Response to Peter Singer
In Practical Ethics, Peter Singer says that people should use contraception, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia to relieve the disadvantaged from the burden of living. I strongly disagree with this view because I think these actions are morally wrong and should not be pursued under any circumstances, and Singer’s assertion that only healthy, wealthy people enjoy their lives is incorrect.
I am a Roman Catholic, and my church condemns actions which violate humans’ inherent right to life. This right to life applies to all humans, born and unborn, because everyone has a soul and thus has intrinsic value. It is true that my beliefs are based upon faith rather than empirical evidence, but they provide a standard for love and compassion and also show a great respect for the gift of life. Singer cannot refute these principles.
Singer’s statement that death is preferable to a life filled with suffering has no basis because he has never experienced death. It also shows a rather remarkable misunderstanding of the oppressed people which he professes to support. Two years ago, I went on a mission trip to the slums of Tijuana; never had I seen poorer or happier people. I have an eleven-year old autistic brother who does not read, write, or speak, but he smiles often and seems to sincerely enjoy his life, as have all the other mentally challenged people I have met. My grandmother suffers from a myriad of aches and pains, but she still loves life and finds purpose in it.
Singer thinks that his advocacy for mercy killings is moral and compassionate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The suffering people of the world do not need his pity, and they do not need him to decide whether their lives are worth living or not. The Church’s tenets are not outmoded; they are vital to our society.