3/2/12

"After-birth abortion"?

"You shall not kill." -Exodus 20:13 (RSV)

"Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys; do not have illicit sex; do not steal; do not practice magic; do not practice witchcraft; you shall not murder a child, whether it be born or unborn. Do not covet the things of your neighbor." -Didache 2:2 (a late 1st or early 2nd Century Christian guidebook)

Drawing upon Scripture and Christian Tradition, Christian ethicists have condemned an article published in The Journal of Medical Ethics in which Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that newborn babies do not have a “moral right to life” because they are not “actual persons” but rather “potential persons”.

Read more at Christianity Today or at FoxNews.

You may need to re-read that because it is truly shocking. These medical ethicists are in fact arguing that it is perfectly acceptable to kill human babies, based upon a narrowing of the definition of "person." According to their argument laid out in the well-known British academic journal, there is a difference between a human being and a human person. Not all humans are, by their philosophy, "persons" in the proper sense. The Journal of Medical Ethics has even defending publishing the article, after some questioned why a prestigious academic journal would promote such an idea in the first place.

I would hope it was obvious that such an approach to ethics is extremely dangerous, not to mention completely contrary to the Judeo-Christian moral tradition that has insisted that there are certain absolute rights and wrongs that are derived from the commandments of our Creator God. It is dangerous because it means that nobody's right to life is safe (the most basic of all rights, the one upon which all the other rights depend). Once you have allowed that someone can be a human being without being a "true person" then it only takes a few jumps of rationalization to define people of a certain age or of a certain intelligence level as "non-persons." It is only a little past that to define people of low income or education levels as non-persons ("since they cannot fully value or appreciate their lives" seems to be the argument about the babies). Of course, such a view naturally raises the question "who gets to make that determination anyways?" The academics? Those with power? Those who can win a majority vote?

The Judeo-Christian Scriptures as well as the Enlightenment tradition enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence hold that the Creator God has fashioned humans such that we all (regardless of age or intelligence) posses an inherent sacred worth, to use the Scriptural language, we are created to bear the image and likeness of God. That sacred worth is the foundation and root of our notions of human rights and dignity. One of the problems with fully secular and god-less theories of human rights, as I have discussed before, is that they do not actually stand upon any firm and universal foundation. Universal human rights simply exist so long as we all (or the majority of us) agree that they exist. This is a subtle form of "might makes right" however, and it begs the question of what happens if we, or the strongest among us, decide that they no longer exist for certain elements of the poplution - as the Nazis once did.

Perhaps it should come to no suprise that the source of this dangerous and radically "anti-Christian" re-defining of "personhood" emerges from a largely atheistic academy in a Europe where religious perspectives have been somewhat marginalized. It is not that the people who make up this academy are necessarily malicious or bad (they may often be friendlier and more pleasant than many religious believers you'll meet) it is simply that their worldview does not provide that firm foundation for absolute human rights and dignities for all people, or absolute moral imperatives; instead their "ethics" are built upon shakier ground. And ideas always have consequences.

The Christian faith, drawn from the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments has from very early on made the defense of the weak a core value of our faith. All people are created to bear God's image (Gen. 1), all people are loved by God (John 3), and each person is one for whom Christ has undergone passion and death (1 John 2). Those who have no one to speak for them, those who are on the margins or are not valued by society - the widows the orphans, the infant and indeed the unborn - have always been considered the special responsibility of the followers of Christ, who so often showed care for the unvalued. The early church surprised many ancient pagans by the ways that it valued babies (who were often thrown away if their sex was not "acceptable" or if they appeared to be otherwise "imperfect"). Infants are even capable of being baptized into the membership of the Body of Christ. The Didache is one early example of the Church's rejection of abortion and infanticide, which are now both being advocated by a "respected medical ethical journal."

It is difficult to believe at times how much our world has changed since my parents were born. Our moral consensus has collapsed into a mire of competing ideas; and now the Church must with clarity and grace, and with the authority of divine love stand up and say "I will show you a still more excellent way..." We must not only oppose any force, any idea, that preys upon and destroys the weak; but we must positively show the truer, holier, and happier life that is founded in love as the way, the only way, to Peace.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

for more see here:
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/03/what_the_afterbirth_abortion_a.html

8:40 AM, March 07, 2012  

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