Thursday, October 5, 2017
In a recent post (here), Rick Garnett links to an essay he just published in the Notre Dame Magazine entitled “Life Affirming?” (here) in which he reflects on the status of the various life issues in the current legal, political, and cultural climate. I highly recommend that MOJ readers turn to Rick’s essay and read it in its entirety. Taking as his point of departure V.P. Mike Pence’s provocative claim made in January at the March for Life that “Life is winning again in America,” Rick asks the following question: “What would it mean, really, and what would it look like, for life to be — now, again or ever — ‘winning,’ in U.S. law, policy, culture and hearts?”
What would "winning" look like? In addition to what Rick says, let me offer the following (with which, I am certain, Rick is in full agreement).
With respect to abortion, we will know that we are winning not just when the law is changed to make abortion illegal (a point Rick makes clear), but when abortion is regarded as unthinkable. We will have "won" when the mention of abortion inspires the same kind of instinctual moral revulsion that slavery does, or the "Final Solution" does. We will have won when our moral reflex is such that we respond automatically "No! How could you even think such a thing!" -- where such a reflex manifests not the absence of moral thought, but an accumulated moral wisdom ingrained in the culture.
The same could be said of "winning" on all of the life issues -- when the thought of killing the elderly and disabled or abandoning the weak inspires a profound sense of shame in anyone who would entertain the thought even for a moment. We will be winning when the thought that first comes to mind isn't "How useful is this person?" or “What can I gain from them?” but "How can they best be cared for?" We will have won when those with Down Syndrome are not viewed as a statistic of morbidity and a problem to be eliminated, but as a persons to be cherished.