I caught a bit on Fox News this morning where some talking heads were taking issue with the surprising (to all sides!) decision by Sebelius to overrule the FDA in their decision to make the so-called ‘morning after’ pill available without a prescription- to any person of any age. One of the talking heads, a Thad something, protested the move, saying that it was only an issue because of the connection to the abortion debate; that is, it reduced to religious objections, not scientific ones, and and objections by the pro-life community- was not based on the facts, but one’s moral beliefs. (No one can comprehend why pro-abortionist Sebelius did what she did.)
Let us observe that under this characterization, a ‘moral belief’ is not a fact. And what were the facts, according to Thad? We recognize that young people are not mature enough, developmentally, to make critical decision; for example, we make them wait until they are 21 before they can drink, 18 before they can smoke, and 16 before they can drive. However [Fact alert!], teenagers are having sex, and girls are getting pregnant, and this breeds ruined lives, poverty, and illiteracy.
These may be facts, but Thad seems to believe that ruined lives, poverty, and illiteracy are bad. That is, this view of his is a ‘moral belief.’ True, it happens to be a moral conclusion that pro-lifers could agree with, but the point is that Thad has loaded up his ‘facts’ with ‘moral beliefs’ without even knowing he has done it. Why should Thad get to impose his ‘moral beliefs’ on others, so long as they are cloaked as though they are ‘scientific facts’ while the rest of us are not allowed the same privilege?
There is hyper-hypocrisy and irrationality in Thad’s viewpoint, but that isn’t what prompted me to sit down and write this.
What did prompt me is the fact that I can agree, along with all other pro-lifers, that poverty, illiteracy, and ‘destroyed lives’ is bad, and that underage pregnancies often bring about such consequences. That is not to say that we believe the answer is to take another human life in order to solve that problem. In my little book, We Chose Life: Why You Should Too, I explain why abortion is not justified even in the case of ‘the destroyed life.’ But clearly, while insisting that it would be wrong to get an abortion if the woman is a scant sixteen years old, it is understood that her life will be changed, and will most likely be profoundly difficult.
It is precisely because of such realities that pro-lifers tend to be staunchly pro-family, as well. While it may be true that the ‘one man-one woman’ model is spoken to in texts deemed ‘religious’, it is not for that reason merely the arbitrary ravings of a subset of the population. As it happens, a careful and thorough examination of men and women yield a surprising discovery: men and women are different. Men and women have different physical features. Moreover, when these physical features are connected in a particular sort of way, it has occasionally been observed that a brand new human is the result! Can you believe it? You should, it’s a fact.
Deny it or decry it as ‘religious,’ but it is a simple and undeniable fact. But we are not done. What I have described is more than a faint, shared rumor that society entertains. It is actually the case that it is well known that new human lives are the result of this activity. It has also been the observation throughout history that there are many straight forward and objective benefits to raising new human lives in the context of the ‘one man-one woman’ model, and hence the obvious- scientific– fact, that if everyone restricted their participation in this activity to that context, there would be no out of wedlock teen pregnancies.
Note that Thad and I have arrived at a similar value assessment. We both agree that out of wedlock teen pregnancies is bad for the teens involved and for society. I have this really hair-brained, ad hoc ‘religious’ notion that waiting for marriage to have sex and consequently have children is the best way to prevent that. Thad has his own idea… a pill.
In other words, Thad says that like it or not, teens are going to have sex, and consequently might be ‘punished‘ with a pregnancy. Rather than try to persuade them to change their behavior to reflect what sound reason and thousands of years of life experience indicate is healthy behavior, Thad thinks it a good idea to simply blot out the consequence, with a pill.
What if we had a pill that removed the consequences of alcohol abuse? Someone goes out and gets tanked, blowing through hundreds of dollars of his paycheck, and takes a pill so that he can still function the next day. Are we now ‘ok’ with abuse of alcohol because the more radical consequences have been pre-empted? If someone could smoke ten packs a day but take a pill that ensures lung cancer won’t ensue, will we let our eight year olds buy cigarettes right off the shelf? Is this how we are going to handle destructive behaviors? Assume there is no point in persuading people to change their behaviors and do what we can to mitigate the harm that could be done from them?
