It is said that a picture paints a thousand words. Sometimes, so does a headline. Here is my thousand-word response to a six-word news headline.
This morning News24 posted an article headlined, “Baby shot in crib in California.” Simultaneously, I was saddened and perplexed. What a horrific thing. And yet, why is this news?
According to the police, the father is a member of a local street gang, and they suspect that he was the target of the attack. They stated, “It looks like somebody drove up and were shooting into the house at somebody else and the baby caught a stray round.” The police rushed the one-year-old girl to the hospital but she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. What a horrific and heart-breaking tragedy. A baby girl was simply lying in her cot—a place of security and comfort—yet she was killed because of the sinful decisions and actions of others. Sound familiar?
The headline caught my attention because of the tragedy, but also because I was surprised that this was news. After all, California is considered by many to be the abortion capital of the United States, with an estimated 500 abortions per day. The title of what I suppose is a popular TV series, Californication, may give some insight into the devaluing of life in that part of the United States. Sinful decisions, fuelled by a God-rejecting worldview, result in hundreds of children being killed each day in California. And unlike the news story, these children are specifically targeted. Aborted children are not killed as accidental victims. No, in the case of abortion, children—who are supposed to be sheltered in a place of security and comfort—are specifically targeted by a gang of people who intend to do harm. The gangsters don’t look like gang-bangers. On the contrary, they look like moms and dads and medical professionals. Looks can be deceiving.
It is for these reasons that I found the headline rather perplexing. Babies, by the hundreds, are put to death every day in California; so why is the death of a child in her cot considered headline news while the death of a child in his/her mother’s womb is legally defended, philosophically justified and financially rewarded? Clearly there is confusion in California. And that confusion results in at least two hundred thousand children each year being put to death in Californian wombs. Such moral confusion is global.
My question—why is this news?—is a fair and, in fact, a very seriously good question. Everyone needs to consider it. So let me ask it again, what is the difference between a baby killed in her cot at home and a baby killed in her mother’s womb—and sometimes this at home too?
Of course, some would argue that there is a world of difference because the child in the womb is not a child; they would argue that the “embryo” or “zygote” or “foetus” is not a fully developed human and so it is prejudicial to even use the word “child.” But I will side with the Bible’s definition. There are many biblical justifications for such terminology, such as Psalm 139:13–16:
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
When Mary greeted Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with her son, we are told, “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). Don’t miss that: The “foetus” is called a “baby.” God designates the womb as the place where babies, children—yes, human beings—are sheltered before they enter the more visible world. The womb should be the safest place in the world.
Sunday night, Doritos aired a commercial in the United States that apparently most viewers found very entertaining, while the pro-abortion group, NARAL Pro Choice America, found offensive. Understandably.
I watched it today. It is brilliant. As a pregnant mother is having an ultrasound of her baby, the father is standing by eating Dorito chips. In fact, the dad is somewhat taunting the little guy. Each time he takes a chip out of the bag the child stretches out his hands in the womb to grab one. When the mom tells the dad to stop it and to put the chips away the baby decides it is time to be born! He wants those Doritos! It is clever. But the abortions rights group NARAL tweeted this in response: “#NotBuyingIt—that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing foetuses.” Doritos is spot on. And NARAL knows it. Anyone with any ability to make right judgements knows that the “foetus” is a child. Word replacement, like magic, is merely a slight of hand that makes no material difference to reality. But, of course, that is precisely the point. And the problem.
When people reject the Word of God, because they reject the God of the Word, they lose their ability to form right judgements and replace facts with facades (see Romans 1:21ff). It is for this reason that there is confusion in California. This is why South African News24 picks up the Reuters article “Baby shot in crib in California” while simultaneously ignoring the plethora of Mary Stopes Clinics, and the like, that dot our own land; places where babies are killed with legal protection. Perhaps one day our government, because our society, will have as much insight as Doritos. Then the headline, “Baby shot in crib” will be even more horrifying, but no longer perplexing.