The following is by Will Johnston, MD and President of Physicians for Life. It’s for the Physicians for Life newsletter coming up, however, he assures me that I can post it, given that they are not vying for advertising dollars. An excellent, short piece. Thanks, Will.
As a society we have largely conquered cold weather, hunger, disease and early death, so in our leisure we now busy ourselves arguing over who to kill. Are you young enough? Unwanted enough? Old enough? Depressed enough? Inconvenient enough? Does your Down syndrome leave you with too many 21st chromosomes to suit the 21st century?
Should you, a pregnant woman, kill your tiny baby now, before your belly swells and you start working hard at being pregnant? Should you wait a while? Should you wait until after birth, strangle the baby with your thong and throw him over the fence? A judge will understand. The judge will say that Canadians “…generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers….” . Hmmm. Well, in any case, at least onerous demands which dwarf this judge’s expectations of human decency in Canada.
Should you, an elderly man, kill yourself because you have lost interest in life? Before you are too weak to do it? Before you go and spend your children’s inheritance on expensive “assisted living”, should they help you arrange an “assisted suicide”? Do your children want to arrange this for you? Are you ambivalent about dying now? Do you need an assisted decision to stop dithering and get on with your assisted suicide?
What a clever species we are! Our barbarism adapts so well to the science of the moment. We can look back with relief that we no longer watch people being burned at the stake, but we must remember that their executioners were just doing their level best with the technology they had close at hand. Now we have suction curettes, RU 486, misoprostol, pentobarbital, helium death hoods. But lest we feel smug, imagine what the future might bring! How crude our methods will seem to posterity!
Women come to me with stories. Last week, one told me how she had tried for years and was finally pregnant, only to have a doctor suggest an abortion after hearing about some trivial adversities which the woman shared in conversation. Out of this doctor’s shrivelled stores of compassion, the offer of abortion alone remained. It is but an illusion of professional neutrality to claim to endorse an uncertain woman’s abortion plans as heartily as her hopes for motherhood. Motherhood fears for the child’s safety, abortionhood fearfully rejects the child and wishes it dead. Should someone who expresses indifference between the two outcomes be trusted and taken seriously by an agonizing woman?
Another of my patients was marched into a medical abortionist’s office by her abusive boyfriend. When she returned to the waiting room, she told the man that the abortion had happened, though she had actually refused it. He promptly abandoned her, to her relief, and I attended the delivery of a healthy little girl a few months later.
A university student feared that her strict father, who lived far away estranged from her mother, would reject her if she stayed pregnant. I had lost hope that she would come back to my office still pregnant when, at 15 weeks gestation, she returned. Her father was not told about the pregancy. After her daughter was born she picked her father up at the airport and he pointed quizzically at the baby car seat. She began to cry. He understood at once, comforted her, and met his first grandchild with pleasure soon after. Years later the woman discovered an aggressive cancer and had extensive chemotherapy. She told me how grateful she was that I had encouraged her to go on with her pregnancy, to love and hope for her only child.
Another woman was not as lucky. Her parents insisted on a late-term abortion which was performed in the U.S. Complications ensued and she needed a hysterectomy to save her life. Travelling from healthy motherhood to permanently childless grief required only the abortion mindset, a coerced woman, and a compliant medical profession.
And still our world asks who to kill next. So much new science, so little time. We really need help.