The Next Logical Step

Original Article

Like most people, I was shocked by the macabre story that broke in the United Kingdom this week. It seems that “at least 15,500” aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated to heat several hospitals over the last few years. Not cremated and respectfully interred, mind you: Incinerated as fuel to run the boilers.

Shocked yes, but not surprised. The law only reflects our values. In a morally polyglot society, many of us decide that what is legal is also “right.” That means, for many, abortion is morally correct—a view that immediately and logically transforms their perception of fetuses into a less-than-human “other.” Indeed, these days the moral value of fetuses depends wholly on whether they are wanted or unwelcomed.

To put it bluntly, legalizing abortion at will transformed fetuses in the minds of at least half the population into a killable caste—akin to a tumor or a vial of tainted blood—that can be destroyed at will (except in the latest stage of pregnancy, and in the USA, often even then).

Such thinking can have terrible consequences. History shows that once we redefine any category of human beings into something less, their health, wellbeing, and even their very lives often become jeopardized.

Recall how the Philadelphia ghoul abortionist Kermit Gosnell treated the victims of his murderous practice. He kept terribly unsanitary conditions. He killed viable fetuses and babies that survived abortions by breaking their spines. He dismembered some of his fetal victims and kept their body parts in jars as trophies. He did this, because these unborn babies were lower than nothing to him. Or to put it another way, they were a killable caste.

In my opinion, that is why so few cared about what amounted to a fetal abattoir. Indeed, some women actually complained to Planned Parenthood of South Philadelphia about the conditions in Gosnell’s clinic—and no one at PP did or said anything. Or to put it another way, Planned Parenthood–participants in the same life-extinguishing business as Gosnell—chose not to report a colleague.

And so, he got away with it for a very long time. The authorities even failed to carry out necessary health inspections from 1993 until he was finally raided by law enforcement after the death of a patient in 2010!

Again, the question has to be asked why the disinterest, despite some 46 lawsuits filed against him? The same answer: Department of Health bureaucrats also considered fetuses to be a killable caste, the procedural details about which they had little interest. It wasn’t until a woman died from one of his abortions that the State could be bothered to stir.

That also, at least in part, explains the mainstream media’s general disinterest in what should have been an explosive and provocative story. The major network nightly news programs rarely, if ever, bothered to cover the trial. Most reporting outside of the general Philadelphia area was, at most, sporadic, placed on inside pages, and written blandly, the kind of low-voltage reportage easily lost in the constant white noise of media overload. For example, the New York Times reported the start of the trial on page A-17, and avoided reporting about the graphic testimony or provocative allegations of racism by the defense. (Gosnell is African-American.)

We see the same pattern developing at the other end of life. The terminally ill, seriously disabled, and mentally distraught are being transformed before our very eyes into another killable caste.

For example, the late Jack Kevorkian received very friendly media coverage during his assisted suicide/euthanasia rampage, which saw at least 130 lives ended. Like Gosnell, Kevorkian was a veritable ghoul who told the world in his book, Prescription Medicide, that his goal in assisting suicides was not so much alleviating suffering, but rather, using his campaign as a means to be able to experiment on the bodies of people being euthanized—a process he proposed calling “obitiatry.”

But you wouldn’t know that relying on mainstream media reports. Kevorkian’s obitiatry obsession was rarely, if ever, mentioned. Similarly, when he ripped out the kidneys of one of his assisted suicide victims—Joseph Tushkowski, an ex-policeman paralyzed by a gunshot wound—and called a press conference offering the organs for transplant, “first come, first served.” But by then, the media was so invested in Kevorkian as a compassionate social rebel that the story made little splash and was soon forgotten.

Why would Kevorkian think it okay to help kill a disabled man and then take his organs? He was seriously disabled and wanted to die, which for Kevorkian, made him part of a killable caste. At that point, why not get some utilitarian use out of the man’s remains?

It isn’t just Kevorkian. In Belgium today, doctors brag about coupling voluntary euthanasia with organ harvesting, even urging other doctors to be on the lookout for seriously disabled and mentally ill who “have good organs” and want to be euthanized. Other than among pro-life and disability rights sources of information, have you read a single story or heard sustained criticism about this astonishing and dangerous development?

So, back to dead fetuses as heating fuel in the UK: We should be shocked! Indeed, may we never be sanguine about such horrors.

But we should never again be surprised. As we have seen historically—slavery, the Holocaust–once we create killable castes of people, making utilitarian use of them becomes an easy, and indeed, logical, next step. Those with eyes to see, let them see.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.