Christian Action League Staff
September 8, 2022
“There has never been a greater champion for the cause of the unborn in North Carolina than Paul ‘Skip’ Stam,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Whether it was ending tax-funded abortions or sex-selective abortions, whether it was legislation for the protection of the health and safety of women at clinics, whether it was The Woman’s Right to Know Act, with its 72-hour waiting period that has now reduced abortions in the Tar Heel state by 25%, whatever advances for life have been made in this State, Stam was at the heart of each of them. No one knows the abortion issue better than him. No one has more passion for the subject than him. And, when we stand before God’s Judgment Bar, only then will we know the thousands of lives he saved by his efforts.”
As far back as 1980, Stam sued the State of North Carolina in Stam v. State of North Carolina, arguing before the State Supreme Court that taxpayers should not be “compelled to pay for the destruction of human life.”
The following is an old copy of his “Prepared Statement for Oral Arguments” in 1980.
In an email to the Christian Action League, the attorney from Apex and former House Speaker Pro-Tempore, Stam, said concerning his arguments, “The more things change – the more they stay the same.”
He added that he could only give about half of his oral arguments because the justices would constantly interrupt. Moreover, he said that Chief Justice Joseph Branch (1979-1986) waved off his attempt to show a photograph, which was an exhibit in the case.
Now that the United States Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, which erroneously provided a constitutional right to abortion, the legality of abortion – whether to ban, fully legalize or limit, has now been thrown back to the states to decide. It is certain that in the next session of the North Carolina General Assembly, the 2023-24 Legislative Biennium, state lawmakers will take up the question.
The Christian Action League believes many people might find it helpful and inspiring to read Stam’s arguments before the State Supreme Court forty-two years ago. His arguments were powerful and just as relevant today. History will recognize them for the righteous oratory that they were, and when the Kingdom of our Lord is forever established, they will be applauded by the Heavenly Court.
Prepared Statement for Oral Arguments – November 11, 1980
Stam v. State of North Carolina
No. 59 – Fall Term 1980
Supreme Court of North Carolina
I am Paul Stam, Jr. – Plaintiff-Appellant. The case as briefly stated is this: The defendants spend well over a million per year to abort thousands of live human fetuses each year. These abortions are medically unnecessary. They are Elective abortions. My tax money is used to pay for this.
The Briefs are lengthy and complete. On the 2nd and 3rd assignments of error I will rely on my written argument without in any way abandoning them. On the 1st assignment of error my remarks will be brief. The virtue of oral argument is the possibility of dialogue and I would respond to questions for hours on end if you feel the implications of my position require it.
I see the prime issue as whether tax payers like myself can be compelled to pay for the destruction of innocent human life.
The Court of Appeals and the defendants say that the unborn child has no right to life until he is born alive. I say that the right attaches when human life begins, precisely when the oocyte is fertilized by a sperm. As stated in the text, Developing Human p. 1, this is “the beginning of a human being.” Thereafter “development is a continuous process that ends only at death.”
My theory has the advantage of being based on biological reality. The theory of the State on the other hand requires a metaphysical metamorphosis of the child at the time of birth more characteristic of dogma of a medieval mystical religion than of law or common sense.
Like any discreet defense counsel in a case of homicide, the Court of Appeals and the Defendants seek to avoid the force of the mass of biological data by conceding the ultimate facts up front – to wit that the fetus and indeed the embryo is human and alive – and then to avoid thereafter any and all mention of what is being killed and how.
Like any good prosecutor in a homicide case, I must respectfully decline to let the concession stand alone and I must show to the Court the reality of the crime.
Did you look at the cover and p. 86 of the text, The Developing Human? This is a photograph of a 13-week fetus. I’ll call it a fetus, but you know the word is nothing more than Latin for “offspring.” This is what you looked like at the time your mother was getting over nausea and before you really were beginning to show to the outside world. There is nothing particularly significant about the age of this fetus developmentally. I choose this particular stage because this is the week that the state defendants will pay $500 to kill the fetus rather than $150.00. The inquiry is whether our constitution will allow the government to assist the mother to kill this admittedly alive human creature?
What about this fetus. Is it a man? Is it a person? Its unique genetic makeup was established 13 weeks ago. Its heart began to beat 10 weeks ago, probably before its mother knew she was pregnant. It has its own circulatory system and its fetal electrocardiogram would be essentially indistinguishable from an infant.
