According to WRIC Channel 8 News, a new Harvard poll shows “most Americans approve of late-term abortion if a woman’s fetus is threatened by the Zika virus.” Six in ten respondents, according to the poll, thought women should have the right to end a pregnancy after 24 weeks “if testing shows a possibility the fetus has a birth defect” caused by the mother’s Zika infection.
Thankfully for now, the question posed is only a hypothetical for Americans, as the total number of Zika cases in the U.S. is less than 20. Still, the polling data, assuming its methodology can withstand scrutiny, reveals a troubling belief about the value of human life.
It is and must be true that an unborn child with a disability deserves the same protection as anyone else, including their non-disabled counterparts. After all, disabled persons possess the same worth and contain an equally-present soul. Yet according to this poll, Heaven forbid a child be born with a disability! I’m not sure where this idea comes from because, in reality, just about every disabled person I’ve ever known or heard about has been a great source of inspiration, a true blessing, and a beacon of hope and joy to those around them. Meanwhile, providing care to our loved ones with disabilities evokes in us so many of the things that are most enriching to our lives. Things like sacrifice, unconditional love, commitment, grace, empathy and compassion. Given this common experience, it wouldn’t be bad at all if we had a few more of these folks around.
Moreover, a person’s right to life, regardless of any “possibility” that he or she may become disabled, is not dependent on opinion polls. Which makes Harvard’s poll, well, absolutely pointless. A person either has a right to life or they don’t. It’s no matter of public opinion. Isn’t that what we have a Constitution for – in part at least to safeguard our unalienable rights to “life, liberty and property” in the midst of the changing public opinions of a pluralistic society?
As Americans, we can be immeasurably grateful that the architects of our government made clear that each person is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these [is] Life” and “That to secure [that] right, Governments are instituted among Men.” Democracy has no power over some things. Indeed, there are some rights, like our right to life, which can never be voted away.
Surely, unborn children with disabilities are every bit as precious and valuable as those with none. And their right to life is every bit as robust. Zika is a scary phenomenon. And let’s be honest – so is the thought of bringing a disabled child into the world. And yet all of our fears, our personal inconvenience and our public opinion polls can never be enough to outweigh the intrinsic value of every precious child who enters this world. The fact that a majority of people on any given day think otherwise is simply of no consequence.