The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

BODY PARTS

Some of my religious friends who characterize themselves as “conservatives” view this fall’s presidential election as being a referendum on the question of religious liberty and specifically on abortion.  I beg to differ with them.

I view the matters about which they are concerned not as being the issue but merely the symptoms of the real issue.  That issue is the right of a thoughtful, law abiding individual to make choices for himself or herself, free of government intervention or jurisdiction or coercion.

That statement might lead you to believe that I am what is termed “Pro Choice.”  You are wrong.

For the moment, at least, America is still a country whose principles stem from the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition.  Since the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution we have now advanced scientifically and science plays an important role in this conversation.

The Jews believe that until a baby takes its first breath on its own outside its mother’s womb it is not a person.  Most mainstream Christians believe that the child is a person from the moment of conception.  There is an obvious difference of opinion in these two views.  Science confirms that, in most cases, these embryos would develop into little healthy human beings after a full term gestation.

Trying to look at this objectively, I would say that science leans more to the orthodox Christian view on this matter.  The truth is we don’t know when an embryo is a human – but we do know that letting nature take it’s course will almost inevitably result in the birth of one.

It is our judicial tradition to presume innocence until guilt is proven.  Therefore, from the standpoint of American tradition, I prefer the position that we treat the embryo as a human from the earliest seconds of its existence.  That is not based on a religious philosophy – merely an American one.

Legally, with Roe v. Wade, we view an embryo as an appendage of the mother who is carrying it.  It is simply a body part that, like a hangnail can be clipped and removed.  It is something that has no value other than a certain nuisance value.  Apparently, we view body parts, in the context of a woman’s right to abort one of hers as a fundamental right belonging to the individual.

But our thinking on this issue is far from consistent.

Consider the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 which makes it illegal for an individual either to buy, sell or receive a human organ in exchange for money or any other sort of consideration.  If body parts are disposable items, why should a man or woman with a healthy kidney not be able to sell one If they choose to do so?

If we regard, as in the case of abortion, the mother’s supreme right to determine what she can do with the body part that is growing inside her, why should a person who is willing to sell an organ not have that right as well?  Is a kidney or a cornea so much more worthy of protection than something which will turn into a human being?

One of the arguments on abortion which I frequently encounter is that approximately fifty percent of our society should have no say in this discussion.  They are called men.  That argument is so intellectually unsound as to be almost ludicrous.  It is based on the assumption that men, who never have and never will go through the experience of pregnancy and child-bearing are unqualified to voice an opinion on the matter.

If we follow this sort of “logic”, the only people who would be able to serve on the jury of a person accused of bank robbing would be people convicted themselves of bank robbery.  And a serial killer could only get a jury of his peers if we drafted twelve fellow serial killers to be on the panel.

But let’s return to my opening remarks about the real and far more serious problem of which our discussion on abortion is only a symptom –  the right of people to make decisions for themselves without government intervention.

If we trivialize life, it will be a natural thing for us to feel comfortable electing people who share our attitude.  But what if those people whom we believe share our philosophy have a different and more extreme agenda?

In the civilizations of ancient Greece, Rome and China, female children were considered less desirable than male offspring.  On seeing the birth of a female, these children were often set out in the wild either to starve or be eaten by wild animals.  The legendary twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus were left to this fate but were ironically nurtured by wolves and grew to manhood.

Today we do not have to wait until birth to bring the embryo to this end.  We know the sex and a good deal about its characteristics during the early stages of pregnancy – and there are some, not liking what they see, who make the decision to abort the fetus based on this information.

Some of these decisions which I’m sure are heart-rending for the parents may involve medical conditions – Down or Tourette Syndrome for example.  It is neither my role or my goal to pass judgment on these future parents.  They have enough of an emotional and moral struggle on their own without me.

But what if that decision is not up to them?  What if, despite the fact that they have decided that they will keep and love and rear that child who will be born with Down Syndrome they are told by government that they cannot?

How could our government ever assume such a role?  It will justify it’s authority by saying, “Your child will require more care and money than we are willing to pay in support.  You will be placing an unnecessary burden on the rest of the taxpayers and therefore, for the common good, we are going to abort the fetus.”

And from there it’s an even smaller step to making that decision based on sex or race or any other physical characteristic which the bureaucracy deems undesirable.  If you think this is an impossible scenario please refer to the eugenics programs which Adolph Hitler established in Nazi Germany.

You might think that can’t happen in the United States – and, today you would be correct.  But as we willingly allow government to take greater control over our lives, we are well on our way to permitting just such a scenario.  In fact, it is the abdication of our personal responsibility which will ensure it.  And that is the real issue about which every thinking American should be concerned.

