What is the difference between a housefly, an armored snail and an unborn baby? Answer: only one of these creatures is valued enough to be protected by law.  That special status goes to the armored snail.  It’s an honor shared by many (hundreds) of insects, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and even plants listed by the Federal Government as “endangered species.”

The A List

baby.jpgIt’s tragic beyond words that the kangaroo rat and a variety of mice and bats rate higher than unborn humans.  Never mind that only within our species beat the hearts of children of God, complete with souls that will last forever.  Pre-born human babies simply don’t make the A list.

For those that have not fallen prey to the logic — or rather lack thereof — of our pseudo-enlightened age, the evil of such reality cannot be described.  It can only be felt in the depths of our beings.  This thought crossed my mind the other day as a housefly breathed its last under my swatter.  In some circles, the lives of unborn babies are of no more valued than this fly, I realized.

It was likely that such a thought crossed my mind  because it was day one of the Forty Days for Life campaign to end abortion that just ended on November 2.  People in 179 cities in 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and two Canadian provinces took part in the third national (and beyond our own borders) 40 days of prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach to end abortion.  My heart is never far from the pro-life issue and it rejoices at the energy Forty Days has infused into the pro-life movement (http://www.40daysforlife.com/).

My fly-inspired thought gave me the idea to look at the list of those living things that our government actually does protect.  Did you know that there are 22 different crustaceans, 57 insects (mostly beetles and butterflies), and 12 arachnids included on this list?  Do any of you even care?  Probably not.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for preserving nature.  We ought to be good stewards of all that God created.

We may even find a cure for cancer one day with one of the beetles.  More likely, some of the plant life on the list (over 700 in the flowering plant category-much, much less for lichens and conifers) could be used in a cure for something.  But the real source for cures will come from one that is not on the protection list.  It will come through a human, regardless of the additional plant or animal matter involved in such a discovery.  It will come from a human that was allowed the right to live and use God’s gifts for the good of humanity.

Answers to many of society’s ills have been vested in the minds of babies.  Those with the opportunity to survive will impact our world while the gifts of the others will be lost to us all.  Call me sentimental, but I pick the baby over plants and critters every time.

Erring on the Side of Caution

As I scanned the lists, I was struck by two thoughts.  One: how does anyone know which clams or arachnids are really endangered?  Think about it.  Hidden populations could be anywhere.  Who searches out the nooks and crannies frequented by clams and arachnids and determines their numbers to be deficient?  Same with lichens, frogs, snakes and mice … or most of the listed save larger creatures like the grizzly, polar bear and wolf.  And even then … For instance, just last month, researchers stumbled upon an estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas cleverly hidden in a swamp in equatorial Africa.  This doubled the number of the endangered primates thought to survive worldwide.

Who decides which of the creatures — of which most of us have never seen or care to see — make the list?  How can the scientists, biologists, and various friends of the planet know for sure that there aren’t colonies of the various species across the miles upon miles of uninhabited land that makes up the bulk of this planet?  The answer is that they can’t be sure.  If we can lose a hundred thousand gorillas, we can lose track of anything.  But just to be on the safe side, some scientists have deemed an assortment of creatures and plants need to be protected — just in case.

Given their desire to err on the side of caution, this brings me to my second thought.  Maybe someone should tell the wildlife gurus that this philosophy is not all bad.  As a matter of fact, it’s very good to error on the side of caution.  So why not be consistent and extend it to include babies?  Are unborn babies really alive?  Do they possess an eternal soul?  Can they feel anything in the womb?  Does it matter to society whether they live or die?  Well, if you happen to be a scientist who questions some of this, why not err on the side of caution just like you do with Monito geckos, cavesnails and Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders (not to be confused with the other 12 protected salamanders)?

When in doubt, protect it.  Right?  It boggles my mind, as I’m sure it does yours, that a person can face up to a $25,000 civil fine and $50,000 criminal fine, plus imprisonment, for knowingly violating the Endangered Species Protection Act.  Yet, there are no penalties for ending the life of a baby before it has had a chance to be born.

The True Endangered Species

Given the viability of some human populations, perhaps the Endangered Species Act is an avenue we can use to preserve the lives of babies destined for abortions.  For instance, take a look at Europe.  Two years ago the BBC did a 3-part report on Europe’s declining population.  With a shrinking working population, Europe is discovering that dipping below replacement level does not bode well for society.  One German minister recently warned of the country “turning the light out” if its birth rate did not pick up.

As reported in the BBC:

Many European countries already have policies in place — some more explicitly pro-natal than others.

