Thinking About Abortion? Remember Min Chiu Li

By | November 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

In 1899 a baby girl was born to a poor family in China. Three previous children had died in infancy, and the family hoped for a boy. Boys were − and are − valued more highly than girls in China, as well as in India and elsewhere. So the midwife expected that the little girl would be exposed to die, as was customary.

But the father looked into the baby’s face and bonded. He allowed the girl to live and, most unusually in those days, gave her an education. The only school open to girls was a Christian school, and Jeanette Li became a Christian. She later became an educator and had a long and productive life. Her autobiography is available. If this were the whole story, it would be well worth telling. But there is more.

Jeanette Li had a son. Min Chiu Li became a physician and obtained a position at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. He was interested in women’s cancers and began a series of experiments. Eventually he showed that the drug methotrexate was able to cure choriocarcinoma, a rare but lethal cancer of young women.

This was the first demonstration that chemotherapy could cure metastatic cancer, as well as the first demonstration that widely disseminated cancer could be cured by any treatment. This was a milestone in the history of medicine.

But this distinguished, productive scientist would not have existed if his mother had been exposed to die in infancy, as was the custom. Equally important, Min Chiu Li would probably not have existed under China’s current coercive program of one child per family, coupled with the continued preference for boys − and the resulting abortion of unborn baby girls and the killing of newborn baby girls.

Lest you believe that such goings-on are limited to China, recall that prominent British “ethicists” declare that parents should have the right to kill newborns if they are “defective” or merely unwanted. Not to be outdone, a prominent American “ethicist” extends this “return” privilege to one month, or even longer. And if we follow the example of the Netherlands, mobile euthanasia vans will save us trouble and come to our homes. But this development is not original − Nazi killing vans did it first. We reveal much about ourselves by whom we emulate. Some people emulate the man who saved Jeanette Li. Other people emulate the ones who wanted to kill her.

Ultrasound is a valuable medical tool, but like all tools, some people will find a way to misuse it. You can use a hammer to build your neighbor a house or to bash his brains out. You can use ultrasound to make pregnancy safer or to abort females. Dostoyevsky wrote that without God, everything is permitted − but we don’t have to work so hard to prove him right.

In America, the abortion rate for black babies is twice that for Hispanic babies, and over three times that for white babies. Abortion and infanticide have been discussed from many points of view, but often with the unspoken assumption that unborn or newborn humans are interchangeable − that is, that a baby aborted today can be fully replaced by a baby born later.

Except for identical twins, each individual has unique DNA unlike that of anyone who has ever lived, or is ever likely to live. But one need not be a geneticist, much less a theologian, to know that human beings are unique and not interchangeable. Jeanette Li’s father, an uneducated peasant, knew it in 1899. Yet many so-called educated people don’t know it today. Wisdom and education are two different things entirely.

Overpopulation and unwanted pregnancy are real problems. But it is unrealistic to assume that human beings, including unborn or newborn human beings, are as replaceable − and hence as disposable − as auto parts. A women’s clinic is not an auto-parts store, much less a wrecking yard.

When I was a young trainee in medical oncology, we had a guest at our weekly conference. Outwardly he was unimpressive – short, plump, middle aged. But he had a ready smile and observant eyes. Our professor had known him at the National Cancer Institute and invited him to visit. He was Min Chiu Li. It was my honor to meet him.

Though I did not know it at the time, it was my special honor to meet a person who would never have existed, were it not for the love and wisdom of his peasant grandfather. When we kill a human being who is younger than, or in, the reproductive years, we kill not only that person, but also all that person’s potential descendants.

We can only wonder how many advances in medicine, and in other fields important to human well-being, have not been made − because the persons who would have made them, or their ancestors, were not allowed to live. Who knows? One of them might have been another Min Chiu Li. I’ll never forget him. Neither should you.

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