A conservative argument for the morality of abortion

Most pro-abortion people don’t even give a moral argument to support their position. They just invoke the mother’s choice and go from there. But here is an argument FROM A CONSERVATIVE who argues that not only is abortion moral, but NOT aborting a Down’s Syndrome child is IMMORAL. From the First Things Blog:

Nicholas Provenzo of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism is “troubled” by the implications of Gov. Sarah Palin’s “decision to knowingly give birth to a child disabled with Down syndrome.” He thinks “it is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome (or by extension, any unborn fetus)—a freedom that anti-abortion advocates seek to deny.” Here’s his line of thinking:  

A parent has a moral obligation to provide for his or her children until these children are equipped to provide for themselves. Because a person afflicted with Down syndrome is only capable of being marginally productive (if at all) and requires constant care and supervision, unless a parent enjoys the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assistance that their child will require, they are essentially stranding the cost of their child’s life upon others.

Answer this.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Matt

    The answer is in his first sentence: “A parent has a moral obligation to provide for his or her children until these children are equipped to provide for themselves.”

    Nothing in the rest of that quote changes this moral obligation. The possibility of failure cannot remove a moral obligation — there would be none left.

    One might also point out that this places the value of a human life solely in terms of their productivity. It’s not hard to point out the myraid of reprehensible logical conclusions to a principle like that.

  • PeteS

    “They are essentially stranding the cost of their child’s life upon others.” I would question the validity of that statement, but also notice how a person’s value hinges on money. It has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of life, of a soul, and nothing to do with the joy of loving and caring for another human being. Shouldn’t we then round up all the people in this country who are depending on the government, i.e. their fellow citizens, and put them out of our misery?

    I’m sure there are also many people on this blog who could tell you about the “marginal productivity” of people with Down syndrome. Ugh, the depths to which the sinful mind delves! How wretched we are!

  • Manxman

    These are the kinds of ridiculous arguments you get when you reuse to let the God of the Bible and what He has communicated be at the heart of the discussion. If God does not have any authority in your morality, then anything goes, and all these discussions lead nowhere except who has the power to impose their godless values on everyone else.

  • Bruce

    Yes, note that once he’s laid down his basic moral tenet, he promptly moves beyond it to the REAL moral tenet of this sort of thinking: that the life and convenience of healthy, fully-functioning Americans trumps all other considerations.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    What kind of humanity would we be ‘breeding’, if we selected only the most mentally and physically fit and rejected [killed off] the rest, guided only by our craving for material security?
    I guess we’d get the kind of humanity we deserved.
    When that selected generation came of age and found us burdensome, due to age or disease or disability, a new moral imperative would necessarily arise, wouldn’t it? Necessity doing what it does.
    Doesn’t he speak of a sort of Preemptive Final Solution?

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    “they are essentially stranding the cost of their child’s life upon others.”

    To quote an old song, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

    What the writer is missing is the value of a soul beyond the physical body. If someone invented a way to “rid” the earth of those things which couldn’t take care of themselves, what would we do with our time? And in the end they would come for me, too. This is the topic of several movies and, yes, Star Trek episodes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    First of all, how many other people are there out there for whom the taxpayers and others are paying for perpetual care? Should we be fiscally responsible and eliminate the elderly, completely paralyzed, or those in a coma? Should we eliminate the freeloaders, tax evaders, and chronically unemployed? I’m sure the total of these folks add up to more than a Downs Syndrome Child.
    It really goes back to this question: What is a child worth? Who is to say a Downs Syndrome child is not worth anything? I think the people who work with them at Bethesda Lutheran Homes (www.blhs.org) and other such places would tell anyone how much these people truly are worth, for who determines worth? God, not humans.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    Um, I don’t mean we should eliminate any person who costs society money. Just wanted to clarify. . .

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    The man has obviously not worked with any Downs syndrome people, who add much joy to the lives of people who do work with them. His argument is gross. A society that does not see the value in the lives of these people, is a society that has no value.

  • The Jones

    This kind of argument makes me sick. As somebody who leans on the support of others to survive due to medical conditions, I hope he gets paralyzed from the neck down so he’ll have a long time to think about his statement. The value of one’s life is not determined by somebody’s “viability” or ability to live “on his own.” Who on earth actually “lives one his own?” Man is by nature a political animal. He congregates and leans on those around him. Human value is determined by the fact that one is human and created by God. After that, all other things fade into background.

    But second: what makes this guy “conservative?” He believes that the choice to have a child is a “profoundly selfish choice.” He believes that people should not be allowed to have more than two children in a country like the U.S. He believes that there is a finite amount of resources on earth and we must limit our size in order to stay within our carrying capacity on earth. He thinks that knowingly having a child with Down Syndrome contributes to “the worship of retardation.” He’s not a conservative, he’s a nut. If he’s a conservative, I’ll have to think of a different name to describe myself.

