A few weeks ago, members of uOttawa Students for Life did some chalking around campus, helping to bring messages of truth and of love for preborn children and their mothers to our fellow students.
This morning, members of uOttawa Students for Life joined almost one hundred other volunteers from We Need A Law to plant 100,000 blue and pink flags on Parliament Hill. Each of these flags represents one of the 100,000 children killed by abortion in Canada every year since the Morgentaler decision in 1988.
The children represented by these flags were not much loved in life, and have rarely been remembered in death, except perhaps by their mothers and fathers, many of whom grieve by the loss of their children to abortion. But for most of us, these children’s lives ended so soon after they began that their deaths passed us by unnoticed and largely uncared for.
Today we took a stand to remember these children and to witness to the injustice committed against them. These children will never laugh or cry. They were never read a book or watch a play. They will never see a sunset. And they will never feel the embrace of the one they love. They were killed before any of that. They are victims of our individualist and consumer culture, as are their parents. But they will not go unremembered, at least not while we have anything to say about it.
Because we are pro-life. We want the unwanted. We defend the defenceless. And we witness to the beauty, the power, and the meaning of every single human life from conception till natural death.
The abortion debate is characterized by a mess of misinformation, fallacy, and ignorance. Objections about the quality of a child’s life, a woman’s personal choice, a child’s wantedness, and children of rape are all, in reality, surface level arguments that attempt to mask the real problem faced by pro-aborts: how do they redefine a fetus’ personhood? Most people would agree we can’t kill an 3 year old girl because her mother can’t afford to feed her; we don’t give a mother a “personal choice” to end her life because she is unwanted. A university student cannot be knifed in the back because he was a child of rape. These are not the real issues. In order to justify abortion, it must be established that they do not have any human rights; they must be denied personhood.
Denying personhood is not an easy intellectual or philosophical feat, which is why the above arguments are favorites of those defending the killing of unborn children. Science will not help them out; the evidence clearly shows that a fetus is alive, growing, and has human parents. According to the law of biogenesis, this fetus is human. It’s not a parasite, and it’s not an organ. The problem a pro-abortion intellectual faces is the redefinition of life. They must discern when, if not at conception, human rights do apply. Canada’s criminal code defines it as the moment that the child is completely born; this legal definition has no foundation, no scientific rhyme or reason, and is essentially indefensible from a philosophical standpoint. Others have tried harder to find that crucial point at which human rights apply, and have been forced form conclusions that cross accepted social boundaries. Philosopher Michael Tooney argues that in order for a human to have rights, it must be capable of having interests. Because an unborn child or a newborn presumably does not have the ability to take interest in it’s abilities or future, it does not deserve the protection of its life. Taking a similar but not identical stance, Peter Singer states that a being’s humanity is irrelevant to the wrongness of killing it; rather, it is characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that give someone human rights. He argues that infants and the unborn do not possess these characteristics, and therefore should be able to be killed. The problem is that neither of these arguments is more convincing than the other, or is convincing at all. Attempting to redefine personhood opens up a philosophical can of worms; the necessity of defining some sort of personhood in order to protect human rights in some form results in subjective, arbitary ideas of what merits human rights, as shown above.
The effects of denying personhood are tragic, inevitable, and unfortunately obvious. In Canada, from 2000 – 2009, 491 babies died after they were born alive after failed abortions. According to the Criminal Code, these babies should have rights, and the abortionists should be prosecuted for murder; however, respect for personhood has declined to the extent that there was no criminal investigation. In Belgium, Parliament is poised to allow child euthanasia for gravely ill children; in other words, the state is about to sanction the murder of sick kids. Denial of personhood does not only affect children; in the Netherlands, the number of elderly persons killed by euthanasia has more than doubled in the decade since it was legalised.
These tragedies, this complete disregard for human life, is really but the logical outworking of a dangerous philosophy. Taking the definition of personhood into our own hands and changing it to suit our subjective ideas of the what is a valued life, only leads further and further into the moral chaos described above.
This short clip features interviews with Canadians about assisted suicide. Unfortunately, no one presents any reason to oppose it, but what’s particularly interesting is how the third person arrives at a perfectly logical conclusion based on society’s premises. Indeed, we don’t give preborn children a choice when we end their lives, so what is there to stop consenting adults from ending their own? (Though of course in practice the sick would feel coerced into ‘choosing’ euthanasia because they don’t want to be a burden and disabled children would be candidates for euthanasia because adults deem their life, the only one they have, not worth living by an able-bodied person’s standards.) And really, why do we have suicide prevention programs and hotlines when it all boils down to an individual deciding whether his or her life is bearable? This is not to be provocative – it’s a natural extension “if that’s the logic,” as the young man in the video says.
