Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Respect in death, but not in life

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about the big scandal in Marion County, Oregon (Salem): for years, it's been revealed, the bodies of aborted and miscarried babies from British Columbia have made up some of the fuel in their waste-to-energy plant. In plain English: dead human bodies were incinerated to heat Salem-area homes.

I think all compassionate people (whether pro-life or pro-choice) can agree that families who lose a child to miscarriage should have full control over what happens to the remains, and that they probably wouldn't have chosen this. British Columbia clinics obviously need to change their policy on that. So this article will focus solely on the issue of the aborted remains.

Local officials expressed disgust and immediately took action to end the incineration of any fetal remains at the plant.

Now, I completely understand why Oregon Right to Life made this an issue. And I guess I'm glad that there was a swift response. But allow me to express an unpopular opinion: this is just NIMBYism.

All this does is prevent people from being reminded of abortion, and feeling squeamish, every time they flip on a light switch. It does absolutely nothing to prevent the death of a single unborn child in British Columbia. It does absolutely nothing to prevent the death of a single unborn child in Oregon—which happens to be the only state in the U.S. with no pro-life laws, not even informed consent. And in case you were wondering, yes, there's an abortion center in Salem.

Evidently, there is more outrage over the disrespect of aborted fetal remains than outrage over what caused their deaths in the first place. I'm reminded of the abortion worker who was upset with pro-lifers "disrespecting" the dead with abortion victim photography: "In my clinic, we wash off the tissue and examine it. It is treated respectfully..."

But why should the dead receive more respect than the living?

We saw this same question come up in the Marlise Munoz tragedy. To recap, Munoz was pregnant when she suffered a sudden blood clot, which left her brain-dead, but her child remained alive. Her husband wanted to remove her from life support, saying that's what she would have wanted. Pro-lifers sought to give the child a chance. Pro-choicers argued that what Marlise would have wanted should take precedence, even though she was dead and therefore had absolutely no interest in the outcome. (Sadly, the court adopted the pro-choice view.)

I do not approve when pro-lifers refer to abortion advocates as "pro-death." It makes me cringe, because it's unnecessarily divisive, overwrought, and easily dismissed. But we're dealing here with a philosophy that is, for lack of a better term, pro-the-dead, while neglecting the living.

You know what would really be respectful of the unborn? Not killing them, for starters. You might also try not treating parenthood as incompatible with higher education, not telling young people that childbirth will "ruin your life," and working with pro-lifers to ensure that mothers have the resources they need so that abortion isn't their only option.

If you're not disgusted by these more pressing problems, why bother wringing your hands over aborted children being burned for energy?


Michelle Ewing said...

Well said. As for miscarriages, once the doctor has the baby, it is either sent to the lab, and is then biohazard/medical waste. or they chose not to test and it is biohazard/medical waste. It isn't until 20 weeks (when the baby is stillborn) that they give they family funeral services, or complimentary cremation. after the 1st time I miscarried, I didn't get medical care because of that for that reason. looking back, I wish there was an option for them to get medical care and decide what to do with the remains. now my doctor wont diagnose me with recurrent miscarriage, so when I do ttc I wont be able to get the proper care.

Chris P said...

This is not far off from the ridiculousness of the Monty Python Song "Every sperm is sacred". Contrived. over the top concern for something that isn't a real problem.

Kristina Johansson said...

I have to say, I respect pro-choicers who want to treat fetuses with dignity in death. There's something very scary about people who want to completely dehumanize the unborn.