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Jewish World Review / July 14, 1998 / 19 Tamuz, 5758

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas Who cares about killing
when the 'good times' are rolling?

AMY GROSSBERG AND BRIAN PETERSON are going to jail for killing their newborn baby boy 16 months ago. But they won't be there long. Good behavior could reduce their light sentences in a Delaware prison to less than two years each.

Baby killer
Amy and lawyer before trial.
During the sentencing, Judge Henry duPont Ridgley spoke of "the intrinsic value of the life of the child.'' The judge is behind the times. A child's "intrinsic value'' was voided 25 years ago by the Supreme Court. Today's children, unborn and increasingly born, have only that value which society and the courts assign them.

The Grossberg-Peterson case is one of three related stories that compete for our attention in the din of less-important "presidential scandals.'' A Phoenix abortionist, attempting an abortion on what he claims he thought was a "23-week-old fetus,'' delivered a full-term baby. The 6-pound, 2-ounce girl suffered a fractured skull and cuts on her face. She was taken to a hospital. A Texas couple reportedly plans to adopt her.

The third story is about a federal judge in Brooklyn who sentenced a man to 21 years in prison for inciting a crowd seven years ago during four nights of violence between black and Jewish residents. That action culminated in the stabbing death of a Hasidic scholar, Yankel Rosenbaum. Another man convicted of the actual stabbing of Rosenbaum was given a slightly lesser sentence of 19-and-a-half years in prison.

What do these three seemingly unrelated cases have in common? While the stock market continues ever-higher and we obsess over our material well-being, the "intrinsic value'' of life is in the moral equivalent of a depression.

Why are we surprised when two young people, who never lived at a time when human life enjoyed more protection, act out what society, law and medicine have taught them?

Had the Phoenix doctor killed that little girl in her mother's womb as he had intended, the "procedure'' would not have made the papers. But what difference is there in the baby's status seconds before she emerges from the womb and seconds after she has emerged except that which society assigns to her?

In New York, a man gets more jail time for inciting another to violence than the one who does the deed, yet both get nearly ten times the jail time as Grossberg and Peterson and 100 percent more jail time than an abortionist who "made a mistake'' by failing to kill baby, but daily kills many others.

Why be shocked when another young woman leaves her school prom to deliver a baby in the restroom, sees it drown in the toilet and returns for the next dance as if emptying her womb and emptying her bladder are morally equivalent?

Stories like these, which were once exceptions, now rapidly multiply because a new generation of Americans believes that life is cheap and that personal peace and affluence are supreme. Now that one of the world's leading eugenicists has been hired by the once-noble Princeton University, look for new academic and intellectual rationale for more extreme attacks on human rights.

Dr. Peter Singer is Princeton's new Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values. Singer, an Australian, has been influential in the field of applied ethics for the last 25 years. As reported in The New York Times Magazine, Singer favors killing disabled babies because he thinks they have no right to live. Even "normal'' babies would not be granted protection until one month after birth. Apparently a baby is to be regarded as merchandise which one can "return'' after a 30-day "trial.'' The difference is that to return what we generally consider merchandise, it must be in good condition. After the trial period, an unwanted baby would be killed.

Singer sees the future as one in which babies and infants are declared nonpersons because they are not "rational and self-aware.'' According to him, even a baby with a condition as mild as hemophilia can be killed if such a death has "no adverse effects on others.'' Besides, he believes, all such "non-persons'' are "replaceable,'' much like chickens and other farm-yard animals, an analogy which he uses. He believes in ending anyone's life when it is "not worth living,'' and in the involuntary killing of anyone who has become a "burden'' to their families, the health care system or the state.

This is where things are headed if we don't cry "stop.'' But who would hear? The "good times'' are rolling.


7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.