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The Culture of Life and the Culture of Death

Jan 27, 2011 | 01-January 2011 NRL News

NRL News
Page 3
January 2011
Volume 38
Issue 1

THE CULTURE OF LIFE AND THE CULTURE OF DEATH

By Wanda Franz, Ph.D.

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.
—Thomas Jefferson (letter to George Washington, 1/4/1786)

Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in reference to the cruel injustice of slavery. Slavery is incompatible with the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.”

The “self-evident” truth of God’s endowment is not a mere lofty political phrase; it is a core truth about the human condition. Acting against that truth should make us tremble, indeed, because God is just.

The writers of the Declaration of Independence were fully aware that some would consider the king or the government to be the source of human rights, so they added:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government… .”

In other words, government is not the source of our fundamental rights; its role is limited to securing these rights. Thus the God-created right to life is not contingent upon the consent of the king, or the government, or the health care bureaucrat—or any self-appointed judge of our right to exist. The role of the government should be to “secure” the right to life and protect it from the deadly grasp of the abortionist and the cold calculations of the “ethicist” who arrogantly wants to define our “quality of life” and limit our health care accordingly.

In a “Culture of Life” the courts would not have proclaimed a so-called “constitutional right” to an abortion. In such a culture the clamor for physician-assisted suicide would be rejected. And the practice of denying nutrition and simple medical care to the terminally ill would be considered an abomination.

Alas, we do not live in a “Culture of Life.” After over fifty million abortions since 1973, it seems to make more sense to speak of a “culture of death.”

In fact, a significant segment of our fellow citizens has drifted into a moral fog with regard to abortion. The false notion that an unborn child’s right to life depends on someone else “wanting” it has been relentlessly proclaimed by the pro-abortion mainstream media and the “progressive” opinion makers. Columnist Ellen Goodman expressed that view flippantly, but pungently (10/11/2003):

Over the years, I’ve rejoiced at sonograms and picked names for what we call a baby when it’s wanted and a fetus when it isn’t” [italics added].

In Goodman’s world it is perfectly acceptable that one parent views the child as a “baby” to be cherished and loved, while the other parent views the same child as “fetus” to be scheduled for an abortion. The “progressives” among us no longer subscribe to an “unalienable right to life” which is “endowed by the Creator.” Where Goodman’s “wantedness” rules, the notion of an inherent, inalienable right to life has evaporated.

But there are signs that the “Culture of Life” is asserting itself. The human instinct is to promote life, not death. Opinion polls show that the public is more pro-life now than it has been in decades. Even though the number of women of child-bearing age has continuously risen, the number of abortions has steadily declined since its peak in 1990. More importantly, the likelihood that a woman has a first-time abortion is lower now than it was in 1973.

One obstacle faced by pro-lifers has been the reluctance of many to think seriously about the right to life. That has changed to a significant degree because of Obamacare: now it’s their right to life.

About two years ago many became alarmed by governmental over-reach, especially through Obamacare. As I explained in my September column in this space, “the law directs the so-called ‘Independent Payment Advisory Board’ to propose measures designed to force private health care spending (what you and I are allowed to choose to spend to save the lives of our own family members) below the rate of medical inflation…. Bureaucrats in the federal Health and Human Services department are empowered to implement these recommendations by imposing so-called ‘quality standards’ on all health care providers if they want to participate in any qualified health insurance plans—even nongovernmental ones. Thus, the government will tell the health profession what diagnostic tests and medical care are permitted—and what are not.” Now the government is no longer securing our inalienable rights. Now the bureaucracy will rule.

The “progressive” elites no longer “tremble” because “our God is just.” What Karl Marx derisively called the “opium for the people,” namely religion, has been replaced in their minds by what the late Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz calls the “true opium”:

Now we are witnessing a transformation. A true opium for the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.”

But judged we will be, as the late Henry Hyde reminded us:

When we face that awesome moment, the final judgment … it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God—and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world—and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!’”