Saturday, September 29, 2007

The West is no better than India

From an article on sex selection in India:

A son will carry on the family name, become the breadwinner, look after you when you are old and, for some faiths, ensure your soul’s salvation after death by performing your last rites. For many Indians, girls are a burden you can do without. First, you have to worry about protecting their chastity. Most Indians believe a woman should be a virgin at the time of marriage.

Then you have to pay for their upkeep — feed, clothe and educate them. And all for what? For her to get married and contribute to another household. But most importantly, if you have a daughter you will most likely have to pay a substantial dowry to get her married off, despite the practice being banned.

The West looks down on the practice of sex selection abortion, and rightly so, and condemns India for aborting so many of its children. There is a feeling of anger that girls are not as equally valued as boys. And that's the way it should be.

But what about the genocide against babies with handicaps, genetic anomalies and malformations?

It's the same logic, right? Who wants to pay, in money and effort, for the upkeep of a child with a serious medical issue?

Oh sure, the issue is expressed in the interest of the child. "Bringing a suffering child into the world is cruel" they say-- blind to the reality that abortion is cruel, especially the late-term variety.

Nevermind that many of the genetic issues for which babies are aborted do not result in continual suffering. Take Down Syndrome for instance. Yes, there is a chance of medical complications and some babies do die in their first year. But the majority of children do live past infancy. Most are happy children, some of the happiest people in the world. They seem to look past their medical issues and appreciate life.

Why is aborting for genetic disorders more morally justifiable than gender selection?

I suspect that in India, people take the aborting couple's excuses at face value. After all, if you don't produce a male heir, as a woman, you will suffer the consequences, sometimes even death through domestic abuse. If you don't actually suffer physical harm, you can expect the community to look down on you, and the pressure to be stifling. Yet we expect India to smarten up and respect girls.

In the same way, I suspect that people in the west take the aborting couple's excuses at face value, too. If you are "nuts" enough to give birth to a "defective" baby, there are people in this world who will wonder why you did not abort, and why you are so cruel to do such a thing-- to inflict that baby with suffering and the world with another burden. And why are you wasting taxpayers money on this child?

Nobody expects the West to smarten up on their attitude towards the disabled.

The two attitudes stem from the lack of belief in the intrinsic value of the human being.

Many people believe that human beings are only as valuable as their consciousness or their function. When people are only as valuable as a particular trait they have, they are diminished. People think they are being "accurate" and "empirical" in treating human beings this way. But what they are in fact doing is treating a part of themselves-- their gender or their consciousness or their ability-- as greater than the whole.

Pro-lifers view the whole human--body and soul-- as intrinsically valuable. That is why there is never any question of aborting any unborn child. Whereas those who sanction abortion believe that the value of the unborn child (when they admit he is a human being) is subordinate to something else-- subordinate to his consciousness, his ability to breathe, his gender, etc.

And that is why people can put a price on other human beings-- monetary or otherwise. Because they cannot admit of the possibility that there is such a thing as an absolute value that is intrinsic. This is the product of philosophical relativism. If we do not regain that notion that there are some things that are absolute and intrinsic in life, we will go further down that slippery slope. We know that newborn babies who are disabled and the elderly are being killed off. It's only a matter of time before other categories are targeted in this same vein.

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