I thought about these concepts recently, when I read about the paper published by two “ethicists” that made the case for what they termed “After-Birth Abortion,” subtitled “Why Should the Baby Live?” Using the “logic” of the pro-abortion movement, they argued that the reasons that justify abortion for pre-born human beings were equally applicable for babies in the days following birth. If the one is legal, the other – if we are to follow principle – should be as well. Unthinkable? Stupid? At first, I hoped that the piece was done to make the opposite point, using the revolting nature of the idea to prove that the whole concept of “legal” abortion needs to be reconsidered. But sadly that does not appear to be the case.
There is a “common sense” test that most people intuitively can make use of. The Founders of this country understood this. That’s why they put such stock in the idea of government “of, by and for” the people. We didn’t need philosopher kings or iron-fisted dictators because a properly educated and informed populace could make the best decisions for themselves. This of course presupposed some level of moral training and reasoning and a proper grounding for understanding from whence human rights come. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they proclaimed, “that we are “endowed by our Creator” with certain rights that cannot be taken from us. Central among these rights, of course, is the right to life, which government sacred duty is to protect.
Abortion on demand seems to have deadened that sensibility. Enshrined as it now is with Constitutional dimension, we seem to be forgetting that the right to life doesn’t come from the Constitution, but from a much higher source. The Constitution was meant to give structure to that higher source, at least as it relates to the running of a government. It cannot legitimize something that so clearly violates that higher law. We simply don’t get to kill innocent human beings for the reasons that today are used to justify abortion. We certainly don’t get to diminish the value of human life – as the authors do – by drawing strained distinctions between “potential” and “actual” persons. That kind of thinking led to places like Auschwitz.
A paper like “After-Birth Abortion” should serve as a wake-up call. The idea that the law should allow the murder of newborn babies for whatever reason, or no reason at all, like some primitive culture from the distant past, should be revolting. That revulsion should then prompt us to consider the deeper question: if the authors are right in their analysis – if killing new born children is in principle the same as killing pre-born children, because they are merely “potential” persons - then something is dreadfully wrong with the rationale for abortion.
Christianity helped to put a stop to child sacrifice (as well as slavery and many other barbaric customs), as the message of human worth and dignity that stems from the Bible began to take hold in the cultures that it penetrated. That is the role of the church again today; to be the “salt” and “light” that Jesus exhorted his followers to be. Like the addict who finds himself strung out, sick, and alone, we need to look backward to see where we went off course. We need to reject the self-centered and short-sighted philosophy that promised “free love” with no consequences, and embrace the concept of self-sacrifice and love of neighbor (of whatever size) that once made this country the beacon of freedom and hope for the rest of the world. Our addiction to pleasure, and our glorification of self, and of self-centeredness, may have begun with tiny steps, but they have exploded into something horrific, as the squelched cries of millions of aborted babies testify against us.
It’s time to put a stop to the downward spiral. It's time to return to the common sense that now seems increasingly uncommon. We can stop allowing ourselves to be “stupid” to the consequences of our choices. We can stop viewing the unthinkable as acceptable. We can turn back to what we once knew and embraced as a country and a people.
And if we don’t turn back - if we don't put a stop to this madness - I shudder to think what horrors tomorrow's tomorrow may hold.