To a couple of sparring partners from another place who find my pro-life views too much like sacralized politics:
Gentlemen, I don’t hold pro-life views to “get to heaven” or due to an inability to distinguish the secular from the sacred – I struggle against a culture of death to keep earth from resembling hell in ways that are quite easily to foresee and are playing out before our eyes.
It seems both thoroughly secular and scientific to claim that with conception a new and human life begins and it is in the public interest to not make the use of lethal violence against other persons a private choice. I realize this is complicated for those who’ve been befuddled by pro-choice rhetoric that equates being pro-life with being religious. Yet the secular foundations of a pro-life position seem obvious when we take into account the last two centuries advances in embryology that show that from conception onwards a fetus is a unique and living member of our species, yet all too often those who support abortion suddenly become fascinated with history and questions of Aristotelian biology or early pagan and Christian musings about “ensoulment” and quickening – or simply claim that questions of when children acquire human rights is “above their pay grade” as they continue to advocate the ongoing killing of that which they confess they know not what. (And I really don’t like it that even when an abortion fails that politicians like Sen. Obama assert that it can be left up to the abortionist who just attempted to kill such a child – and who might be exposed to future legal liabilities should such a child live –as to whether such a child is viable. At least flipping a coin would give the tot – a real, living out of the womb child, more of a chance than leaving him or her to the tender mercies of a bungling would-be butcher. Senator Obama’s vote to turn a blind eye to a situation rife for infanticide was a major deal breaker for me – and this from a “liberal” who is so concerned about regulation in almost every other sphere of economic and social life. He might not be pro-infanticide, but his is certainly a “don’t ask, don’t tell position” about what happens in the privacy of a (usually) federally subsidized clinic between an abortionist and his employees, a woman too likely to be aware enough to judge the situation and a child who has somehow been stubborn enough to refuse to die when ejected from his or her mother’s womb. Senator Obama’s later unrepentant slandering of those who called him on his own vote is just icing on the cake and only raises the question of whether he is more vacuous or malignant not whether he is unfit for office – it really is too high above his current paygrade, much less that which he is now seeking).
As to the corruption of our politics and society – I don’t think it is too far of a reach to say that in spite of several later ex cathedra pronouncements of the Supreme Court that abortion remains the most polarizing issue in our politics precisely because of the Court’s shutting down popular efforts via the legislative process to advance pro-life views (and when Senator Biden asserts that ideology is now a key part of how he evaluates judges, we are in a country where law and justice is simply and solely politics – who needs that stinking separation of powers since we now know everything is politics?) I would also note that the same logic that is encouraging abortion already has opened the door to legalized euthanasia and is thus further corrupting the medical profession and public life in our and other countries that practice it. Three instances of this are: In Oregon insurance companies are refusing to pay for certain treatments but enouraging suicide.
Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), lamented that Gov. Palin’s decision to birth rather than abort Trig will lead to more Downs babies being born – if that is not pro-abortion eugenics (as opposed to being simply pro-choice), what is?
The Baroness Warnock on the “duty to die” of the old who are forcing the young to “waste their lives” caring for them. (the lawyer for Jack Kevorkian made a similar argument where he connected the dots between euthanasia and abortion and Peter Singer actually advocates legalizing the killing of living children up to two years old whom he terms “neonates” (so termed because for Dr. Singer, a person “ refer[s] to a being who is capable of anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future” – therefore he says
“So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living. That doesn’t mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do. It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents.” (Do read his whole section on “The Sanctity of Human Life” and note the exquisite use of “perhaps” by this philosopher)
and remember that this is not some isolated crank of no influence but the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the Princeton – he has even more interesting thoughts about the handicapped that are discussed here)
Also, at a time when everyone is talking about the high costs of medical services and we are about to see an unprecedented number of baby boomers retire, age and stress the health care system even more, it doesn’t take a hunting dog and a Ouija board to track down the places where our national conversation is likely to go, with or without socialized medicine. To be plain, we already have in place the legal, cultural and ethical sensibilities that will further justify the mass killing of the largest wave of elderly citizens yet to become a “burden” on our time, compassion and finances. Our hearts are growing as hard as our heads are soft by not thinking through the fact that abortion and the way it was forced upon us over a generation by a feckless Supreme Court whose legal reasoning included finding “auras and penumbras” of the Constitution. Such raw judicial power continues to corrupt all it touches, from our law and politics to our medicine and personal relations. (I for one am waiting for when suicide between two consenting adults in their own private arena via dueling is no longer off limits, and, when combined with the freedom of expression will result in the return of public blood sports – maybe the decision can be titled Romulus vs. Wade since Roe v. Wade did use ancient practices of abortion as part of the precedent it cited).
In a free country of course it is your right to continue to support a legal and cultural status quo that already has aborted millions its children and is now evolving so as to shame, devalue and kill (in very small numbers, now it is sure) its weakest and most vulnerable. I suppose support for the search of a eugenically more pure and healthy Rasse (such as President Clinton’s Surgeon General, J. Elders– who over 15 years ago praised the role of abortion in the virtual disappearance of certain genetic diseases) is fair game as well. But please don’t think that those who oppose this already visible brave new world are simply being blindly religious theocratic Christianists indifferent or hostile to the secular dimensions of life and politics even if, for many of us our sense of the sanctity of human life does tie in with our religious values. My reasons for opposing a culture of death that is comfortable with abortion, eugenics and euthanasia are in their foundations “secular” – human life as sacred should be something any person of good will can acknowledge, as Hippocretes did almost 2,400 years ago when he provided those who would follow him with an oath not to do to death unborn children or administer deadly drugs. I do not need sacred scriptures, an ecclesial hierarchy or visions of the divine to hold these views, though I do find a great deal of comfort in belonging to a Church where those values are defended vigorously and publicly.
Finally, my concerns are not only abstract, philosophical or based upon a disembodied understanding of cultural and political evolution (or devolution). I believe that among most historians and Americans (as well as many Europeans) there is a consensus that the last time a culture embraced the concept of Lebensunwertes Leben/life unworthy of life, or sought to be “purified” of genetic ailments by abortion and sterilization* things didn’t go so brilliantly. (And just to preempt the Nazis only opposed birth control for the eugenically superior among Germans – they were enthusiastic about birth control, abortion and sterilization for their own defectives and the many tens of millions of their Slavic neighbors and other inferiors, just as some of our best and brightest judge are arguing that the poor and less valued already are doing us all a great deal of trouble by not being born). We are not Nazis of course (but then, in all fairness most Germans were not in 1933) but we are growing more callous and cost conscious all the time – a very bad combination for the weak at home and abroad and one likely to end not only in a moral, but also cultural, political and international calamity.