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The Slippery Slope of Abortion

Someone wrongly argued the following with me: “And the slope between abortion and infanticide is only slippery if you accept that fertilized egg or a partially-developed fetus is in fact a human being. As most abortion-rights supporters claim the opposite, I fail to see the threat.” The discussion dealt with how artificial contraception degraded into an acceptance of abortion and that now it was reaching the new low of outright infanticide.

Actually, most abortion-rights supporters in the vast crowd make no “explicit” claim at all about the unborn, avoiding the discussion about the beginning of human life and personhood— with the possible exception of bloggers and paid advocates. However, particularly given modern tools for viewing the child in the womb, some die-hard promoters of abortion are admitting “it” is human, but not a person with rights. Others are arguing that the rights of the mother would outweigh even the rights of another person, should that person be unborn and “parasitical.”

Many deal with their pro-abortion stand with an avoidance of the biological truth, the real reason why plastic imitation fetuses are forbidden on network TV news. Obviously, the implication is that they do not “recognize” a life having value there; but many people remain pro-abortion no matter whether the child is in the embryonic or late term stages. The slippery slope is not a theory. It has been realized.

Fetal development occurs much faster than people appreciate and is so often misunderstood. There are no partial human beings. There is a child who grows, just as he would grow outside the womb. Certainly the growth changes in the womb are unmatched by anything after birth; but even a newborn infant only vaguely resembles a mature man or woman. They cannot talk, see properly, or walk. Without constant maintenance, they would most certainly expire within a very short period.

The late Pope spoke about this at length when he talked about a culture of death versus one of life. Concern about the “slippery slope” pervades the encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE. Indeed, one of the reasons Pope John Paul II objected to the death penalty was because he believed a comprehensive and generous response in the cause for life had to be made against the current climate of death. In other words, a society that murders its own innocent children does not have the moral standing to judge over the mortal lives of convicted felons. We become desensitized to the taking of human life.

I should say that the “slippery slope” applies even if one should think there is only life “in potency.” Embryonic human life has all the components necessary for the formation of “fully developed” human beings. The Church insists that once the soul is infused, the subject is a human person with an eternal destiny. But, even more, the slipping and sliding goes back further to the issue of contraception.

While we certainly do not see the person in the sperm and the woman simply as a receptacle, as did St. Thomas Aquinas, nevertheless, a contraceptive mentality is inherently anti-life. If contraception fails, people will now say, “Well, there is always abortion.” Next, maybe they will say, “Well, the doctor says he has a thirty percent chance of heart disease based upon DNA sampling. Why don’t we just get rid of this one and try again, with the doctor’s help?”

Obviously, even the most hardened pro-abortion advocate has trouble with infanticide, once they SEE and HOLD a child. This was the case in Roe versus Wade when Norma held her baby that previously she had tried to abort. That is why many curse GE for their new viewer that shows the child or fetus, with great clarity. It makes avoidance of the real question increasingly difficult. But what if women should give birth while unconscious? Then doctors or husbands or significant others or just prior standing instructions could order the termination of a new born. As in Partial Birth Abortion, once allowed, what does a few inches in the womb or out of the womb matter? The fact that there were as many as 4,000 Partial Birth Infanticides last year (full term babies) is ample evidence of where things have been sliding.

And what if the newborn is not attractive? I used to help out at a facility for the mentally retarded (or “challenged” as it is rendered today). Tommy had a cleft face. His parents wanted him destroyed but the doctor said no. He was quickly abandoned. He had pins holding his eyes from falling into the cavities where cheeks should have been. He had no nose and only a rudimentary mouth. Everyone presumed he was retarded. He moaned and growled. No one could make any sense of it. His best friend was a boy with Down’s Syndrome called Mike. One day Mike came forward and said that Tommy wanted water. What? It turned out that Tommy was speaking, but so unclearly that only Mike could decipher it. Later, despite the odds, it was suspected that Tommy was not even retarded. When I left, the doctors were taking parts of his body and trying to build him a face. I prepared both of these boys for their first communion. Over and over again, I stressed that the host was Jesus and that Jesus was God. The bishop said that was all they needed to know. They both had value, independent of public opinion, or arguments about the quality of life, or the ramblings of pro-abortion politicians.

I have noticed that sometimes young people fail to appreciate the trail of dominoes we have already knocked over. Maybe age and exposure are important to seeing more of the whole picture?


  • 1930 – Anglicans became first Christian church to permit contraception (condoms).

CASTI CONNUBII is the Pope’s strong response.

  • 1960 – Introduction of the Pill.
  • The so-called sexual revolution.

HUMANAE VITAE is the Pope’s strong response.

  • 1972 – Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion.
  • Series of cases and incidents have expanded so-called abortion rights, partial birth infanticide, and euthanasia.

EVANGELIUM VITAE is the pope’s strong response.

The movement against life is not smooth, particularly since pro-life people are fighting such trends. The slipping happens in fits, stops-and-goes.

I have already gone on too long, but I would like to finish with an extended citation from Msgr. Elio Sgreccia of the PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE at the Vatican:

“It is also said that the argument of the slippery slope is a weak one: in my opinion, however, it shows that its perverse efficiency functions unavoidably because it implies the absence of absolute values that are to be upheld and is accompanied by an obvious moral relativism. It functions in the context of euthanasia as in various other fields of public ethics, regardless of whether it is a question of abortion (in this case, one begins with the case of anencephaly and ends up with the case of the child conceived before a holiday), or a matter of procreation (here, the first step is the request for the legalization of the homologous insemination, that ends up with the matter of the authorization of therapeutic cloning). / Once on the slippery slope, not only the logical slant comes into play but also economic interests, and then the slipperiness becomes fatal and inexorable.”

One Response

  1. […] abortion debate has sometimes also been set up by pro-lifers in terms of a slippery slope, with the slide from first-term abortions to late-term abortions and partial birth infanticide. […]

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