Emailed question:

Think about the life that a baby will most likely lead if born to a mother who was forced to carry the child to term because abortion was illegal. This mother wanted to kill the child, so isn’t there a high likelihood that the unwanted child will suffer neglect and abuse at the hands of these same parents. Due to the high likelihood of the suffering this unwanted child will endure probably throughout his childhood (which will most likely result in a damaged adult as well), wouldn’t it be more quick and painless for the child to die quickly in the mother’s womb? Compassion seems to lean towards a quick death rather than constant horrible neglect, pain, abuse (physical and sexual), poverty, etc, that they would suffer at the hands of parents who wanted to kill the child.

My Response:

Well, this argument is horrifying.

Let’s break it down a bit.

  1. It assumes the non-existence of the option to place a child into an adoptive family that will love and care for it.
  2. It is a condemnation of the woman carrying the baby as a moral monster. She wanted to abort her child, but since she could not, she will assure it has a miserable life. Therefore, we better kill the child before mom makes them miserable. Yikes.
  3. For the record, children of abusive parents don’t seem to wish they didn’t exist. They tend to want to be protected from the abuse. We can acknowledge and attempt to intercede on both the evil of abortion and the evil of abusive neglectful parents.
  4. It assumes that today’s emotions are a permanent fixture. When counseling mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy, counselors start by pointing out that not being ready today does not mean you won’t be able to parent. The birth isn’t happening today. We have time to gather the emotional, spiritual, and physical resources you need to meet this unexpected moment. I can’t count how many women brought their babies back to our pregnancy center to show them off. They wanted to “kill the child” and found better options. Then their emotional state changed.
  5. What degree of certainty must we have that another human being will endure a miserable life to be free to kill them? If this is the justification can we kill newborns, toddlers, small children if we have a reasonable belief they will be miserable? How will we go about determining that anyway?

If sufficient misery is the justification, and not that the unborn are unlike us in some morally important way, then it opens the door for all sorts of other human beings to be killed because we deem their life not worth living. What a terrifying thought that is.