Suppose a young couple have brought a baby into the world, and have now decided they don’t want it. The reason could be almost anything. Maybe they can’t afford it. Maybe they already have more children than they can handle. Maybe the baby is the wrong gender—they wanted a boy but got a girl. Or, perish the thought, the child is handicapped—perhaps born with Down Syndrome, perhaps lame, blind, or deaf. Since they do not want the child, would it be wrong for them to kill the child?
I’m asking this question seriously because, in the great debate in this country over questions of life and choice, there’s got to be common ground somewhere. Do we, as a society, have the right to force parents to take care of their children? Can we put parents in jail because they abuse or neglect their children? Well, of course we can. We believe it is the responsibility of the community to protect children—even from their own parents, when necessary. And sometimes, tragically, it is necessary.
Any society that does not protect children does not deserve to survive. Any society that does not exalt life over death does not deserve to survive. Until recently, I would have said that we had common ground in this country on the question of infanticide. We’re a prosperous and progressive nation. Unlike some ancient societies, we don’t feel the need to leave infants exposed to the elements to die because we lack food to feed them or because they’re the
wrong sex. Whether pro-life or pro-choice, I thought we were on common ground on this. Now, I’m beginning to wonder.