Where to Draw the Line on Life

I am concerned with cases where fetuses that had been thus far welcomed and loved by their respective community are suddenly regarded as candidates for abortion simply because they may have been diagnosed with a disability. That is, I am worried about cases where disability is deemed sufficient grounds for dehumanizing a being who had been, up until that point, embraced.

Bertha Alvarez Manninen “self-identifies as pro-choice”. Manninen has values. She does not have a standard regarding life.

A standard is a line that doesn’t move. A mile is a mile. A cup is a cup. A foot equals 12 inches. Standards don’t change.

In contrast, a value changes. We know all too well that a dollar today doesn’t buy what it did a few years ago. It’s unlikely to buy next year what it does today.

In the United States in 1973, the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion in all 50 states without restriction. States added limitations like waiting periods and parental consent but had little say in effectively regulating the procedures.

When states did have success in limiting abortion, there were always loopholes, ways around the rules enabling the killing of children and harm to mothers, fathers, siblings, and others.

One such loophole regarding gestational age was birth defects in the unborn.

This loophole allowed people to bestow conditional acceptance to other people. Unborn children who’ve managed to survive to a certain age, birth, sometimes have permission to continue living if they can pass a health test.

For the unacceptable ones who slip through the process intended to eliminate them, nineteen states allow a doctor to deny them care until they die.

For Manninen, refusing to accept a child you don’t want because of inconvenience is acceptable. Celebrating a child’s expected arrival and then rejecting the child based on a diagnosis of disability is not.

Surely the child with disabilities would be inconvenient also.

It rubs her the wrong way to abort the disabled baby you had previously longed to hold and raise. That child, she asserts, is dehumanized and unworthy of rejection.

Unworthy of dismemberment.

Yet the child you did not long for is already, in her view, dehumanized and worthy of suffering the worst.

For Manninen, the child’s humanization emanates from the mother’s/parents’ desire for the child early on, a value she asserts should be a standard once the parents decide their baby is wanted.

If the law makes human value a moving line, we are all subject to someone else’s judgment that we are no longer worthy of life.

Life as a value is a shifting line that can take out any of us.

Life as a standard is a truss that upholds a stable society.

We can’t point to the moment society’s rules changed from standards to values. But we can point to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche as the one who substituted the shifting term for the constant one and asserted the shift from God’s authority to humans.

The strong individual loves the earth so much he lusts for recurrence. He can smile in the face of the most terrible thought: meaningless, aimless existence recurring eternally. The second characteristic of such a man is that he has the strength to recognize – and to live with the recognition – that the world is valueless in itself and that all values are human ones. He creates himself by fashioning his own values; he has the pride to live by the values he wills.”

All values are human ones. Questions about which people are worthy of life and which do not emanate from such a worldview.

All moral standards come from God. His commandments about how we must treat innocent life don’t come with exceptions. God’s decrees are standards.

Human beings require a standard of worth–the unchangeable precept that we all have worth that does not change. The immovable line of human worth prods us to welcomes all regardless of age or degree of ability. His standard of love shows us the worth of every human being.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14, ESV, Biblegateway.com

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Who Are We?

The woman stood in front of the congregation to tell her story. She had never spoken to such a large group before. I was in the auditorium “by chance” that day. I had come to hear my grandchildren sing. But an extended conversation in the hallway meant I missed my intended purpose that day.

I went home knowing I had been there for a reason very different from the one I had planned.

Her story drew me in. She had been pregnant for the second time. She spent weeks in bed nurturing a baby her doctors told her would never survive. And even if the child did survive, it would never walk, never be normal.

“It”. It is such an awful word when referring to a human being.

She should have an abortion now, they said. She fought the doctors. She finally found one who wanted to help her, to help her baby survive.

The weeks turned into months. The child arrived–a girl. She would not survive, the doctors said. But she did.

As this mother finished her talk, the doors at the back of the church opened and a little girl did not walk down the church aisle.

She ran. Beautiful, perfect, running. She was never an it.

She is set to graduate from college this spring. She has lived what we in America consider to be the most normal of lives.

All discussions about unborn life, life limited by illness or disability, center on one question: Who are we? Are we sacred souls made in the image of a great God who loves all, weak or strong?

Or are we just a mixture of electrical synapses and chemical reactions, a useful collection of spare parts?

One mother knows the difference.

Deep down, we all know it too.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”