Originally created 12/16/00

Sisler: Innocents die when life is no longer precious 121600 - The Augusta Chronicle



THE BUMPER sticker said, "Smile! Your mother chose you, not an abortion!"

Life has always been cheap. Life has always been precious.

Two weeks ago the Netherlands made it official. It has been winked at for decades, but now it is almost the law of the land. As soon as the upper chamber of the Dutch parliament follows the lead of the lower house, doctor-assisted suicide will be legal. In a vote which demonstrated that the Christian party and the Catholic Church are now easily ignored, new legislation allows doctors to give patients who are experiencing "unbearable" physical or mental suffering a lethal injection that will kill them within minutes.

Religion News Today reports, "Doctors would be allowed to perform a so-called mercy killing if convinced that the patient's request was well thought-out. Minors 16 or older could opt for doctor-assisted suicide without parental consent. Those aged 12-16 would need the consent of at least one parent."

Although the Dutch have been practicing physician-assisted suicide for 25 years, Oregon was the first place in the modern world to make it legal. First it was Derek Humphrey writing "Final Exit" from Eugene. Then it was Dr. Jack Kevorkian killing Janet Adkins of Portland. Oregon State Sen. Frank Roberts introduced a bill into the legislature as the third step, but the measure was defeated. A measure passed in 1993 allowed terminally ill patients or family members to receive as many painkilling drugs as necessary to relieve illness-related suffering. Finally in 1994 the first death-by-doctor bill was passed and three years later was upheld by 9th U.S. Court of Appeals.

LIFE HAS always been cheap. Life has always been precious.

Filing a report from Dewa, India, for The Wall Street Journal, Miriam Jordan wrote, "Inside a bamboo shed in this poor village, a midwife named Sanjha presided over the brief labor of Ramkali Sah, an illiterate woman with wide eyes and a coy manner. Sanjha ushered a newborn out of Ramkali's womb, and announced a girl. The midwife knew then what the family would want. She would be told to murder the girl."

Female infanticide is nothing new in this nation of one billion souls. Having a girl is expensive. When she marries, she will become a "traitor" to her birth family, leaving them to live with her husband's family. The dowry required before a marriage can be performed may financially destroy the bride's family (and that doesn't include the gown, the flowers, the bridesmaids' dresses, the rented tuxedos, the fees to the church, the rehearsal dinner, the cake, the caterer, the rented hall, the band, the still photographer, the videographer - oh, I am sorry, I was thinking of America where we spend half a year's wages on a 20 minute ceremony which has as much chance of producing a divorce as it does an until-death-do-us-part marriage).

The birth of a girl in India's poorer regions is deadly serious. The dowry for the last girl born into the Sah family cost "a dairy cow, farm tools, a bicycle and $575 in cash - about a year's income." If the midwife delivers a baby girl she receives fifty cents. The rate is one dollar for a boy. If she kills the baby girl she earns $5.

EVEN THOUGH it is illegal to do so, families which can afford it, use a sonogram to determine a baby's sex, and then abort a baby girl. Estimates by Indian health officials range from 3 million to 5 million unborn baby girls murdered. Frequently the birth of a girl is followed by an announcement that the child died of "natural causes" which means the family allowed the infant to starve to death.

Sanjha refused to murder the baby girl she delivered in the shed where firewood is stored. The mother-in-law was furious, demanding the baby's death: "Kill her or abandon her somewhere so that she'll freeze to death."

Life has always been cheap.

"When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi."

"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him."

Life has always been precious.

"And Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."

"FOR GOD SO loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

The author is a local free-lance writer.

E-mail address: david@mirkids.com