Why Life Matters

I am heartened to see that abortion has become a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. I am even more happy to see that the Democratic Party is spending far more time discussing it this time around than the GOP. While I certainly hope the Romney-Ryan ticket steps up and delivers a strong pro-life message in the final months before the election, the fact that the Democrats are now making such a big stink about it demonstrates that even they must acknowledge the awesome power of the pro-life movement.

This movement, of which I consider myself a small and rather insignificant (but eternal) member, is more than political lobby. Unlike the various lobbies that represent the special interest groups and key demographics that prop up both the Democrats and the GOP, the pro-life movement represents a group that can’t vote, can’t contribute to campaigns, and can’t even speak for itself, the truly least among us.

Given this new-found interest in abortion, the sort of things people are likely to hear as the DNC continues to unfold this week, and the fact that I believe basic refreshers are good from time to time, I want to discuss the pro-life point of view a bit. I cannot be comprehensive here, but I will raise some of the issues I think are fundamentally important in this debate.

Many of our opponents do not really understand what it is that motivates us and drives us. To them, to quote one pro-choice radical feminist I recently witnessed on a news program, we pro-lifers apparently believe that “a fetus has more rights than a pregnant woman.” Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. We believe in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, that all men (males and females) are endowed with inalienable rights at the moment of their creation. The life inside the pregnant woman is not more valuable than the pregnant woman; they have the same value and are worthy of the same protection under the laws of a just, civilized, and humane society.

And what is this thing, this “fetus” we apparently get so worked up about? Our opponents usually classify it as a blob of cells, or perhaps more generously as a “potential person.” A potential person, in their view, cannot carry the same moral importance as what I imagine would have to be called an actualized or fully-realized person. Take a moment, however, to think about this concept: a “fully-realized” person.

When did you stop growing? When did you stop becoming? At what age did new information cease to alter the way in which you interact with the world and shape your perceptions of reality? Almost every cell in our bodies will die and be replaced. Many of our old memories will disappear and be overwritten by new ones. Our beliefs, our values, our relationships, our very identities will change over the course of our life. Who we are today is so radically different than who we were ten years ago that it seems almost absurd to talk about a “fully realized” person. Life is an indivisible and miraculous journey from the first division of the first cell until the moment we die.

Abortion does more than harm and ultimately destroy an innocent, defenseless human being  in the womb, however. It has an effect on everything: on the mother of the aborted child, on its father, on the child’s siblings, on the doctor who commits the wicked deed, on the nurses who aid and abet, on the receptionists who work at the front desk, on all of society, which grows more callous and more indifferent towards the truly vulnerable (as opposed to victim groups conjured up for political gain). It is a violent, destructive process that results in the dismemberment of a tiny human being, a recognizable human form. As long as this deed was done in the dark people could imagine it was just some cells being sucked out of a uterus, but thanks to us the world now knows what it really looks like.

Is this who we are as a people? Is this what we want to be one of the cornerstones of our civilization, one of the evidences of how far we have “progressed”? To speak of “progress” becomes impossible in the presence of such barbarism!

Many people who have heard one or two things about logical fallacies in their lives will say that pro-lifers are guilty of using the “slippery slope” fallacy. But it is not a fallacy in itself to simply point out the potential consequences of a course of action. In my view, the arguments that deny the “personhood” of the unborn child in the first-trimester easily apply not only to the unborn child in later trimesters, but infants, small children, the mentally disabled, people in comas, people severely addicted to drugs, the elderly and even people with low IQs. It is only a matter of time before what professional “ethicists” prescribe in their academic literature begins to get a fair hearing from the increasingly secular governments of the Western world.

Who is to say how far the principles currently applied to the legal termination of unborn human beings can be taken? Even people who cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the existence of a God who cares must see the potential danger, a downward spiral into a collective cruelty and callousness towards the voiceless and the weak from which humanity may not recover.

There are also those who believe that legalized abortion is compassionate. “Think of the terrible lives these unwanted children would live,” they implore us. Even if what they posit is true, the right to life means that I, and only I, have the right to decide whether or not my life is worth living. I was never the property of my mother, to be disposed of as garbage after suffering a violent dismemberment. I was a a created being with rights from the beginning, and so were you, and so were all of the countless millions of abortion’s victims. With that said, however, no one knows how any life will turn out, or what greatness and glory can be salvaged from a life of poverty, illness or abuse.