Thad notes that as a society we take into account the developmental realities of young people, and make certain kinds of decisions for them. And rightly so. But can you think of a decision with more profound consequences and life implications than sexual activity, and the (rare, I know) potential new life that emerges from it? Thad would restrict young people’s access to beer, smokes, and cars, based on their developmental stage, but let them have sex willy-nilly, provided that they have condoms and access to morning after pills. But there is something extremely serious that Thad overlooks: in the other scenarios, the one who suffers from the behavior the most is the person himself. But in this scenario, we are talking about a whole new person possibly being created- and potentially snuffed out. By, possibly, a thirteen year-old.
To put this in perspective, we might imagine a pill that offsets the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, and so allow four year-olds to go to the store and buy cocaine and Jack Daniels off the shelf (why not? we have a pill for it. It’s all good), but if you let a ten year old drive a car, besides maybe killing himself, there is a good chance that he would kill someone else, and there is no pill for that. Here, then, is a behavior that as a society we limit to those age 16 and up, and of course even that does not save every life. But what if there was such a pill? What if some genius invented a ‘resuscitation pill’ that brought people back from the dead after they’ve been hit by a car?
Why, in that case, why have any rules or behaviors frowned upon at all? Let a person get drunk, drive drunk, and smash into someone, because hey, we got a pill for that! Why not go all the way and decriminalize murder? I think many young people would find it entertaining to walk down the street, shooting whomever they please, if only there weren’t such dire consequences of the act- but once we have the ‘resuscitation pill’ how could there be an objection? The consequences had been blotted out by ‘science.’
You see, science may be able to give us facts, but it cannot give us values. Scientists gave us the atomic bomb, but science could not tell us if it was right to use it. It is something that good men can argue and differ on, and it is a good thing that our nuclear weapons are not entrusted to any one person, but given to legions of sober-minded men and women who are developmentally prepared to grapple with the great responsibilities inherent in possessing such a weapon, and the dire consequences and implications of possibly deploying it.
We would not put a nuclear bomb on the shelf at Wal-mart for purchase by toddlers and teens, even if we had a pill that could bring back to life all those people that the weapon killed during ‘play time.’ Why not? For one, such an attitude would surely mean that life itself had been turned into something to be regarded lightly and cavalierly. It would perpetuate a value that says that personal pleasure and gratification ought to be pursued to its fullness- where this would result in harm or damage to another, or possibly one’s self- it is still ok, so long as you can reduce or eliminate that harm.
But this attitude is itself a harm to one’s self, and the society that adopts it. It is the attitude of Thad, and legions of others.
But the morning after pill cannot be regarded as something that only impacts the person that takes it. It is certainly clearer in the case of abortion. They say that a woman has the choice to do what she wants with her own body; indeed, she does, and she made that choice when she engaged in the aforementioned ‘activity.’ And there, perhaps, it would have stayed, except that it is a scientific fact that what is aborted is not the woman’s body, but an entirely new and different human person (albeit, in an earlier stage of development).
That makes abortion technology a bit like the technology for the nuclear bomb- we have it, but should we use it? The nuclear bomb kills hundreds of thousands at a go while abortion kills just one or two. Both are designed to kill. That is a level of consequence that can stagger the mature adult. There are instances where the morning after pill is an abortifacient. It is one thing for an adult to take that chance; it is quite another to put the life of another person in the hands of a sixteen year old.
It is yet another to instill in our youth the attitude that its ok for them to have sex as much as they like, even if we do have a pill for that. It cheapens human sexuality, just as a resuscitation pill would cheapen human life. Indeed, isn’t that what abortion has already done and what the morning after pill can potentially do? But of course, we have not yet invented a resuscitation pill.
Thus, when we kill people, they stay dead.
That, my friends, is a fact.
All the more reason not to play around with things that kill people or might kill people. All the more reason not to put what might potentially be a matter of life and death in the hands of those not developmentally ready to manage the responsibility.