Repugnant Non-Parenting

Over on the portal page, a couple of pieces you may like, but if you only have time to read one, I urge you to read Matt Emerson’s piece on selective abortion:

. . .We had arrived at the future we were cautioned about, the place where human life had no value except as a field of experimentation, where men and women manufactured life like canned food. Here, in this new place, unborn babies are called “singletons” and willful killing excites all the moral energy of selling a home.

You have to read the article to begin to absorb how bad things have become. It opens with a focus on “Jenny.” At the time she became pregnant, Jenny was 45. She had gone through six years of fertility drugs, ovulation injections, and other medical interventions. Finally, she conceived twins. And yet . . . “and yet here she was,” said the article, “14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion. As the doctor inserted the needle into Jenny’s abdomen, aiming at one of the fetuses, Jenny tried not to flinch, caught between intense relief and intense guilt.”

There is a basic re-capping of the NY Times feature, but Matt takes it where it needs to go: I can only offer what the great bioethicist Leon Kass famously termed the “wisdom of repugnance.”

You’ll want to read the whole thing.

What twisted my gut in that NY Times article was the woman pregnant with triplets and feeling like they were “monsters” inside of her; part of her rationalization for killing two is “We don’t have family just sitting around waiting to get called to help me with a baby.” So, she kills two of the babies and then “jumps for joy” when she goes out to her waiting mother — all ready to buy baby clothes.

So, she has family just waiting around to accompany her on an abortion/shopping excursion, but not to “help” her with them? Have our families become so populated with self-involved, relativity-saturated-relatives that there is no passion for new life, no one to say, “do not be afraid; I’m with you and I will help”? Are our newest generation of grandparents so detached and into their own things that they can’t be bothered being like their grandparents? Or are they convinced, still, that “good parenting” means giving your child whatever he/she wants and adding the “you’re special,” cherry on top?

Then again, the new generation of grandparents is a generation shadowed by a ghostly population of missing siblings, all aborted by the generation before — the “abortion on demand and without guilt” generation — so they’re well-trained to think that life is cheap and that whether one is born at all is something of a crapshoot.

Preceding generations are supposed to provide wisdom; our most recent can’t seem to get past, “it’s your thing, do what you wanna do; I can’t tell you who to sock it to…”

Speaking of generational wisdom, Joseph Susanka’s piece today is on that very topic:

Forced now to confront a harsh and self-incriminating reality of his own, Shi realizes that his ability to absolve himself from his daughter’s particular accusation does not free him from the underlying charges of neglect, nor from the now-obvious consequences of that neglect. Simply acting in accord with his principles—laudable though they may have been—was not enough for his young daughter; she had needed much more from him. She had needed to understand his actions, not simply to observe them. But his absence had made that understanding impossible. [...] Teaching by example is an important part of living out our lives as effective parents and faithful Catholics. But it is vital to remember that while “actions speak louder than words,” they don’t always say exactly what we want them to say, even to those nearest and dearest to us. Sometimes, what we do is less vital to our children’s formation than why we did it.

Someday, parents who feel free to restructure marriage along fluid lines are going to have to explain to their children the notions of love, honor, vows and stability — but to do it, they’ll either have to use relativistic spin, fully reconstructing those notions, because they will not be able to point to their own lives as modeling traditional understandings.

And some parents and grandparents will find themselves confronted by the children who actually made it into the world, and they’ll have to explain to them why, in the past fifty years or so, the meaning and nature of love has become corrupted — that love, instead of being boundless, has become so limited in scope that one need only extend love to the point where one is not too-inconvenienced, and that is all.

And these parents and grandparents may also be called on to explain the missing siblings — why two others were killed, and only one retained, why a twin “just like you” was disposable, and why killing made one “jump for joy.”

They’ll have a hell of a time serving that up like a treat with a “you are special” cherry on top.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Todd

    This kind of decision is indeed horrific. On the adoption front, I once witnessed two of three siblings adopted because they were “healthy,” and a third left in foster care because the parents didn’t want to be “tied down” by a child with a serious (but manageable) medical condition.

