Friday, July 17, 2015

Michael Gerson: Planned Parenthood video reveals an appalling trivialization of life | The Kansas City Star The Kansas City Star

What do we learn from the video? First, it shows the appalling trivialization of life at the heart of extreme pro-choice ideology. If a developing life is really the moral and medical equivalent of a cyst or tumor, there is no limit on how it may be exploited. But most people — even those who support Roe v. Wade — intuitively recognize that the boy or girl in the sonogram is not a cyst. We see a family resemblance in a genetically differentiated human at an early stage of development. And people generally don’t want developing human beings treated as rubbish or raw materials.

Second, this shows the ethical danger of dehumanization. Whenever we start down the path of saying that some lives have diminished (or nonexistent) value, we harden something about ourselves that should be soft. This is true, in a different and lesser way, of comparing poor people on food stamps to animals. Or of saying that most illegal immigrants are rapists. It is always a source of serious ethical risk when we categorize a group of human beings as different and worthless. It leads, over time, to a callousness that can be shocking and dangerous.

Third, this case shows a deep tension within American society. All our best instincts push toward expanding the circle of inclusion and protection. Even opponents of same-sex marriage must admit that the rapid shift of public opinion on this issue has resulted from an impulse of generosity. But how does abortion — particularly late-term abortion — square with this trend in liberal societies? Many progressives paper over this tension by denying any value to a fetus until it emerges from the birth canal. But this is both medically and morally implausible.


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