How Did This All Begin?

Life. Science is helping us to understand and marvel at the intricacies of the unborn child as it develops in the safe harbor of the womb. Eyes are being opened to see the humanity of it, and desire to protect its well being.

Yet, the battle for life of the voiceless of our society continues.

Over at Live-Action News, Cassy Fiano describes a recent episode of Dr. Phil, looking at the desire of one mother, Annette Corriveau, who wants to end the life of her two disabled adult children (hat-tip, Andrew and Christina, blogging at Caffe con Leche).

Corriveau is not, of course, the first parent to think of ending the life of her child outside the womb. Cassy reminds us of the case of Robert Latimer, who took the life of his daughter by leaving her in the cab of his truck and let her die of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was 13 years old and had cerebral palsy.

What stuck me the hardest about the Dr Phil show, beyond how inconceivable it is that a parent would want to kill their child, was the reaction of the audience. When asked by Dr Phil if they agreed with Corriveau and her desire to kill her two children, the large majority of the audience raised their hands.

My first thought when I heard this story was, at what point do we draw the line? If the popular vote to kill two adults just because their mom decides they would be better off, who is safe? What is the measure of value of a person’s life? And who is capable of making that decision?

If our society makes it a regularity to agree with the viewpoint of Corriveau and the audience of Dr. Phil, let us not be surprised to find a growing language siding against Christian principles in the debate, such as:

(Let us not be led astray by the) exaggerated Christian compassion for the weak individual…Christian caritas or charity, and of the Church’s “commandment to attend to the incurably ill person and render him medical aid unto his death.”, instead of tending to the health of the group…“the ill-conceived ‘love of thy neighbor’ has to disappear …. It is the supreme duty of the … state to grant life and livelihood only to the healthy and hereditarily sound portion of the population…” (taken from Ramm, Ätztliche Standeskunde [24], p. 19, quoted from “The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, pg. 32)

A thread of such thought has been present throughout the history of civilization, and at times grew without any check and balance. This lack of balance led to atrocities against humanity. The natural law has always provided the necessary balance. This balance is lost when life is measured as a commodity, valued only for what it gives back to society, when the innate understanding that killing another human being is suppressed. There is no longer a measure to the fair treatment of peoples. Where does it end?

Another question to ask is, How did this all begin? 

This is the very question asked during the Nuremberg trials by a convicted Nazi doctor. The American judge answered,

“When you first considered there were human beings not worth living.”

(Quote taken from Mercy Killing: History and Medicine, p. 470)

Other posts on this topic:

Here’s one written by Mark Pickup, from the perspective of disabled man.

Be sure to read the reply by Chelsea Zimmerman who blogs at Reflections of a Paralytic

And, a humbling reminder to us, that the choice of a loving parent is never an easy thing to do. Who has the answers?

This is a older column by Chelsea, but gets to the heart of this issue, questioning the value of human suffering.