Neonaticide

Perhaps the shocking increase in the numbers of "trash babies" is a result of the moral confusion that comes with legal abortion.

This week's issue of Newsweek has an article entitled, "Cradles to Coffins." It highlights the radical increase in this country of neonaticides-- the killing of infants.

In New Jersey, for example, 18-year-old Melissa Drexler was charged with murder last week after going into a bathroom during her senior prom and delivering her infant son, then allegedly choking him to death before tossing him into the garbage. Two days later, Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies charged 19-year-old Jennifer Garcia with killing her newborn baby girl, then dumping her into a garbage can outside of her home in a middle-class suburb.

Last November we talked about this on the air. Amy Grassberg, an 18-year-old college freshman and her boyfriend Brian Peterson, also 18, were charged with killing their newborn son and leaving his body in a trash bin.

People are asking, "What on earth is going on that teenage mothers can so readily dump their newborn children into trash bins?"

To be honest with you, I'm not entirely surprised.

Al Howard is a Christian worker with unwed mothers. He has a place in Long Beach called His Nesting Place where unwed mothers can go and be cared for. Yesterday's LA Times published a piece he wrote entitled, "We All Must Answer for Why Teenagers Kill Their Babies." The cartoon accompanying the piece shows a bathroom with three trash cans labeled for paper, for plastic, and for babies. The sign above it says, "Please separate your trash."

This commentary has offended some people. In fact, today I was listening to Royal Oaks on KABC talk disparagingly about Al Howard's position. He accused Howard of taking a tragic circumstance, drawing the wrong conclusions from it, and then promoting his own agenda.

Howard sums up his own view when he writes, "We live in a culture that has disposed of more than 35 million children through what we call freedom of choice. Abortion still removes 4,500 innocent babies everyday. They were also, I guess, an inconvenience to their moms and dads and in many cases their grandparents."

Howard's thesis is simply this: What have we been taught to do in this country with things we don't want, including babies? We throw them away. That's his explanation for neonaticide.

Now, one might make the point that we do not actually advocate throwing babies away. In this culture we discard fetuses, but we've never promoted the killing of infant children. Howard's point is, "What's the real difference?"

In response to Al Howard, Royal Oaks made the following points. First, abortion is a legal procedure. It has been made legal by countless court decisions. There's no question on its legality. Second, after 200 years of struggle, we finally reached an consensus on this issue.

It's not clear, though, how this answers Howard's concern. Howard is asking why it's wrong to kill the child outside the body, yet it's okay to kill the child inside the body. That's morally confusing. The law even supports partial-birth abortion, where a mother can give birth almost entirely and the child can still be killed. So Al Howard is justified when he asks, "What's the moral difference?"

Royal Oaks' answer? "Abortion is a legal procedure." But, of course, that misses the point doesn't it? We all know it's legal, but does the fact that abortion is legal provide an adequate, relevant distinction between abortion and what has come to be called neonaticide? The answer is no. It is not a significant distinction because the question must still be asked, " Why is one legal and the other isn't?"

Oaks' second point is equally weak: After 200 years of struggle, we've finally reached consensus. It's as if Oaks is saying, "We've been working on this for a long time and we've finally come to an agreement. Now Howard, would you shut up and quit beating a dead horse?"

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the fact is that we had consensus for almost 200 years, and there was no struggle. The consensus was that unborn human life was valuable and it ought not be taken. Abortion was illegal until just recently, and it wasn't made legal because we changed our consensus. It was made legal because nine men in black robes said it must be legal, and with a stroke of the pen and the raw force of judicial power made it legal. Consensus had nothing to do with it.

There's still no consensus. Indeed, if one wants to appeal to consensus, then the consensus of Americans is overwhelmingly that abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy should not be a legal right. There's a reason why: abortion kills a child, a small human being.

Why, then, should we be surprised at neonaticide? Just a couple of minutes earlier these moms could have killed the very same child and had the law's protection.

When we throw away human beings before birth and in the case of partial-birth abortion kill little human beings in the middle of birth by puncturing their skulls and sucking their brains out, why should we be shocked when young mothers start throwing away children a couple of minutes after birth?

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Greg Koukl

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