The Corner

Culture

Do We Really Value Life or Just Live in Fear for Our Own?

A man walks in heavy rain and high winds across a nearly empty West 42nd street in Manhattan during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, April 13, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Charlie Camosy, who teaches ethics at Fordham University, has been vigilant in warning from the beginning of this coronavirus crisis about the dangers of throwing away life — of rationing, making decisions that put the most vulnerable at the end of the priority line. He’s been trying to keep us honest, in other words. I’ve written about some of Andrew Cuomo’s words about how priceless every human life is. We, of course, know that his abortion expansion and celebration of it in the Empire State is inconsistent with his words about life, an inconsistency he obviously does not see. And now in these coronavirus days, there is his administration having insisted that patients go back into nursing homes from hospitals regardless of whether or not they tested positive for COVID-19. We know what that is consistent with. It’s consistent with abortions still happening in the state while we were supposed to be trying to save lives, not end them. It’s consistent with a governor who has raised his voice in favor of assisted suicide. Mercifully, medically assisted suicide does not exist in New York. Though it does next door in New Jersey; you have to wonder if Governor Murphy has a sick feeling that that was some of the worst preparation for a pandemic when people are finding themselves tempted by every kind of darkness.

This is a high-anxiety time to say the least. I hesitate to rush to condemnation. A little too much of that is in the area everywhere — the canceling, the scolding. People make bad decisions that cost lives. And if one of the lessons of this coronavirus time is not that we are all vulnerable and our life has an unknown expiration date, I don’t know what we’ve been doing with our time. But in the case of the nursing homes and the rationing, too, what do these decisions say about what we value? It’s like Bill de Blasio threatening to permanently shut down places of worship if they violate rules for gathering. They shouldn’t violate the rules when so many have been trying to be careful in a crisis situation. But you also can’t help but think we saw a little of his ideological heart there exposed, of the same spirit that has kept the Little Sisters of the Poor in court to fight for their ability to serve as their conscience mandates.

Do we actually value human life or not? Or do we only want to preserve our own? If all the words about protecting all lives have meaning, we have got to combat this throwaway society Pope Francis has talked about and Camosy writes and speaks and trains well about.

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