by Gjergji Evangjeli
Abortion has long been recognized to be a harmful procedure. Though resistance to abortion has been presented as a strictly Christian position, the Hippocratic Oath goes against abortion about half a millennium before Christ was born. Of course, the way the Oath treats abortion and euthanasia is one of the major reasons why it is no longer required to be taken in many medical schools. One may wonder at the wisdom for removing the Oath rather than living up to it, but it seems that one’s priorities take precedence.
One sad reality is that abortion is often seen as the practical thing to do. Whether due to socio-economic status or some other major commitment, it is now commonplace for someone to argue that they have no time to take care of their baby. This line of reasoning, however, is very dangerous. Since abortion is mostly seen as a matter of “health” today, it is important to properly define “health” and see whether it stands up to scrutiny. Health, properly defined, is the absence of disease, in other words, the existence an object in its natural state. If that is true, then abortion cannot possibly be a procedure grounded in health, since it does not do away with a foreign bacterium that has come to infect the body, but with a process quite native to the female body. Some may consider pregnancy to be a disease, but they must do so without the help of logic, since if pregnancy were a disease, all of human history is ultimately due to that disease. In addition, medicine would have to be redefined, since one of the major aims of the Oath is to stress that the hand that is meant to protect life should not also be the hand that takes away life. If this principle is not upheld, medical ethics become murky.
Just as damaging, however, is the spiritual dimension of abortion. Pope Francis has spoken on a few occasions about the psychological and spiritual disjunct that leads to the practice of abortion, terming it the ‘throwaway culture.’ Unlike basically all systems of ethics, this ideal sets up not the good as its aim, but the practical. Practicality, of course, is a great way to deal with certain things, but to apply practicality to every situation is egotistic and inherently dangerous. If everyone were to live their lives seeking only the best option for them and completely disregarding the rights of others or the common good, society would collapse. This, however, is precisely what abortion does, but it discriminates against the sector of society which is least able to protect and protest the atrocities done against it, namely those who were never born.
Among those who argue philosophically for abortion, a strange new argument has arisen which states that the fetus does, in fact, have the right to life but not the right to be kept alive. This may seem as a brilliant argument at first, but it is deeply flawed. First, it fails to recognize that there is a bond between the mother and her child. The example they often give to illustrate this argument is that it would be unethical to expect you to give up nine months of your life and suffer extensive pain for the purpose of keeping your neighbor alive. Whereas you are not responsible for your neighbor’s problem that leads their needing this procedure, however, the parents of the child are responsible for the baby needing to grow inside the womb. Second, it fails to argue successfully for abortion without also arguing for infanticide. By that logic, the baby does not have the right to be kept alive even after birth, so that if it proves extremely strenuous to feed and take care of it in the weeks after its birth, it is permissible to let it starve to death. More importantly, this argument shines a clear light within the inner understanding of the throwaway culture. What is truly important is my own comfort, not the common good, not the possibility that I may help save my neighbor’s life, not even the life of my child. To see the world in such an egotistic perspective is extremely dangerous and necessarily damaging to society. If this is seen as a guiding principle, however, only darkness can follow.