Saturday, May 19, 2007

Which Lives Are Sacred?

During the GOP debate the other night, Governor Huckabee, Senator Brownback and Governor Romney were fighting hard to prove they deserved the pro-life vote.

While Governor Romney says "a civilized society has to respect the sanctity of human life", it does seem to me that the candidates make distinctions about which lives are truly sacred.

While some candidates get apoplectic insisting that destroying a cluster of cells in a petri dish is murder, no one seems to be as equally outraged over the atrocities in Darfur. None of them seemed concerned that in Afghanistan, a country under our protection, the infant mortality rate is 165 per 1000 births, one of the highest in the world.

In a 2003 paper from the World Health Organization it was noted that over 10 million children under the age of 5 die each year. Most lived within the worlds 42 lowest income countries. According to this paper, "Malnutrition is associated with 54% of all child deaths." and "Two-thirds of child deaths could be prevented by interventions which are not only already available but which are also feasible to implement in low-income countries."

Where is the moral outrage from the GOP candidates? These staggering numbers do not even include the millions of children under the age of five who are "stunted" due to malnutrition (about 180 million in 2005 according to another study). I still believe too many "pro-life" people are really only "pro-birth".

One of the phrases we often hear from Republicans when defending Bush's war in Iraq is something like, "we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Since devastation and loss of innocent life are by-products of any war, aren't they basically saying we we would rather lose Iraqi innocent lives rather than American innocent lives? We are rightfully distraught over losing 100 U.S. soldiers and marines a month in Iraq and Afghanistan defending our interests, but we seem to be much less concerned that too often Iraq loses that many innocent civilians in a day. If we are really fighting terrorists in Iraq who want to destroy us, wouldn't it be more moral to fight them over here? Why should innocent Iraqi's die fighting our war rather than us?

The brutal truth is that not all human life is precious and our actions show that none of us believe that all human life is precious. The lives of the people we love are precious to us, but there is a sliding scale for the rest of humanity. Even at that, not all life we might consider precious is worth living. Many of us have been in situations where death is not the worst alternative.

As a civilization we need to become more concerned about the quality of each person's life and not just about whether a person is alive.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pro-Life Synthetic Rage

I don't believe it is helpful to question other people's beliefs or motives, but after watching both Republican debates, I have to wonder if some of the pro-life stances are not just synthetic rage.

I think it is reasonable to question a candidate's reasoning and judgement. For example, any candidate who doesn't believe in evolution doesn't have the scientific background, judgement or common sense to be president.

Do the candidates who so intensely state life begins at conception really believe that? They must believe that conception occurs with the union of sperm and ovum and not with implantation otherwise they wouldn't consider cells in a petri dish to be a human "child" (now there is a way to ratchet up the the rhetoric).

With a definition that life begins with the union of sperm and ovum, aren't many treatments for infertility, which routinely create embryos that are later discarded, forms of murder?

Aren't many forms of female contraception, which prevent implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg, also murder?

None of the Republican candidates turned their synthetic rage toward couples using in vitro fertilisation or toward women on the pill. I guess political moral outrage has its limits.

Rabid pro-life positions fire up many in the Republican base, but I would expect a serious candidate for the presidency to have a better understanding of this difficult issue. Give Rudy Giuliani credit. He has had to face the issue with logic and reason instead of hyperbole. Maybe he can articulate a position that will add substance to the debate rather than just fire.