Sweden, stressing gender equality rather than stating directly that it wants to boost birth rates, provides a mixed package of higher pay for women, flexible working for both parents and high quality childcare. 

France, meanwhile, is positively proud of its avowed pro-natalism, providing a series of tax and cash incentives for those having babies.

Other countries have also started toying with the idea of straight payments.  Poland, where the population has fallen by half a million in the last six years, has recently passed legislation that will see women paid for each child they bear.

In Italy, where the population could shrink by as much as one third by 2050, one town has started offering couples 10,000 euros for each newborn baby.

This article is not going to morph into an “I-told-you-so” towards zero-population advocates.  The point here is to keep the horror of abortion alive in each one of us; never to forget the devastating effects it has on us all.  It is to demonstrate clearly the insanity of deeming pre-born human life outside the reaches of government protection.  If a piece of lichen can be protected, we should certainly be able to muster the same passion for babies.  God created each tiny baby and we need them all.

Thirty-five years of legalized abortion has wearied many a pro-lifer.  What a blessing for the fervor to be renewed and hope rekindled through Forty Days for Life.  Yes, the world has gone insane in many ways.  But there are still enough of us with all our marbles to know that every human life is of value beyond knowing.  Little by little, prayer by prayer, vigil by vigil, the truth of this message will be heard and felt across the land.

Patti Maguire Armstrong


Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has appeared on TV and radio stations across the country.  Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and children’s book, Dear God, I Don’t Get It are both available now. To read more, visit Patti’s Catholic News and Inspiration site. Follow her on Facebook at Big Hearted Families and Dear God Books.

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  • Patti,

    Thanks for the very insightful article… In the wake of abortion, such an ‘A list’ is hypocritical.

    Now that Bush is on his way out, stem cell research will regain patronage, giving all the more ‘reasons’ for human beings to turn into guinea pigs…

    I like animals too.. but that doesnt make me put them on a pedestal and treat them superior to human beings. Animals were made so that man sees the beauty of God in them, and turn to Him in thanksgiving.

    Catholics must get together and continue fighting for the right to survive for the unborn.

    After all, we’re not asking for special privilege, we’re just asking people to recognize that unborn babies are also human.

  • Grace Harman

    At the time of Roe V. Wade, I guess there were no 3 dimensional pictures of life inside the womb, as we do have today, but I do think there were biology specimens of miscarried babies. Today we do have those pictures, and we can see that it does indeed look like a human baby- even at 5 weeks- and NOT a “blob of tissue”, or something with a tail and gill slits like a polliwog or a fish. It is only common sense that a baby is indeed a human being, alive and growing (only tinier than a newborn.) What is wrong with our leaders that they will not see this truth? (Greed, desire for evil power, or of popularity)?
    It is the purpose of government to protect its people, so why are they still murdering our own children at a rate of over a million a year? Our leaders are failing miserably by not protecting them, or even to use the common sense to acknowlege that life comes from God, and not from government.
    Those who tell these lies have no business being in government and should be replaced by people who have the common sense to protect those babies from the abortionists and govern our nation according to God’s rules and our Nation’s Constitution.

  • Thank you, Patti, for your insights. The problem–and my great frustration–is that you’re preaching to the choir. What would it take for the financial backers of CatholicExchange to put up the money to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times with the contents of your article? Is such a thing even remotely possible? How much does the NYT charge? Would they run such an ad, if they were paid? How about USA Today? If we’re going to have a sea change on abortion, we need to change the conversation so that the backers of abortion begin to see what it is that they’re really promoting. And none of them read catholicexchange.com.

  • wamba138

    I agree with prairehawk. What gains had been made in the past just got undone with this election. The American electorate is braindead. Time to shake things up, time to become more militant (but legal).

  • heinz

    I think that Dick Cheney could do well to “err on the side of caution” on his hunting trips! What hunter would shoot if he wasn’t sure that that was a deer instead of a human behind the bush. I can’t help but think that this tactic could go far if pro-lifers use it more.

  • Cooky642

    Thank you, Patti, for a great article. We need to be reminded, from time to time, just WHO it is that we’re fighting for.

    On the other hand, I have to disagree with prairehawk: we do need to change the conversation, but the backers of abortion already have a clear vision of what they are advocating and doing. Similarly to those who see America as an “evil empire”, those who back abortion see people as “evil”. (Unbelievable, isn’t it?) It’s the poor mothers who are victims (along with their babies) of the “backers of abortion” who don’t “see”. They are the ones who need to be reached and convinced. Would a full-page ad in a major newspaper help? It might, but good luck getting a (leftist) newspaper to accept the ad. Still, it’s worth a try: what we’ve been doing isn’t working!