Sunday, August 30, 2009
Abortion and Killing Little Children
The right to life is traditionally considered one of the fundamental, "inalienable" rights that everyone has. Abortion however, denies that right to the very youngest of children--little babies still in the womb. This is morally wrong and ought to be illegal as well. The right to life ought to be protected by government for everyone, not just adults, or wealthy people, or people whom others want, but for all people. This, I believe, includes babies and children as well. It may be argued that children do not have all the rights of adults (they cannot drink legally, nor vote, nor make contracts), and therefore the child should not have a right to life as well, and abortion should be legal. However, I disagree. If the government is going to protect some peoples’ right to live (by making murder illegal, for example) it ought to protect everyone’s right to live. As the law now stands, a woman cannot legally kill her husband. She can legally kill her child under certain circumstances. Rather than allow husband killing, in order to make the law consistent, I prefer outlawing child killing (abortion) to make the law consistent. Government, I believe, has two responsibilities that are relevant here: 1) Government must protect the community and ensure its stability and continuity. Since the community is made up of people, its continuity depends on people being there, and therefore the government must protect people. Since fear of being killed creates an unstable society that will break down, government must protect people from that fear. When I go out to lunch from my office, I have a reasonable expectation of returning an hour or so later. This is because everyone knows that if someone is out there shooting a gun wildly they will be caught and jailed for it. We know that the law, and the police who enforce it, are there to protect us. On a smaller, and more realistic scale, everyone knows that they will pay a fine for breaking traffic laws. Therefore they (usually) obey them. That means fewer people are hurt or killed in traffic accidents. If I had a reasonable fear that I would encounter people shooting guns at just about anybody, and a reasonable fear that I would encounter people driving on the wrong side of the road, I would probably just skip lunch and stay in my office. The chaos, in other words, would shut the community down completely. Therefore the government makes killing people and endangering their lives, illegal. 2) Government must protect the future of the community. There has to be a sense that the society itself is a good thing, and that it is worth passing on to future generations. This means protecting the lives of children so that they will grow up to be adults. One may argue that the child is making no contribution right now, especially if it is still a baby. It is a drain on society’s resources. This is wrong thinking all around! A baby, or child, is a commitment to the future. A community is made up of people, and if there are no people, there is no community. Government, in its function of protecting the future, thus must protect the children and babies who will BE that future. In the end, abortion should not be an individual’s choice. If someone is pregnant, then both she and the baby’s father have a responsibility—to the child, surely, but also to the world that child will live in—to ensure that this child lives, and learns to live responsibly as a member of the larger community. The society should encourage this. I do not own anyone’s life—not even the life of a person within me (if I am pregnant). I am responsible to everyone around me, to do my best by them, to be honest with them, to help them as much as I can. If that person is in my family, my responsibility is greater. If that person is inside me, then I have an even greater moral responsibility to do right by that person. I have no right to kill that person. When someone has an abortion, I have lost a person whom I might have related to, done business with, laughed with, and whom I might have served in ways that would have been good for both of us. When a society allows the killing of children, it erases many of those opportunities. Finally, it seems to me that a society that allows the killing of its children is a society that has lost faith in itself. Having children is an investment in the future. By having children I am saying that the society I live in is a good one. It offers a good life, a life worth living, and I want that kind of life to continue, and I want to help pass on the goodness of it to the next generation. When people say it is alright to kill little children, it is saying that there is nothing here worth having, and nothing here worth preserving. Someone will say, "Now, now, Fred, wait a minute! What about unwanted children? Shouldn’t the mother have some right to say whether she wants a child or not. Aren’t unwanted children a burden to society because they grow up to be dope addicts and criminals. Do we want to spend the resources prosecuting, jailing, and supporting those who, had they been killed as babies, would have been less of a problem to us all." I’m glad “you” asked that. 1) a woman should decide whether she wants a child or not before she gets into bed with a man. 2) Many “unwanted” children have grown up to become productive adults, while many doted on children have grown up spoiled, only to become criminals and drug addicts themselves. 3) Society should, by a variety of means, lead people to want children, and to value them. A society that legalizes the killing of them is implicitly saying “It is OK to not want children. There are things more important than your family. The future does not matter—live for the moment!” Such a society encourages mothers to kill their babies because babies aren’t important, the future is not important, and the society itself is not important. Do we really want to give that message to our children? Do we really want to say to the world that life is not worth living? Do we really want to turn our backs on the community and live only for ourselves? I fear that for too many people, that is exactly what they want to do.