You can measure mental activity in an adult by brain wave activity and you can obtain a fetal electroencephalogram measuring that activity 5 weeks before this picture is taken and the Central Nervous System achieves a functional state well before birth, OB GYN 266. This fetus has been moving in response to stimuli for a month and a half and has been moving spontaneously for 3 weeks. This week or next you could see it suck its thumb or swallow if you cared to observe it by means of ultrasound. How much swallowing it does depend on whether the fluid is sweet our sour. For a month this fetus has been squinting and making a fist. All of its organs have been in place for over a month and a half. Now they are growing and maturing. The record reflects that this process of development is continuous, that it is mostly complete very early in pregnancy, but that some aspects of development do not occur until after birth.
How does the State assist the mother in killing this live human creature? Does it do to the fetus what it does to defunct corporations – simply dissolve them. No. The record contains the answers in multi-syllabled words, but in the reality of the vulgar tongue the methods are five:
First, the doctor can simply cut the fetus apart and remove it piece by piece.
Second, the doctor can remove it by means of a powerful vacuum which tears the fetus apart in the process.
For the older fetus the methods are slightly more protracted.
Third, Salt Poison is inserted with a needle into the womb. The child is poisoned and usually dies and this induces, a few hours later, the delivery of a dead fetus, but occasionally of a live child.
Fourth, powerful drugs can be given to induce a premature delivery. A few hours later a premature child is born who usually dies thereafter for lack of care and/or lack of maturity of the lungs.
Fifth, Caesarean Section. Most of you have heard of this surgical technique which was developed to save life when a mother in labor had a child in distress. The technique has been so perfected that the abortion performed to save the life of the mother has become so rare as to be virtually non-existent.
However, this same technique can be and is used to kill rather than save life.
Now I don’t mean to argue that death of the living is the ultimate criteria for injustice or unconstitutionality or that it is the ultimate enemy. Every one of us must die – some from old age – some from disease – some from accident. We cannot ultimately prevent death. But does the State of North Carolina have to be on the side of death? The protection of life, which is such a fragile commodity in this violent world, is, in my judgment, the ultimate value secured by our Constitution and by the principles of a just state.
Now I am well aware that in the abortion context a sort of agnosticism is fashionable wherein ignorance is professed as to when human life begins. Such agnosticism is not possible on this record and has never been possible for those with eyes to see and hear. Nevertheless, for the last seven years judges, legislators and executive authorities have generally prefaced their votes for abortion with a statement of their personal opposition to the practice coupled with sufficient agnosticism to disallow them from carrying their personal opposition into effect as public policy.
My purpose today is to persuade you that your probable personal opposition to abortion is sufficiently grounded in law, biology and justice to allow you to express that opposition by reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals. The reason I want to persuade you is that I think that when statesmen set aside their private conscience for what they perceive to be their public duty they lead their country and their State down a short road to chaos.
Let me take you back only 8 years. In the briefs we covered that many centuries. I found the historical review fascinating but on all the analysis of the old cases there is an aura of unreality. In none of the cases (except the 1838 Wycherley decision) was there a government itself contemplating the destruction of innocent human life. The case before you today is the first where the State of North Carolina stands before you as the slayer of the unborn child.
8 years ago, the abortionist was a criminal. Now, he is a profitable businessman, paid by North Carolina and Wake County.
8 years ago, minors needed the consent of their parents before aby surgery, but today there is a special class of surgery in North Carolina requiring neither consent of nor notice to parents (or spouses for that matter) – that one type of surgery is abortion. One State, Utah, has tried to require notice, at least, and the U.S. Supreme Court is even now deciding whether notice alone may be required.
8 years ago, the abortion reform proposals were generally limited to very early term pregnancies. Today as a cumulate result of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Danforth and Colautti v. Franklin abortion is effectively available in this as well as in most states up to and including full term pregnancies.
8 years ago, abortion, though generally illegal, existed, of course. Now it is a way of life, with 1 ½ million per year nationally. What will happen to a nation, culturally, socially, demographically and morally that so systematically destroys its young? What reservoir of intergenerational conflict and hostility is this building for the future as the brothers and sisters of 1-12 million aborted fetuses grow up and wonder why they need to respect the lives of our generation?
I think the Declaration of Rights was written for just such a time as this – Section 1 declares:
“We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are the right to life…”
In a non-partisan sense this provision springs from a liberal democratic tradition firmly based on Blackstone and the Lockian view that fundamental rights are inherent in the individual by Creation and that no government on earth is competent to destroy them.
