According to an article published in the New York Times on January 23, life began for Maurice Mannion-Vanover on September 11, 1990, with every odd stacked against him.
He and his twin sister were born to a crack-addicted, HIV-positive mother who was incapable of caring for them and soon abandoned them to be raised by the System. Their physical and mental struggles were so great that his sister lived only 20 months. Maurice was also HIV-positive and had severe developmental delays. He would require constant care for his entire life, but against all odds, he was adopted and he thrived under the love and care of his adoptive parents. Maurice passed away on January 14th, a life cut short by the tragic choices of others. The mere fact that he had a life at all can be seen as nothing short of a miracle.
In a society which increasingly judges the worth of the individual by his or her ability to contribute to society, many would say that it would have been best for everyone involved if Maurice and his sister Michelle had been aborted. After all, their mother was obviously incapable of caring for them and they would merely be two more burdens on an already strapped Child Protective Services System. They were sure to endure lives of pain, suffering and rejection. Lives no one would choose to live.
I have heard more than once the argument that if a child will not be loved and well cared for by their parents then it would be best for them to never be brought into the world at all. Many attempt to twist logic and make their stance concerning abortion a humane one. Who, after all, would want to be born into a life of pain and suffering? Funny thing is, I know many people who were born into situations much like that of Maurice, and worse. (For a great example, check out the testimony of Tony Nolan.) Not a single one of them has said that they would have preferred to never be born. Given the option, the human spirit craves life.
If you read the article in the New York Times, you will see the impact that young Maurice had on a family and a community. An impact that never would have occurred had the “decrease the surplus population” attitude of social Darwinism succeeded in sacrificing Maurice and Michelle on the alter of the American Dream.
That is, in a nutshell, the ethical definition of abortion. It is the pursuit of an idol, one’s desired life, at the expense of another life. We read today with horror and disgust at the arcane practice of child sacrifice to ancient gods, but at its root, abortion is child sacrifice at the alters of convenience, financial stability, self-interest, hedonism.
The worth of a fetus is often determined today by the desire its parents have for it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in Neonatal Intensive Care units to preserve the life of premature babies; in some states, those same babies could be legally aborted by the same doctor that delivered and is now fighting to save its life. In some of those same states, a person can be charged with two murders if they kill a pregnant woman, even if that woman is on her way to an abortion clinic to voluntarily end the life of the fetus.
I am unashamedly pro-life and anti-abortion (yes, I believe these terms to explain two different yet related ethical stances). I believe that God is the one who knits us together, creates us each individually in his image. I believe that abortion is but one example of man’s attempt to override the sovereign creativity of the Creator.
But I am not looking to change minds based on Scripture or on my religious beliefs. In this month that we reflect on the Sanctity of Human Life, I am asking us all, regardless of religious or political beliefs, to look past “what-if” arguments of rape or incest (less than 1% of abortions performed are a result of such a situation), and think well about the question of life and the inherent worth of a human life.
Take the time to ask yourself the hard questions. What constitutes life? What gives life worth? How do our current laws concerning abortion, homicide and manslaughter, and emergency medicine contradict one another? Is there a way to build consistency concerning human life and dignity into our laws and so ensure that the weakest of our citizens, the unborn, have the opportunity to chase after life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
The rights of women are supposedly staunchly defended in the abortion debate, but we also speak loudly in America that the rights of one person only extend insofar as they do not infringe upon the rights of another. Abortion denies the right that we claim to be most sacred in America– the right to life.