The conviction of Lucy Letby, a UK neonatal nurse responsible for the tragic deaths of seven infants, has cast a grim shadow across global headlines. Beyond the immediate sorrow and shock elicited by this case, there is a complex moral dimension the world is wrestling with: the inconsistent value society places on nascent life.
When considering the stark dichotomy between the widespread horror at Letby’s actions and the acceptance or even promotion of abortion in many jurisdictions, we must confront an unsettling inconsistency. How is it that society can be simultaneously aghast at the death of newborns while remaining passive, or even supportive, of procedures that terminate the lives of unborn children daily?
This debate poses a fundamental mandate: what distinguishes the life of a premature infant in a neonatal unit from that of a fetus in the womb? Is it merely a matter of weeks, location, or societal perspective? This is not a mere intellectual exercise but a pressing moral challenge.
In regions where abortion is illegal, it’s often equated with murder – the intentional ending of an innocent life. Regrettably, in the minds of many, it’s celebrated as a victory for women’s rights, autonomy, and choice. This geographical disparity highlights not only the contrasting legal landscapes but also the vast moral chasms that exist.
The valiant efforts of neonatal professionals who fight daily to save premature babies underscore the value and potential of every life. Their work often blurs the previously clear lines between viability and non-viability. If these premature infants, once considered “non-viable”, can now thrive and lead fulfilling lives, where does that leave the argument for ending potential lives in the womb? But regardless of what the world calls ‘viable,’ a life is still a life from the moment of conception.
Clearly, abortion practitioners end far more lives daily than the most notorious criminals. If the world can unite in grief and horror at the acts of one individual, like Letby, why does it not similarly lament the thousands of abortions performed each day? Is it justifiable to differentiate the two based on legality, geography, or personal belief?
Of course, many on the pro-abortion side argue that it’s about more than just the fetus; it’s about the woman’s autonomy, her circumstances, her health, and her rights. But in weighing these rights, society must also consider the unborn child’s life and its inherent value.
This debate is more than just political; it’s deeply philosophical, moral, and spiritual. The sheer intensity and passion that surrounds this issue underscores its importance in the broader discourse about the value of life and the rights of the individual.
At CompassCare pregnancy centers, we have reopened and continue to offer young women alternatives to abortion, after having been victims of a firebombing at our center in Buffalo, New York. While we embrace personhood, meaning life begins at conception, sometimes people we counsel have their own line in the sand as to when they believe life begins. But with advancements in neonatal care continually redefining our understanding of ‘viability’, and with ultrasounds clearly showing vibrant life in the womb, a growing people are understanding and embracing the sanctity of life at every stage of life. Surely society’s moral and ethical views on abortion warrant re-evaluation by the media, in educational institutions and in virtually every sector of society. Life should not be discarded so easily. Clearly, a new review is due.
In light of these reflections, it’s high time society revisits and re-evaluates its stance on life, especially from the moment of conception. We must move towards a more enlightened and consistent ethos, one that respects and values life, irrespective of its stage or location.
Let’s herald a new beginning for life, leaning into the principles of civilization and distancing ourselves from practices that seek to arbitrarily determine the value of life. The question shouldn’t be when it’s acceptable to end life but how we can cherish and uphold it at every stage.
About Rev. James Harden…
Rev. Jim Harden, M.Div. is a medical ethicist, author of the newly published Ethical Theory and Pertinent Standards in Women’s Reproductive Health, the CEO of CompassCare Pregnancy Services, and pioneered the first measurable and repeatable medical model in the pregnancy center movement. He has written extensively on medical ethics and pro-life policy and developed materials and strategies used by hundreds of pregnancy centers nationwide.