- Today a judge in Massachusetts found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter for her participation in the suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy.
Over the course of several weeks, text messages revealed that Ms. Carter encouraged Mr. Roy to follow through with his intent to end his life, and for that she was complicit in the termination of a living human being.
This tragedy, for which Ms. Carter should assuredly feel guilt, was perhaps entirely avoidable, and is a violation of the commandment “thou shalt not murder.” Orthodox Christianity teaches us that in addition to the forbidden actions of the negative commandments (the “thou shalt nots”), there are positive requirements that go along with it. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is required in the sixth commandment?” to which the answer is: “The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.” The Roman Catholic Church, while much more detailed, likewise contains the positive affirmation of the respect and dignity for life, not just the negative prohibition against the deliberate killing of another human being.
Certainly from a Christian theological context the verdict appears clear.
But what about in the context of our modern legal tolerances?
Why should Ms. Carter be any more guilty than the doctor that performs an abortion on a baby?
Why should Ms. Carter be any more guilty than the counselor that encourages women to follow through with the termination of a biologically distinct living human being?
Why should Ms. Carter not be celebrated as much as those who “help” women fulfill the asinine philosophy of “my body, my choice?”
For Mr. Roy, why are we not celebrating his embrace of that same philosophy? “His body, his choice,” after all.
Consider the following interaction, after which Mr. Roy told Ms. Carter, “I’m overthinking [this].” Ms. Carter responded, “”I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did last time and not think about it and just do it….”
One can easily imagine the same exchange between an abortion counselor and a hesitant mother – the only difference, phenomenologically, is that the counselor encouraging abortion will not [yet] be convicted.
I hope and pray this precedent is a foot in the door to show that “my body, my choice,” is not a valid philosophy when it comes to ethics and morality. I may not, after all, use my body morally by my choice to harm another’s; but that is what proponents and practitioners of abortion are indeed arguing.
I hope that this verdict of guilt will strike at the heart of those who argue – in any sense of the terms – that to encourage death and abandon the dignity and value of life is a proper ethic.