Lions, Fetuses, and Ethics

Recently in Africa, a lion was killed by a game hunter. At the sane time news programs televised videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors discussing how they wanted to preserve fetal internal organs so they could obtain the highest prices for these parts on the fetal tissue market. Many commentators noted that the lion’s death received a lot more media coverage and serious concern than the doctors’ apparently callous disregard for the aborted unborn. These two responses appeared to be in conflict. There is an uncomfortable hypocrisy here. There should be more concern for the issue of selling the organs of aborted fetuses than for a lion. 

A close look at this situation reveals that there are now two main approaches to the ethical treatment of life. One approach is that wild animals are so limited in their natural habitat that extreme concern should be shown for the life of each animal. While many Americans would agree with this view, they are made uncomfortable by the apparent lack of equivalent concern for the lives of aborted humans. There is an ethical dissonance, a humanitarian disconnect, many believe, between these two issues. It’s not that the life of a lion should not be respected and preserved, but that the life of a human should elicit the same concern if not a great deal more. 

Something seems wrong with American culture, many have said, that fetal internal organs don’t provoke the same sense of outrage as a lion shot by a game hunter. 

But in reality these two approaches are not dissonant, they are two sides of the same progressive political approach to life. It can be seen in the second version of the 2008 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that movie, aliens from another planet placed spheres around the earth in order to gather up all the different species of life they can find. The purpose of this program was later revealed by one of the aliens, Klaatu. He takes on the form of a human being and is able to reveal the true intention of the aliens. What the aliens intend to do, Klaatu explained, was rescue all the life on earth, remove it, then completely destroy earth and all its human beings.

The aliens did not come to earth, Klaatu explains, to save humans, but to save the life on earth from humans. In other words, natural life is more important than human life. What led to this invasion was that aliens had determined that when left to their own devices, humans show an historic tendency to selfishly exploit all other life-forms and in the end, destroy them.

Klaatu explains in the film that earth is so rare in its ability to nurture and sustain life that it and its life-forms must be preserved. It’s necessary to not just save all present forms of life but to wipe out humans because they will eventually overrun the earth, destroy all the habitats for wild animals, and annihilate what nature has created.

This is why the life of the lion named Cecil is seen as more important than the lives of aborted fetuses. There are billions of humans but a dwindling number of lions in their own habitat. Lions have been murdered as far back as humans have lived in Africa. Those few that remain are, in this view, more precious than humans, more precious than the lives of aborted fetuses. So these fetuses, having been aborted, are not really a loss. They may be a loss to humanity, but they are not a loss to nature. 

This position has its roots in evolution; the concept that all life is equal and evolves under the same laws of natural selection. A lion’s life has a higher economic value, then, since it is more scarce. Humans are more destructive than other life-forms and are able to practice this devastation of the environment through the destruction of habitat and the creation of pollution.

But there is another root to this thinking. Evolution, by demoting the spiritual status of humans to just another species, may also be behind the idea that the State then has the power to control life. This power has been gradually amped up over the past one hundred years. It is revealed by the rise of the State’s influence on the family unit, and enabled by the rise of scientific advances which enable the in vitro creation of life. 

The apparent callousness that the Planned Parenthood doctors exhibited toward fetal organs may reflect this deeper, more disturbing trend -- the trend that human lives are now owned by the State.

This leads to a brutal thought: if humans are demoted to where they not much different from other species, then just as humans control other species it’s not such a stretch to think that the State may control populations in order to gain their votes.

Science fiction writers have noted for over one hundred years that a futuristic society may not just control life but control its numbers through breeding.  In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World families no longer had children, the State did. And in George Orwell’s 1984 women only had children with the permission of the State. Today it is a requirement of so-called “progressive political thinking” to advance the idea that the traditional family unit is not necessary in order to grow population.

Hillary Clinton does not think Planned Parenthood should lose its Federal funding. She stands by the idea that the State can be involved in issues of human life. This is very revealing since her party is the one that consistently wants women to have children for the State. This is supported by the accessory strategy of the Federal government supporting children born to single mothers. Many of these single mothers are racial minorities placed into highly segregated communities by progressive Democrats. 

The twentieth century saw the rise of nation-states and the devaluation of human life. Millions died under the despotic rule of Stalin and Mao. The U.S. is not so brutal. It only uses the State to gain political power, by confining minorities to racially segregated communities, and giving them less education than they need to leave. 

One hundred years ago it was considered a great Western male achievement to kill an innocent animal in the wild, an act that callously disregards natural life. One can only wonder if government will evolve to the point where it will once again value human life. 

In the final analysis, the lion and fetus teach us that all life must be revered and preserved. Steps must be taken to preserve and extend the habitat of lions and to restrain the State’s ambition to use life to satisfy its lust for power achieved through the political domination of others.