Ctime453 Holy Family Sunday, 31st December 2000
CREDO FOR CATHOLIC TIMES, FROM FR FRANCIS MARSDEN
Today is Holy Family Sunday. The bishops have asked us to keep it as a day of Prayer and Reflection on the challenge of protecting human life.
The right to life is the basic human right which underlies all other human rights. Without full legal protection of the right to life, none of us is safe. What benefit to us is the right to free speech, a family wage, the right to worship, if we are not sure that our right to life will be respected by the society in which we live?
How is the right to life threatened? Charity begins at home.
The recent case of the Manchester Siamese twins, Jodie and Mary, has established a precedent whereby the weaker (labelled a parasite by one of the judges) can be killed for the sake of the stronger.
The advocates of selective killing hark back to the concept of “lives not worth living” (lebensunwerte Leben) found in the eugenic writings of the German professors Binding and Hoche (1921). Germany was the classic laboratory where eugenics and racial cleansing enjoyed free rein: the sterilisation of those mentally ill or with genetic diseases, of blacks and other “racially inferior” minorities. Those “parasitic” groups which were of no use to the Reich were later exterminated en masse.
The Nazis had much in common with people like Margaret Sanger, apostle of the birth control movement and founder of Planned Parenthood (now IPPF). She advocated compulsory detention in work camps - concentration camps - for blacks, Latins and Jews in America who refused to be sterilised.
We have just emerged from the XXth century, in which the materialistic, atheistic system of communism led to the killing of an estimated total 95 million individuals (see The Black Book of Communism), and anti-Christian Nazism to about 30 million deaths. Today their ideological counterpart, the godless and relativistic materialism of the rich West is leaving in its wake not only malnutrition and poverty around the Third World, but the Babycaust, millions upon millions of unborn children discarded. Our soil is soaked in blood, and cries out to heaven for vengeance.
Many support the “pro-choice” position not because they like abortion, but because in dreadful situations they see no practical alternative. Here Christians must offer a sign of hope. Practical care, love and support, financial help, the chance of keeping the baby, or adoption if preferred. It is the abortion and family planning clinics who are in it for the money and the government grants, not us. And they are seldom interested in a woman’s private grief after the event.
Because Jesus is the Life, the Church is firmly set against the rejection of Life which abortion entails. But for those who have made this terrible mistake – and a reported 80% of cases have been pushed into it against their own better judgement by boyfriends, spouses or parents – the Church offers the Divine Mercy, forgiveness and healing. The despair and self-reproach consequent upon abortion makes a second abortion quite likely. 46% of abortions in the USA are repeat abortions. Healing is possible. But only the Author of Life can heal the loss of life.
“Only dead fish go with the current.” Too many of our contemporaries do not think critically, and let themselves be carried along by deceitful slogans, for example, “A foetus is not a human person.”
Let us consider this for a moment. Fr John Fleming (Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide) shows that the denial of personhood to ethnic or social groups whom a society wishes to exclude or repress is an old tactic. The US Supreme Court excluded Dred Scott (a Negro slave) from personhood back in the 1840’s because slaves were not persons but the property of their masters. For the same reason, Liverpool and Bristol grew rich on the slave trade. Hitler denied citizenship of the Reich and personhood to Jews, Gypsies, the ‘degenerate’ and the asocials. European Australians liquidated and repressed the Aborigines with few qualms of conscience, because they were “an inferior race”.
The notion that certain classes of persons are non-persons is a not infrequent opinion. For instance, in Canada, the Canada Indian Act 1880 stated that “the term person means an individual other than an Indian”.
Do not despair. Five years later the definition was changed. The Canada Franchise Act 1885, states that “[a person] is a male person, including an Indian and excluding a person of Mongolian or Chinese Race.” Thus Indians are upgraded, but Asians are called persons in the very clause denying them personhood. By 1925, Canadian legislation had determined that all races-and women-are persons.
The 1967 Abortion Act, and the 1973 Roe v Wade Judgment of the US Supreme Court, effectively decided that human beings in the womb are not entitled to human rights – despite the biological fact that every one of us here now originated in this way. The embryology textbooks show conclusively that personal genetic identity begins at fertilisation. The new embryo has a miraculous power of self-organisation and direction. During the first 18 days we grow proportionately faster than at any time in our lives: if we kept up that growth rate, we would weigh 12.7 tonnes at birth!
Long ago Plato noted that democracy easily degenerates into tyranny – all the more easily without a sound morality to underpin it. “If there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values turns easily into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 46)
Ironically Hitler was very much against abortion, at least for Aryans. A case came to court in 1938, in which a Jewish woman was charged with of procuring an abortion. Eventually she was acquitted, because although she had aborted her child, the judges decided that the law of the Reich could not be used to protect a “sub-human” Jewish foetus.
The following case histories may be useful in arguing the point.
1. There's a preacher and wife who are living in dire poverty. They already have 14 children. Now the wife finds she's pregnant with the 15th. Considering their strained circumstances and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending an abortion?
2. The father is sick with syphilis, the mother has TB. They have 4 children. The first is blind, the second was stillborn, the third is deaf, the fourth has TB. She finds she's pregnant again. Given the high probability that the baby will be born congenitally handicapped, would you recommend abortion?
3. A teenage girl, 14-15 years old, is pregnant. She's not married. Her fiance is not the father of the baby, and he's very upset. Would you consider recommending abortion?
How did you answer? In the first case, if you said yes, you have just killed John Wesley, a great evangelist of the 18th century and founder of Methodism. In the second case, you would have killed Ludwig van Beethoven. If you said yes in the third case, you have just consented to the murder of Jesus Christ.
Happy New Year!