Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
(Click here for readings)
By Benedict Augustine
(Disclaimer: This post discusses abortion and includes disturbing details that might be upsettingfor those unfamiliar with this issue.)
“If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”
In wake of the shocking revelations that Planned Parenthood (PP) not only performed late-term abortions, but also harvested the organs of those unborn children, the people of PP and their defenders made the simple claim that all his was entirely legal. In fact, for many, this was hardly news, and the videos offended good taste more than anything. Jonathon Swift’s “Modest Proposal” to kill children and use their bodies as commodities had played out in earnest, and these educated adults simply yawned and expressed mild irritation.
Fortunately, some people found this abominable and pushed beyond the objection of legality. They bypassed the media outlets that refused to treat this as news and saw the videos themselves. They clamored to their representatives, who hopefully had a sensitive enough conscience to recognize the immorality of infanticide and desecrating a dead body for profit, and some of them acted. In some states, lawmakers initiated an investigation of PP clinics, and in the Senate they held a vote to defund PP, which has received over half a billion dollars in public funding each year.
With the threats of a veto from Obama, and only amarginal majority versus a substantial one that would equal two-thirds of the vote, the measure did not pass and PP continues to receive tax dollars. The state investigations will proceed, but seeing the vastextent PP’s influence and power coupled with the very aggressive effort to bury this crime from the popular conscience, it’s difficult to think that anything might actually result.
A similar incident involving abortion and media indifference occurred only a few years ago with the trial of Kermit Gosnell. This “doctor” performed late-term and partial-birth abortions, and actively killed babies who survived these procedures. He dismembered their body parts and placed them in jars (for unknown reasons) and left the bodies of dead (and some still living) babies in trashcans. When the story of Gosnell became known, other people came forward to report that this type of thing happened in other parts of the country as well.
Oddly, many of the pro-choice people crowed not about the disgusting horror brought about by abortion, but bemoaned the fact that women had no choice but to go to these back-alley establishments since the law prohibited late-term abortions. Apparently, the bloody reality of what these procedures entail, the harm to the mother, and the death of a living breathing human being did not justify, in their eyes, the need for the law to prevent them.
The complete absence of morality is astounding.They see doctors haggling over the price of baby’s body parts, and they talk about laws. They hear of men killing living children with scissors, and they talk about cleaner facilities. They learn of the obvious signs of personhood manifesting themselves at the earliest stages of pregnancy, and they talk about a clump of cells. They see death, death that has consumed millions of lives and eviscerated whole communities, and they talk about choice. As onesuch commentator says without any hint of irony: “I don’t see death in these videos. I see hope.”
Obviously, the difference between those who hold life sacred and those who do not is a difference of kind, not one of degree. The former take great pains to prove that children in the womb are persons from conception, and killing them amounts to murder; the latter hardly bothers to listen to these arguments and their horrible implications, either from stubbornness or indifference, or both. To them, these babies may be persons, but they have no autonomy or the ability to reason. In other words, they have no power, so their life has no value.
When life ceases to have value, a huge and terrifyingshift in moral outlook results. In the absence of human dignity, ‘use’ replaces life in giving a person value. When a person cannot be used, like the babies in the womb or the elderly, they do merit the life they have. Consequently, this utilitarian ethic, which has spread far and wide in the modern world, currently condones abortion and assisted suicide, as well as prostitution, body desecration, and slavery. These problems grow continually worse since idea of usefulness is determined by easy feelings of pleasure and pain, not the hard work of logic: if it feels good at that moment, it is useful; if not, it can go. Allowing nature to take its course, a baby can grow into an adult who will serve society in many useful ways, but because he does not do this yet he can go.
The utilitarian ethic is utterly selfish and destructive, and accounts for most evils in the world today. It dehumanizes the people who adopt and practice it. It destroys morality, reason, and finally life itself. It turns subjects with souls and free will into objects quantitatively evaluated. In the utilitarian mind, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness succumb to Convenient Falsehood, Fashion, and Pleasure.
Recently, a staunch utilitarian atheist friend of mine finally pushed me away. I confronted him multiple times about the evils of abortion and thought the news of organ harvesting would change his mind. Rather, it emboldened him to support abortion even more since it can now be claimed that it helps almighty Science—a fact which, considering the overwhelming success of adult stem cells, has little to no basis. He wanted me to agree, and I pleaded with as much eloquence I could muster that he should drop this insanity.
As I thought about it, I finally realized that this thinking had already led to so many problems in his life: his addictions, his insecurities, and the stagnation (or sometimes regression) in his maturity.I also realized that I could no longer be his friend. Following Jesus’ words, I confronted him; then others confronted him; and finally, I gave him every argument from the Catholic Church as well as Natural Law; he rejected it all, but felt quite pleased that I would go to such lengths to save his soul, and with himself for being so tolerant. I simply felt used. At this point, I could tell he preferred the ways of a gentile and tax collector. If I shared his company any further, it would jeopardize my soul. For now, I can pray for him at a distance and hope a miracle happens.
Jesus foresaw this conflict playing out in society as well as friendships. He never recommends begging a nonbeliever to join the Church, or even seriously accommodating their beliefs. He never overlooks the false teachings of gentiles or the Pharisees in the hopes of brining them to His side. He urges His disciples to follow truth, condemn falsehood, and respect the differences that arise, even if this leads to serious divisions between loved ones and communities—“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Painful as this sounds, doing otherwise and accepting people’s faults, even their most grievous faults, will bring about much more violence and depravity. Nearly every human atrocity, both personal and societal, can be traced to a good person refusing to combat an incipient evil. For this reason, it is the duty of every Christian to confront evil even if it hurts to do so. This is our cross, and we must bear it.
After all, if we don’t do it, who will?