There are two particularly grisly tales in the news in which dead babies are prominent: the trial in Philadelphia of abortionist Dr Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder for killing babies outside the womb, and here in Ohio, the arrest of Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping, then imprisoning for over a decade, three young women, who were subjected to repeated rapes and beatings. The prosecutor has announced that he will seek the death penalty for Mr Castro, who more than once beat and starved one of the women whom he had impregnated until she aborted the child she was carrying.
These cases are curious for many reasons. The babies Dr Gosnell murdered were no different biologically or ontologically than if he had murdered them a few minutes earlier, when they were still inside their mothers. If he had done that he would only have been charged with violating Pennsylvania’s law against late term abortions. And those babies were no different biologically or ontologically than if he had killed them a couple of months earlier, which would have been perfectly legal.
And the babies Mr Castro killed? Fathered by a rapist? Even many who call themselves “prolife” believe that such children can be killed with impunity. This is unprincipled, to be sure, but even Catholics like Paul Ryan hold to this “exception”. If the young woman had escaped while pregnant her child’s life would have no value; it is apparent that its only value now is a legal way of seeking greater punishment for Mr Castro.
So when does life have value? When it is valued by the mother? When society finds it useful? Is it not apparent that in this country the value of human life is utterly arbitrary? And is this not a frightening thing, which sets a precedent for God knows what horrors?
This is yet another fruit of consequentialism, the idea that an act is moral or immoral not because of the innate nature of the act but because this or that good or evil consequence may follow from it. This is a sort of original sin of moral reasoning, one which may be used to justify any horror, from bombing civilian populations, to torturing terror suspects, or any act that treats human life as disposable for a “good” reason.
Until this nation rethinks this and acknowledges objective moral truth -in this case that it is always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being – we can expect the fruits of this confusion, this divided mind, to continue to poison our nation.