Personally, I am pro-life. Politically, I am pro-choice: as a Republican, I believe in personal responsibility and freedom of choice. It’s disheartening to see young people on Thought Catalog slander the sincerity of people like me, people with a strong pro-life sensibility. As with any large group of people, there are some pro-lifers who possess a limited intellectual capacity, as well as perhaps a few in the public scene who might be mentally ill. Yet, what good is it to demonize this select and troubled minority? Why not engage in deep, civil debates about these serious issues? My five-year-old knows more about biology than Todd Akin, and the hyperbolic demonization of moderate Republicans like Romney is the intellectual equivalent of schoolyard bullying. Why waste breath on this violent verbal nonsense?
Language should be consciousness-raising. It should connect us and foster greater interpersonal understanding, not engender fission and animosity. It is my hope that, by sharing the founding pillars of my personal belief system with you, I am adding a plank in the boardwalk that connects your understanding with my own.
I believe the human embryo is sacred.
Plato wrote in the Timaeus, “Two things cannot come together unless a third thing unites them.” He was talking about the creation of the cosmos, yet the same logic can be applied, rather poetically, to procreation: women and men are brought together by a force larger than themselves, the will of the unborn child. I believe that the fusion of semen and egg is a sacred act, and that the burgeoning existence of the new life form created by this act is of greater importance than the existence of either sperm- or egg-donor, of either parent. In New York, this line of thinking would be called anti-feminist, or something. Which I fail to understand; a Gallup poll found that more women are pro-life than pro-choice, and every women I know––my wife included––believes that the greatest testament to our humanity is the way we treat the weakest among us.
I love my two daughters.
My daughters are five and seven. When we learned my wife was pregnant with our first child, eight years ago, we were young and “not ready for a family.” For a brief moment, we considered abortion. Today, I become sick to my stomach when I think back to that time. To think that we could possibly have considered eradicating the very beacon that has become the greatest source of light in our life.
I want a culture of life.
Pope John Paul II described the moral climate of the Western world as a “dramatic struggle between the culture of life and the culture of death.” The phrase “culture of death” haunts me, because it seems to so perfectly capture the world I live in. Death is everywhere in the United States. We perform 3,723 abortions every day––that’s 1.3 million per year. What I find most alarming about this has less to do with the “genocide of fertilized eggs” and more with the psychological effect that the normalization of abortion has on our collective consciousness. For example, how must a child feel, growing up with the understanding that it is alright to dispose of a fetus (a stage it only recently left), for no reason other than that it was ill-timed, an inconvenience, or simply unwanted? In what way will this inform the value they place on their own life and the lives of those around them? More broadly, what negative psychodynamic effect does this have on civilization at large? Since the passing of Roe vs. Wade, violent crime (rape, murder, assault) has soared 550 percent. The rate of teen suicide has tripled, and violence in schools has become endemic. Illegitimacy has soared from a paltry-sounding five percent of all births to a whopping 41 percent.
Again, my issue here is not abortion per se, but the holistic culture of death we live in. It’s that we as a society seem to no longer value life, not just of an embryo but of every human being. And, it seems to me, showing respect for the sanctity of the origin of life is as good a place as any to begin.
I believe science and utilitarianism can’t determine our value as human beings.
This is the most “out there” reason. It is also perhaps the most important. A question so far ignored in the endless discussion of abortion is, what will be the state of the American eugenics project in 300 years’ time? Where is it taking humanity?
Attempting an answer, I ask myself: What are the underlying driving forces behind our desire for abortions and other eugenic practices? I humbly propose that it is a desire to control nature and manipulate the genome. We want abortion, we want eugenics, so we can tame and master the wildness (and sublimity) of nature. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and a known white supremacist, makes this desire for domination over natural law clear in her book Women and The New Race:
Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives. When motherhood becomes the fruit of a deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race….
In short, eugenics is an effort to control nature and to make it serve human needs and hubris. It is our attempt to master the human body, similar to the way we mastered the environment with urbanization and industrialization. And that is the crux of my theory: Just as our mastery of the environment has lead to perhaps catastrophic consequences with global warming, the long term effects of normalizing abortion and eugenics will lead to cloning and genetic engineering, and ultimately this could lead to an incredible catastrophe.Or perhaps a thanatopolitics, too horrific for us to even begin to comprehend. Israel already endorses the genetic screening of embryos to rid their people of the genetic disease “Tay-Sachs.” China, perhaps the fastest growing superpower in the world, uses genetic screening to kill off female embryos. Where will all this lead? 10? 15? 50? 500 years from now?
The above is pretty abstract and far out, almost science-fiction like. It all boils down, though, to something pretty basic: I’m concerned that our drive for “progress,” our domination over the environment, and now possibly over the genome––through everything from eugenics to medicine to nanotechnology––needs to be approached with humility, with respect towards the natural and mysterious configuration of life. So, when I tuck my daughters in at night, we read books about science, but we also talk about God, and about how every human being, sick or healthy, poor or rich, is special and worthy of life and love. That’s not something I can explain to my children with logic or science, only through my unconditional love for them and all of humanity.