Matters of Life and Consistency
David W. Hegg
The study of ethical behavior is also a study in logical consistency, at least it should be. Our ethical convictions represent the primary foundation of personal and societal stability, and when they fracture, everything standing on them falls.
Recently, three news items have dominated our media’s attention and invaded our public discourse. First, we’ve been surrounded by voices decrying the fact that our immigration officials have taken children away from their parents. Of course, we haven’t been given the whole story, but for purposes of this column let’s agree that children and parents belong together.
Second, we were all captivated by the story of the Thai youth soccer team who found themselves trapped in a labyrinth-like cave system by a series of torrential rain. The story lasted for two weeks, and our hearts were touched as we thought and prayed for these children to be rescued. The idea of those boys perishing haunted us all, and news of their rescue was enthusiastically received. Our deep appreciation goes out to the brave international team of divers who had to develop a new way of diving in order to rescue those boys and their coach.
Third, President Trump’s announcement of Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court has set off a firestorm of opposition never before seen in our time. The animosity already aimed at both the President and Judge Kavanaugh, even before a thorough examination of his writings, previous decisions, and personal life has been fairly done, demonstrates an explosive hypocrisy rooted in the kind of blatant tribalism that has severely fractured what little unity America has had politically in the past.
Why can I say this? It’s simple. Uppermost in the minds of those opposing the President and his nominee is the fear that the court could possibly overturn Roe vs. Wade, the judicial decision that gave our nation a legal means to do away with unwanted children.
Yes, I said children, not a non-viable tissue mass, or pre-human, but a child already having all the DNA, sensory abilities, and animating spirit unique to humanity. And this is where the hypocrisy is most apparent.
If the thought of Thai boys perishing beneath several feet of rain water in a cave hurts our sensibilities, why is it the thought of ending the life of a baby in utero no longer causes us distress?
If separating children from their parents is framed as a national disgrace, how can the death of millions of American babies now be defended as a national right protected by law?
And if the preservation of the right to abortion has now become the litmus test for our judiciary, how do we square that with our historical ethic “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness?”
Despite the attempts by some to re-write medical certainty, there is no denying the fact that a fetus is a human organism, and unless it is intentionally slain, it will either fail on its own, or grow naturally, travel down the birth canal in most instances, and emerge as the living, breathing boy or girl its DNA has determined.
As an ethicist, my concern here is simply that the current confluence of news items merely points out our societal hypocrisy. If separating children from their families is wrong, and with this I agree, then how can the intentional killing of a fetus in the womb of its mother be right? And if the thought of a young Thai boy drowning is devastating, why is ending a life surrounded by amniotic fluid of no consequence?
I realize the abortion question is much more complex than this short column can examine, and I agree that it forces us to deal with issues that are both deeply personal and uncomfortable. I also believe our nation is losing its ethical moorings, and the next few months will put that on display.
Whatever we believe, whatever our worldview, it ought to make you and me better people. It ought to demonstrate itself in courtesy, civility, compassion, courage, and the ability to think rationally and honestly. I’m ready for the challenge, are you?