FIRST-PERSON: Lebensunwertes leben -- life unworthy of life?
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--"Abortion ... was probably regarded by the average Roman of the later days of paganism much as Englishmen in the last century regarded convivial excesses, as certainly wrong, but so venial as scarcely to deserve censure," observed 19th century historian W.E.H. Lecky.
Some students of history have suggested modern America has much in common with ancient Rome just prior to its fall. If Lecky is correct, there is no doubt the United States possesses the same view of its unborn citizens as that of its once powerful predecessor.
Recent polls suggest that more Americans than ever before say they are pro-life when it comes to abortion. That said, it seems that those who support abortion are becoming more calloused toward the reality of the preborn.
An interview that recently aired on PBS's "Fresh Air" illustrates perfectly the new hard-heartedness of abortion advocates. Author Ayelet Waldman was discussing her most recent book, a memoir titled "Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace," with Terry Gross of National Public Radio.
During the interview Waldman discusses the abortion of her third "child," which the family had named "Rocketship."
Waldman was 35 at the time and prenatal testing determined that the child, a boy, might be born with what she termed an "ambiguous" birth defect. However, she admitted that the baby could just as well have been born with no defect.
While Waldman gave no percentages concerning the projected health of the baby, listening to the interview led me to believe it was somewhat better than a 50 percent chance the baby would show no signs of a defect.
"On the one hand there was a decent chance that the baby would have this genetic defect but ... that he would lead a very normal life and you wouldn't be able to tell," she said. "On the other hand, there were chances that he would be mentally retarded or be pre-disposed to cancer of the kidney -- things like that."
The percentages were not good enough for Waldman, and the prospect of having a mentally challenged child was just too much; thus she opted to abort her unborn child.
Prior to the abortion procedure, Waldman wanted assurance from the doctor that her baby would be dead before being dismembered.
"That was really important to me -- that he be dead essentially before that grim process took place," she said on the program, choking back tears.
She described the "horrible" dilation & evacuation (D&E) procedure that dismembered her unborn child.
"The baby is extracted, essentially, in pieces from your uterus," said Waldman, who is still staunchly pro-choice. "... The photographs that you see that the right-to-lifers show, they're real photographs. That's really what it's like."
After the procedure Waldman said she was "profoundly depressed for five months," a depression that only lifted when she became pregnant again.
Tragically, abortion has been an accepted part of the culture for so long that, for some, respect for unborn children has eroded to the point that they now are viewed by many as an inconvenient intrusion rather than an overwhelming blessing.
Research indicates that 90 or more percent plus of all abortions in America are motivated by convenience and that 90 percent of U.S. babies identified as having Down syndrome are aborted. If a baby is conceived at the wrong time in a woman's life or is found to be less than perfect, then, society says, its life can be exterminated on a whim.
"A developing fetus is biologically alive. It grows and changes rapidly, but these characteristics do not make it alive as a person," wrote Steven Maynard-Moody in the book "The Dilemma of the Fetus: Fetal Research, Medical Progress and Moral Policies." To abortion advocates, babies in the womb are alive alright; they are just not persons.
There is no end to the semantic gymnastics abortion supporters will resort to in an effort to justify their position. Perhaps they do so as much in an effort to salve their guilty conscience as they do to defend abortion.
America may have much in common with Rome in its last days; however, it seems more and more that abortion supporters are sounding like another culture of a more recent era -- Nazi Germany.
The Nazi's had a term they used to justify the killing of innocent life. It was "lebensunwertes Leben" which means "life unworthy of life." Anyone the Nazi's deemed were "not persons," like the disabled or Jews, were simply killed and disposed of like garbage. Sound familiar? It should, as it is the same calloused, hard-hearted position that supporters of abortion in America take right now.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.