    I suspect that the ease of obtaining abortions turns bad choices like this into life-and-death decisions. But I also posit that adults have always made such decisions about children all through history. Children are powerless, expendable, and often inconvenient to adults. People higher on the ladder who lack a moral compass often step on the hands of these below them, kick at them, and nudge them off. Selective abortion is just another tool they have at their disposal these days.

  • B. Durbin

    Todd: “exposure.”

    Abortion is the triumph of fear over hope.

  • Spera

    I read the New York Times article, and also the comments. Almost all of the comments expressed horror at these selective abortions, even though they self-identified as pro-choice. Some commenters even were re-thinking their pro-choice stance. There were several hundred comments to the article.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    The “Mom” in the Emerson article sounds, quite frankly, like a ghoul—rejoicing in the death of two of her children, while eagerly awaiting the day she can tell her daughter how she killed her siblings.

    I suspect, deep down, she doesn’t really want the one child, either.

    Our society suffers from a terrible sickeness of soul.

  • Todd

    “Abortion is the triumph of fear over hope.”


    This is why an effective and fruitful pro-life movement will have to address the basic quality of fear and labor more strongly to plant seeds of hope in order that people in the near and far future will not concede to poor or even horrific decisions.

  • Doc

    Abortion represents a cultural indifference toward life which won’t change quickly. I just read a Lifenews item in which a couple in Florida were awarded by a jury a $4.5 million settlement against their doctor for the failure to recommend abortion for their child who turned out to have physical deformities. There is a sickness of the soul here. A real rot.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    How did this woman not have hope?

    She was carrying three, apparently healthy, children—and these, after years of trying to become pregnant; one would think she would have been pleased with her new family! Many women at her age can’t get pregnant at all; many women who’ve had only one child would have loved to have more.

    Furthermore, she must have realized that multiple births were a possibility, and taken it into consideration, before starting this process.

    And her mother, at least, was there, to help her shop for baby clothes; maybe her family would have come to help her with the new kids, it’s not as if she were an orphan, or had been abandoned by everybody around her. If her family really was so hateful, and self-centered, they wouldn’t help her with the kids, then they’re the problem, no her unborn children. (And, if that really is the case, the solution seems to be to distance oneself from them, not kill one’s unborn children. Hire a nanny, get a friend to help, ask your church if anyone can lend a hand, do what you must—but don’t kill your kids, that will only wither your soul.)

    So, she had hope, she didn’t choose it, for reasons that I suspect were both selfish, and rather twisted, or warped by our society’s wrongheaded values.

    As for labor, I don’t see the connection here at all. She wasn’t living in poverty; neither are many women who choose the procedure of narrowing down births to just one child—it isn’t a cheap procedure, it costs thousands of dollars, it’s something only the relatively well-to-do can afford. So I don’t see jobs, or the lack thereof, as a big factor, here. The issue isn’t one of material poverty, but spiritual poverty. The cure will lie in the soul, and the spirit, not in churning out yet more social programs.

  • Todd

    “So, she had hope, she didn’t choose it, for reasons that I suspect were both selfish, and rather twisted, or warped by our society’s wrongheaded values.”

    More accurately, she had reasons for hope, and yes, she didn’t choose it.

    Hope, like love and faith, involves a human decision of the will. Virtues are nurtured by commitment, sacrifice, and a conscious decision. Such virtues are also encouraged among believers and non-believers by example and attitude.

  • Gail F

    Spera: When I read the article, most of the comments on it then were from people horrified by it. But I was shocked and disgusted by the comments, relatively few though they were, that said “what business is it of yours?” Several people said very clearly that if it is not your child, you have no right to say anything at all. I know people feel the same way about regular abortion, but this drove it home. If you are not related to another person, you have no right to say whether killing him or her is moral? That really made me feel ill.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Doc, it seems to me that one problem is that, with the waning of Judeo-Christian culture in the West, we’re reverting to the old pagan ethos of discarding, and aborting, supposedly unwanted children, either because they have some problem, they’re the “wrong” sex (i.e., girls—your sex can’t really be a mistake), or because it’s supposedly so expensive to raise them. (How much did your ipod/flat-screen T.V./new car cost?)

