The Virginia Governor defended infanticide this week. One of the most fascinating theological points made by Paul and Jesus is that people are ultimately condemned because of the way they try to justify themselves (see Matthew 23:27-28 and Romans 2:1-5). In other words, a person does not incur guilt from doing evil alone. A person becomes guilty by claiming to be righteous in the midst of doing wrong.
Virginia Governor’s Self-Justification
The Virginia governor did not merely do something bad when he defended infanticide. Rather, the grossest thing he said came in his self-justification which he offered soon after his first comments. His follow-up statement reveals culpability rather than ignorance.
The controversy began when the Virginia governor defended a scenario where doctors keep a baby comfortable but only resuscitate it with the will of both the physician and the mother. The clip, in its entire context, describes infanticide. He implies that the non-viability of the fetus, severe deformities, the physical health of the mother, and the mental health of the mother interchangeably serve as equally good reasons that justify allowing a baby born alive to die outside the womb. One hears echoes of ancient civilizations where born-alive baby girls where left exposed to the elements. In ancient societies, they killed baby girls because they thought men were more valuable. Now, we are discussing allowing infanticide in the name of women’s rights.
Governor Shifts – More Problems Emerge
Ironies aside, the Virginia governor shifted the discussion the next day, claiming he had been taken out of context. In his revision of the interview, he shifts the focus to children who would certainly not survive outside the womb or who had extreme deformities. Whereas on the first day, the interview included the mother’s choice to resuscitate the baby or not, the second day places the emphasis on the child’s own health. Additionally, the statement shows bad faith as it claims that abortion is only sought in the third trimester because of the health of the fetus. That being said, in his revised version, the child’s health determines the treatment he/she receives rather than anything related to the mother. At this point, the true problems with what the Virginia governor is saying emerge from three different angles.
First, the definition of a severe deformity is really open to interpretation. What is the deformity that is severe enough to make the life not protecting? To this point, there are many stories of people born with a rare genetic disorders that should kill them before they live a month who then go on to live for a year, 10 years, 30 years, or even a full life. Life does not become less precious when it is short. In fact, the opposite is more likely true.
Second, he condemns his own position on abortion. By saying that his focus was on the health of the child rather than the will of the mother, he is tacitly admitting that it is immoral for one person to choose whether or not another human being gets to receive life-saving healthcare. When he shifts his focus from the choice of the mother to the health of the child, he saws off the branch which provides the moral foundation of all abortion. To this point, believing that passage through the birth canal differentiates a valuable human life from inert tissue is nothing more than a modern myth. It is no truer than the stories of Zeus and Jupiter believed by those who would expose their children to the elements.
Third, his revision implies that a baby born alive without any kind of defect or disability in a failed abortion should be kept alive. The bill he was defending does not make that distinction. The very defense he makes for his statements leaves himself indefensible. The Huffington Post claimed that the bill requires life support for babies born with evidence of viability. That is wrong. The bill intentionally struck out that life support must be used and said that life support shall be used for babies born with the evidence of viability.
A Time for Christian People to Pray – and to Act
This is a time for Christians to pray and to act. We are not to pray just for our own trespasses. Jesus told us to pray for “our” trespasses. American individualism is a very good thing that reminds us to take responsibility for our actions. However, let it not cause us to fail to pray on behalf of others like Jesus prays for us. Daniel confessed the sins of his nation after his nation went through 70 years of exile. As we are praying, it is time to act. #Salt&LightGlobal