Once the decision is taken in favor of abortion, there is necessarily a moment at which one agrees to shut one’s eyes to the right to life of the little one who has just been conceived. The moral drama, the decision for good or evil, begins with our eyes, when we choose whether or not to look at the face of the other…
The moral truth, in this case the truth of the unique and unrepeatable value of this person made in the image of God, is a truth that makes demands of my liberty. When I decide to look him in the face, I am deciding on conversion, I am resolving to let the other address his appeal to me, to go beyond the confines of my own self and to make space for him.
This is why even the evidential character of this moral value depends to a large extent on a secret decision by my liberty to agree to look at the other and thus be provoked to change my life.
Joseph Ratzinger, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures
Reflection – The March for Life in Canada is tomorrow, and I will be in attendance as I try to be each year. It will be a long day, leaving Combermere early in the morning and not returning until late, so no blog tomorrow.
I try to write something about abortion around this time of year, as well as around the January March for Life in Washington DC. It is a hard topic to write about, always, mostly because the reality of it is so deeply ugly. How do we find a decent, moderate way of talking about embryonic humans being suctioned out of their mothers’ wombs, dismembered and discarded as if they are nothing but unwanted tissue?
It is difficult, and then of course those on ‘the other side’ of the argument simply are not looking (will not look, really) at the human being who is killed here, but look entirely upon the woman or young girl who is genuinely in distress and needs help. For them, pro-lifers are heartless misogynists, religious fanatics ready to sacrifice the life, health, and happiness of countless women for the sake of some abstract principle or perhaps as a covert way of maintaining patriarchal control over them.
It really is a question of the eyes and what we allow, decide, our eyes to look upon. Is there a human being there? Is there a human life at stake? There is no real medical or scientific doubt about the answer to that. From conception onwards we are a living organism with a unique human genetic makeup. We are a being; we are alive; we are human in our DNA. Therefore, we are a live human being, and abortion ends that life. The normal verb in English for the process of ending the life of another is ‘to kill’; abortion is the killing of a human being.
There is absolutely no way around that logic. It is unassailable. The advocates of abortion either simply ignore it (that’s what the Supreme Court of Canada chose to do in its decision, simply bracketing the question from its deliberations) or worse, if pressed not to do so, decide that abortion is indeed the killing of a human being… and that’s just fine with them.
More and more of course, with 3D ultrasounds and ever expanding medical knowledge, it is impossible to ignore the humanity of the fetus. More and more, then, there is a deliberate hardening of the heart, I am afraid, to accept the killing of a human being whose only crime is to be conceived when unwanted. To come into existence where her very existence, her life is inconvenient or painful or distressing to another.
The implications of this are deep and wide. Soon, with the demographic crunch of the aging Baby Boomers, many lives of the elderly will be inconvenient, painful, or distressing to others, straining health care and personal resources to the breaking point. I fear we will decide on further ‘acceptable killings’, since we have already allowed the logic with abortion.
But even if that doesn’t happen – even if the slippery slope turns out to have enough rough patches to slow us down and stop us from the wholesale slaughter of the elderly and disabled – abortion is a monstrous evil, folks. And so a few of us from Madonna House are trotting off to Ottawa tomorrow, to Parliament Hill, to listen to some speeches, march around downtown Ottawa, be screamed at by half-naked counter-protestors, listen to more speeches, and come home.