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Caring for Children

The Unborn, That Is

by Everett Wilson
March 12, 2010

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Caring for Children

There are Christians so committed to the rights and care of unborn children that they will go to court to ensure the survival of just one of them, at whatever cost to the government, when the child becomes a ward of the court.

Many with this commitment also oppose any legal strategy that would require the government to provide for those already born, who are as unable as any child in utero to pay the medical costs required to keep them alive.

I am interested in the biblical and theological grounds cited by Christians who are committed in both these directions at once, but I don't know whom to ask.

Those who hold to both don't see the conundrum, so they can't help me. Most who see the conundrum are not interested in stating a defense of what they have decided is indefensible, so they won't help me.

I acknowledge the conundrum, but I also acknowledge Christian friends and family members who hold these convictions in tandem and see no problem. I have high regard for their intellectual, ethical, and spiritual integrity.

Standing behind them and teaching them, I presume, are biblical theologians and ethicists who can tell us how these two convictions work together without having to choose one over the other.

Specifically, we need to know why the unborn poor have an absolute right to care, while those outside the womb but equally helpless do not. Those who know what they are talking about—and share it with us must be listened to, even when we don't agree with their conclusions.

I am not in combat mode this time around. In the health-care debate, with so much as stake, mutual understanding is vital. I am not declaring what I know, but acknowledging what I am willing to learn. I also offer two modest suggestions for those like me, like me, who are doubtful but willing to dialogue.

First, that we all--beginning with policy wonks who have more genuine influence than pundits and prophets in matters like these--speak less about rights and entitlements and more about needs and solutions.

Second, that we forget the imaginary governments so often put forward as relevant to the conversation. You'll probably recognize them when I name them.

  1. The huge automatic teller, that finances wars and/or solves domestic crises with money it does not have.
  2. The even huger bureaucracy that will ruin the country if it starts financing health care. This one seems not so well thought through, but that doesn't matter since it's imaginary, right? This is the imaginary government that should stay out of health care. Think of it! No bothersome medicare! No lawyers! No lawsuits!. No lobbyists! No petitions! No special interest legislation! No neglected children becoming wards of the state and receiving free care through that loophole!
  3. A government in three branches devoted entirely to satisfying us. This one seems to be the favorite dream of candidates running for elective office. If it were real, it would be like having no government at all. All imaginary governments, in fact, are no government at all.

Comments (3)

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Jonathan Wilson from Aid and Abet writes:
March 15, 2010
As one who had dialoged with you I find this essay very disappointing. The logic you follow seems to be that in order for you to be "helped" in your understanding, the person who holds to the position of the rule of law rather than of entitlement bureacracy has to acknowledge with you that some kind of conundrum or inconsistency exists in that position. Sorry, Everett, but that is not a legitimate quest for understanding. It is something like my asking "How can we believe God can do anything when human suffering still happens?" If I insist that an answer is only legitimate if it accepts the validity of the question, then I am not really seeking understanding.

Dear Jon from Off to the right somewhere writes:
March 15, 2010
Dear Everett,
Can you please help me understand a conundrum? How is that so many progressive liberals reserve the right to abort an unborn child, while at the same time insisting that when they are themselves helpless to treat themselves back to health they are entitled to receive medical assistance through the public dole? That's a conundrum, right? Why can't they see it? Will that article be a sequel?

Everett Wilson from Ceresco, NE writes:
March 23, 2010
Who said anything about defending the liberal position on abortion? It is untenable, and has no relevance to what I said. I am not denying the rights of the unborn, nor attacking their defenders. I am encouraging their defenders to care about other helpless children too. The Gospel does not preach selective compassion.

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