We talk an awful lot about rights today. And fair enough: human rights are certainly important. But many people seem to forget that without the right to life, all other rights are basically meaningless. The most fundamental, the most basic, the most important of all human rights is the right to life.
And that includes not just the right to be born, but the right to live right up to natural death. But increasingly the West has declared war on such essential rights, and abortion, euthanasia and even infanticide are now widespread, legal, and promoted as the morally and socially correct paths we must take.
In Australia for example states such as Victoria and Queensland effectively allow open slather for abortion on demand, even throughout all nine months of the baby’s life. And more recently we have seen some American states such as New York and Virginia not only legalising abortion for the entire nine months but allowing infanticide. The baby can actually be born and THEN a decision can be made about his or her fate.
This is certainly Brave New World stuff, but sadly it is now daily reality for most of the Western world. One world-renowned ethicist and philosopher who used to teach ethics in Australia – but now teaches in the US – Peter Singer, fully favours not just abortion and euthanasia, but has written passionately for the need to legalise infanticide as well. But he is a keen supporter of animal rights.
Those who speak of the “Culture of Death” are certainly correct to do so. Everywhere we see an elevation and promotion of death and killing, along with a reduced interest in life itself. Obviously totalitarian states such as the former Soviet Union and Communist China had a very low view of human life, killing many millions of their own citizens.
But today we find free, prosperous and democratic nations actually following suit. Sure, it is hidden behind a raft of euphemisms – autonomy, freedom, the right to choose, etc – but the numbers are just as staggering. Consider the actual figures: according to the World Health Organization there are 40-50 million abortions worldwide each year.
Yes, you read that correctly. That boils down to around 125,000 abortions every day. This figure is absolutely shocking. As has often been said, we can rightly judge a culture by how it treats its most vulnerable and defenceless. What do these numbers tell us about most cultures today?
As mentioned however, there are other forms of death on demand that we must contend with. It is because of this move away from life towards death that the Canberra Declaration in part exists. We know how very valuable every life is, and we seek to see an Australia that cherishes, values and celebrates life instead of finding ways to destroy it. The Canberra Declaration has been campaigning for Life since 2010 and will continue to do so.
And of course, such concern for life is not limited to those who are religious. Not only are there numerous secular prolife groups out there, but all of humanity – religious or not – has a vital interest in seeing life affirmed, protected and upheld.
Yes, most cultures understand that not all killing is murder, and some forms of killing may be morally justifiable, such as self-defence, just wars, or even capital punishment. But even if we disagree on those three circumstances, one would hope that all civilised nations could see the glaring problems and gross injustice in killing millions of its own citizens.
In the overwhelming number of cases, there is no medical indication for an abortion. Careers, comfort and convenience are all good things, but they should never become excuses for taking the life of another person. We can do so much better.
We at the Canberra Declaration are working to see the current abortion culture become unthinkable. We want to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor killed by the Nazis once said, “Speak out for those who cannot speak. Who in the church today realises that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us?”
We have an obligation as a civilised nation to do all we can for the voiceless and the defenceless. Failure to do this means we have renounced any claims to being a compassionate and civilised people. As US Senator Marco Rubio once put it:
“In this battle between the right to choose and the right to live, the only ones who can vote are the ones with the right to choose. The only ones who can participate in the political process are the ones with the right to choose. An unborn child can’t vote; an unborn child can’t speak.
Actually, they can. You can speak for them. That’s why you exist. In this competition between two competing sets of rights, you are the voice of children that cannot speak for themselves.”
Whether it is abortion, euthanasia, infanticide or various forms of eugenics, the Canberra Declaration will stand up for life and stand against death. We must affirm the personhood of everyone. We must learn from history that it is always evil to target entire classes of people, be they Blacks, or Jews, or some other group.
Or as the famous children’s author Dr. Suess rightly said: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”