Is the Value of a Life Based on One’s Value to Society?

I was recently sent an article published in July 1949, just after the end of WWII, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article, by Leo Alexander, entitled “Medical Science under Dictatorship” explains how Nazi propaganda was very quickly able to pervert both public opinion and the public conscience. Medical science became subordinate to the philosophy of “rational utility” or that life is valued according to its value to society. A person who would require “useless costs” to society was less valuable than one who proted society. This doctrine replaced moral, ethical and religious values. It enabled the extermination of the chronically sick, mentally ill and later those considered disloyal or racially unwanted in the interest of saving “useless expenses.”

In today’s society, unborn children who would cause some inconvenience for their family either because of nancial pressures, life situations, or because the child may have a handicap, are relegated to the same fate. Their lives are exterminated through abortion because they would create a burden on their family or society. The value of the unborn is based on whether or not their mother “wants” them.

In an article in the Hebrew newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, on February 29, 2016, the use of medical intervention in utero was discussed. Israeli doctors are able to save lives through a number of medical procedures while a fetus (baby) is still in the womb. The article discussed the case of identical twins in which the blood flows from one twin to the other, causing one twin to be anemic and the other to suffer from edema. The article said that “sometimes mothers will choose to “thin out” one of the fetuses, but when the mother decides to keep both of the babies, the doctors are able to catheterize the blood vessels and save their lives. Many times it is religious women, who oppose abortion for halachic reasons, who ask to have this in utero procedure done in order to ensure that every effort has been made before an abortion.”

It is remarkable how much medicine has advanced, yet each person should be given the basic right to live, simply because he/she is created in the image of God.

It is also remarkable that fetuses (babies) whose mothers CHOOSE the procedure will live while those whose mothers CHOOSE to either thin one out or abort both will not have the right to live.

Each person should be given the basic right to live simply because he/she is created in the image of God and by the Hand of God. No one’s worth can or should be based on their value to their mother, family or society.

This article originally appeared in Life News from Be’ad Chaim, Spring 2016, and reposted with permission.