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FRANCE - THE BOY IN THE BUBBLE | 2001-05-12

A few years ago, there was a little boy in a bubble in France. As everybody is probably aware, a "boy in a bubble" is a child who is born without any immunity to germs. His body cannot fight bacteria, so he is put in a sterile environment, a "bubble" of plastic, for life.

A boy in a bubble cannot live as long as other people. He is imprisoned for his entire very short lifetime.

Scientists did find a way to get this child out of that bubble. But it involved using fetal tissues.

France had a law against using fetal tissues for medical purposes. So it was a question of using fetal tissues to save the life of a child whom everybody could see and sympathize with, or just throwing the tissues away as the law required.

The only alternative was to let the child die as a matter of principle. This choice was real, and it had to be made.

In the real world, how many people are going to side with the fetal tissues against the little boy? So the child is now alive and free.

According to strict pro-life doctrine, the boy's life has to be expendable. In this view, the destruction of a sixteen-cell fetus is exactly the same as partial birth abortion, where a live child is painfully killed.

It is cruel for humans to have to make make this kind of choice. Possibly such power should not be in human hands. But it is, and it will grow.

In the next century the moral choices we will be faced with will be much, much worse. We must either go Amish or find a way to deal with them.

Most people have no problem when the fetal tissue to be used would be thrown away anyway. But what if the little boy's life depended on PRODUCING a fetus to use to save the child's life?

This is indeed a slippery slope. Once you abandon the absolute pro-life position, you are in very deep water.

As for me, I could never tell the boy's parents that their son would have to die for my principles.

I can only balance the life of a real, CONSCIOUS person (unborn children are conscious) against the life of another real, conscious person. This is called the Golden Rule, and it came from the mouth of Christ.

It is one thing to talk about an abortion for the mother's convenience. But here the pro-life movement wants to prohibit the only way to save a living child's life. THAT IS NOT PRO-LIFE.

And let me return to the big point here

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CHOICES WILL BE MUCH, MUCH HARDER THAN THIS.

And let me be absolutely frank. The extreme pro-lifers are perfectly right about one thing: This IS a slippery slope.

Only by adopting the extreme pro-life position can you insist that God protects you from having to make any life-and death, twenty-first century choices.

What I want to know is how other people like me, who must answer to their personal consciences, are going to approach the new century.

Could you say no?

Be sure, because soon you may have to.