    Now there are severe moral absolutes preventing the “extermination” from earth of any people who are “unworthy of life,” and I cannot allow it to happen. However, this guy is tempting me by making me want to make an exception just for him.

  • Peter Leavitt

    This fellow is a .fiscal conservative who has reduced morality to utility. A pox on him.

  • The Jones

    Well, Pete @ 11, yeah he’s a “capitalist” (whatever that entails), but I hardly see how “we’re running out of resources” fits with a conservative view of fiscal policy. I think he’s a fraud and a nut.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Although I don’t wish paralyzation on the man, I do agree with Jones. It is a terribly common understanding that each person is to be their own independent agent subject only to themselves. This is first of all idolatry, and secondly, it is a rotten lie.

    We all need each other. An understanding of vocation helps us to see just how vulnerable each of us (no matter how capable any individual) would be without the rest in this sinful fallen world.

  • Joe

    The man’s argument is fatally flawed. His conclusion, because the moral obligation is to care for a child until the child can care for itself therefore one must abort a Down Syndrome Child, does not follow from his moral standard. In fact his basic tenant makes it impossible to justify any action on morality grounds when faced with a Down Syndrome Child.

    If the parents obligation is to care for the child because it is defenseless then an abortion is immoral. If the child will never be self-sufficient then the act of death by the parents is apparently an immoral act. So in order to fulfill this man’s moral standard all parents must never have children for fear of Down Syndrome or any parent with an Down Syndrome Child must become immortal. That is no logic, it is a justification for a selfish act.

  • Joe Mama

    I would echo what Bror said. There are many developmentally disabled people at my church, including a number of people with downs syndrome. They bring joy to their families, and God uses them to teach their families about love, patience, endurance, and joy in the little things. These people are loved by their families and their extended family in the Church.

    The answer isn’t to kill them, but for the people of God to support these families.

  • L. H. Kevil

    The whole abortion debate can usually be reduced to some variation of utilitarianism versus the fifth commandment. In this case the utilitarian argument is very weak, as it would lead to a selective morality based on one’s ability to support a downs child or not. Poor people should therefore abort more than wealthy people – and so we are back to the eugenics movement of the first half of the 20th century.

  • Anon

    He is not a conservative, he is a Randroid. The difference between Rand’s philosophy and National Socialist philosophy is that Rand, without any philosophical basis, believed in the individual will to power rather than the group will to power.

  • Anon

    To continue, that emphasis on the individual will-to-power as the greatest good in Rand’s philosophy naturally leads to abortion-at-will. In this matter, both Rand’s philosophy and ‘progressivist’ philosophy agree, and for the same reasons.

  • Booklover

    Mr. Max MegaBillions has a moral obligation to provide for his mega-jet until this mega-jet is equipped to provide and fuel up for itself. Because a mega-jet is only capable of being marginally productive (if fueled up) and requires constant care and supervision, unless Mr. Max MegaBillions enjoys the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assitance that his mega-jet will require, he is essentially stranding the cost of fueling up and maintaining the mega-jet upon others. He should therefore destroy the mega-jet. Now.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Booklover, as much as I enjoyed your sarcasm, the parallel doesn’t work, mainly because one presumes that Mr. Max MegaBillions does, in fact, enjoy the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assistance that his mega-jet will require.

    Myself, I think Bryan Lindemood’s response (@13) was what I wished to say.

  • Jeffrey G

    Eugenics used to be widely popular.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Well, if it’s immoral to have a Down’s baby, then certainly it’s immoral to let your babies grow up to be politicians or bureaucrats. Hmmmm….maybe there’s something to this! :^)

    Seriously, if you are at least a quasi-Randian (good point Anon) and believe in nothing further than the utility of material satisfaction, the guy’s got a point. That’s where a Biblical worldview departs from Rand, or for that matter from what social conservatives call the “fiscal,” “country club,” or “RINO” wing of conservatism.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Provenza spoke like a true capitalist pig, two terms which honestly and truly can contradict one another.
    One can be most anything on the one hand, yet be a pig on the other.
    Sometimes, one brazenly proves it.
    Mr. Provenza. At the trough.
    Slop’s on!

  • Booklover

    Au contraire, tODD #20. If Max MegaBillions buys said jet in his 60′s, that jet will outlast him. Even if he buys it in his 20′s, the metal and plastic remains of that megajet will be with our green earth for YEARS after Max’s demise. The massive jet will bring such a dreadful burden to our society. Best to destroy it now in its planning stages.

    I’m just continuing with this stupid nonsense to show how wicked Provenzo is to fight for the destruction of humans, yet he wouldn’t even think about destroying material things for the same dumb reason.


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