    Judeo-Christianity put a high value on human life, and on children. It looks to me like we’re losing that. If we do, our culture will be impoverished, no matter how much new gadgets we acquire, or how much credit is floating around to buy those supposedly great things we just can’t live without.

  • cathyf

    Somehow this woman, who simply comes across as a stupid little twit, is not what is so dangerous. It is the morality-of-feeeeeeeeelings crowd who think that anything which makes them feel good is virtuous. So you get the woman who takes endless cycles of fertility drugs, and then takes the risk when the ultrasound shows hyperovulation, and then she ends up pregnant with ten — and she either has to kill half of them or let them all die. Or the couples who do artificial insemination and then are outraged that anyone would question their great virtue in becoming parents when the uncomfortable question of what to do with the 2 dozen embryos in the freezer comes up.

    Certainly there are some forms of “assisting” reproduction which are quite innocuous, but babies are cute and wonderful and it is really easy to get lured right over the line into manifest evil.

  • Maria

    ” The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.”

    And there you have it. I must have what I want when I want the way I want. -The Burger King “Have it your way culture.”

    Sadly, today, these children are “made” not “begotten.”

    No slippery slope? What could it hurt?

    I think I want to vomit after reading that NY Times article.

  • tempus fugit

    This is Baby Roulette with four bullets.

    Liberals are at heart, control freaks and are willing to kill their own children to maintain that control.

  • conservativemama

    One of my pregnancies was a surprise, a happy surprise, but a surprise. I was 38 years old, healthy, with 2 daughters. I am saddened to admit that I had never given deep thought to abortion.

    I was and still am, happily married. Abortion was not an issue I gave deep thought to because I was so careful in my private life. I knew how important it was to be ready to have and raise children. I was not casual in my private life.

    I was advised to get an amnio test because of my age. I didn’t give the decision the deepest thought because I had had the test with my 2nd child. I was not raised in a faith. To this day I regret my casual approach to this subject.

    I had that test on a Friday. I saw my son, my only son, on the ultrasound. My husband was with me.

    72 hours later I lost that son. It was a horror. I delivered my son, named my son, held my son, begged for his forgiveness, and said goodbye to him.

    The guilt I felt almost killed me. It was the only time in my life when I gave even a passing thought to killing myself. Of course I knew how wrong that choice was, that I had 2 girls, a husband, parents, and siblings that loved me and needed me. But I grieved, and did so for a long time. It was an emotional, physical, and spiritual pain that I could not have imagined.

    But the experience brought me closer to God. My son forced me to question much of what I believed and what the modern, libertine culture sells. I am a better mother because of that loss. And while I would have given anything to bring him back, to never have had that test, I was blessed once more. A year later, almost to the day, I received my greatest Christmas gift when I delivered my 3rd baby girl. A December 25th due date, a December 26th birth. God heals. God takes care of us.

    The experience gave me an insight into what Mary must have felt when she lost her son. But for me, the worst part was my culpability, my decision to have that test. Life deserves our deepest reverance, our most serious attention. If we are not willing to accept the children God gives us, can we call ourselves parents?

  • Manny

    Oy vey, all these stories. Abortion, infanticide, singletons, choosing the sex, mass murdering abortionists, planned parenthood. All this filth is soiling my soul. I’m sick of it. Get me off this planet.

    “He who was living is now dead
    We who were living are now dying
    With a little patience”
    -TS Eliot, from The Wasteland

    By the way, how come so few actually comment on the Catholic Portal page articles? They are mostly outstanding pieces. I learn so much from them. I hope people are reading them.

  • Greta

    I have no way of knowing if this woman is Catholic, but…

    What part of no doesn’t she understand..

    She was “45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs”

    “Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent.”

