Sunday, March 25, 2012

Alarmism, Futurism, and the Slippery Slope

This is a response article to Cam of A Woman's Place, and her article on abortion and euthanasia titled "The Next Great Evil", which was posted earlier this morning. The quoted text is being used with express permission, and as always I invite you to review the source material here. Cam is a marvellously insightful person who I can't help but agree with even when I don't, and for the sake of full disclosure, I should thank her for bringing me my largest readership boost ever when she brought up my coverage of R. v. K. Effert and the crime of infanticide. The post will be long, and probably rather dry, given the format. You can find it below the cut.

In the last century we've watched as things that have been taboo in the past, have become the norm for our society.  Until 1930 all Protestant denominations condemned contraception as a sin.  Legalized abortion made murdering our children legal in the 70s, and in the 90s some in the pro-death camp were still saying they wished that it was "rare" which, let's face it, admits that there is something wrong with tearing another person apart limb by limb.  But that facade of ethical belief is now falling away, as some in the anti-life camp proclaim that the real evil in this world is adoption and that abortion in itself is actually great.   
Well, this is actually largely true, and so far as birth control goes, my opinions don't really apply beyond the use of prophylactics, being, as I am, male. I feel that a person has their right to choose birth control over bringing a child they can't support into the world, which probably makes me a Bad Catholic. But the birth-control argument is really just preamble into the article, and more or less a lead-in to the last line, which is a link to an article on Life Site News with some quotes regarding prominent pro-abortion personalities who are operating anti-adoption websites.

To be fair, there's a disconnect there. Being pro-abortion and anti-adoption don't go hand in hand any more than being Christian and pro-Crusades do. In point of fact, I consider all three of the crusades to be some of the Church-on-Earth's largest mistakes in all of human history, and while I respect existing legislation regarding the matter (which is virtually non-existent here), I happen to prefer adoption over abortion. So this particular point boils down in this way: the one is not the other - post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Evil, however, has a way of outdoing itself, or at least taking it's sickening actions to yet another level, and that's what I couldn't help but think of when I ran across this post on CMR this morning.
The post in question deals with some arguments for early-life euthanasia, which is a subject I'm not intimately familiar with, but from concept, I can hazard a few short points. For one thing, euthanasia is not intended for use when a hard life is ahead, but for when life is no longer worth living. While my own positions are mixed on the acceptability of assisted suicide, on euthanasia itself, I'm pretty clear: nobody has the right to decide whether another person lives or dies. I've heard the argument that, in much the same way that a guardian can determine medical treatment for their minor wards, they should be able to make this decision, and I flatly say that that's ridiculous.

 We've traveled along this merry road towards moral relativism for quite a while as a society, since long before I was born, and others have suggested that this is the direction we've been headed in for some time.
Moral Relativism is necessary to within degrees. To paraphrase the Boondock Saints, there are always going to be certain moral codes that every man of every faith can embrace. But there are other moral rules that aren't absolute, things that you don't have to be criminally insane (or at least maladjusted) to disagree with, such as the Church's anti-birth-control position. And a big part of that is precisely because our society (and, to a certain extent, American society) is multicultural. We are not a Theocracy, and for some moral codes, there can be no justification made beyond the religious or spiritual, freedoms which we are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 Now Alberto Giubilini and Francesaca Minerva have published and article titled: "After birth abortion: Why should the baby live?" asking the questions that some who have watched history unfold these past decades have suggested was coming.
Well, there's the old slippery-slope argument, which has always been shown to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Unfortunately, I couldn't examine the article itself, as the paper's abstract makes it clear that the title is not meant ironically, and that the argument really is as Cam and others have presented it.

 After all, if life is devalued to usefulness rather than possessing any sort of innate value in itself, than this question is bound to come up.  When you strip away the morality of a country and base value on utility, then what value is a new life if it's parents decide they don't want it?
Well, now, that's the thing, isn't it? This is a genuinely slippery slope, one I can't really believe we're actually standing at the top of, and looking down, going "I think I can make that". Life is not and should not be reduced to net income or net loss. While such calculations may have economic consideration, economics is not the primary concern here. Life has a dignity all its own and should be defended.

 And it's all because our society has lifted up a new idol, and will defend it at all costs.  They will not admit that sex has consequences. 
This line, I'm "quoting for truth", having encountered the given sentiment myself far more often than I would like over on the NS forums. Pregnancy naturally follows sexual intercourse, and is its consequence, and you don't need to be religious to think that, or have more than an eighth-grade understanding of mammalian biology. We can delay it, we can reduce the risks, but we can't eliminate it. No form of contraception provides the 100% protection level.

The problem comes in when we see the pregnancy and resulting childhood only in terms of the financial and temporal burden they represent, and not as the gift and delight they can be. The greatest and most lasting act a man or woman may do is to raise a child. Why should we throw that away for a few more years of party-going or to further our career?

I'm not saying one should start breeding immediately. That's preposterous. I have no intention of having a child until I'm at least established in a career and can afford to raise it. But to delay too long invites the possibility of losing that chance forever, and studies have shown that older parents are more likely to produce children with birth defects. So give that a thought.


