The Coercive Freedom of Choice

First Things | May 3, 2013

By Wesley J. Smith

We are becoming a society in which “choice” and self-defined identities trump once-common values and traditional beliefs. But contrary to the rhetoric of its defenders, this shift is not a simple advance for freedom. The privileging of “choice” above all else in fact requires re-engineering the human person and society as a whole, and this will inevitably involve a great deal of coercion.

This shift, if it didn’t begin with Roe v. Wade, could be said to have been dramatically accelerated by it. Despite continuing opposition by over 50 percent of the American people, abortion is now universally available, in some places through the ninth month. Two states have legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill—once strictly prohibited by the Hippocratic Oath. Now, some doctors actively collaborate in lethally overdosing their patients.

More futuristically, transhumanists urge society to devote its intellectual and financial resources to expensive research aimed at enabling individuals to radically redesign themselves in their own image. The ultimate goal of transhumanism is designing a “post-human” species in which everyone could freely change their appearance and capacities at will.

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