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The sun rises behind the Statue of Liberty on a clear morning in New York City, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
The sun rises behind the Statue of Liberty on a clear morning in New York City, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
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The government wants to play god.

It wants the power to decide who lives or dies and whose rights are worthy of protection.

Abortion may still be front and center in the power struggle between the Left and the Right over who has the right to decide—the government or the individual—when it comes to bodily autonomy, the right to privacy, sexual freedom, the rights of the unborn, and property interests in one’s body, but there’s so much more at play.

In the 50-plus years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in , the government has come to believe that it not only has the power to determine who is deserving of constitutional rights in the eyes of the law but it also has the authority to deny those rights to an American citizen.

This is how the abortion debate has played into the police state’s hands: by laying the groundwork for discussions about who else may or may not be deserving of rights.

Despite the Supreme Court having overturned its earlier rulings recognizing abortion as a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment, the government continues to play fast and loose with the lives of the citizenry all along the spectrum of life.

Take a good, hard look at the many ways in which Americans are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

American families in the middle of the night are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

and “diagnosed” by police as dangerous or mentally unstable merely because they stutter and walk unevenly are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

for daring to hesitate, stutter, move a muscle, flee or disagree in any way with a police order are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

American whereby their phone calls are being listened in on, their mail and text messages read, their movements tracked and their transactions monitored are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

Individuals whose whether or not they have been convicted of any crime are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

Drivers whose , whether or not they are suspected of any crime, are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

Protesters and and accused of hate crimes for speaking freely are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

Hard-working Americans whose (operating according to asset forfeiture schemes that provide profit incentives for highway robbery) are being denied their rights under the Constitution.

So, what is the common denominator here?

These are all American citizens—, rights that no person or government can take away from them, among these the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—and they are all being oppressed in one way or another by a government that has grown drunk on power, money and its own authority.

If the government—be it the President, Congress, the courts or any federal, state or local agent or agency—can decide that any person has no rights, then that person becomes less than a citizen, less than human, less than deserving of respect, dignity, civility and bodily integrity. He or she becomes an “it,” a faceless number that can be tallied and tracked, a quantifiable mass of cells that can be discarded without conscience, an expendable cost that can be written off without a second thought, or an animal that can be bought, sold, branded, chained, caged, bred, neutered and euthanized at will.

It’s a slippery slope that justifies all manner of violations in the name of national security, the interest of the state and the so-called greater good.

Yet those who founded this country believed that what we conceive of as our rights were given to us by God—we are created equal, according to the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence—and that government cannot create, nor can it extinguish our God-given rights. To do so would be to anoint the government with god-like powers and elevate it above the citizenry.

Unfortunately, we have been dancing with this particular devil for quite some time now.

If we continue to wait for the government to restore our freedoms, respect our rights, rein in its abuses and restrain its agents from riding roughshod over our lives, our liberty and our happiness, then we will be waiting forever.

The highly politicized tug-of-war over abortion will not resolve the problem of a culture that values life based on a sliding scale.  Nor will it help us navigate the moral, ethical and scientific minefields that await us as technology and humanity move ever closer to a point of singularity.

Humanity is being propelled at warp speed into a whole new frontier when it comes to privacy, bodily autonomy, and what it means to be a human being. As such, we haven’t even begun to wrap our heads around how present-day legal debates over bodily autonomy, privacy, vaccine mandates, the death penalty, and abortion play into future discussions about singularity, artificial intelligence, cloning, and the privacy rights of the individual in the face of increasingly invasive, intrusive and unavoidable government technologies.

Yet here is what I know.

Life is an inalienable right.

By allowing the government to decide who or what is deserving of rights, it shifts the entire discussion from one in which we are “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights” (that of life, liberty property and the pursuit of happiness) to one in which only those favored by the government get to enjoy such rights.

If all people are created equal, then all lives should be equally worthy of protection.

Likewise, as I make clear in my book and in its fictional counterpart , all freedoms hang together.

Freedom cannot be a piece-meal venture.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of . His most recent books are the best-selling , the award-winning , and a debut dystopian fiction novel, . Whitehead can be contacted at staff@rutherford.org. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at .

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