Many people have been shocked by the prenatal-infanticide developments in New York and, more recently, Virginia. They shouldn’t be. Oh, disgust is certainly warranted. But anything relating to surprise, well, perhaps reflects a deeper problem.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law last week a bill that essentially allows prenatal infanticide up until birth. A Virginia bill that recently failed in committee has caused more controversy still, with critics saying it allowed prenatal infanticide even “during labor” and defenders scoffing at the claim. But if the devil (or at least the disagreement) is in the details here, what’s more interesting is that the devil is in the defenders.
The Virginia bill’s sponsor, Delegate Kathy Tran, said upon questioning that her bill would allow prenatal infanticide even when the woman was “dilating” (video below). The New York Intelligencer called this a “misstep,” but never stated it was untrue. So perhaps the issue was just that it was bad marketing.
After receiving blowback, Tran said she “misspoke.” Her bill’s co-sponsor, Delegate Dawn Adams, apologized to constituents, saying “I vaguely remember signing on to this” and that she didn’t actually read the bill. It’s the “I’m not immoral — just incompetent” defense. There’s a campaign slogan.
But Virginia Governor Ralph Northam did them one better and bolder: He suggested a baby could be killed even after birth and didn’t back down (video below).
(Note: It has now been revealed that Northam has taken $2 million from the radical prenatal-infanticide organization Planned Parenthood.)
Just as striking are his defenders. Consider how Seneca Strategies cofounder Monica Klein, appearing on the Wednesday edition of Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, refused to say that infanticide (post-birth) was wrong (video below).
Liberal commentator Julie Alvin likewise gave tacit approval the very next night on Carlson’s show (video below).
Now here’s why I said we shouldn’t be shocked: All this may come out of Hades’ bowels, but not the blue. In 2012 already, two “philosophers” published in the Journal of Medical Ethics justified “after-birth abortion”; the next year students at George Mason University signed a petition to legalize the practice; and also in 2013, an MSNBC host opined that when life begins “depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents.” This, not to mention that ancient Spartans killed newborns deemed imperfect and that the Nazis called handicapped babies (and others) “life unworthy of life.”
The point: A nation’s culture may be shockingly corrupt, but there’s nothing shocking about that nation’s laws reflecting its culture. Can we expect to have a culture of death but legislation of life?
Moreover, there’s a logic to what’s transpiring. People argue over when a baby (an entity? A thing?) in the womb becomes human. But missed is that once you say this point isn’t conception, the answer is irrelevant because it always takes you to the same place. Consider what I wrote in 2013 (and other times):
It doesn’t really matter what month one says human life “may” begin because we’re always presented with the same correlative questions. What week of that month? What day of that week? What hour and minute of that day? And, then, what second of that minute?
This lends perspective. For what we then must accept is that one second the intrauterine entity isn’t a person, but the next second it — although I suppose at that moment we can say “he” — somehow magically becomes one.
… [T]his logic also applies to the justification of abortion throughout pregnancy ... and beyond. After all, if it’s okay to kill the intrauterine being in a certain month, what is the exact week, day, hour, and second of that month before which it isn’t morally licit?
But here is the reality:... If it’s all right to murder an innocent person one second, there is no reason to think it isn’t okay the next, and then the next and the next and ... well, finish the progression.
So all that’s happening today is that leftists are coming closer to finishing the progression. Is this surprising? From pre-natal to post-natal infanticide is not a logical leap, just an emotional one.
Yet, do note, the same is true going the other way. If you’d say you’re aghast at prenatal infanticide at a certain point — the third trimester or otherwise — dial it back second by second and then ask: Why does it suddenly, that second, become okay? Is my acceptance of that kill-worthy moment based in science or reason — or just emotion?
Having said this, science and reason are not sufficient here, and this relates to a fundamental pro-lifer mistake: thinking that convincing people human life begins at conception wins the battle. Well, let me share a story.
One day back in high school, a very interesting English teacher asked our class a moral question: If pressing a button got you a million dollars, but a little old man — with no family, friends, or ties of any kind — in the backwoods of China would die, would you push that button?
Approximately a third of the class raised their hands in the affirmative.
As philosopher G.K. Chesterton put it, “Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.” Yet calling a thing evil and knowing it is evil can be two different things, and this brings us to our problems’ root cause.
It happens to be the same root cause Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn identified after seeking the explanation for his native land’s Russian Revolution-disgorged trials and tribulations. It’s something older people had told him as a child, something he probably considered too simplistic at first but that all his studies, pondering, and labors finally bore out.
“Men have forgotten God,” he wrote, “that’s why all this has happened.”
We should ponder this as the West descends into a smug, self-assured atheism. If there’s no God, if this material fold is all that exists and, therefore, we’re not spirit but mere flesh, what is man?
He then is but some pounds of chemicals and water — an organic robot — or as botanist Lawrence Trevanion has put it, an “object that perceives.” And what could be wrong with terminating an inconvenient robot’s function?
Ultimately, we won’t respect human life without believing it’s sacred, and we won’t consider it sacred without believing the sacred exists. Today’s sophisticates tell us, however, that animals are just cosmic accidents and people are just animals — and we kill animals all the time.
Photo at top shows a protester holding a sign while Gov. Northam speaks at a news conference, Jan. 31, 2019: AP Images