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By Jennifer Hartline

7/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Harris-Perry has taken the occasion to point out to us the illogic and the hypocrisy of our own reactions and our society's treatment of the child in the womb, though that isn't what she meant to do.

We really do gush over the desired child of royalty in one breath and scream for the "termination" of the unwanted-es in the next breath. We feel totally justified in demanding the 'right" to choose whether this child lives or that one dies. We actually do believe that our feelings grant life and that our choice is what makes a baby a baby versus "insentient tissue". The child in the womb has no intrinsic value to us, only subjective value determined by exterior circumstances and desires, and the ultimate barometer, our feelings.

His Royal Highness, Prince George

His Royal Highness, Prince George


By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (

7/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC, abortion, Kate and William, Duchess of Cambridge, baby bump, Jennifer Hartline

(Catholic Online) - MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry has a wacky theory for us that she believes should be the determining criteria for human life.  LIFE itself, it's very beginnings, depends on the feelings of another person (whose life, I assume, depends upon the feelings of another person, and so on, and so on...). Life cannot be said to exist based on science or logic or genuine knowledge or even common sense, but on feelings.

As the world celebrates the birth of the new prince in England (Welcome, Prince George!), it is ironic to reflect on how the headlines and all the press around the world have always referred to the Duchess's baby as just that, a baby. Not a fetus, never an embryo, never a clump of cells taking up residence in her uterus, certainly never an intruder.

The world has correctly identified the baby as a baby and granted the baby the respect and humanity he has always deserved.  Why? Because the parents are royalty? Because they're wealthy? Because they're stylish and beautiful? Maybe. Those are lousy reasons to recognize the obvious, but reasons still.

Harris-Perry has taken the occasion to point out to us the illogic and the hypocrisy of our own reactions and our society's treatment of the child in the womb, though that isn't what she meant to do. She's making her case for the necessity and validity of abortion, but she actually does a good job of exposing how empty, selfish, and absurd is the entire premise.

She starts by contrasting the fairytale experience of William and Kate with other, more problematic experiences, and opines that, "When a pregnancy is wanted, by the mother and father, their family, their community, even their country, it is easy to think of the bump as a baby. But not every pregnancy is a fairytale. There are other stories. An ultrasound reveals serious birth defects; a child is raped and becomes pregnant; another baby would jeopardize a mother's ability to feed her living children; a woman decides she does not want a child at all; these are different pregnancies." 

"They are reminders that an unwanted pregnancy can be biologically the same as a wanted one. But the experience can be entirely different."

She goes on, "Eggs are fertilized. Embryos implant. Cells divide and multiply. Fetuses grow. But when does life begin? I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling - but not science."

(Before I continue, it must be said: 1. Yes, it's quite easy to think of the bump as a baby because it is, in fact, a baby. 2. Birth defects, even serious ones, do not justify ripping a baby to pieces. 3. The child in the womb is also a mother's living child.)

Pregnancy is not a condition that happens apart from a baby. That seems so obvious as to be dopey to even say, yet Harris-Perry repeats the idea -- indeed the theme the abortion industry loves -- that it's the experience of pregnancy that matters, and whether it's good or bad determines the value of the "bump".

Hogwash. The condition of pregnancy is a gigantic smörgĺsbord of possible experiences, good, bad, and ugly, but that doesn't mean diddley in relation to the inherent value of the baby. I've had four children so I speak with great authority and depth of experience. I know very well that pregnancy is not all roses and lollipops.

Here comes the most politically-incorrect thing you'll ever hear: How a woman feels about pregnancy is utterly and totally irrelevant to the fact that there is a baby in her womb. Her feelings matter very much indeed, because she matters, but her feelings have nothing whatsoever to do with the humanity of the child in her womb. She cannot feel the baby into life or into nothingness.

She does not determine the child's worth or value based on her feelings. Her feelings do not grant humanity to a "clump of cells." Her feelings, whether negative or positive, do not affect the personhood of the child one iota. The child IS a human being, period. Feelings have nothing to do with it.

