Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
Below is a series of excerpts from articles that I’ve clipped for my “Culture of Death” file. Can you spot the common theme among all the following statements?
- The Austin American-Statesman interviewed a woman who was an early user of the birth control pill. When touting all the supposedly wonderful things the Pill did for women, she said: “Children are great when you want them, but a millstone around your neck if you don’t.”
- In an article heralding the arrival of a new, less invasive test to detect Down syndrome that will allow us to “slowly eradicate the disease,” a spokesperson from the Institute of Neurology and Genetics said: “There is no cure [for Down syndrome], so this is a test for couples who want to know and prevent it, they are the ones who must decide on the fate of the pregnancy.”
- Australian ethicist Julian Savulescu says that society has a moral obligation to use reproductive technology to let only smart people be born. He noted: “Even if an individual might have a stunningly good life as a psychopath, there might be reasons based on the public interest not to bring that individual into existence.” (Note: He’s referring to life that has already been conceived, which, technically, is already in existence.)
- In Australia, a couple aborted twin boys because they wanted a girl (scroll down below the video for the text). They’re now petitioning to do sex-selective In Vitro Fertilization, where male children conceived would be discarded before implantation. A doctor who supports their decision said: “I can’t see how it could harm anyone ... Who is this going to harm if this couple have their desire fulfilled?”
There’s much that could be said about the worldview behind these quotes. But the thing that jumps out to me the most is how much all of these statements hinge on the age-old question: To whom do our children belong? To us? Or to God?
I had never paid much attention to that question. I thought of saying that our children belong to God as nothing more than a nice little sentiment that you might cross-stitch on a pillow, one without much weight or importance. But the longer I think about the anti-life mentality that rages in our culture, the more I think it is largely rooted in a rejection of this concept.
When something belongs to you, you are free to determine its fate. Masters had the power to make life and death decisions for their slaves, because they perceived that these people belonged to them. We have the authority to take the family dog down to the vet and have him euthanized because he belongs to us. There is a presumption that if something belongs to you—especially if you also created it—you can determine its value. And that idea is the common thread in all those quotes above, the insidious message at the core of the culture of death: The worth of a new human being is determined entirely by his or her parents. An unborn child is does not have dignity until her parents say she does.
This process starts happening as soon as you take God out of the picture. Without God, couples perceive that they create new life entirely on their own. They think that they own their children—especially the unborn ones who don’t yet have voices. From there, it’s a short path down the road of temptation to value these new lives that you created according to whether or not they enhane your own life. If you find out that one of your creations has characteristics that would negatively impact you—the wrong gender, a disability, etc.—you feel like you have the authority to deem it less valuable, and maybe even altogether expendable.
And so as I read more and more of these disturbing articles about the erosion of respect for human life, I keep coming back to that concept: To whom do our children belong? Because I think our society will stand or fall depending on how we answer that question.