President Bush posed for pictures this week with a group of politically active teenagers. They were winners of a nationwide letter-writing contest called "RespecTeen Speak for Yourself." The youths received free trips to Washington, D.C., and a chance to meet with members of Congress to push their pet causes.
If President Bush had actually read some of the letters from the teen lobbyists-in-training, he would not have had much reason to smile. The award-winning essays supported gun control, opposed educational vouchers for poor children and decried drilling in the Arctic refuge. One of the most disturbing letters came from an eighth-grader in Washington state who pleaded with his congresswoman to make abortion "a guaranteed right."
Fourteen-year-old James Humphrey's letter to Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-WA, was chosen for its "quality and clarity of thought, argument, supporting data, expression, sincerity and originality." He may have been sincere, but his arguments are far from original. I requested a copy of Humphrey's letter from Lutheran Brotherhood, the contest's sponsor. Here's what he wrote:
"Abortion needs to be a guaranteed right. New research being conducted in the field of genetics will soon make it possible for a parent to know whether their (sic) child will be born with a serious disease or disability. In the past, this was possible for only a few diseases, but groundbreaking discoveries in the last six months are opening doorways for 'early warning' for devastating diseases."
Humphrey goes on to describe the plight of a friend whose young sister died of Rhett's Syndrome. "She couldn't walk, or talk. She had constant seizures, frequent pneumonia, and hardly slept at night ... Her family loved her, but life was exhausting and heartbreaking." Humphrey's friend, he says, "should have the right to decide whether she wants to give birth to a daughter with the disease. I also expect to have the right to make this choice with my future wife. I have an autistic brother ... No one should tell me I have to have a child with this disorder."
The letter concludes: "I call for action on your part to help permanently legalize abortion so tragedies like these can be averted and more people do not need to live like this."
The pro-abortion movement and the self-centered language of "choice" have so dominated the public conscience that it seems mean-spirited to question the boy's dangerously misguided compassion. We have become obsessed with quality of life at the expense of the sanctity of life. But championing abortion as a government-sponsored method to "avert tragedies" -- that is, to kill undesirable babies -- is not the sign of a merciful society. It is the sign of a cruelly utilitarian one that views "less-than-perfect" human beings as burdensome and disposable.