Harris-Perry's entire argument is the absurd idea that if a woman has a good experience of pregnancy and wants her child, then because she feels happy about it, her "bump" is indeed a baby. If her experience is not good and she feels negatively about it, then her "bump" is not a baby. More than that, life has not actually begun because her feelings have not granted it.

First, it strikes me as incredibly insulting because it just plays into the old sexist stereotype that everything women do is based on feelings, and women are incapable of thinking rationally and employing logic and sound reasoning. So much for using our heads, girls. And forget about science, right? Women just react emotionally to everything!

Second, speaking of science, I thought it was Christians who were supposedly anti-science! Forget human biology -- in Harris-Perry's magical and incoherent world, women just feel life into existence and presto!  -- bumps become babies!!  Wow!  Again, it's insulting to tell women that things aren't real if they don't want them to be real. Facts are not obliterated by feelings. And the power to grant and create life is thankfully not at the whim of women's emotions.

Harris-Perry really held up the mirror, though, and her crazy, self-serving remarks are an accurate reflection of our depraved times. We really do gush over the desired child of royalty in one breath and scream for the "termination" of the unwanted-es in the next breath. We feel totally justified in demanding the 'right" to choose whether this child lives or that one dies. We actually do believe that our feelings grant life and that our choice is what makes a baby a baby versus "insentient tissue". The child in the womb has no intrinsic value to us, only subjective value determined by exterior circumstances and desires, and the ultimate barometer, our feelings.

The child in the womb of a Duchess is celebrated and protected and called a baby. The child in the womb of a college student is called a threat to her future and killed. The child in the womb of an unwilling mother is called an unwelcome intruder and a parasite and killed. The child in the womb of a poor minority mother is considered a thief stealing food and resources from the family and killed. The child conceived in rape couldn't possibly be considered anything but vulgar and is killed.

In every case, the child is the same -- a human person. Circumstances and feelings are irrelevant to that fact. The difference is our response. We can't have it both ways. If Kate's baby has always been a baby, then so is every baby in every mother's womb.

I realize that for centuries the birth of a royal baby has been met with lavish celebration while the birth of a poor child, a sick child, an "imperfect" child born to a less-than-picturesque family is either ignored or met with open disdain. God Himself came to this world a poor child, born among livestock because no one would give His mother a room. This foolish world continues to miss the miracle unless it comes wrapped in style and beauty.

The current mixed conduct toward expectant mothers and their babies is not a new phenomenon. Even our disregard for the child in the womb is nothing new in human history. Abortion is not a modern invention. It's an old, old evil. Living in a society where it is legal and sanctioned by the positive law of the land, however, is what makes our time so barbaric and grotesque.

That we have elevated abortion to the status of a "right" and tried to confer on it moral credibility is what makes us so-called civilized and enlightened people so depraved. And in our technologically-advanced world, with our knowledge of the human body and the window we have into the womb, we have absolutely no excuse for our selfish and hideous insistence that the child is not fully human, not a person, not a baby.

If we ever hope to achieve a nation where the children of poor families are given the same consideration as those of the rich; where babies of every race are treated with equal respect; where mothers, in every circumstance, are given the help, support, and protection they need and deserve, then we must start at square one. And square one is this: It is not a choice, but a child, and the child in the womb is a human person who has the right to live and be born. Period.

Only when that is settled and non-negotiable can we finally put all our energy where it belongs, and then the frightened young mother, or the overwhelmed mother, or the distraught mother, or the poor mother will not feel they're left to their own devices without support.

Yes, the experience of pregnancy can be anything from joyful to terrifying and everything in between. It can be a dizzying mix of emotions and physical challenges. But whatever the experience, the humanity of the child in the womb is an unchanging fact. Whether that makes anyone feel glad, sad or mad is simply immaterial.


Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of four children. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit her online at Wake Up, Deborah!


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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
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