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Life in the balance

by | Apr 7, 2020

By Anthony J. Lauinger 

Editor’s note. This month’s guest presidential column is written by Anthony J. Lauinger, executive vice president of National Right to Life and chairman of Oklahomans for Life. It appears on page three of the April digital edition of National Right to Life News.

Tony Lauinger

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine’s poignant words were written during the Revolutionary War, but they are as relevant today as in 1776.

We are now engaged in a different kind of war, whose outcome, likewise, is uncertain. The enemy is unseen, but deadly, nonetheless. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Millions of human lives are at risk around the globe. The number of fatalities we hear are staggering. The deaths of many of the victims are never reported. The human race as we know it hangs in the balance.

The enemy to which I refer is not a virus, but a viewpoint, not a pandemic, but a postulate, not disease, but defiance – defiance against the Creator Whom those leaders of the American Revolution had so clearly recognized and acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence. A postulate that human lives are of no intrinsic value, that they are, rather, disposable, expendable, and may be ended at will if a child’s birth would be inconvenient, or a sick, disabled, or elderly person’s death would be greeted with relief… The callousness with which human lives are discarded in our throwaway world of the modern age is incomprehensible.

There is a story about Germany during the Second World War, a story titled, “Sing a Little Louder.”  It tells of a church that stood near some railroad tracks during those dark days of the Third Reich.  On Sunday mornings, trains could be heard – boxcar after boxcar after boxcar – heading east.  Those in the church knew who were on those trains, knew where the trains were going, and knew why.  But in order to avoid dwelling on the implications of it all, in order to drown out the noise – whenever they heard a train coming, the congregation would simply “sing a little louder.”

It was Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who spoke those immortal words, “NEVER AGAIN!” And yet, how soon we forget. It was less than 25 years after the Nuremberg Trials that our nation’s highest court sentenced to death the unborn children of America.

We have surpassed – tenfold – the death toll of the Third Reich’s concentration camps. Since 1973, in what we pride ourselves in calling the most civilized nation on earth, we have killed more than 61 million unborn children in what are euphemistically called abortion “clinics.” Over 61 million innocent human beings killed – that is the legacy of Roe v. Wade.

For those who have been oblivious to the assaults on human life by abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, the Coronavirus pandemic has reminded humankind of our own mortality. The COVID-19 crisis has brought out both the worst and the best of human nature. On the one hand, there are those cavalierly musing about whom not to treat. Lee Siegel put it this way in an April 4, 2020 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal:

“You usually get a doctor, or more often a ‘bioethicist’ – an academic who is neither a physician nor a scientist – comfortably explaining the ins and outs of allowing a hospital patient – an inestimably precious human being – to die. What you don’t get is the perspective of a doctor who would rather risk his life than allow a patient to die. You don’t hear from the vast majority of doctors and nurses who don’t consider themselves ‘heroes’ for going to work during the pandemic, because healing people is a sacred obligation that they have vowed to fulfill every day of their own inestimably precious lives.”

An inspiring example of the human spirit rising to the occasion in a previous crisis was recounted in a March 21, 2020 New York Times article by Sheri Fink:

“Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on Bellevue Hospital in New York City in 2012, and the main generators were about to fail. Dr. Laura Evans would be left with only six power outlets for the [intensive care] unit’s 50 patients…. For those about to lose electricity, she and her colleagues stationed two staff members at the bedside of all patients who relied on ventilators, preparing to manually squeeze oxygen into their lungs with flexible Ambu bags…. In the end, it was improvisation that prevented tragic rationing at Bellevue. The generator fuel pumps failed, but a chain of volunteers hand-carried diesel [fuel] up 13 flights of stairs. Dr. Evans’s patients were all maintained on backup power until they were transferred to other hospitals.”

Contrast such life-affirming efforts with the viewpoint that some lives are not worthy to be lived, that those deemed – by OTHERS – to have a “diminished quality of life” are not worth saving, that a child who is regarded as a “burden” may be killed at will in the peaceful sanctuary of her mother’s womb. Pray God our world will learn to be guided by the better angels of our nature.

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