Monday, April 04, 2005

The Left's Culture of Death

In the period leading up to Terri Schiavo's death there's been a lot of talk about the Right's "Culture of Life" and the Left's "Culture of Death". Most of it is overblown rhetoric caused by the polarization in America today, but I can't help thinking that there's an element of truth to it.

Back in the beginning of March, the NY Times ran a review of a special on the National Geographic Channel called "In the Womb", a technologically updated version of one of those "miracle of birth" shows that have been around for years. Ordinary enough, but here's how Times critic Virginia Heffernan describes it:
Full-frontal images of a vagina are available on cable Sunday night, but they come at a price. You have to watch a bloody, hairy baby burst through that vagina, and before that you have to watch the little creature in utero, growing in all its Operation Rescue propaganda detail, in the National Geographic Channel's latest unveiling of the hideous miracle of life.
(emphasis added)
Isn't this language a little extreme? And this is a favorable review of the special. The animosity toward birth is palpable and is to be expected if one views the process, as Ms. Heffernan (and a good portion of the Left) clearly does, through the prism of abortion. In this twisted view, the birth of a child isn't something to be marveled at, but rather some hideous mistake - isn't this what abortion is around to prevent?

Proponents of abortion raise many justifications, but those dealing with "a woman's right to choose" somehow ring hollow - one person's rights end where another's begin and if a fetus is a human being then it has the same rights as its mother and clearly its right to life trumps its mother's right to choose.

So other justifications are needed; that a fetus isn't human; it's not aware; that it has no separate existence; that's its continued survival depends on another and that other had the right to terminate that existence.

These are the same justifications that, in turn, required abortion proponents to argue for Terri Schiavo's death; she wasn't human any longer; she was in a persistent vegetative state; her continued survival depended on another and he had a right to terminate it.

I'm not inventing this perspective out of nothing; Ms. Heffernan makes it clear in her second paragraph:
It exhibits a minimum of politics, probably because it appears to have been made in England, where the acknowledgement that humans in the womb are complex, dreaming, pain-experiencing, memory-having, walk-practicing, music-enjoying entities does not instantly put you in the same camp as doctor assassins and purveyors of ''The Silent Scream.''
And there's the rub. This is why this show elicited such a reaction; because it shows what "humans in the womb", not fetuses, not parasitic clumps of cells but humans, experience before they're born. Simply admitting this strikes a blow against the justifications for abortion.

The tool used to elicit this response is the new generation of "4D" Ultrasound:

The ultrasounds are in four dimensions, meaning that they show not only shaded, nuanced, highly detailed images of the fetus, but also her (it's female) moving in real time. The downside is that the images on the fancy ultrasounds look kind of warty and off-color, not like the cute black-and-white blurs on regular ultrasounds.
Here again, we see the perspective imposed by abortion: blurry black and white images on regular ultrasounds are better than "warty and off-color" images on the new 4D ultrasounds. How could that be? Because regular ultrasound dehumanizes the fetus - it's not a human being, just a cute blur. For abortion proponents, less is more.