During that exchange, I pointed out that acceptance of abortion would inevitably lead to acceptance of euthanasia and she claimed that it would not. Yet here we are, 40 years after the legalization of abortion in Canada, and early in February, Parliament will debate Bill C-384 to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Schadenberg assured us that this bill will not pass; he has met with scores of politicians in Ottawa and knows that there is a substantial majority who will vote against the bill. However, it will most likely go the same way as abortion; abortion was not passed by Parliament; it was legalized through the courts when Morgentaler challenged the existing access to abortion. And Jocelyn Downie, an ethics professor at Dalhousie University, is ready to take this to court as soon as she finds an appropriate victim, er I mean client.
No resting on any laurels here; we are in a culture war, one that centers upon the dignity of the human person. What our country (as well as many other countries) has done is to exchange the intrinsic value of the human person for the utilitarian value of life. Is this life worth living becomes the question? Is this life wanted? Instead of does this person have a right to exist, merely on the basis of being a member of the human race?
The book Abortion: the Silent Holocaust by John Powell, S.J. was recommended to me by a leader of the pro-life movement here in Nova Scotia. Although it was written in 1981, the book is still very relevant to today's discussion of abortion, as the basic tenets of the pro-life movement have not changed. Strategy may change, and it has to, but the beliefs do not.
Father Powell's life was dramatically changed by his being present at a birth; this sowed the seeds of the wonder of life and they began to grow. He then spent some time studying in Germany and visited Dachau. He was also profoundly influenced by a meeting with a German nun who was part of a group of nuns who provided a home for retarded and handicapped children. She was witness to these children being removed and taken to "killing centers". She informed Father Powell that the German people had been well prepared to accept this action years before through propaganda in the educational and judicial systems.
She explained that in the early 1930's, a determined group of opinion makers in Germany propagandized a new ethic, the pragmatic morality of Hegel, the German philosopher. In summary, this ethic maintains: Whatever solves a problem on the practical level must be considered as moral. No action is right or wrong in itself. If a given action results in a desirable effect, it is ethically acceptable. - Abortion: the Silent Holocaust, p. 26
Writing in the early 80's, Powell sees that America has moved in exactly the same directly as pre-Nazi Germany. Nick Thimmesch, a journalist, writing in Newsweek magazine, July 9, 1973 says:
The utilitarian ethic is also common in the arguments of euthanasia advocates at work in six state legislatures. Their euphemisms drip like honey (should say, cyanide) just as they did in Germany - "death with dignity," the "good death." Their legal arguments fog the mind. Their mentality shakes me ... It bothers me that eugenicists in Germany organized the mass destruction of mental patients, and in the United States pro-abortionists now also serve in pro-euthanasia organizations. Sorry, but I see a pattern.
For many, the subject of abortion seems closed. They say "well it has been legalized, there is nothing we can do about it now", but we cannot accept that position of defeat. I fear that many clergy have accepted that position and that is the reason for their silence. But as long as we have breath, we must speak what we know to be true.
Bernard Nathanson, the doctor who helped to legalize abortion in New York City and ran the largest abortion clinic in America, is a man whom I would think has the most reason to feel desperate and helpless in the face of his conversion to pro-life. He himself says that knowing that he oversaw the deaths of 60,000 person is a heavy burden to carry into the next world. Yet he continues, even at his advanced age (mid-80's) to speak and fight for the rights of the unborn.
What is our task? To make this country a place for decent people to live in! What is our end? To call an immediate halt to the senseless destruction of our greatest natural resource, our children! In closing, let me leave you with this admonition, again spoken in the words of the great Edmund Burke, but still as relevant and as important as it was two hundred years ago, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." _ Bernard Nathanson, address to the National Right to Life Convention 1980