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Sarah Palin and the Culture of Death

September 15, 2008

In light of the recent flurry of news articles and blog posts about Sarah Palin’s decision to keep her son who has Down syndrome, I thought that it might be helpful to recall some wisdom from the annals of church history. Some commentators are sharply critical of Palin’s decision to keep her baby. Dr. André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, wrote an op-ed piece in The Globe and Mail in which he expressed concern that Palin’s publicity might cause other women with handicapped children to follow her example. In fact, as many as 80-90% of children with Down syndrome are aborted now. Those who write such things as Dr. Lalonde are actually not too far removed from the moral ethos of the ancient Roman Empire that valued only the strong and despised the weak. In such a cultural setting the distinctive message of Christianity stood out in sharp relief. One second century Christian pointed out that Christians “marry as all do; they bear children.  But they do not throw out what is begotten” (The Epistle to Diognetus 5.6). In other words, Christians of the early church did not follow the accepted Roman practice of exposing unwanted children to the elements, because they understood that all human life bears inherent value as bearers of the divine image. As the culture of death further spirals into greater and greater degeneracy, the distinctive Christian message of life looks all the stranger, and, for that reason, is all the more potent. Let us thank God for the example of Sarah Palin, and, let us hope that Dr. Lalonde is correct that women will follow in her footsteps and choose life.

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