    Well, God seemed to design the womans body to stop having kids at this age probably for a very good reason. Saying no to God usually is not a good idea.

    We tend to view life creation as our personal right and if God says no to us, we refuse to listen and turn to fertility clinics for the right answer. The Church teaching is spot on and this is simply another sign that shows us the Pope Paul VI was led by the Holy Spirit as promised in matters of faith and morals with Humane Vitae. Now we have this type of thing, millions of frozen babies, and abortion. How long do we keep saying no to God before we end up with women killing their children out of the womb…oh wait, too late for that one also..or for men treating women like pieces of flesh and pornography exploding…oh yeah too late…

    It is no surprise that when she (and all of us) turned from God’s NO and went to science and the fertility clinic (which is against Catholic Church teaching for very good reasons) that she was well on the road to other problems. Now she has two murders on her slate according to Catholic teaching. She was worried about being a good parent so she turned to killing children??? What she taught her existing kids by example are very bad lessons. Oh how far down the road we went when we failed to listen to Humane Vitae which I recently read Pope Paul VI had help with from a little know Polish Cardinal named Karol Wojtyla who gave the world the Theology of the Body.

    What will it take for everyone to say no to any political hack who supports abortion to vote out of office and end this holocaust? When will we stop killing 4000 babies a day? When will we say no to science creating life in petri dishes? If only Catholics would stand up in large numbers for a few voting cycles and say no, abortion would begin to be given back to Satan. We once said no to the democrats support of slavery. Can’t we say no to abortion? Can’t we say marriage is between one man and one woman? Can’t we say no more babies being killed for “science”? Or do we insist on keeping God out of our lives and out of the life of our country which we once said was One nation UNDER GOD.

  • Abigail Benjamin

    My Father-in-law was an identical twin born during the Great Depression. He sort of live “Jenny’s” worse nightmare. I wrote about his experience here.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • M. Simon

    For $500 bn a year (the cost to raise a child from birth to college times the number of abortions) we could end abortion in America.

    Of course you then get the moral hazard of women popping out babies for the cash flow.

    These guys want to do something without government help:

    I support them.

  • M. Simon

    With all the abortion pills on the market I think a government program to test women at least once a month for pregnancy (oftener actually because some women have irregular cycles) will be required to prevent abortion.

    Think: Drug War On Steroids.

    What I see here is people unable to think through the consequences of government control of the vagina of every woman between 10 and 60 years of age.

    Does that scare you?

    It scares me.


    BTW you ought to look into the Jewish position on abortion. It is different from the Catholic position. Induced abortion in the first 40 days of gestation is not a crime under Jewish law.

    So how exactly do you square the Catholic position, the Jewish position, and the First Amendment?


    And then you get my amoral position:

    Abortion is mostly leftist killing their next generation. And the problem with that is? Are we in a war with them or not?

    My family? Four kids. All brought up more or less libertarian. Of the Sarah Palin/Gary Johnson (strong on national defense) stripe. NOT Ron Paul. Although I agree with Ron 99.9% on domestic issues.

    What I like about Sarah is the EXAMPLE she sets. That is the way to do it.


    Did I mention the “menstrual extraction” parties of the 60s?

    If you make it illegal you will embolden the underground. Is that a good idea? Have you learned nothing from Drug Prohibition?

  • M. Simon

    On another slightly related note:

    Ken Burns’ movie “Prohibition” about Alcohol Prohibition airing on PBS on 2 Oct. will bring the Drug War into the mix for the 2012 election.

    I have some thoughts on how the Ds might exploit it at:

  • M. Simon

    And note: for all the railing about “feelings” here I don’t see much rational discussion. Maybe many of you have the same disease you so abhor.

    Pass a law and phttttt. Everything will be swell because the law will be obeyed and the problem will be solved.

    Do any of you know America? Americans WILL NOT OBEY LAWS THEY DO NOT AGREE WITH. As drug prohibition proves, all it takes is about 5% of the population unwilling to go along and you have a policy disaster. So far the anti abortion sentiment is about 80% to 90% of the population. It is not enough.