- - Sunday, March 11, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Culture challenge of the week: The temptation to say nothing

Decades ago, when Roe v. Wade was decided, conservatives and many religious folks predicted the country had begun an inevitable slide toward a murderous future: a time when certain people — in addition to unprotected preborn children — would be declared less valuable than others, their killing justified.

Back then, liberal voices jeered at the warnings of the slippery slope ahead. But those fears have become real. Medically sanctioned starvation and death-inducing dehydration are passed off as a “peaceful death” for the terminally ill or elderly. Our own president could not bring himself to vote, as an Illinois state senator, to protect infants born alive after an abortion. (They were simply left to die — which was what their mothers wanted, after all.)

And now, the advocates of death have stepped up the tempo. A new generation of ethicists has begun making the case in favor of so-called “after-birth abortion.” Like Princeton University’s Peter Singer, they believe infants are not “persons” entitled to the right to life. Why? Because infants, while human, are not “self-aware.” These ethicists assert that human beings who lack self-awareness are not “persons” and, if they are not persons, they have no independent moral status, no automatic right to life and no claim to the protections of law.

The question of whether a newborn child would be allowed to live or die, the “ethicists” argue, would depend solely on the wishes of his or her parents. The same reasons that might “justify” an abortion at three months’ gestation would justify an “after-birth abortion” — i.e., the parents can kill a child who is inconvenient, disabled, the “wrong” gender or simply unwanted.

This new thinking shreds the quality-of-life facade that’s often used to justify the abortion of a handicapped child: The only “quality of life” that matters here is that of the parents. If a child’s life portends financial burden or stress for the parents — or cost to the state — that would be reason enough for parents to snuff the life out of their own offspring.

This is our future: An infant’s claim on life will be no greater than that of a preborn child — nonexistent.

More precisely, this is our future unless we fight back — loudly.

How to save your family: Speak out

I wrote recently about the importance of electing a candidate who understands that cultural issues — the plight of our fractured families — underlie many of our nation’s problems. And that’s true. Electing a president who will value the lives of all Americans — born, preborn, disabled, elderly or marginalized — is hugely important.

At the same time, however, our personal responsibility runs deeper than casting a vote: No matter which candidate we support, each one of us must act within our own spheres of influence to affirm the value of all life. We must speak up bluntly to unmask this “ethical” proposal for what it is: pure evil.

This evil of “after-birth abortion” serves up the opportunity to open conversations with your friends and family who are advocates of a woman’s “right to choose.” Where does that “right” logically end? Only at arbitrary junctures. What’s the difference between a baby one hour before birth and one hour after?

Challenge others to recognize abortion’s slippery slope. Raise the issue with those who think “divisive issues” such as abortion are best unmentioned. Who can remain silent in the face of such outrageous views, peddled as ethical decision-making? Make no mistake — remaining silent will bring defeat, because our silence in the face of such an abominable proposal cloaks it with respectability.

Have a conversation over dinner tonight with your children about the right to life. Do they understand that all life — simply because it is human life — deserves to be protected? Have they absorbed the utilitarian messages of our culture that measures the value of human life by what it produces or experiences or even by the burdens it creates for others? Do they recognize that evil advances when we, as a people, shrink from uncomfortable discussions?

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@howtosaveyourfamily.com.

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