In conclusion, an excellent pro-life activist once summed up the entire abortion issue in two very succinct statements that I use to this day:

If abortion isn’t murder, then no argument for it is necessary. If abortion is murder, then no argument for it is possible. 

All that matters in this debate is whether or not abortion constitutes the morally unjustifiable killing of an innocent human being. Absolutely nothing else is relevant. The moment you bring up difficult life circumstances, the societal burden of “unwanted people”, the alleged population problem, or even what must be called the  property rights of the mother, you’ve completely missed the point.

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  1. Many people who have heard one or two things about logical fallacies in their lives will say that pro-lifers are guilty of using the “slippery slope” fallacy.

    I have not encountered the accusation of the pro-life argument being a “slippery slope”. I have seen it in the context of pro-marriage/anti SSM debates. In what context is the pro-life argument slippery slope? It seems the exact opposite to me – it is based upon the inescapable logic that an unborn human being is a person.

    All human beings are persons. An unborn human is a human being. Therefore, an unborn human being is a person. You might not agree with the second premise (or maybe even the first), but then it is up to the pro-abort to prove those premises wrong. It is not “slippery slope”.

  2. A very large number of younger pro-abort Dems are also products of public education, and as such are, well, ignorant as the day is long. While it’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel, it is still gratifying to walk them down the primrose path in a discussion of “societal good” versus the God-given rights of a created being, using their own arguments against them until we arrive here.

    I have zipped many a pie-hole this way. Can’t say if it stuck, but getting them to think is a good first step.

  3. Tertullian pretty well disposed of the “potential person” argument over 1,800 years ago, when he said, “With us, homicide being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even what is conceived in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood for its sustenance. To prevent a birth is to hasten homicide; nor does it matter whether you take away the life [animam] from one that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a human being which is going to be one; every fruit is already in the seed.” [Homo est et qui est futurus; etiam fructus omnis iam in semine est] (Apologeticum 9:8)

    By the by, “animam” is here used in the usual Latin sense of “life,” not “soul” in the philosophical sense.

    Tertullian is plainly giving, not his own opinion, but is speaking for the Christian community of the 2nd century – “With us…”

  4. WK Aiken, I copied a part of that T4 for this post.

    ‘ In October 1939, Hitler signed a back-dated “euthanasia decree” to 1 September 1939 which authorised Bouhler and Brandt to carry out the programme of “euthanasia” (translated into English as follows):

    “Reich Leader Bouhler and Dr. med. Brandt are charged with the responsibility of enlarging the competence of certain physicians, designated by name, so that patients who, on the basis of human judgment [menschlichem Ermessen], are considered incurable, can be granted mercy death [Gnadentod] after a discerning diagnosis.”[12][13]

    [hide] 1 Background
    2 Implementation
    3 Killing of children
    4 Killing of adults
    5 Gassing
    6 Victim numbers
    7 Opposition
    8 Postwar legacy 8.1 The Doctors’ Trial
    8.2 Others involved in the programme

    9 See also
    10 Notes
    11 References
    12 External links’

    Never have I seen such a grim table of contents.

    I am struck by the polar opposite of civilization in the quote from 2nd cenury which Michael Patterson-Seymour gave us to describe what life matters to Christians.

    Day into night for such a great many people who cannot suffer the God that made them.
    Some are gathered at the DNC.

  5. PM

    The idea of “a life unworthy of life” was current in Germany before the Nazis took it up. It was already in the air amongst the liberal intellectuals of Weimar. The 80 year old jurist Karl Binding and the psychiatrist Alfred Hoche brought out a famous book in 1920 – Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwertem Lebens [Allowing the Destruction of Life unworthy of Life.” It really is as vile as its title suggests.

    Regarding the mentally ill, Binding wrote, they are “living pointless lives and are a burden for society and their families”. He also believed it to be unfair on carers to keep such “lives unworthy of living” alive. As for the risk of mistakes, “humanity constantly loses so many lives by mistake, that just one more would hardly make a difference.” That such a man should have been Professor of Criminal Law at Heidelberg speaks volumes.

  6. My first thought was that I forgot about the Weimar Republic, and now have homework.

    Then: I wonder if the seated President, with his Nobel Peace Prize awarded in anticipation, could be analogous to the Professor of Criminal Law at Heidelberg for having the same lack of regard for a life.

    The Professor as to lives needing carers, the President as to infants born alive; both using the lives of the caregiver and mother as victims to defend murderous intent.

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