Abortion and Hatred
(Originally published in Celebrate Life, SeptemberOctober
SOBRANS, Bonus Issue 2000,
According to a
recent article in the New York Times, scientists have found
that the frolicsome dolphin, the most intelligent and beloved of marine mammals,
has an unexplained darker side: it kills members of its own species
for no apparent reason. Dead porpoises and young dolphins have washed up on shore
bearing the teeth marks of adult dolphins. Dolphins have even been known to bite
humans. We have such a benign image of dolphins, says Dr. Dale J.
Dunn, a veterinary pathologist. So finding evidence of violence is
The interesting question is why dolphins kill
their young; its still unclear whether the young are killed by their own
mothers, their fathers, or by other adult males who want to mate with their
mothers and resent earlier offspring. Infanticide is common in
nature, the article notes. Females kill their young when food is
scarce and male lions and bears, for example, sometimes kill the young of a female
taken as a new mate, giving them a reproductive and evolutionary edge.
Its amusing that the concept of
evolution, which was supposed to make the concept of divine purpose in nature
unnecessary, has mutated into a concept of purpose immanent in nature itself
as if animals could somehow sense that their genetic destiny is at stake
when they mate. Or have male mammals read Darwin?
Be that as it may,
many animals, male and
female, do kill their own young and sometimes eat them. No matter how this fact
is explained, it still strikes us as unnatural, in the old sense of
contrary to the general principle of nature that causes beasts and humans
to love and nurture their own offspring. Otherwise gentle animals, such as
gerbils, will also kill other members of their species they feel are invading their
Hatred is very much a part of nature, and it
finds its ultimate expression in killing. The reasons may sometimes be obscure,
but the fact is plain enough. There is no reason to suppose it serves any higher or
We shouldnt shrink from recognizing
the same thing in human nature. Those who oppose abortion often speak of mothers
who abort their children as victims the idea being that a young girl has
gotten pregnant by an irresponsible man, and that she goes to an abortionist only
because she has no clear concept of what abortion is.
This is a sentimental notion. Women who abort
are unable to love the children they carry; and many of them know very well what
they are doing. The desire to end an inconvenient life is a form of hatred.
In many cultures, from ancient Greece and
Rome to modern China, infanticide has been accepted. Parents kill their newborn
children or abandon them in places where they are exposed them to starvation and
wild animals. Even in our liberal (but formerly Christian) culture, this still seems
But infanticide is beginning to find its
defenders among us defenders who appeal to the logic of abortion, which
says that nobody should be burdened with an unwanted child. They differ from most
abortion supporters only in consistency: they dont pretend that a human
being isnt being destroyed.
Like abortion, infanticide has always occurred
even when illegal. The law can never eliminate such evils entirely, for the simple
reason that parents often hate and resent their children, as witness the
phenomenon of child abuse. I know of one woman who wanted to get an abortion,
was discouraged from doing so, and years later told the child: I wish
Id aborted you.
Being self-centered leads inevitably to hating
others who are obstacles to selfish desires. What is natural in
fallen human nature easily descends to the diabolical. And our modern,
post-Christian, liberal culture treats the self-centered life as normal, rejecting
abortion laws as tyrannical impositions on what has been called the
imperial self. Most of those who favor legal abortion now support even
To paraphrase Our Lord, greater hatred hath no
parent than to kill the child. No false compassion should be allowed to create
illusions about this terrifying fact of human nature.