FIRST-PERSON: Aborted babies as medical waste
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- It came to light recently that a waste-to-energy plant in Oregon was burning the remains of aborted babies along with other medical waste to produce electricity, according to a variety of overseas news sources. The waste material was being shipped to the plant from the Canadian province of British Columbia.
The Marion County Board of Commissioners halted the medical waste program when it learned of the aborted remains, the British newspaper The Daily Mail reported. Marion County is located just south of Portland and is the home of Oregon's capital city of Salem.
A variety of sources reported in March that more than 15,000 aborted and miscarried babies had been incinerated as medical waste by some hospitals in Britain. Some of the remains were used in waste-to-energy plants similar to the one in Oregon. When the Department of Health learned of the situation, it issued a ban on the practice, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported.
"This practice is totally unacceptable," Britain's health minister, Dan Poulter, said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The revelations from Oregon and the United Kingdom prompt the question of what routinely happens to remains of aborted and miscarried babies. Many are cremated. Some are tossed out with the trash as medical waste. Others are sealed in containers and sent to pathology labs. Some facilities actually bury the unborn children in mass graves. And some of the tiny bodies are taken by their mothers and given funeral services.
Those who take the children are women who have experienced miscarriages as well as those who aborted their child due to some major problem discovered prenatally. In both cases, the women viewed their unborn children as persons of value.
If an unborn baby is viewed as nothing more than a fetus, void of personhood, and routinely cremated and/or tossed out as medical waste, why would the practice of burning the remains to produce electricity be viewed as unacceptable and disgusting? It would seem practical and utilitarian to use the discarded remains to produce power. After all, the argument would run, aren't we just burning medical waste?
Why not do the same with dead bodies? Cremation is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Why not just stack dead people like cord wood and use them at waste-to-energy plants?
We don't use deceased people as fuel to produce energy for the same reason we shouldn't use aborted and miscarried babies -- because they are persons and their passing should be treated with as much dignity as possible.
In spite of what the advocates of evolution maintain, humans are more than just highly evolved animals. Mankind is a special creation, formed in the image of God and is precious and valuable at every stage of development. As such, each person should be treated with the utmost dignity.
It seems that civilizations the world over innately understand the intrinsic worth of human life. Birth is celebrated in all cultures; so is death. Death rituals or funerals are observed around the world. Though the forms are different, they all share a celebration of life and a mourning of death and are all, in their own way, dignified.
The only way to justify discarding the remains of an unborn child as medical waste, or callously incinerating its remains, is to view it as less than a person, less than human.
Nazi Germany did this to justify the Holocaust of European Jews, classifying the Jews as less than human, even subhuman. So, forcing them into ghettos seemed to them of no consequence. Cramming them like cattle onto railroad cars for transport to the so-called labor camps -- in reality death camps -- seemed to them reasonable.
Using strong healthy Jews as beasts of burden was acceptable to the Nazis, because, they thought, the Jews were not fully human. Working them until they were used up and then killing them was, for the Nazis, considered acceptable; it was how one discarded an animal that was no longer useful.
When the extermination of the Jews first began, the Nazis buried the dead bodies in mass graves. However, the practice proved too cumbersome and time-consuming; thus it gave way to the efficiency of incinerating them in specially constructed crematoriums. What you and I view as atrocities against the Jews were deemed acceptable by the Nazi regime.
If, as abortion proponents contend, the unborn child is nothing more than a fetus and void of personhood, why do they care what is done to it? Abort it, dissect it, study it, burn it for fuel, they say. Oddly, some modern-day advocates of abortion believe an unborn baby should be afforded some dignity when its remains are being disposed of.
They should extend their view to abortion in general: An unborn child should be afforded dignity and protected from any and all harm.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).