The power of apathy

By Tom Quiner

Abby Johnson speaking at the Des Moines Catholic Pastoral Center

Abby Johnson reminded us of a shocking story torn from the pages of the New York Times back in 1964.

Ms. Johnson is the former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Texas. After witnessing an abortion, she had a dramatic change of heart, left Planned Parenthood, and became a proponent for the sanctity of human life. She spoke at the Catholic Pastoral Center here in Des Moines a few years ago.

She reminded us of the brutal murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York. Returning home late at night, Ms. Genovese was attacked by a stranger. Her cries for help went unheeded by neighbors.

The attacker left her in the bushes, only to return 30 minutes later to rape and finish her off.

A New York Times story said countless people heard her cries. No one offered to help. No one called the police. The woman died.

People didn’t want to get involved. This craven apathy toward human life disturbed our nation.

Ms. Johnson compares the apathy of those in Queens with the apathy so many in our country have toward the unborn. Are we doing the same thing today, only on a much larger scale? After all, says Ms. Johnson, 4000 babies in the womb are aborted each day in America.

Their deaths are so tragic because they don’t come at the hands of a homicidal nutcase. They come at the hands of licensed physicians. They die because their lives are considered expendable. The aborted, in fact, have had no choice in the ending of their life.

Dennis Prager

Our country’s attitude toward human life has become terribly skewed. West Coast radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, tells an interesting story to illuminate the point.

He’s been speaking to high school seniors for over 30 years. He has asked them the following question: if you were forced to save a drowning stranger or your beloved pet dog, and there’s only time to save one, who would you save?

Consistently, two-thirds vote against the human being.

Our Judeo-Christian value system has been gradually replaced by a secular humanistic value system. The latter values human life less than the former.

Prager puts it this way: the Judeo-Christian system views man as being created in the image of God; secular-humanism views us as being made in the image of carbon dioxide.

Abby Johnson bought into the secular humanism view of human life. She had two abortions herself. It took seeing a baby in the womb killed during a late-term abortion to awaken her sense of humanity.

She realized there’s more to human life than just carbon dioxide.

But let me ask you, who would you save? The stranger or the dog?


If it’s the stranger, is human life so special? Is it less special in the womb?


  1. oarubio on October 29, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I shudder about the consequences when I read instances where adults and their children say “animals are the same as people.” They have “rights.”

    • quinersdiner on October 29, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Yes, they have “animal” rights, not “people” rights. There is a big difference. Thanks for writing. What did you think of the debate?

      • oarubio on October 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm

        Republicans finally showed the ability to regroup and not accept the bait of bad questions given with the intent to trivialize the candidates’ obvious strengths. Surprised that Bush tried to push Marco out of the way. It didn’t help him.

        The Republicans have an excess of talent to win with a number of the candidates — IF enough voters care about facts. As Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” And he died fifty years ago. Knowledge of history and economics (along with timeless values) hasn’t improved since. Thanks for the dialogue!