Thursday, January 24, 2013

"I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing."

Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing for is brazenly honest in her assessment of abortion.  I am thankful that the lines are becoming more clear.  I am deeply saddened by her conclusion.  You should be too.
All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.  (my emphasis)

When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.

When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb?
Please read the whole thing.

A couple thoughts...

1.  The most honest reflection on abortion will demand that you walk down the road to infanticide.  One can clearly see that here.  She doesn't seem to know it (maybe she does!) but she is making a great argument for infanticide.  Why not infanticide?  Honestly and calmly, why not?  If it's life in the womb, as she passionately admits, yet it's worth sacrificing, why not say we should allow mothers who have kept their babies to change their minds and sacrifice the born baby?  Honestly, why not?  

Parenting is really hard after all.  But please note, you are not allowed to say that killing infants is self-evidently wrong.  One would think that based on this woman's argument that she would be passionately pro-life, but in fact, the opposite is the case.  So really, what is all that wrong with a little infanticide?  Some lives are worth sacrificing after all.  If the unborn is worth sacrificing, why not a 12-week-old?  On what specific basis is one wrong and not the other?

Keep in mind, infanticide is where we are headed.  Don't think it's not possible.  Ten years ago I would have thought that this woman's article would not have been possible to publish in a public forum.

2.  At least she is being honest about the issue.  Everyone knows what we are doing.  "It's a life worth sacrificing."  If that doesn't make you want to weep for where we are as a country, I don't know what will.  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, there are mothers out there who are scared, poor, and alone.  May the church rise up to their defense without condemning attitudes and harsh judgments!  But being scared, poor, and alone can never justify murder.  In what parallel universe could we ever say that is justifiable?

But let me frame this differently.  How come we don't say that the child in the womb is "scared, poor, and, alone?"  If there was a three-year-old that was backed into the corner by their mother wielding a knife and saying, "Hold still, this will just take a second.  This parenting thing is too hard and I am too poor to support you" would we not define that child as certainly scared, alone, and poor in the most profound sense of those words?  Would not everything in you want to rise up and defend that child?  Is it not possible to have profound compassion for that struggling mother at the same time demand that she not kill her three-year-old?

Ok, what is the difference between that and the justification for abortion that this woman at is giving and that sadly, many Christians give for it?  What is the foundational difference between that scenario and the abortion doctor?  How come we don't define the unborn child as scared, poor, and alone?

I know why.  It's because they can't talk.  The three-year-old can scream, the unborn can't.  We couldn't bear to hear the screams of the chubby, cute, and innocent three-year-old.  We do a fine job bearing it when the killing is quiet, quick, and sterile.  As long as there is no blood and gore, we stomach it just fine.

But friends, think it through.  Think long and hard.  What is the difference?  Do we want to say that "sacrificing a life" is ok as long as it's clean and quiet and helps out a struggling person not struggle as much?

3.  She makes the case that the reason the baby is worth sacrificing is because it's "non-autonomous".  But again, an infant is the last thing from autonomous.  Any parent can quickly bring you up to speed on that fact.  As I drag my butt out of bed at 2am to feed that screaming child it is quite clear that this kid is not autonomous.  Simply put, someone will have to feed and cloth this child and protect it from the elements or it will most certainly die.  You would think that autonomy would be a horrible basis on which to"sacrifice" the unborn baby.  Evidently it's not.  So again, why not the 12-week-old too?

Friends, don't say that we can't go there as a culture.  This woman is simply a little more thought and a few more paragraphs away from leading us to quiet, quick, and sterile infanticide.   I'm not being alarmist.  Just stating a logical fact.  She is petitioning her pro-choice friends to be consistent and to not fear the language of "life".  Do they know where this consistency logically leads?

(HT:  Denny Burk)


J. Gary Ellison said...

"A life worth sacrificing." Isn't this self-contradictory language? Literally, doesn't it simply mean "a life not worth saving"? It appears to recognize the intrinsic value of the preborn but denies their worth by "sacrificing" them for another life, that of the mother. I find it to be very strange language.

Rich Starnes said...

2 thoughts:

1) This argument is not really new. Back pre-Roe, the preferred argument for abortion was based on a theory of equality: that women needed the right to abort to maintain the same freedom from pregnancy and childberth that men already have, regardless of the whether the fetus was a life. That's why a not-insignificant number of feminists didn't care for Roe's reliance on viability, which focused on fetal development to define the right to abort and thus shifted the debate.

2) We need to be careful with the "autonomy" argument. A child in the womb IS less autonomous than a child outside the womb. Sure, a newborn or toddler (or even an older child) is not self-sufficient, but that's not the same thing as being autonomous, as someone else can always provide the necessary care for a child after birth. For woman to not be "burdened" with an unwanted life that's already born only requires handing the child over to authorities and terminate parental rights, a minimal "burden" compared with pregnancy and childbirth. Thus an unborn child is, in some respects, less autonomous, giving the argument some validity (which doesn't make it right, mind you. An argument can be "valid" and still be wrong, selfish, immoral, and murderous).