After Alabama passed legislation aimed at intensely limiting access to abortion, Democratic State Representative John Rogers voiced his opposition by saying,
“Some children are just unwanted. You either kill them now or you kill them later in the electric chair.”
How can any person argue that we should kill the unborn now because if we don’t we will only end up killing those same people as adults in the electric chair? That is insane, right?
Bad news, it isn’t new. All over the country I am told the anticipated burden of these poor children when they are born is justification for destroying them before they are born, before they can feel, before they suffer poverty, before they invariably end up in prison. The most compassionate thing we can do, these young people tell me, is to kill them before they are born. We need to be able to kill them before their presence requires us all to live with less. The objections may not be as coarsely and stupidly worded as the one made by Rogers, but they amount to the same argument.
As soon as I heard the Rogers quote I thought of another similar argument. As President-elect Bill Clinton prepared to take office, he received a letter from lawyer Ron Weddington co-counsel on Roe vs. Wade with his former wife Sarah Weddington. The letter encouraged President-elect Clinton to fast track the RU-486 abortion drug combination through FDA approval. The letter is preserved in the Judicial Watch link provided below.  Here are the final two paragraphs:
“And the poor? Well, maybe if we didn’t have to spend so much on problems like low birth weight babies and trying to educate children who come to school hungry, we might have some money to help lift the ones already born, out of their plight.
The biblical exhortation to ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’ was directed toward a small tribe surrounded by enemies. We are long past that. Our survival depends upon our developing a population where everyone contributes. We don’t need more cannon fodder. We don’t need more parishioners. We don’t need more cheap labor. We don’t need more poor babies.”
There are other creepy little gems in the letter. He does assure President-elect Clinton that though the government must issue contraceptives and provide abortions to keep the population of the wrong sorts under control, he isn’t
“proposing that you send federal agents armed with Depro-Provera dart guns to the ghetto.”
Well, that is a relief.
Contrast this with what Christopher Kaczor terms the inclusive view of human value. All human beings ought to be treated with dignity and respect without consideration of their financial class or educational prospects. If the unborn are human in the same way we are, then these arguments, “kill them now or kill them later” or “kill them now or be burdened by them later” are monstrously inhumane. It suggests that the best way to deal with poverty is to kill the poor before they are born.
If anyone reads that and thinks, “That isn’t right. The fetus isn’t the same as poor people who are already born,” then they have the responsibility to explain why. What makes the unborn so morally different that we can kill these particular poor humans at this developmental stage and not other poor humans from the same economic background in another development stage? If we agree it is wildly immoral to suggest killing the poor as a solution to poverty, then our substantive disagreement is on how we answer the question, “What is the unborn?” I make the case that the unwanted unborn is one of us. Everyone must make a case for our view of human life. No one gets to assume they are allowed to kill another human being without argument.
We all hate poverty, but we must do so without devaluing the poor at any age. For those of us who are Christians, the unwanted unborn and her mother are our neighbors. If we do our duty to our neighbor, then none should bear the label unwanted as if it were a permanent condition.
I suspect that many of the young people asking some form of the questions mentioned at the outset of this post recoil from Representative Rogers’ words and the letter of Ron Weddington. I humbly suggest to them and anyone else who argues this way that they may not like the nastiness of the depth of those waters, but they are wading in the shallow end of the same pool when they argue poverty as a justification for abortion. The best solution is to get out of those waters altogether and embrace an inclusive view of human value. It means we must find more creative solutions to meet the needs of our fellow man than to forbid them to be born, but it helps us to strongly, thoroughly, and with absolute clarity reject the evil and dehumanizing counsel of men like Rogers and Weddington.
The idea of utility being the justification for existence is chillingly reminiscent of 1930s German thinking.