Most parents would agree that protecting your children from harm and doing everything possible to set them on a path of success and happiness are fundamental parental responsibilities. From the moment our children are born, their welfare becomes an almost singular obsession. Countless hours are spent dreaming about and planning for their future. We tell our children that they can be anything they want to be – the sky is the limit! Of course, as all parents quickly realize, things don't always go as planned. We make mistakes. Our children make mistakes. Life gets thrown off course. The challenge, then, becomes how we respond to the unexpected, the less-than-ideal, and how we teach our children to respond.
By now, most Americans have heard about the Texas teen who is suing her parents for pressuring her to have an abortion. The young lady is 16 years old, as is her boyfriend. Obviously, this is not a scenario most parents envision for their young daughters. If the girl's allegations against her parents are true, however, then this case demonstrates a sad fact about the state of America's moral compass. We have gotten to a point where we'd rather see our child endure the trauma of an abortion than see her be "punished with a baby," as our president so memorably said.
The message our culture now sends is clear: An unintended pregnancy, particularly for a young person, is a virtual death sentence – at least it was in a pre-Roe America. Thanks to that landmark ruling, however, your youngster's momentary lapse in judgment need not have life-altering consequences. A quick trip to the friendly neighborhood Planned Parenthood is all that's needed. In and out, quick and easy, and your child's life can proceed on its merry way, unimpeded and unencumbered. This message has yielded grim results: 56 million dead babies; untold grief and heartbreak for women who were deceived about the real nature of their "choice"; collateral damage to fathers and families; debilitating guilt and immutable regret.
The casualties of abortion are truly immeasurable, yet the debate is trivialized by framing it in the abstract and by shrouding it in the rhetoric of rights and choice. But the morality of a choice cannot be divorced from the object being chosen, no matter how loudly the champions of "choice" protest to the contrary or what excuses we offer to justify our actions. An abortion ends a human life – a defenseless, vulnerable, utterly innocent human life. How has our culture has gotten to the point where the tragedy of this fact is lost on so many, when in all other ways we view ourselves as more civilized and humane than at any point in human history? Our hearts bleed for the melting ice caps, exploited natural resources, vanquished species, economic injustice, racial inequality, gender discrimination... you name it and there's a group dedicated to raising awareness for it. Why on earth this same righteous sense of justice isn't felt for the plight of the unborn is beyond me. Just think of the hand-wringing that goes on over the issue of capital punishment – whether or not it is moral to take the life of a human being who has committed terrible crimes against his fellow man. There was a time when parents would take their children to view gruesome public executions. To view the ending of a human life as a form of entertainment is obviously a barbaric practice, and its good that this tradition has been discarded. Today, opponents of capital punishment argue that it is cruel and unusual to execute even the worst criminal, no matter how "humane" the means of execution. Capital punishment, they argue, is not only a crime against that individual but an affront to our very humanity. Often, however, these very same people will insist without a trace of irony that abortion is not only a necessity but a positive good.
Perhaps it's because as we've become more socially and environmentally conscious, we've also become more self-centered and detached. We're willing to throw money at abstract problems, but we're not willing to truly give of ourselves. As every parent knows, raising a child requires a level of selflessness and sacrifice that few other endeavors can match. We might be up to the challenge of saving the whales and stopping global warming, but we are unable to muster the character necessary to protect and care for most vulnerable among us even when they are our own flesh and blood.
The child in Texas who is suing her parents over the life of her unborn child might be a lot of things – she is probably a little immature, and most certainly underestimates the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead for her new family. But more than many adults around her, she clearly recognizes that the life inside her deserves to live, and that is a noble thing.
Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty. He is also chairman of the Center for a Just Society.
Publication date: February 27, 2013