The New Horizon of the Pro-Life Debate

Recently I have listened to a couple stories on NPR regarding the use of genetic testing to determine if an abortion should be used. This story describes a woman who discovered her child could potentially grow up mentally retarded and therefore chose to terminate the pregnancy.

She and her husband determined that they would always love each other if they had the abortion, but their relationship might not survive if they had to care for a child with a handicap.

I don’t wish to discuss the legality of such choice (my abiding position is that all abortion should be banned). Rather, I hope the Church will recognize the grave sin of such actions and the danger for society.

First, this is a travesty simply for its destruction of human life. The woman in the story had no qualms about describing the child as a “baby”. She did not want to hide from the darkness of her actions. Instead, it was a necessary decision to preserve her marriage. She did not try to white wash the action by saying, “The pregnancy needed to be terminated, so we chose to have the fetus removed.” Instead she says, “I wanted him to be dead.” Humanity has no problem with the death of our neighbor, especially when they pose a nuisance to us.

Second, this is a travesty because it delegitimatizes those who are living with mental retardation or physical deformities. It says to them, “You are lucky we didn’t catch you when we had the chance. You are a scourge to our society and you would be better off dead.”

Third, this is a travesty because human life is only measured by its ability to fit in with our social expectations of what a functioning human life should look like.  Potentially, parents will discover their child will have ADHD and be a distraction to their classmates, thus necessitating an abortion.  Perhaps a child will be too short and not have the physical strength to be a good athlete.  You may say this is a straw man.  You would be right if this were 1930.  We’ve already had the holocaust.  The world knows what humans capable of doing.  Nothing of difference is safe.  That is, nothing different is safe from us, because nothing of difference can be considered safe for us.

Fourth, this is a travesty because it is the first step to forced abortion.  What?! Don’t be ridiculous, enough with your straw men Seth.  But wait, what of China?  Even in this twenty-first century the freedom to reproductive choice is not universal.  When the government has largely taken power over the banks, the auto industry, health care and education, does it really take that much of a step to get to a point where the government can step in and say, “Your fetus will suffer from bipolar disorder, this will be detrimental to our education system.  We need our students to have focused homogeneous  classroom experiences so they can become highly productive workers in our factories to produce profits for our banks.  Therefore your pregnancy is scheduled to be terminated tomorrow at 4:00 PM.  Like the HPV vaccine, this is a mandatory procedure, so please be sure to come to your appointment on time.”

I will close with a quote from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae:

“Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives.”

May the Church continue to be a bastion of hope and life in a world of darkness.  May God’s children always revere His Sacred Image.  May we pronounce resurrection and life in every corner of creation. Amen.

This entry was posted in Church.

2 comments on “The New Horizon of the Pro-Life Debate

  1. Sethorton says:

    Should these seem like slippery slope arguments, it may be worth considering Rwanda, or South African Apartheid, or sectarian violence in Iraq…

    Though my detractors may be right, perhaps we Americans are too sophisticated to commit any form of genocide. Though the way some people talk about illegal immigrants makes me wonder if aliens are in danger of uninhibited violence.

  2. Jack H says:


    The point you make about devaluing human life based on our definition of imperfections has been an ongoing discussion since Roe v. Wade. Even here in Grand Rapids, back around 1988, Judy Frey was quoted in the Grand Rapids Press concerning her activisim for legalized abortion and her role as a spokesperson for the movement locally. As I recall from my aging memory, her basic argument was rooted in her own personal experience. As one who was remarried in her 40s, and then had children with her second husband, she explained that if it had not been for the existence of genetic testing and abortion, she would not have planned on additional children. She referred to her two young sons as being evidence of the blessing of abortion. The simple point she was making was that at her age, the statistical likelyhood of genetic defects was on the upswing. Therefore, the option of using elective abortion to eliminate any “imperfect” products of conception made the thought of starting a second family acceptable. I have repeatedly used this line of reasoning to explain how the offspring that fortunately survive such a utilitarian mindset, or functional approach to human worth, would certainly be more likely to take the same approach to dealing with eventual human fraility on behalf of their parents as age began to reduce their level of function. As others have defined it we should expect the generation that survived abortion to be have a similar attitude toward the generation that tolerated abortion when age takes it’s inevitable toll on their lives.

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