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Until society makes the definitive determination whether a child in a mother's womb is a "person" that is afforded the same rights as a child outside the womb, the abortion debate will continue, despite how the high courts rule on how abortion policy is determined.

Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) attempted to force experts testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to answer that question.

Palmer tried to show the “Hand of Hope” photograph, taken in 1999 by Michael Clancy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center during open fetal surgery that showed an unborn infant grasping a physician's hand.

He was gaveled down by subcommittee chairwoman U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 on Thursday, Palmer said he aimed to get an answer to the question about personhood and had attempted to use the famous photograph to make the case that the being in the womb was indeed a person.

"[I]t's an example of the advances in medicine and the ability to treat patients, even before they're born," Palmer explained. "And I just wanted to show that because it's an example of the personhood of the child inside the womb. I literally set this up, following up on something top Republican on the committee, ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers had said in the hearing about the Declaration of Independence. You know, that sentence that we're all so familiar with, Jeff, that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and the first one that the Founders listed was life.

"That's where it started, and I made the point that the reason that's the first right listed is it's a prerequisite for all of the other rights. Without life, there's no liberty. Without life, there's no pursuit of happiness or privacy, or choice. I was simply going to ask, did that child the doctor was operating on – was that a person? And by the way, the child is a guy named Sam. He's 22 years old and lives in Georgia."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.

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