As for me, I’m planning on hanging on to each of my body parts as long as I can.

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Comments on: "BODY PARTS" (9)

  1. Superb, again. Why do I bother writing, I should just reblog every one of your posts! 🙂

    The other thing is, it’s short extension to those ahh “Death Panels” that Sarah Palin spoke of.

    You are 100% correct, this election is about government intrusion into our lives, in all areas.

  2. Dave is right, it is an excellent post. Wonderfully logical and right to the heart of the problem. If we were more interested in life we would be more willing to protect it. Unfortunately our culture seems headed in the opposite direction in every single aspect. Whether it is the demeaning of the elderly and the disabled, the thought that euthanasia should be acceptable to end both of those, or the premise of arming other countries agitators with no real knowledge of what their intentions are, to supporting materially entities that wish for the death of Israel and the suppression of women.
    We are headed in the wrong direction and no matter who we have in office or what the policy of the government it, it is up to us as individuals and collectively as members of churches, to make sure that moral and ethics are part of our and our children’s daily lives. We must do our best to make sure that those who represent us, share those goals. It has to start with us, and we must be always aware.
    God’s things to God, life begins at conception, there is no scientific disagreement there. The belief of when a soul enters the body is irrelevant when it comes to a decision about life. The life in the womb is going to be human, perhaps not a perfect human but that is truly not our decision. Unless of course it is a cancer growing in the womb and most of us do not have a problem with excising that. God bless you and thank you for such a thought provoking post~

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post. I know you’ve checked the “Like” box on many others, but your commentary means a great deal to me. Part of the reason for that is I have been able to develop a number of posts based on the comments which I have read from devoted readers such as yourself. I view this blog as a way for us to interact and I am delighted that you are contributing to that process. Thank you.

      As a person of faith, I believe that we are indeed required to be “stewards” of all that we have been given. We need to have compassion for and tend to life in all its myriad forms. That should certainly include others who happen also to be human.

      I sadly must agree with you. We are doing a poor job on many fronts. When I read that a wildfire which destroys thousands of acres was started through human carelessness; when I read about things like the Fort Hood and the Aurora, CO murders – I, too wonder, are there any kind, thoughtful, gentle people left walking planet earth? I know there are.

      But your assessment of this situation is right on the money. We must take personal responsibility for our actions. And, more importantly, through a constant repetition of goodness and generosity, kindness and compassion we will bring others along with us.

      We didn’t get where we are in a day a week or even a decade. And we will not, no matter how hard we try to be loving and caring people, extricate ourselves in a short period of time. But we must continue – because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

      Thanks again so much for your comment. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts when you feel you want to share them.

  3. This is a very touchy subject and there are a lot of gray areas. If I had to make a choice between the life of my wife and the life of a fetus I would certainly choose my wife. It’s not a man’s body and it really is up to a woman to make hard choices like this when it concerns her health or even life. When we get to the stage that the government dictates how we should conduct our lives where does that end? Probably we end up with something like sharia law where the woman is bound to decisions about her life from men who seem to manage the reigns of power and no man is permitted to think outside the box either. My understanding of the Christian religion is that God empowered us with the freedom of choice, and that seems to be how peoples in other worlds function too. When we remove that power of choice it can only lead to a dictatorship by a group with a particular slant on life and who hold the majority to ransom. One thing I have never been able to figure out is how anti-abortionists and animal righters who believe in the sanctity of life can bomb abortion clinics and those who mistreat animals, and kill doctors and nurses and persons they feel are out of line with their thinking. Where is the sanctity of life there? We have police and the judicial system to care for crimes against animals and people and when we start taking matters into our own hand it can only end up in the tyranny of the minority. Many who start us on that course are sure to be unhappy with the end result of their agitation.

    • There are a lot of gray areas on the subject. Certainly cases in which a woman’s life is threatened because of the pregnancy, in cases of rape and incest to mention several. But of the 53,000,000 abortions which have been performed in the U. S. since we legalized it, these account for a very small percentage. It is difficult to argue from the extreme to justify the norm.

      You’re right – we do have freedom of choice. But today there are any number of preventative alternatives if a woman wishes to remain sexually active and not get pregnant. In fact, some of these birth control methods are available free from various social service agencies. And, of course, there is “just say no,” which is the ultimate expression of freedom of choice.

      Like you, I have a problem understanding the rationale of people who bomb abortion clinics or laboratories engaged in animal testing – but we are in the minority on this point. After all, it was exactly this same theory that motivated the bombing of Dresden and our A-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By killing tens of thousand we saved the lives of hundreds of thousands. Or so goes what is a very hard theory for me to defend.

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