Thursday, September 3, 2020

Is Abortion Murder? Not a Question to Be Taken Lightly

Despite having taught a bioethics course and debated abortion at length in the college classroom over ten years ago, I have come to my mature views on this question only recently. For what it is worth I'd like to weigh in. Emily and I have had many conversations on this and we have both reached an equally strong conviction. Too many lives are at stake to remain silent.

Since abortion was legalized in the U.S. there have been an average of 1.4 million abortions every year. So whether abortion is murder is a crucial question. I recently heard this analogy: say you wanted to demolish a building. Some people are telling you it's okay to blow it up because no one lives there. Other people are telling you that there are definitely people living in that building so it would be murder to blow it up. Who should you listen to? What is the safest course of action?

Given that people disagree over whether abortion is right or wrong, how is our situation different from the above? Might it not be better to play it safe?

Some will say: but shouldn't we allow each mother to decide based on their own moral convictions?

This leads to another analogy that I keep hearing, and it's a good one. In Nazi Germany some people thought it was okay to kill Jews and some thought it was wrong. Who was playing it safe, ethically speaking? Who was vindicated in the end? Who most needed to speak up? Does freedom of choice even come into play here? Do we want to say that those Germans who killed Jews were simply exercising their right to choose?

There was a time when I believed that abortion was permissible because the unborn child is not conscious yet. According to this view early-term abortions are especially unproblematic. According to this view, the idea that the unborn child has a soul seems like superstition. Without consciousness, it would seem that there isn't really a soul to be concerned about. And even if there is a soul preexisting the body, as some believe, then why couldn't that soul simply be born somewhere else?

This entire line of thinking is completely alienated, more and more people are coming to realize, from the sanctity of human life. The value of a life is not somehow proportional with how conscious it is. To believe this leads to the eugenic view that more intelligent people are more valuable. Unless we admit that all human life is equally sacred, then we detract from the value of every life, because all of us are very far from perfect intelligence. As to the view that unborn lives are interchangeable, so can be "born somewhere else", this is demonstrably false. At conception that child already has a unique sequence of DNA, never to be seen again in the history of the universe. Even twins, due to slightly different events as they grow and develop, will begin to diverge as soon as they start growing in the womb, and are never exactly the same, even just after they are conceived. So each unborn life is unique, and this uniqueness is inherently valuable, inherently real, and inherently sacred.

By the same token, the value of a life is not proportional to how well that baby will be taken care of after it is born. This again is basically eugenics, the argument that people whose quality of life is low should not be allowed to live, that it is better if they were never even born. But God loves all of us equally, and there can be no question of the sanctity of all life, whether living in poverty or not. You cannot justify killing an unborn child because it will have a "low quality of life" any more than the Nazis were justified in slaughtering the handicapped.

For these reasons, as I believe with many others, Roe v. Wade was a mistake. In fact, Jane Roe (whose real name is Norma McCorvey) who originally sued for the right to have an abortion in 1970, later in life became friends with the leader of an anti-abortion group, converted to Catholicism, and became an anti-abortion activist herself. The story of Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director, was very similar, and if you haven’t heard about her yet, you might want to look her up.

The pro-life movement is growing. The number of abortions performed in 2019 was almost half of the number performed in 1990. Fortunately, more and more people are waking up to the rational, moral, and spiritual arguments against it. Since the beginning, abortion doctors and workers themselves have been turning against the practice. 

This article has more about the connections between eugenics and abortion, and offers some ways to get involved.

No comments:

Post a Comment