Life is the expected outcome of pregnancy

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dear Editor,

In his op-ed, “How pro-life are we?”, Professor Tures uses a deconstructionist strategy to argue that the “pro-life” position is inconsistent. The employed method is nonempirical and therefore qualitative. Such a technique is often used to interlock seemingly disparate groups under one governing principle or power that is often discriminatory. I respectfully disagree with Tures’ argument as the issues and groups he mentioned nominally overlap in their particulars.  Important differences are passed over.

“Do Not Resuscitate” orders, withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, Euthanasia, the death penalty, and abortion have in common the loss of human life in the medical setting. Medical ethics underpinning both practices center upon the patient consent necessary for all medical treatments.  Consent can be withheld and withdrawn.  Ventilators and resuscitation efforts are active medical interventions. In emergencies, consent is implied unless otherwise documented. Death as an outcome is not changed.

The argument against medical euthanasia does not center as much upon a terminally ill person’s right of self-determination but upon the ethics of physicians actively assisting or facilitating their demise. 

There is no historical support for such a practice in the Greco-Roman or Judeo-Christian traditions that formed Western society and law.  Quite the opposite is true.

The intent is to actively take a life using medical means contrary to the Oath of Hippocrates and the time-honored medical maxim “primum non nocere” (first do no harm).  Unlike comfort or hospice care, where the intent is palliation, euthanasia does not have any objective medical goal as death is always a medical harm.

Physicians are not to participate in lethal injection but may decide as a juror to invoke the death penalty.  The latter is not a medical activity.  Unlike euthanasia, the death penalty is attested in the Western tradition and law. Divine and human justice demand recompence for murder.  Grace and mercy permit us to lessen the penalty and even forgive.  Without justice, human life and peace would be untenable.

Abortion is the purposeful taking of a human life that, apart from danger to the life of the mother, is for material and utilitarian purposes. To justify such a heinous act, pro-choice advocates have dehumanized a fetus as somehow not alive or worthy of protection.

The Nazi designation was “Lebensunwertes Leben” (life unworthy of life).  Traditional medical ethics protect the life of the unborn unless the mother is in harm’s way. Life, not death, is the expected outcome of the pregnancy.

The pro-life position cannot deconstruct in this manner.  It is quite consistent across these categories.  All human life is sacred but evil and sin abound in this world causing death and suffering.  It is for us to seek the center of God’s will found in His Law and in the Gospel for our Lord uses evil to make good.

MITCHELL L. GALISHOFF, MD

LANETT, AL