  1. Hummm...I think I've seen you post somewhere before. Are you the Canadian who trolls Shameless Popery?

    I think Cam's point is that once we cross that line, we will continue to keep crossing lines. And there's some truth in this. People will keep pushing the envelope unless others stand up against it. And that's the nature of politics.

    As for things concerning birth control and euthanasia, the Church is quite clear in her teachings on both subjects. We do not have the right to play God. To quip an old saying God "brought you into this world and He can take you out." I get really upset when people (even those who choose assisted suicide) view their lives as worthless. I only need to look at a few documentaries where people's own family get upset that their love one has decided to fly to a country that allows it.

    To me the other side of that coin is the beginnings of life or birth control. One can argue until their blue in the face that it's not wise to have a child at certain times, but then one could just as easily ask why a person feels that sex is necessary. People live with out sex every day. To me, people treat sex without dignity when they feel that they should "get it" whenever they want to. They are reducing their sexual partners to animals (and that's a slippery slope of abuse and rape right there).

    But then if one were to value sex as something sacred and special the issue about bringing forth a life becomes moot since one can choose when to engage in sex and thus bring forth life.

    But what do I know. I'm just a SAHM who needs an aspirin.

  2. Sorry, never been to Shameless Popery. I'm not even sure what that is, to be fair. You might have seen me around CAF a few years ago, or on Cam's blog.

    As to the point that slippery slopes exist: of course they do. But the need to stop the slipping doesn't mean we have to be regressive. I'm not so certain that assisted suicide (which is distinct from euthenasia, we should note) counts as playing God. To me, anyway, my life is my ability to interact with the world. When the alzheimers have set in so deep that I don't remember my wife and children, I'm not going to want to continue, and I'd just as soon spare my family the pain. But that's a bit of a digression.

    Sex is special. I'm not advocating casual sex any more than I'm advocating infanticide. But to deny that my SO and I aren't mature adults with associated needs is to invite a whole load of stress on both personal and inter-personal levels... Stress that could easily be avoided.

    Not to get into it to personally, but it can be special without being wrapped in stigma.

    But then, I'm just a kid, right?

    1. Shameless Popery is run by a man called Joe (and some posts by Fr. Andrew). You might like it. It's an apologetics blog. They welcome differing opinions. There are a number of Zachs that make comments from time to time and I'm thinking one says he's Canadian. Which could explain my confusion. But it could also be Cam's blog that's throwing me off. Anyways....

      As for being a kid...well, I admit that I am not perfect. Getting married and having kids changed my life a lot. I used to think that in monogamous relationships, sex could be special. But then I've realized that although it is special it's not completely special. There's something missing, an element that isn't there until you're married. For me to explain it would require some doctrinal language, because I really have no other way of expressing the emotional level that is different.

      I imagine how I feel about life in general will continue to change in the future. Watching loved ones suffer and at times lose their minds is heart wrenching. I have no personal experience with loosing my own mind, but I hope that if that does happen I can use my suffering for good. Are you familiar with redemptive suffering? That put a whole new level of thinking for me about things like Alzeheimers.

    2. Thanks for the link; I'll keep it in mind. If we ever had crossed paths before, it was either on Cam's blog, or through my now-defunct account on the Catholic Answers Forum.

      I've heard many of the doctrinal arguments, but my primary point of contention with doctrine has always been that it lacks a certain consideration for the layman's connection to God. Just about everything has to be run through a priest first, and with the exception of a few old-testament chants and rituals, there's no evidence in the new testament to suggest that Jesus ever intended for us to have to clear everything through a mortal man... apostolic succession or no.

      Don't get me wrong, many priests are wonderful men, and I fully accept that a great many powers have been left to them and them along. I wouldn't presume to marry two people, or to attempt to effect transubstansiation in my living room. But, I feel there has to be an allowance for one's own discernment, if one is to bother discerning anything at all. (All of which, I suppose, makes me just a wee bit protestant, even if I far prefer the Mass over a simple sermon, and believe in apostolic succession, and all the rest). Without going too far into depth and circumstance, I can say that my partner and I have been together longer than most married couples of comparable age, and our bond is just as close, if not closer.

      Going back to the topic at hand, redemptive suffering is actually the only argument to be made against assisted suicide, but it hangs upon a tenuous thread: Roman Catholic Theology. I suppose other branches of the Church-on-Earth might also share it, but the fact of the matter remains that we cannot legislate a morality in a multicultural society, but only pass laws to protect the general welfare. When the laws of either of our respective countries, or indeed, the laws of the bible, were written, the concept of degenerative illness was almost entirely alien. People living so long that organ systems begin to simply shut down like subsystems in an ageing car was unheard of even a hundred years ago. It is a product of our modern medical society, and until medicine can fix those problems, it can only ease the suffering of those who seek to have it eased. It's morally bankrupt, surely, but I would far rather die knowing my family, than suffer through the long goodbye.

      Remember: Legalizing a thing does not force a person to use that thing, which is something I feel the catholic end of the blogosphere often forgets. It being legal for me to create a living will with a clause to stipulate that I should be given a double-dose of morphine if I lose all sense of self-autonomy does not force anyone else to do the same.