Rule of Law

Life and Death: Aktion T4 and Gianna Molla

I don’t normally enter into the wild and wicked wars over abortion.  That battlefield is well worn, and the march of science and technology is slowly pushing one camp into a morally and ethically indefensible corner.  But Zombie’s recent photo expose at PJ Media gives you a good look at the two camps, and the contrast couldn’t be greater.

Then this weekend comes the story from Maryland that a woman died having a late-term abortion at 33 weeks into pregnancy.  This horrific tragedy exposes Maryland’s absolute permissiveness for this gruesome procedure. We’re  just over a month shy of full term in this horror.

Even an agnostic can conclude that aborting a baby at 33 weeks is morally and ethically unacceptable.  One need not base opposition to late-term abortions on theology. Human life is valuable, period.  Though if one accepts most western theology, then late-term abortion cannot be acceptable in law, especially at 33 weeks.

Health of the mother?  The child’s health?  Modern neonatal science has answers for that I won’t detail here.  When people say that late-term abortions are usually for medical necessity, they aren’t telling the truth.  The data show otherwise. 

But I’m not here to enter the abortion wars, but rather talk about some history.  You can do with it what you will.

Let’s start in Germany with the Aktion T4 program.  If you never heard of it, then it is time you do.

Aktion T4 was a program to eradicate the imperfect and undesirable.  Children and adults with defects were euthanized by doctors in hospitals dedicated to the medical eradication of those with birth defects or other imperfections.  The German government even promoted and justified it publicly.  Behold a poster.  Does anything sound familiar??

The translation (courtesy of Wikipedia and my slight proficiency in German):

60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too. Read “[A] New People,” the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP.

Bad stuff, those pesky hereditary defects.

Now consider Gianna Molla, an Italian doctor who was told that if she didn’t have an abortion, she would die.  These days, we call that the “health of the mother.”

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying. . . .  The life was saved. . . .  She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain.

A few days before the child was due. . . . she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain . . . .  the mother died. She was 39 years old.

We’ve seen all this stuff before.  The language and ideas in today’s debates about the dignity of human life from natural birth to natural death are all familiar terms and ideas.  In the 20th century, individuals and nations have made choices about these matters.  Some choices were beautiful and anchored in the deepest unselfish love.  Only the hardest hearts can ignore these examples.

Baby Gianna Emanuela Molla

Other choices come from the blackest evil with all the trappings of practicality and common sense.  Pay close attention to how evil was justified in the past.  You’ll know what it looks like in the future.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified image.)