The Newest Endangered Species
Judith La Montagne
What do chimps, black spider monkeys, whooping cranes, blue whales, and gorillas have in common? They are all on the endangered species list. Scientists have deplored what man has done to his environment, which has too often led to species loss. Unfortunately, it appears we must now add another group to the endangered list: homo sapiens. While it is certainly true that the world is currently well populated, the argument is currently being made that when the upcoming generation does not replace those who are aging, as will soon be the case throughout the world, there will be huge economic and social problems for everyone. But that is an argument for another day
I am not talking just of the lack of interest many couples show in having children, a problem in itself. I am speaking of the current tragedy of killing our young in painful and unconscionable ways. What? This is legal? How can we be so soft-hearted toward pain in the animal world while at the same time indifferent to the pain and loss of abortion. Animal rights defenders, while defending the rights of an animal, express concern when an animal is in pain and, worse, are shocked by when it is euthanized. Rightly so. Yet, so many of the public seem disinterested in the needless deaths and pain of helpless infants. By calling them fetuses, we think we can dehumanize them – a ploy that has been very successful. Some states are now making it legal to kill even after birth. How can we decry the suffering of animals and, at the same time, be so cruelly indifferent to the pain of our own offspring? Don’t they also deserve the right to life and the right to avoid suffering?
A breaking study has found that pre-born babies in the first trimester have “adult-like patterns of nerves . . . established before the end of the first trimester. It is almost conclusively provable that preborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation. There is also increasing evidence that pre-born babies can feel pain much earlier than 20 weeks–possibly as early as five weeks. There is little doubt they can feel pain as early as the first trimester. The likelihood that that they do experience pain much earlier than many people believe is increasing according to science.”
Since it is now firmly established that developing infants may suffer pain so early in gestation, why are there those who subject them to the horrors of mutilation. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is neither ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’, but ‘Can they suffer?’” In that passage, Bentham points to the capacity for suffering as the vital characteristic that gives a being the right to equal consideration. The capacity for suffering is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher mathematics. All animals have the ability to suffer.“ (Why Animals Rights?, Peter Singer.) Surely that dictum should also include the unspeakable pain suffered by developing infants during an abortion. To deliberately kill a newborn baby is nothing short of murder.
Late-term abortion has, up to now, been relatively rare. According to the most recent CDC data, only 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks. However, given the sheer number of abortions in this country (638,169 reported to the CDC), that means there were at least 8,000 late-term abortions in the United States. As Jonah Goldberg notes today, the pro-abortion-rights Guttmacher Institute puts the number even higher, at roughly 12,000 late-term abortions per year. That’s a lot of babies dying late in pregnancy. To gain a sense of perspective, that number is comparable to the number of murders committed by firearms in the same time period.
The Guttmacher Institute has looked at the reasons for late-term abortion, and the reasons are chilling. “Data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” Instead, there were “five general profiles of women who sought later abortions, describing 80% of the sample.” These women were “raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous [had never given birth].” [David French, “It’s Time for the Truth about Late Term Abortions,” National Review, February 1].
Even though potential mothers may not want their children, there are statistics on how many people are waiting to adopt, a process with the potential to save many infant lives. Experts estimate it is somewhere between one and two million couples. Every year there are about 1.3 million abortions. Currently only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies place their children up for adoption. www.pregnantpause.org/adopt/wanted.htm).
At the very least, potential mothers should be informed that there is an alternative to infanticide. Murder is abhorrent to most people. My question is, why isn’t the murder of a newborn not considered murder? Is it because they are helpless? There should be a law protecting infants from such horrors. Instead, we now have states that have skewed their legal systems to protect murderers of the innocent and have glorified the act by actually protecting it! If a baby is born alive, why is it ok to snuff out that life? These babies are human in every way. They have all the same organs as adults. Babies grow; adults age. Is either process a crime? Being born or growing old are normal processes of life. Both have the right to life the same as any other American citizen. Since when has it become a crime punishable by death to be born?
If we were to hear of wholesale killing of pups or kittens, the public would be horrified. But killing tiny human beings? Not so much. At least dogs and cats are euthanized to prevent unbearable pain. What’s the matter with us?