Theocratic underpinnings of ''right to life''

Path: ncsuvm!ncsuvx!mephisto!!mailrus!ames!rex!wpg!russ
From: (Russell Lawrence)
Newsgroups: talk.abortion
Subject: "duty-to-life" or "right-to-life" ?
Summary: The term "duty-to-life" fits the pro-life agenda more accurately.
Keywords: abortion, euthanasia
Message-ID: <>
Date: 6 Jan 90 03:16:26 GMT
References: <> <64293@aerospace.AERO.ORG> <1727@nosc.NOSC.MIL>
Distribution: na
Organization: WP Group, POB 306, Metairie, LA 70004
Lines: 90

In article <>, John DiMarco writes:
> >> Of course [a slippery slope] progression will not NECESSARILY
> >> happen.  But, like a legal precedent in a court of law, legalized
> >> abortion lays the groundwork for legalized euthenasia, by
> >> weakening the principle (i.e. that humans have a right to live)
> >> which prohibits both.

In article <>, I wrote:
> > In a sense, this may be true.  Women's reproductive rights have
> > strengthened the resolve in many of us to eliminate laws that
> > make suicide difficult or impossible even in cases where the
> > "victim" has a reasonable, sane reason for taking his own life.
> > A person has the right to choose his/her own death, just as a
> > woman has the right to control her her body.

In article <1727@nosc.NOSC.MIL>, Walter A. Koziarz writes:
> Yes, indeed!  This fact is sad but true, in too many other instances the
> progression has run to conclusion.

Interesting.  When RTL advocates express dismay that cancer victims are
demanding and getting the right to voluntarily choose their own deaths,
they're inadvertently exposing the theocratic foundation of the
"right-to-life" campaign.  Since they claim to be "compassionate" in
seeking to protect brainless (ie., senseless) zygotes and embryos, how
can so many of them simultaneously oppose the option of voluntary
suicide among people who are dying in agony from the debilitating
effects of terminal disease?

Is compassion really their goal?  I don't think so.  It seems to me that
their major concern lies in reconfirming the legitimacy of Augustine's
theories about "God's plans" for humanity.

From the catholic and fundamentalist point-of-view, both suicide and
abortion are wrong because they: 1) violate God's plan for individual
souls;  and 2) result from "despair", ie. the abandonment of faith in
the goodness of God, either by the mother or the suicidal person.  I've
also heard the argument on many occasions that both abortion and
suicide deprive souls of the spiritual "opportunities" inherent in
human suffering and existence.

Whereas the notion of 'personhood' goes back several thousand years, the
notion of "rights" is relatively recent (several centuries).  Some
people refuse to learn from history, but it's nevertheless significant
that philosophers like Locke, Paine, and Rousseau developed the concept
of individual "rights" because they were attempting to restrict a
society's or government's ability to impose its views on private
individuals... especially religious views.

Can you imagine a world in which kings rule by "divine right"?  Can
you imagine a world in which a person might have the DUTY to be
protestant one year and catholic the next (or vice-versa) simply because
a king, ruling by divine-right, had proclaimed a new state religion?

Such concepts were prevalent in the 17th century, and, our concept of
"individual rights" was propounded by "enlightened" thinkers who had
rejected the theocratic political philosophy (based on St. Augustine's
works) that had prevailed from the 5th century onward.  As such, our
concept of "rights" is secular, both in origin and in fact, in spite of
Jefferson's reference to "God" in the Declaration of Independence.  We
now take it for granted that RIGHTS should limit the intrusions that a
society may make in the private life of an individual...  regardless of
the ruling society's notions about an individuals DUTY to God or Man.

Given the secular, anti-doctrinal origin of the concept of "rights",
the pro-life movement's misuse of the term "right-to-life" as an
argument against suicide seems ironic.  From the standpoint of the
cancer victim who's wants to end his own prolonged suffering, the
"right-to-life" notion doesn't make any sense at all!

It doesn't make any sense because the term is a misnomer.  DUTY, not
RIGHTS, is the major underlying theme in both the anti-abortion and
anti-euthanasia agenda of the RTL campaign...  with the duty being
defined by people who claim to speak in the name of God.  According to
the RTL theocrats, pregnant women and cancer victims have the DUTY to
preserve "God's plan" for human life.  They're promoting duty, not

People who believe that suicide is wrong because it violates God's
"designs" need to do some soul searching to find out 1) whether love or
hatred is the real motivating force behind their emotional drive; and
2) whether reason or dogma is the fundamental basis for their political

It might also be a good idea to ask yourself whether a person who
promotes a nonsensical philosophy that demands compassion for
insensitive embryos and non-compassion for sensitive cancer victims is
truly speaking in the name of God.
Russell Lawrence, WP Group, New Orleans (504) 443-5000   uunet!wpg!russ