Locke, in his penultimate work on epistemology, ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,’ recognized the personality and continuity of the unborn child. The Framers of the Declaration of Independence were equally imbued with the natural rights theory prevalent at the time. What is more to the point is that the carpetbaggers and scalawags who populated the 1868 N.C. Constitutional Convention and who dominated the U.S. congress at the time the work of the N.C. Convention was accepted were equally natural rights theorists in their political analysis. I would refer you to “Everyman’s Constitution” cited in the “Memorandum of Authorities” for the view that the abolitionist movement was thoroughly committed to a natural rights theory of law.
At this point, let me correct one misstatement in my brief on the slavery question. I finally read Dred Scott v. Sanford this month and discovered that the 1854 decision denied only political citizenship to the black man and not personhood. Further research reflected in the memoranda of authorities revealed than even the slave states did not generally deny to the slave the basic right to life as a human creature. In 182 the Mississippi Supreme Court said that a slave could be the subject of a murder as much as could a philosopher, since a slave had as much reason as a lunatic, an idiot or any unborn child, all of whom could be the subject of murder.
In 1791, our General Assembly stiffened the punishment for murder of a slave and the reasons stated was this:
“which distinction of criminality between the murder of a white person and of one who is equally a human creature, but merely of a different complexion, is disgraceful to humanity and degrading in the highest degree to the laws and principles of a free, Christian and enlightened country.”
Members of the Court, I would not seek to be overdramatic in inquiring whether the State Abortion Fund is not disgraceful to humanity and degrading to the highest degree to the laws and principles of the State, based as it is on making irrelevant distinctions between human creatures and assisting at the death of thousands of them. Why is North Carolina the only southern State to persist in voluntarily paying for elective abortions?
I ask nothing for the unborn child that the General Assembly of 1791 was not willing to grant to slaves. The reasoning is the same. The Creator endows them with the right to life and it is beyond the competence of any just state to deny that right.
Now I am well aware that this Court does not have either the power or the inclination to reverse Roe v. Wade. One of the non-issues in this case is the legality of abortion.
But in addition to the practical effect of reversing the Court of Appeals, the Court also has a didactic function to perform. By interpreting its own Constitution to respect all human life this Court can contribute so much to the respect for life of the citizenry of the State and it can tell the nation that the Constitution of North Carolina, at least, is not an enemy of the unborn child.
The State is correct that such a position would place this Court in philosophical confrontation with the U.S. Supreme Court. But the State continues to err in thinking that a philosophical confrontation implies legal confrontation. In at least three cases, Maher, Poelker, and Williams v. Zbaraz, the U.S. Supreme Court has categorically held that state funding of abortion is purely a matter of state law. President Carter and the 96th Congress have recently confirmed that understanding with the following declaratory proviso to the Hyde Amendment “Provided that the several states are and shall remain free not to fund abortions to the extent they in their sole discretion deem appropriate.” Simply put, the Supremacy Clause will never be invoked in this case by any federal court.
I have cited at length from a decision of the West German Constitutional Court – First Senate – So that each of you may read that opinion in full (hopefully three or four times). I have provided numerous reprints which the librarian has generously accepted.
The curse of the 20th century is the notion that there can be a worthless life – a “life not worthy living.” This German Court had seen the practical out workings of that philosophy and wanted no part in it and said (Brief at 50)
the Basic Law…has erected an order bound together by values which places the individual human being and his dignity at the focal point of all of its ordinances. At its basis lies the concept that human beings possess an inherent worth as individuals in order of creation which uncompromisingly demands unconditional respect for the life of every individual human being, even for the apparently socially “worthless” and which excludes the destruction of such life without legally justifiable grounds. The security of human existence against encroachments by the State would be incomplete if it did not also embrace the prior steps of “completed life” – unborn life.
Shouldn’t this also be said by you about the Constitution of North Carolina?
Isn’t this what we want for our State – a counsel of hope to see in little lives something precious which the State is bound to honor not to destroy, but rather to seek ways to protect and fulfill.
Let us abandon the counsel of despair which is epitomized by this State Abortion Fund.
May I answer any further questions?
I’ll reserve any time I may have left.
End of Document
The decision of the Court of Appeals was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
The point of posting this document is to highlight the sound arguments made by Stam, which can benefit all who continue in the struggle to make abortion a part of the ash-heap of history.