I don’t like to argue, though I do like to rant. When I found myself in a conversation on “Right to Life” issues the other day I did my best to avoid both. It went something like this:*
Him: “I’m pro-life.”
Me: “Me too.”
Him: “I believe that life begins at conception.”
Me: “Me too.”
Him: “I believe that all humans have rights.”
Me: “Me too.”
Him: “I am pro-family and I believe that children are happier being brought up by two loving parents than by one loving parent.”
Me: “Me too, though by this logic three loving parents would be even better, and four better still; and that one loving parent is better than ½ of a loving parent, or one loving parent and one abusive parent, or one loving parent and a Great Ape, or two Great Apes no matter how loving (Tarzan being the sole exception, his adopted mom being a loving Great Ape).”
This last response was a bit much, and by the look on the other fellow’s face I should have shut up. But I didn’t. God help me, I ranted:
Me: “While I agree with you on these issues, for the life of me I can’t see how these beliefs help me any when dealing with the cultural landmines of our times.
“Take our belief that a human zygote has rights. OK, what rights? Right to life. OK, what kind of life? Does it have a right to clean air, clean water? Maybe not, since zygotes don’t breathe or drink. How about the right to a decent education? No, zygotes have less consciousness than a turnip. How about the right to live in a healthy womb, and the right not to be poisoned by a mom who smokes, drinks, does drugs, breathes polluted air, and drinks unclean water? This seems basic to me, and yet mom has a right to smoke and drink, and has little control over the air she breathes and the water she drinks. So do little Jonny Zygote’s rights really matter?
“Having rights tells us very little. Jonny Zygote’s right to a smoke-free womb conflicts with Mommy’s right to smoke-filled lungs. How do we decide who wins?
“And what about the case where Jonny’s life will take mommy’s life? Why should his right to life trump her right to life? Shouldn’t the ‘last hired, first fired’ rule work in this situation, or does seniority have no meaning when it comes to the right to life?
“And what if mommy is mommy to others, and also cares for an aged and ailing grandma or grandpa? What if Jonny Z. has a birth defect that will wipe out his family’s finances? Does he have the right to rob his family of the finances they need to survive? Is it right that his need for medication and care trumps similar needs for grandma and grandpa? Or are you for socialized medicine as well as right to life?”
Him: “No socialized medicine is Communist and Canadian.”
Me: “Right, so we have to ration health care to those who can afford it, and Jonny Z hasn’t got a dime, so let’s take care of mom and her parents first. At least they’ve earned it.”
Him: “But we can’t just kill the unborn babies!”
Me: “But does that mean we have to let the unborn kill the long–ago born? Or what if Jonny Z’s condition will rob his two-year-old sister of healthcare she desperately needs? Is being two a crime? Does being unborn trump being born in every case? My point is that rights are irrelevant. When we talk about rights we have to talk about competing rights, and do you want the government deciding whose rights take precedence?”
Him: “No way. I want the government out of our lives altogether!”
Me: “Me too. So let’s just leave the government out of all moral decisions.”
Him: “Sounds good to me.”
Me: “So no more government interference with marriage, end-of-life issues, abortion, or any other matter that is really between a person and her conscience. I had no idea you were such a liberal. Must be tough living here in Middle Tennessee.”
*This is based on an actual conversation, though it is recalled from memory.