life for human beings must be paramount.

If George Washington was the Foundingest Father of them all, the right to Life is the “Rightest Right of them all.”

The first amendment to the Constitution, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, says that Congress shall not infringe on our right to free speech, or to peaceably assemble. We have the right to keep and bear arms; the right to not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; and the right to a speedy and fair trial. We cherish these freedoms, these rights. But these are rights that, with enough power in the hands of the wrong people, can be taken away.

The right to Life, as unequivocally stated in the Declaration of Independence, is an unalienable right endowed by our Creator, not by the government. As Ellis wrote, George Washington was recognized as primus inter pare— first among equals. But the right to Life is not the first among “equals” because no other right can be considered equal. It is the preeminent right. It surpasses all others.

The life of an unborn child is ended by abortion for many reasons, but none of them should preempt the child’s right to life. That’s why the pro-life movement does so much to help mothers find life-affirming solutions to the problems surrounding pregnancy: to protect that right and help her mother in her time of need.

I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on television for the Humane Society, asking people to take a stand against animal cruelty. “For just $19 a month, you can make sure these creatures receive the love and care they deserve,” the ad states.

Certainly, treating animals humanely reflects our status as a humane culture. Conversely, how much more does the treatment of a million unborn babies killed by abortion every year reflect the inhumane standards of our society?

There are many people who believe we should be more concerned about our environment; blaming too many people, or “overpopulation,” as the reason for climate change. Whether or not you are Catholic, whether or not you believe in climate change, Pope Francis made a compelling argument to those who think the environment should be, over the right to life of unborn children, the primary concern for mankind.

In his encyclical, Laudato si’ (“Be praised”), the pope wrote, “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.” He continued, “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

As we celebrate Independence Day, let us recommit ourselves to the continuation of our work; to the efforts that will honor our nation’s founding document. Let us work to re-establish the unalienable right to Life as the first right, the unequaled, paramount right our founding fathers intended.

Categories: Life