I will never forget what a 10th grade student taught me a long time ago. I was teaching social studies in a high school. Mind you, I’m not a sociologist or social scientist. Our social studies teacher was on maternity leave and I was elected to cover for her. That being said, the lesson was on the United Nations’ declaration on human rights. As we were going through the highlights of the document, Chris asked me a very serious question.
“Why doesn’t this say that everyone has the right to be born? If you don’t have the right to be born, the other rights are useless.”
I have never forgotten that question or that lesson.
Today, thousands of people prepare to march for life in many cities in the country, the largest march being in Washington, DC, despite the horrible weather. Why are these people willing to suffer freezing temperatures, numb fingers and toes and 12 inches of snow and ice? The answer is simple. They believe in the right to be born.
It is true that many attend the march for life in protest of abortion. However, there is more to this issue. We must put abortion in context. The medical community refers to abortion as the “termination of pregnancy.” It’s actually a very accurate statement. Many people prefer to call it murder, holocaust, eugenics, and many other terms. None of these are wrong.
Nonetheless, the principle behind abortion is flawed, not only because the procedure takes the life of a vulnerable human being. It is flawed because the right to terminate a pregnancy presumes that society can deny any human being the right to be born. Birth is not possible, if you terminate a pregnancy.
This puts us on a very slippery slope. If human beings can lose the right to be born, what is there to say that we can’t lose the right to remain alive? Why are we crying over the extermination of Syrians, other groups in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa?
Why doesn’t it follow that a society with the authority to withdraw someone’s right to be born can deny the right to stay alive after the fact?
The answer has to do with vision. We can see the carnage in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Eastern Europe. We don’t see the carnage behind the doors of an abortion mill.
When I was a graduate student, I learned about a concept called “object permanence.” A young child believes that an object exists only when he can see it. When mom says that the toy flew away and hides it behind her back, the toy ceases to exist. In simple English, the permanence of an object depends on the subject’s ability to see it. If one can’t see it, it does not exist. It’s a more primitive version of “out of sight, out of mind”. Except that this primitive version is normal in human development. As the person matures, the brain’s functions become more robust and object permanence is no longer dependent on perception, but on knowledge. “The thing exists, because I know it exists even when I don’t perceive it with my senses.”
For many people, a crime against human life exists only when the human being is perceptible. When you don’t see the human being, the crime ceases to be. Therefore we do two things in contemporary society.
First, we look at the fetus and we fail to see a human being who is a real person. We only see tissue and cells, because that’s what we want to see.
Second, we look at a fetus who is over 30 weeks old and we see what “looks like” a baby. It only looks like a baby. It’s not a baby, because we fail to see the baby.
To understand abortion in context, we must keep in mind that human beings often fail to see what they don’t want to see. It’s called selective blindness. They convince others that the thing they cannot see does not really exist. The baby that we cannot see is not really there. It’s just a “fetus” or tissue. When I was growing up, they called this “turning a blind eye.” Today, some people call it “reality”.
ISIS is murderous, because it kills people whom we can see. We cannot deny their existence, as much as we would like to ignore them. We have to call such barbaric acts what they are, the murder of innocent people. In our distorted way of thinking, abortion is not murderous, because no one visible to us is being killed. At the end of the day, what are we saying about choice and abortion?
It looks like we’re telling ourselves and our neighbors that man decides who has the right to live. Such a decision depends on the individual’s perception. If he does not see a human being, terminating a pregnancy is not murder.
The problem with this concept, besides the attack on innocent life, is that every individual can see whatever he or she wants to see and be blind to whatever he or she does not want to see. The right to be born becomes subjective, no longer an absolute. The right to be born is determined by the subject who has the power to terminate a vulnerable life. . . the power to see only what he wants to see.
This begs the question. “Under what authority can man grant or deny another human being the right to be born?”
We must ask ourselves this question as we remember Roe vs Wade in 2016.
Brother Jay Rivera, FFV