By now, most everyone knows that MSNBC thinks that one of our big problems is this outdated notion that your children are your own. As this MSNBC video explains: “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
To be fair to MSNBC, which is facing criticism, this isn’t new. Figures on the left have long advocated for removing parental authority for children and replacing it with a shared societal responsibility.
Want to opt your children out of sex education? Home school? Have a say in whether your child receives contraceptives? The left has long resisted parental authority to make such decisions. Instead, they advocate that we do what is best for society.
However, even this collapses when we are dealing with abortion. When it comes to unborn children, or even recently born children, the left rejects any role for society at all. Only in the context of abortion will the left suddenly demand that any role for the state or society give way to the sacred role of the parents and the family unit in making decisions that are best for them.
Honoring the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Obama proclaimed it a fundamental principle that “government should not intrude on ‘private family matters.’” (See John Piper’s excellent response.) In Roe and its progeny the Court described abortion as a necessary component of a mother’s right to privacy—autonomy from government or societal intrusion.
Margaret Sanger, the mother of Planned Parenthood, once opined that: “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” If this quote leaves any ambiguity, the left has not limited its defense of the family’s privacy in the “abortion” context to unborn children. A Planned Parenthood official in Florida recently endorsed the right of a woman, free from the involvement of the rest of society, to post-birth abortion—also known as premeditated murder in a world in which words have meaning.
In embracing this familial right to terminate the life of newborn children, she stood on the shoulders of abortion “ethicists” who have long advocated for the family’s right to kill born infants without society’s meddling. Just last year Dr. Francesca Minerva published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics defending the family’s right to “after-birth abortion” where it was in the family’s (except for the new member’s) best interests, explaining:
[W]hen circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.
Abortion ethicist Peter Singer has likewise argued for the family’s right to determine, free from the constraints of society, that a born child should be terminated because it would be “in the best interests of the baby and the family as a whole.”
Whether the child is born or unborn, the left apparently has a high regard for the family’s autonomy when it is determining whether the child should live or die. But as the MSNBC video demonstrates, that respect for the family is unique to the abortion context. And, of course, even then that respect for family autonomy evaporates if the family is trying to weigh in on their minor child’s abortion decision.If MSNBC is really puzzled about why we have this “private idea that children belong to their parents or children belong to their families,” perhaps it should consider that the left champions that exact view—at least until sometime after the family has deemed their child a “keeper.”
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