We've all heard it until we're tired of it. The liberal says, "Oh, you pro-lifers only care about fetuses. I'm pro-life in the sense that I care about born children." Even some Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, use it to excuse their supporting the Party of Death. I just saw another, recent article the other day responding to these facile tropes (a Catholic responding to Catholics), though right now I can't relocate the link.
For the moment (though really, this shouldn't be waived indefinitely), I'll waive the fact that the economic and welfare policies of the Party of Death are not actually good for "born children" or born people generally.
What about this? Medical workers are beginning to speak out in the UK about the application of the infamous death-by-dehydration Liverpool Care Pathway to infants and children. A couple of hair-raising quotations:
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone. Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice paediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticise the use of death pathways for children. ‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die’ She said: ‘The parents feel coerced, at a very traumatic time, into agreeing that this is correct for their child whom they are told by doctors has only has a few days to live. It is very difficult to predict death. I have seen a “reasonable” number of children recover after being taken off the pathway.
‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die. I witnessed a 14 year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth when doctors refused to give him liquids by tube. His death was agonising for him, and for us nurses to watch.
There is more at this link, but try to ignore all the tacky pictures in the margins. (Side note: Why do UK news web sites, some with very important articles, have to include such awful photos from other stories all around the edge?)
I'm not going to make this a story about how much worse things are in the UK than they are in the U.S. As far as I know, many or most states in the U.S. would also permit parents to choose to dehydrate a disabled child to death and possibly even a child with late-stage cancer. If adults who can (to begin with) speak for themselves and who allegedly have control over their own medical care can be heavily drugged and dehydrated to death in the U.S. (and they can), how much more vulnerable are infants and children, who either cannot speak for themselves or whose medical decisions are in the hands of other people? We also know that familial decision-makers in the U.S. are often pressured into agreeing to such things, and a hospital may even attempt to make the decision unilaterally, as in the case of Zach McDaniel. (For some reason I have sometimes referred to Zach by the incorrect last name of "Fernandez." Not sure how that happened.) I would imagine that the chief differences between the U.S. and the UK are 1) the streamlined nature of the decision-making in the UK, the wheels being oiled by an official "pathway" which makes death by dehydration something nigh unto standard of care, and 2) the inability of families to sue the medical establishment, which removes one part of a system of checks and balances.
With that point out of the way, I'm quite willing to acknowledge that killing born babies and children by dehydration is probably taking place all over the West, with medical staff arm-twisting parents into agreeing along the way. But I note, then: Pro-lifers are speaking out about this. Pro-lifers are warning about it. By and large, these are the same pro-lifers who are concerned about unborn children (you know, the "fetuses"). We can say with some confidence that the supposedly caring American left is not generally the group making a fuss about this. (It was Texas Right to Life that sounded the alarm about Zach.)
So, Christian left: What qualifiers are you going to put in now? The born-unborn distinction should never have mattered in the first place. Murdering unborn children is still murder. Your sneering references to "fetuses" simply told us about you, not about them. But now we see that the culture of death has no mercy on born children either, especially if they are disabled or sick, if they are not expected to recover to the point of being "life worthy of life." What will you say now? "Well, the politicians and the people on the side of the culture wars that I support are, er, pro-life because, er, they're concerned about born, poor children...at least, the born, poor children who can eat on their own...and aren't severely disabled...and generally haven't been declared to be better starved to death by some doctor. Yeah, those are the children my political side is pro-life about."
Keep trying. Or better yet, stop trying and admit: The culture of death is all of a piece. Once we decide that some human beings can be defined out of the human family, there is no principled reason to stop at birth. Once we accept a utilitarian ethic which permits unborn babies to be torn to pieces, there is no reason in principle why a born infant or a 14-year-old should not also be dehydrated to death. (Though, darn it, we might wonder why the 14-year-old wasn't given enough pain medication to make his death less agonizing.)
The culture of death is a monster, and it isn't going to stop devouring the children just because they've had the luck to be born. So, I say to the Christian left: Stop telling yourself lies and just become really pro-life. It will save you a lot of squirming in the end. Or a hardened conscience. Maybe it will just save you, period.