When I read that New Yorkers cheer a law that allows killing an innocent child in the third trimester of pregnancy, ninth month, at moment of birth, I shudder. Where has our conscience gone, as a people, as responsible citizens, as other-regarding Americans?
Democrats in Virginia now want the same. My mind jumps to Jefferson’s quote, carved on the memorial to his name, on Washington DC’s quiet tidal basin: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
In his day, the issue that few wished to resolve, since it took moral courage, was slavery. In our day, one of the issues that involves a suppression of conscience, is abortion – and now, in a scream from the fringes, a version of this act – summarily ending a human life – in the very moment of birth.
For myself, I draw the conclusion that modern society cheers loudly to avoid the pain that comes of bearing responsibility, or taking responsibility. Mob psychology works as an analgesic, or pain killer, allowing no one to bear responsibility for horrors of the mob.
In the breathless, unthinking refuge of a mob, anything can be justified; the individual is freed of moral – and apparently legal – responsibility for underlying facts, the consequences of their actions. Members of the abortion-at-birth mob justify their actions to each another, believing this exonerates them. But Jefferson is right – he was and is: Not before God, and not before their own consciences – which is why Jefferson said it.
Today, a practiced mantra recirculates among those defending such unthinkable behavior, such objective cruelty. In all times that cruelty is justified, a mantra is needed to deaden the soul, drown the conscience – for the conscience always objects.
And what is that mantra? The life is not a life, the child is not a child, and late-term abortion is not killing. Only it is, and we all – in the quiet of night – know the New York law is stomach-turning. This is why the mantra is needed, to drown moral outrage stirring in the soul. In everyone’s soul. To justify – in the way a mob does – killing of 55 million children since 1973, by a society that did not wish to raise them.
So, what makes this moment different? Why should this New York – and proposed Virginia – law be an inflection point? If ending a human life at four months, when the heartbeat softly murmurs in a stethoscope, ultrasound shows the baby moving, or in the second trimester does not awake the larger society to shriek and recoil, why should this awaken us from our moral malaise?
Because the New York law, to borrow from Natural Law, moral law, and a legal tradition of protecting the innocent, profoundly offends the human conscience. It must. What parent having seen the miracle of birth, having heard a child’s first cry – whether at month six, seven, eight, or nine – could ever kill a child at nine months? Or counsel it? Or go along with it? Or not wish to stop the barbaric act? Or not oppose those who advance it upon our larger society – as if this killing, deemed “abortion,” were just normal?
We have come to a place in our American society when we are – collectively and as individuals – being asked to stand up and be counted, become accountable, responsible and morally true to our national and personal beliefs, to our history and ideals, or we will give it all away – lose it to the advance of a strange and dangerous amalgam of amorality and immorality, indifference and willingness to tolerate the killing of blameless being-born-babies.
In the face of New York’s legalized killing of a child at birth – and in weeks prior to birth – we are either active in saying “this is wrong!” or we become complicit. Frankly, this goes beyond partisanship – even if supporters of that New York law and Virginia’s proposed law – appear to be overwhelmingly Democrat.
This is a matter of harmony of heart, sanctity of soul, and listening to that simple, God-given source of wisdom with which we were – by grace of different laws – all born. It is called the human conscience, and high time that Americans – if not us, who? – begin listening and acting with conviction on what we know is right.
Ending a child’s life as birth approaches – is the height of many things, among them grotesque moral indifference, profound arrogance, ingratitude for one’s own life, unwillingness to preserve the life of another, abdication of personal responsibilities assumed, and loss of conscience.
New York may have made this kind of killing legal, but that does not make it moral. Were Jefferson alive, one can be assured that – in this moment – he would again be trembling for his country when he reflects that God is just; and that his justice cannot sleep forever. As a moral people, as responsible citizens, as other-regarding Americans, it is time we awake – and say what is right and wrong. If not we now, who and when?