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« ’Repellent meaning mongering’ | Main | Apples and oranges »

May 22, 2007

Blowing the Kid Off

Kristine, I was not so much heartbroken as revolted by Liza Mundy's "Too Much To Carry?" piece in Washington Post Magazine. My personal nomination for the most grotesque sentence: "If you inject [potassium chloride into the baby's heart] too fast, you blow the kid off your needle," he explained--"he" being the doctor who kills healthy kids like these every day, and has deluded himself that he's a great humanitarian.

Scenes like this are the natural offspring of a culture that says nobody should be denied anything they truly want, and that there is no price too high for others to pay so that we may have it--freedom from an unwanted spouse, as Chuck noted in yesterday's BreakPoint, freedom from unwanted children (either through abortion or abandonment) and freedom from infertility, even if it means killing one's own children in order to achieve parenthood.

Second, throughout history, there has never been a shortage of people willing--eager--to play God--to desire the power to decide who gets to live and who gets to die. The results are uniformly evil. The consciences of god figures become numbed, as Dr. Evans demonstrates, and the love of power over life and death increases, along with their ability to deceive themselves. Dr. Evans' work is not about "saving lives," or helping parents "have children"; after all, doctors save lives every day without killing other people in the process, and infertile parents have children all the time--via adoption. Instead, this is about Dr. Evans' willingness to kill kids in order to help infertile parents in their narcisstic goal of having children with the "right" genetic material: theirs. (And it IS narcisstic when they are willing to pay such a destructive price to achieve it.)

Third, Mundy reveals to us the grief of mothers who are "forced" to chose between one child and another, in order to increase the chances that one child, at least, will live. On the one hand, it's a good thing that Mundy is not hiding the trauma of these mothers or minimizing the humanity of their unborn children, in direct contrast to the way abortion supporters have, for decades, minimized and continue to minimize both the humanity of the unborn child and the long-term pain endured by mothers who deliberately kill their children.

Having said that, it's worth reminding ourselves that these women actually did have a choice--unlike, say, African women caught up in a famine who attempt to carry their children hundreds of miles to food and water.

I saw pictures of one such mother, who sat to rest for a few minutes, and then, upon rising, left one of her two babies behind. She had no food or water, and no longer had the strength to carry them both. The choice for this mother, who loved both of her children, was truly agonizing, and the reader could not help but grieve for her and with her, and for her children, and with the tragic decision she had to make.

I have read stories of women who, faced with multiple fetuses (seven or eight) refused to kill some to save the others--and then lost them all. This is a more moral decision than cold-bloodedly checking each fetus for health problems and then executing those who appear less healthy (or who are the "wrong" sex). Better still is the passage of laws that prohibit doctors from implanting women with more than two or three embryos, as at least one country has done. Even better are parents who give more serious thought to the ethics of embarking on the Brave New World of baby-making in the first place--and who realize that life is not all about them, and what they want.

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You nailed it.


I wept for some time after reading that article.

I remember the two women who said they wanted to "own up" to what they were doing. I wondered: Are they going to own up to the siblings too? "It could've been you, kid, just the luck of the draw--where you were placed in the womb, or what sex you were."

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