The pro-life movement has passed the tipping point. Consider three stories:
One day after the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts told the state's Department of Social Services that it could remove a feeding tube from 11-year-old Haleigh Poutre, the little girl rendered comatose last year by a savage beating and burning from her step-father suddenly emerged from her "vegetative state," breathing on her own and responding to stimuli.
Had she not stirred, she now would be in the final days of life. As far as state authorities were concerned, she had no right to live. She was costing money and taking up space.
Sage physicians declared her beyond helping and beyond hope. Her mother wanted her gone, declaring the coma "not a life." And the Department of Social Services the people who in theory help the downtrodden prepared to starve her. This would be the same Department of Social Services that had ignored 17 previous cases of child abuse, accepting the "explanation" that the child willfully burned her own skin, broke her own bones and hit herself on the head with an aluminum baseball bat.
The department now proposes to keep the child alive. Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has organized an investigation. But nobody has proposed changing the rules that put Haleigh one breath away from physician assisted capital punishment.
The Stem-Cell Scam:
Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, the world's most venerated stem-cell researcher, has been unmasked as a fraud. His research, which purported to create stem cell lines from pluripotent embryonic stem cells, was complete fiction down to the pictures used in articles published by Science, one of the world's most august scientific journals.
Hwang's research was hailed across the globe, mainly by advocates of embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human embryos. Hwang's breakthroughs were considered so compelling that 58 members of the U.S. Senate signed a letter urging President Bush to reconsider his decision not to permit the further destruction of human embryos for the purposes of such research.
Now, the revelation unmasks not only the gullibility of politicians who wish to wear the raiments of "science," but also the cravenness of the embryo-destruction movement which had promised miracle cures for everything from brain disease to cancer. The news strengthens the case for dumping embryonic stem-cell work entirely (it has a much better record of producing cancers than cures) in favor of harvesting stem cells from umbilical-cord blood or adult sources. (I have some experience along these lines. Thanks to the miracle of adult stem cells, the hair I lost during chemotherapy has returned darker and curlier than the gray strands that had fallen out.)
The Invisible March:
This year's Pro-Life March on Washington, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the awful Roe v. Wade decision, featured its youngest crowd yet. Not only did high school students attend in droves, so did younger mothers and fathers.
Although the antique press (a term I have stolen from powerlineblog.com) ignored the gathering and the influx, the demographic trend tells the story: The abortion movement and its offspring (to use an oddly fitting metaphor) are on the ropes.
Abortion has lost its sheen because somewhere along the line, its advocates took the fateful but inevitable step of spurning the right to life in favor of a duty to die. The "unwanted" became an encumbrance to be excised in the name of "choice" or worse, in the name of "dignity."
Before long, lawyers matched the dawn-of-life practice of abortion with the end-of-life business of euthanasia. They crafted a "right to die," spawned directly by abortion law and the claim that a dignified death is preferable to a difficult life.
Note: These "rights" are forced upon the helpless, not exercised for their benefit or protection. They express fashionable society's revulsion of imperfection and pain its view that it's better to die than to suffer, better to expire than linger as a shell of one's former self.
Modern Americans seem absurdly determined to wipe away all evidence of what previous generations understood and accepted about life its pains, challenges, surprises; its miraculous beginnings and eventual endings. The fear of hardship has created a cult of death. An obliging Supreme Court has crafted a jurisprudence to justify murders of convenience. More precisely, it supports the destruction of those whose inconvenient predicaments remind us that life sometimes is supposed to be hard and that the worst times can also be the best.
And that's a lesson that not even courts and politicians can kill.