Murder Is Okay for the Unborn?

Author Greg Koukl Published on 04/02/2013

Greg finds disturbing similarities between the viewpoint that abortion can be justified and reasons used to justify past genocides.

You know, it’s amazing how many people who are seemingly intelligent, moral, ethical, and level-headed are adopting a frightening point of view. They’re willing to admit that abortion does indeed take the life of an innocent, defenseless human being, but still they think abortion is justified in many cases.

This makes it very difficult for a pro-lifer, because we think if we could just make the case that the unborn is an innocent human being, then that ought to be enough. But it’s gotten to the point now where it’s not obvious that we should protect the lives of innocent human beings—that all humans have a defensible right to life.

File this next suggestion away, please. Place it in your mind somewhere that you can get at it quickly when this comes up in discussion. When somebody says to you, “Yeah, I think abortion takes a human life—that it kills an innocent human being—but I think it’s justified in certain circumstances,” then ask them this question (and don’t say it in a snide way, but in a very genuine way because it’s a fair question): “Please explain to me how this view is different from Nazi Germany. After all, it was the Nazis who coined the phrase, ’a life unworthy to be lived.’ How is your view different?”

It’s one thing when you execute somebody because he or she is a criminal. It’s another thing when you justify taking the life of an innocent human being who can’t defend himself. The question is, what could possibly be a justification for that? You see, the answers you’re going to get for justification are the same kinds of answers that people used to justify genocide in the past. If it was wrong then, it seems like it should be wrong now.

What, they have a congenital defect? They didn’t have their body parts right? They weren’t smart enough? They were a burden on society? Isn’t that exactly how Hitler reasoned from 1934 to 1939? Before the massive death camps, when Jews became the ones considered a burden on society, the Nazis eliminated children with congenital defects and people who had mental incapacities.

In fact, there are documentaries you can still see, films made by the Nazis to persuade the populace that murder can actually be a loving act, a cleansing act. One of the Nazi films was called Existence Without Life. The title captures the Nazi’s view of humanity, that some didn’t have real life, that is, a quality of life that made it worthy to be lived. They merely had biological existence.

Aren’t we now doing the same thing, relegating human beings to non-human status because of something they don’t possess that we deem valuable: some skill, some capability, some mental quality? Because they lack this, their lives are no longer worthy to be lived as far as we’re concerned and, therefore, we are justified in taking their lives.

Someone tell me the real difference between that and the one who says, “Yes, I think an unborn child is a living human being, but it’s okay to kill him.” When people say this to you, ask them that question, and then wait for them to give you an answer. Don’t let them off the hook. How is their view different from the Nazis’? Don’t make it an accusation. Give them the benefit of the doubt; maybe they’ve got an intelligent justification. I doubt it, though.

People who are quick with moral judgments at other times can’t seem to find a moral problem with taking the life of an innocent human being simply because it’s in the way and can’t defend itself.