Innocent Human Beings We Can Kill
There it is again — that incredible, morally repugnant admission that a human life begins at conception but need not include a right for that life to continue along its natural course. From a National Review interview with Charles Krauthammer by Jay Nordlinger:
Readers may want to know Krauthammer’s position on abortion–it is slightly complicated. The first thing to say is that he is for legal abortion. But other things follow. “Life begins at conception,” he says, “there is no doubt about that.” That is simply “a biological truth.” But “personhood,” in his view, is something else: a social construct and a legal category. And society has to determine, in some fashion, when the fetus is imbued with this “personhood.” “I would outlaw all third-trimester abortions,” continues Krauthammer. “I’ve seen abortions, as a medical student, and they are quite horrible. I detest them at any level, and I would outlaw them in the third trimester. That really is a human being, that really is murder–and partial-birth abortion is barbarism.” In the middle stage of pregnancy, abortion is a “grave moral sin,” Krauthammer believes, and “you should not do it lightly” and “you should feel bad about it.” But he would not outlaw abortions at this stage. And he has no qualms whatever about abortion in the early stage.
“Personhood,” plainly put, is merely a word for “people we can’t kill on a whim.” Particularly vexing is the fact that Krauthammer is ethnically Jewish and an advocate for a strong defense of Israel. If “personhood” is merely a “social construct and legal category,” it’s difficult to see how one can condemn the Nazis for anything more than disagreeing with us about that construct and that category. If “qualms” are the decisive factor for whether it’s acceptable to kill unborn children, then it is a matter of life and death for everybody that human beings can be made to acclimate to just about any idea.
A commenter asks whether I’m serious. Absolutely. This is a matter of plain, incontrovertible logic.
Krauthammer posits a biological classification of “human being.” He then posits an overlapping social and legal classification of “person.” The critical consequence of labeling a human being a “non-person” is that he or she may be killed for the flimsiest of reasons, and the main determinant of whether the label applies is the “qualms” of the society about killing him or her.
Simply put, a sufficient portion of Nazi German society lacked qualms about killing Jews (and others) to remove their right to life. There’s some distinction, I suppose, in the fact that, in Germany, the state was empowered to kill those in non-person groups, while in the United States, mothers are empowered to hire doctors to kill their own non-person children. But once you’re within the range of killing human beings for flimsy reasons, the big-government adjustment doesn’t offer much mitigation, in my view.