Toddler’s death exposes contradictions

Published 2:20 pm Friday, July 4, 2014

The heart-wrenching case of a Georgia toddler who died after being left in a car all day is one with hard questions and no easy answers. More important, the public attention it has garnered points to a deep and contradictory divide in our society.

Earlier this week, a judge denied bond for the father, who is charged with felony murder in the death of the 22-month-old. The father claims he forgot his son was in the car when he went to work that day.

The child died after being locked in the vehicle for more than eight hours with outside temperatures reaching nearly 90 degrees.

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In the days since this case made national news, details have slowly unravelled, leading to suspicions that the father – and quite possibly the child’s mother as well – played a role in the child’s intentional death.

For many of us, the premise that parents could willingly allow their child to suffer – to die – is incomprehensible. Life is a precious gift and to willingly take that life is wrong.

So it’s perhaps a bit ironic that the public outrage of what sadly appears to be at best abhorrent parental behavior dominates headlines on the same week as the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a case that centered on whether or not the U.S. government can force an employer to provide its employees birth control services that are in direct violation with the employers’ religious beliefs about the value of life. The decision, which upheld Hobby Lobby’s rights and said it did not have to follow the Obamacare mandates, has been widely reviled by opponents who say it violates a woman’s freedom and her right to contraception.

And it continues to fan the divide between abortion opponents and proponents, a deep and vicious debate that has raged since the U.S. legalized abortion in the 1970s.

Yet, both issue intersect and highlight the disconnect between our arguments.

So many people are easily outraged at the death of a Georgia toddler locked in a hot car for eight hours – outraged at the possibility that his parents choose a course of action that would intentionally shed them of the responsibility of raising their child.

Yet, do we place the same value on the innocent life of the unborn child, whose fate likewise is at the mercy of adults? Or do we as a society value the freedom of parents – of women in particular – to choose if they will accept the responsibility for another’s life?

Society calls the death of one child an public outrage and another the right to choose.

And that is wrong.