Utilitarianism

“Work Makes You Free” – The sign written over the entrance of Aushwitz

So… What is it?

Utilitarianism is a philosophy started by Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mills. To briefly explain the most basic and simplified form of it, it focuses on “utility”. The idea is that the most important thing is a persons happiness of pleasure. The other tenate of this ideology is that life is not intrinsically valuable, its value comes from how useful the person is to the whole. In Wrath of Kahn, Spock says “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!” This is the anthem of Utilitarianism, and it sounds pretty good as a buzz word doesn’t it? The example given is a train out of control, filled with people. (The bad) guy from Die Hard is in control of it and says you have to kill one person to save the train full of people. It sounds pretty reasonable to kill the one to save the many, to increase the pleasure of many by the sacrifice of one.

So… What’s Wrong with it?

The problem with this ideology is that it does not consider a human life sacred, or in secular terms valuable. As Christians, as theists, we believe the God created everything, including our very lives and that this gives life meaning and value. Maxmillian Kolbe sacrificed his life for one other man in Aushwitz during WWII. Utilitarianism would say that was meaningless because a life is a life, so it doesn’t matter which life goes. It doesn’t see it as a heroic act of love and compassion, but a stupid act. Utilitarianism also starts an elitist mindset that can be traced back to Eugenics and Hitler’s regime. Hitler (and others at that time like Margaret Sanger) believed that some lives were worth more than others. If the greatest good is to have more of the best kind of people, then others become expendable under this ideology. In modern day we can see this in how we treat the mentally and physically disabled. They can’t do as much as the average person, therefore they are worth less and worthless.

So… What’s this got to do with Abortion?

Margaret Sanger, as I mentioned earlier, was involved in Eugenics and trying to help create a master race. She believed that  if you didn’t have the right genes you were not worth much. For example she is quoted as saying  “quote about eliminating black people through contraception and abortion.” Margaret Sanger was an early 20th century feminist whose mother died mother died giving birth to her 11th child. Now many will argue that Eugenics and Abortion are not at all related anymore, if ever at all.  The problem though is that this idea that some human lives are worth more than others is at the heart of the abortion arguments. Peter Singer says it’s based on intelligence, some say brain activity, our laws in Canada say in or out of the womb, many would say a child wanted or unwanted is the distinction. Are people who were wanted by their parents worth more than people who weren’t wanted/planned by their parents? Of course not, that’s absurd! You might want Donald Trump dead, but that doesn’t make his life of less objective value!

So… Why Should I Care

I’m writing this on the way to Aushwitz in Poland. I feel like that is all I need to say because Eugenicists thought what they were doing was right too.  History can make a fool of even the most intelligent of us. We cringe and cry and rail against Hitler’s ideology, we use words like “crazy” or “evil”. If  one day we realize that a human embryo is as valuable as yours and mine, we will make Aushwitz look like a joke. We will look back in horror at abortion as the largest mass killing of human beings in human history. For those who are pro-choice I just want to propose one question, what if we are wrong? What if, as a society, we got this one wrong? What if you are on the wrong side of history? The Holocaust killed 6 Million Jews. Abortion kills …. Lives. What if One day we will call abortion the holocaust?

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