Many people genuinely believe that being compassionate requires supporting abortion and euthanasia, even when they feel in their heart of hearts that it’s wrong. Active compassion, however, means staying by a friend or family member’s side even when their life takes an unexpected turn, for however long that might take. Isn’t it worth considering that we might not know when the best time for death is? For instance, there are many cases of people on their deathbed who hold on until a family member arrives to say goodbye. Moreover, isn’t it strange that it’s at this time in history, when medicine advances at incredible speed and we can do more than ever to manage pain, that there’s this desire to have death on demand available? The idea that there could be value in suffering and sacrifice, that there are some things that we can’t choose and plan, has become so completely foreign to our society that the general sentiment is that they are to be avoided at all costs, up to and including death. Life is already short, so let’s get out there and respond by educating people with life-affirming logic!
Like the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition on Facebook or follow Alex Schadenberg’s blog to learn more and keep up to date. We should all be able to give an articulate defense of life!
DefendGirls is a new campaign to provide information and raise awareness about sex-selective abortion. I recommend taking a look at the DefendGirls Facebook page or at the website defendgirls.ca. The site offers information about the issue and about Motion 408, the motion recently filed in the House of Commons asking parliamentarians to condemn sex-selective abortions as discrimination against girls. The site also provides suggestions and links for further action and has a very interesting blog. DefendGirls stickers, postcards, business cards and t-shirts can be purchased through the NCLN website.
Ghost in the House~
Come, child. It’s evening. Come to me
And sit with me once more.
Let’s rock here while the others sleep.
Let’s see — your sister’s four;
The baby is three months today;
Your little brother’s two,
And I have not decided if I’ll tell them about you.
And you, you would be eight this year.
I do not know your name.
The color of your eyes, or hair,
Or where, or how, to blame.
The fear was all, the fear of change,
For I saw change as loss.
Against my dreams, my plans, my life
You seemed so small a cost,
Not knowing how your presence
Altered how I felt and thought,
Not knowing how you changed me
In the mix the hormones brought.
And you were not a child to me
But sickness, pain, and fear —
But oh, I know, I know you now,
Now that these three are here!
Your scent, your weight within my arms,
Your head upon my breast –
I did not know these things when I decided what was best.
And I am lost and so confused
And don’t know how to feel,
For you, who were an illness,
Every year become more real;
Your sister and your brothers,
They proclaim you as they grow.
They make it harder still to face
The coldest truth I know:
That knowing – feeling – only
What I knew and felt back then,
I cannot say I would not make
This saddest choice again.
Oh! My little lost unknown,
My first and neverborn,
Forgive the ignorance that sent you
To the dark, unmourned!
And no, it isn’t every day
I find your shadow here;
Most times I’m far too busy
For reflection or for tears,
But sometimes, when the children sleep
And I have time alone,
I sit down in the dark, and rock,
And bring my baby home.
Healing is possible after abortion. Groups like Rachel’s Vineyard offer caring, confidential retreats and there are numbers to call like the National Helpline for Abortion Recovery: 1-866-482-LIFE.
A few links for you today featuring parents who accepted an unexpected diagnosis and experienced unforeseen love and joy.
There are two videos with fathers talking about their child who has a disability. This father is a well-liked and respected teacher who he shares his story about his son with his students every year.
If you didn’t see this one last fall about a perfectionist dad who is transformed by his daughter with Down Syndrome, it is absolutely worth watching. As a comment below the video says, it should be required viewing for all parents told they are expecting a child with Down Syndrome.
This week, a story that speaks to the power of ultrasounds was published about a young couple glad to have been able to hold their baby in their arms:
The couple were offered the chance to terminate the baby at 24-weeks.
But despite his poor prognosis, being able to watch her son in real time 3D scans during the screening tests, Miss Rowe said she was astonished to see him smiling, blowing bubbles, kicking and waving his arms.
She said: ‘Despite all the awful things I was being told, while he was inside me his quality of life looked to be wonderful and no different to any other baby’s, he was a joy to watch.
‘I was told he would never walk or talk yet the scans showed him constantly wriggling and moving.
‘As I watched I knew that while I was carrying him he still had a quality of life and it was my duty as a mother to protect that no matter how long he had left, he deserved to live.
Finally, what a great idea! Changing the Face of Beauty promotes using individuals with disabilities in advertising. The pictures are fantastic, and it’s about time our definition of beauty became more inclusive.