More love, not less

The Saline Courier - - OPINION -

“Some kids are un­wanted, so you ei­ther kill them now or kill them later.” That quote is from an Alabama state Demo­cratic rep­re­sen­ta­tive,

John Rogers, speak­ing a few days ago dur­ing de­bate about an abor­tion bill.

He went on to say, “You bring them into the world un­wanted, unloved, then send them to the elec­tric chair.”

He said this dur­ing the same week in which all of Is­rael had a pe­riod of si­lence to re­mem­ber the mil­lions who were ex­ter­mi­nated dur­ing the Holo­caust.

He said it while a play, “All Our Chil­dren,” is run­ning in lower Man­hat­tan, at the Sheen Cen­ter, about Nazi Ger­many’s sys­tem­atic killing of 100,000 or so peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who were deemed “un­wor­thy of life.” Playwright Stephen Un­win called the pro­gram “the log­i­cal ex­ten­sion of the eu­gen­ics move­ment, which had at­tracted sup­port from a wide range of peo­ple, many with im­pec­ca­ble lib­eral cre­den­tials, across Europe and the United States.”

“By early 1941,” Un­win ex­plains, “5,000 chil­dren, many only a few months old, with a wide range of con­di­tions -- Down syn­drome, ‘id­iocy,’ cere­bral palsy and so on -- had been as­sessed, reg­is­tered and mur­dered. Ini­tially, their par­ents were asked for their con­sent, and a panel of three ‘med­i­cal ex­perts’ were con­vened to agree on the course of ac­tion. In due course, how­ever, de­cep­tion and so­cial pres­sure were de­ployed, and chil­dren were sent to so-called ‘spe­cial sec­tions,’ ap­par­ently to re­ceive med­i­cal treatment, but in­stead bussed off to their deaths.”

I found it im­pos­si­ble to watch “All Our Chil­dren” with­out cry­ing. In­creas­ingly, I’m hav­ing the same re­ac­tion lis­ten­ing to Demo­cratic politi­cians of all sorts seem­ingly fall­ing over one an­other to outdo them­selves

in abor­tion ex­trem­ism. We seem to have en­tered a new point in our dis­cus­sion of the is­sue, in which eu­phemisms are giv­ing way to a new bold­ness. But all the rhetor­i­cal eva­sions in the world can’t mask the cen­tral ques­tion: Do we care to value and pro­tect life or not?

No small part of the “All Our Chil­dren” story is about Cle­mens Au­gust Graf von Galen, the Catholic bishop of Mun­ster, who spoke out against the Nazi pol­icy of killing “un­pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens” (and spent years un­der house ar­rest for do­ing so). In one of his ser­mons, he said: “(W)e are deal­ing with hu­man beings, with our neigh­bors, broth­ers and sis­ters, the poor and in­valids ... un­pro­duc­tive -- per­haps! But have they, there­fore, lost the right to live? Have you or I the right to ex­ist only be­cause we are ‘pro­duc­tive’? If the prin­ci­ple is es­tab­lished that un­pro­duc­tive hu­man beings may be killed, then God help all those in­valids who, in or­der to produce wealth, have given their all and sac­ri­ficed their strength of body.”

Sober­ing words, in­deed, and un­for­tu­nately, they’re still very rel­e­vant to our current cul­tural mo­ment. We would do well to pon­der their ram­i­fi­ca­tions, re­gard­less of our in­di­vid­ual po­lit­i­cal be­liefs.

“All Our Chil­dren” re­minds us of what can hap­pen when all life isn’t val­ued. We can all do our parts to com­bat an en­croach­ing cul­ture of death -- we don’t need to be play­wrights or heroic priests. Cur­rently, some of the ex­cesses of Demo­cratic law­mak­ers and can­di­dates re­gard­ing abor­tion are rou­tinely be­ing dis­missed as ev­i­dence of con­ser­va­tive hangups. You don’t have to be a con­ser­va­tive pro-lifer to agree that vul­ner­a­ble lives ought to be pro­tected, that vul­ner­a­ble moth­ers must be helped and cher­ished, and that we must think in terms of more love, not less. •••

Kathryn Jean Lopez is se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Re­view In­sti­tute, ed­i­torat-large of Na­tional Re­view On­line and found­ing di­rec­tor of Catholic Voices USA. She can be con­tacted at [email protected]­tion­al­re­view.com.

KATHRYN LOPEZ

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