Hope for Life, From Our Nation’s Response to Coronavirus
The U.S. is now under a state of emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that almost 1000 Americans have died from the new coronavirus. The number of confirmed or suspected cases is 68,440.
What’s really attracting concern are predictions that the coronavirus — moving into the country from hubs of international travel like New York, Seattle, and Chicago — could infect half or more of the U.S. population. Left unchecked, some predictions warn that it could cause many more deaths than the seasonal flu, even eight times more.
Even before the death toll rose to this point, the federal government declared a national emergency. Many states and cities quickly followed suit. And even though older people, a relatively small percentage of the nation, are at the greatest risk of dying, their deaths are seen by all as unacceptable in this modern era of medical innovation and intervention.
As I marvel at the remarkable community response to the threat of even one life lost to this virus, I marvel as well that many of the same people, in the same country, accept another deadly scourge occurring every day.
Another Deadly Scourge That Many Accept Instead of Fight
The same Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has tracked the 994 deaths from the coronavirus also tracked 623,471 deaths from this other scourge in 2016. The Guttmacher Institute, whose surveys are far more complete, reports that this number reached 862,320 in 2017. In past years, it has caused more than one million deaths in a single year.
Over the past 47 years, the death toll from this second scourge in America exceeds 60 million. As with the coronavirus, some groups are at greater risk. For example, African American babies die at a higher rate than all other causes of death for African Americans, including chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
How — and why — can Americans cooperate with such enthusiasm to stop this new virus, but not elective abortions? We readily limit behaviors that put vulnerable people’s lives at risk. However, we offer little protection to preborn babies who cannot defend or speak for themselves.
We recognize the humanity of the sick and aged who depend on us for protection, comfort, compassion, and care. But we let innocent preborn babies be dismembered and sold for research, hoping it will provide us cures and longer lives.
Hope That a Compelling Idea Can Catch Fire
We justify our actions with false arguments that perhaps preborn babies are not real human persons, and therefore have no right to life or legal protection. These are convenient dodges.
Yet, this coronavirus moment in America gives me hope for ending abortion. Hope that a single compelling idea can still catch fire in this country, and race across it, changing minds and changing actions for good.
Our babies are crying! They are crying out to be allowed to grow, to be protected from early deaths, to be allowed to live out their existence — naturally, timely. If only we, as a Nation of Love, could respond to them the way we respond to our fears about our own mortality when facing an uncertain threat like the coronavirus.
I have often thought that reason was the key to bringing this needed change in America and the world. Today I think that perhaps passion is a better way. Not just passion for the dying babies — passion for ourselves, too. When we protect and cherish the least among us, we also raise up and save ourselves, our society, and our world.
May this coronavirus moment help us, as a nation, to see not only our fear, but also the love within us. This love can save not only us, but others as well — born or waiting to be born.
James L. Sherley M.D., Ph.D. is an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.