Human dignity trumps all
Respect should be the priority in acts of charity, a needed reminder in light of recent reports of vaccines laced with sterilizing drugs sent to Kenya. | flickr.com/CREATIVE COMMONS
Imagine you go into a doctor’s office for a vaccination against a deadly disease but find out four years later, that as a result, you can never have children. Although this might sound like the beginning of an anti-immunization campaign, it remains a troubling possibility for women in the global south. The World Health Organization initiated a tuberculosis campaign in Kenya to vaccinate women and their future children against the disease. Catholic doctors who tested the vaccine reported on Nov. 4 that it was laced with Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or hCG, a key component in certain sterilization techniques, according to LifeSiteNews.com, a non-profit, pro-life Internet news site.
This would not mark the first time the WHO or UN has discussed or has been accused of engaging in duplicitous sterilization by vaccination. Currently, the WHO denies including hCG in the vaccinations, but the Kenyan Health Ministry will engage in further testing. So the question remains, why would someone engage in such deception?
One key rationale appears in the writings of 18th century minister and economist Thomas Malthus, who asserted that people multiply faster than our stores of food can. Food and other natural resources end up in danger of depletion, causing mass chaos and suffering. Indeed, suffering or disasters occur because the population becomes too great. Therefore, Malthus advocated that all people beyond what society supposedly could support should perish through natural disasters, disease and denial of charity.
While today most Christians and secularists agree on the need for material aid for the poor, Malthus’ thesis continues to influence policy and programs. Advocates justify this by saying that the earth’s growing population cannot sustain itself only using the earth’s resources. Development then must be sustainable, not merely through advocating personal and commercial wisdom in use of resources, but also through controlling and limiting the population. Additionally, the mentally disabled, terminally ill, elderly or unborn should be allowed, encouraged or even mandated to die to benefit their own or others’ quality of life.
Malthus however was disproven in his own time. Rather than running out of resources, technological innovations in agriculture and chemicals transformed food production, which soared, like the production of goods. Today, more than enough food and basic resources exist for our global population. But exactly how resources should be allocated remains a problem, as well as corrupt governments, endemic common violence and a lack of spiritual capital.
As Christians, our response to Malthusianism in places such as Kenya ought to be three-fold. First, we must confirm the importance of all human life and we must seek to protect the image of God in each human person. Indeed, Christ’s incarnation and full humanity, the very thing we celebrate in the upcoming Christmas season, gives particular dignity to human life.
A part of being made in God’s image includes our ingenuity and creativity in the arts, technology and commerce. As Peter Wehner and Arthur C. Brooks note in their book “Wealth and Justice,” the incredible gains in food and energy production, land use and even human comfort disproves Malthus’ short-sighted reasoning and serves as the keys to overcoming poverty. Life then is not only sustainable, but thrives, even with an ever-growing population.
Finally, the deception of Kenyan women violates common decency, trust and their dignity as human beings. When the state or international experts coerce and deceive in this way, they violate God-given freedom, and bring about irreparable loss.
Previous sterilization efforts stopped in the 1990’s after great outcry from churches and Christians must continue to investigate WHO’s methods. We must advocate ameliorating suffering and poverty not by annihilating the weakest, but by empowering through charity and advocating for justice and transparency. We must reject Malthusian ideas, even and especially when they masquerade as compassion. Malthus’ own time disproved his concepts, and more importantly, violate the human dignity of persons made in God’s image.