Over the course of the decades and years that have passed between the infamous Roe v. Wade decision (1973) and now, the demarcation between proponents of life and proponents of abortion has clearly proven to be a respect for life itself: an acknowledgement of the dignity of the human being, the human spirit, and the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” granted to all, regardless of age or date of conception.
On one side of this battle, we see individuals and organizations fighting to be sure human beings are protected from assault both inside and outside of the womb. This is certainly indicative of a culture of life.
On the other side, we see individuals and organizations fighting to be sure human life can be extinguished in a time and place of their choosing: whether in the womb via abortion or out of the womb via infanticide or euthanasia. This is certainly indicative of a culture of death, a culture that stands ready to swallow up all those who embrace it.
We received a vivid reminder of this last month, when a Canadian court allowed a young mother to walk away without jail-time after strangling her son to death and throwing his body over a neighbor’s fence.
The details – the mother became pregnant in April 2005 at 19 years of age. She hid the pregnancy from her parents and secretly gave birth to a son in her parents’ basement. Immediately thereafter, she strangled the child to death so he wouldn’t make any noise. Afterward, she went outside and threw the body over the fence and into her neighbor’s yard, where it was later discovered.
On September 9, 2011, after five years of court proceedings, a Canadian court found her guilty of “infanticide,” which carries a maximum sentence of five years. The judge in the case, Justice Joanne Veit, then justified the verdict by describing the mother as someone “who was alone and unsupported.”
Veit gave the mother a suspended sentence based on time-served during the past five years. Although this suspended sentence is three years in length, and carries stipulations requiring the mother to “tell a probation officer if she gets pregnant,” it’s accepted as fact that the mother was basically allowed to walk away a free woman even though she’d been found guilty of killing her child.
By the way, the actual time she had served in custody during the five years before her sentencing was “almost eight months.” And although Justice Veit didn’t say it, such a meaningless sentence communicates the idea that a child’s life is worth about eight months in custody (or ¾ of a year).
Although the crime was heinous, Justice Veit had no qualms about allowing the young mother to walk: "Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant's death, especially at the hands of the infant's mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother."
This inversion of our worldview, this narcissistic self-loathing that exalts any anguish the mother felt about the violent murder of a child is the outworking of a culture of death. And it is indicative of how our acceptance of death as an option for convenience has affected us.
Our efforts in fighting for life include not only fighting for the lives of preborn humans and recently born humans, but also of humans who walk the same streets we do, shop in the same malls, ride the same trains, etc. And while that doesn’t in any way dismiss the repugnancy and brutality of the act this young mother committed, it does mean we will especially pray for her, that even she will escape the culture of death in which she’s currently engulfed.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
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