The Corner

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Baby, You’ve Been Dehumanized


“While murder rates for almost every group in society have plummeted in recent decades,” Mark Rienzi writes, “there’s one group where murder rates have doubled, according to CDC and National Center for Health Statistics data — babies less than a year old.”

Yep. It’s not just in the womb. It’s not just Dr. Gosnell snipping necks. It’s not just leaving babies to die in a hospital because a mother has a right to a dead baby in our poisoned life 40 years after Roe.

Shocking, right? But surprising? This, as Peter Singer and others have argued, as Wesley Smith is always pointing out, is where the logic of what is legal and tolerated and even, in practice, preferred and expected, leads us.

Mark writes:

It could be that the teaching power of abortion law is eroding more than the moral sense of doctors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,infant homicide is shockingly common. Its most recent 2002 report suggests that the day a person is born is, by far, the most likely day for them to be killed.

Although more recent statistics concerning day-of-birth homicides are unavailable, a look at homicide rates during the first year of life suggests that infant homicides have become considerably more common since Roe v Wade constitutionalized the right to abortion. According to the Child Trends Databank using data from the CDC and the NCHS, children less than a year old are roughly twice as likely to be victims of homicide today as in 1970 (a few years before Roe). In 1970, there were 4.3 homicides for every 100,000 children under age one. The rate peaked at 9.2 in 2000 and was at 7.9 in 2010.

For babies killed just after birth, the CDC report suggests Gosnell-style abortions are not the big threat: Mothers are, most frequently adolescents with a history of mental illness. After the first week, the killers are most often male caretakers, often unrelated to the baby. Perhaps both groups learned the lessons of our abortion laws a bit too well.

He concludes:

As a society, we could agree that there really is little difference between killing a being inside and outside the womb. We should admit that our system of abortion law is dehumanizing. The better course is to protect even small voiceless human beings from more powerful people who would rather see them dead, whether that killing happens inside or outside the womb.

We’ve bought into the idea that we give others their value, and we’re a bit utilitarian about it. In practice, we don’t always treat others like they have an inherent dignity, do we? All too often this is the case in our popular culture, in our laws, in our daily lives. 

What are we doing to ourselves here? We’re going to have to answer for this.