How to make abortion palatable – a letter from Wormwood

John Knight of Desiring God writes a story, using C S Lewis’s fictional characters Wormwood and Grubnat from his book titled ‘The Screwtape Letters”. The Screwtape Letters is a satirical Christian apologetic novel written in epistolary style by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942. The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle’s mentorship pertains to the nephew’s responsibility for securing the damnation of a British man known only as „the Patient”.

The Subtle Art of Destroying Humans

by John Knight (

My dearest Grubnat,

I am glad to see you are finally learning to be subtler in manipulating your human. As I had warned you, I was concerned that your boisterous assault on the unborn vermin with the rare chromosomal makeup (the “disabled,” as the other vermin call them) was going to expose all our plans to destroy them.

So I congratulate you on the recent article in The New York Times, “Breakthroughs in Prenatal Screening.” I can see your skills developing. We must continue on this path as it does two important things for us: 1) it further blinds the humans to our real schemes; and 2) it rids us of having to deal with those foul, weak, “special” children that the Enemy calls “indispensable.” We mustn’t lose our grip here.

Because of this article, and unlike my last letters to you, I actually have a few things to commend — things to see you repeat.

No Names, No Shame

Now, I wouldn’t have opened the article exactly the way you did (more on that in my comments about how you can improve), but I must admit I appreciate how you dehumanized the mother and the child in your opening paragraphs.

Refusing to mention the name of the child was excellent! Names are bad for our cause. It makes the humans actually begin to imagine them as “children” rather than the “mere tissue” we want them to think those little humans are. Let them only think the child is “Down syndrome,” and never Michael or Elizabeth.

Silence of the Moms

Also, good job on not quoting the mother at all about how she feels today about her child. Those puny humans, left with all their preconceived notions and prejudices, already do well at creating frightening alternative realities for that mother. They talk about how sad she was, how horrible her life was, how much better it would have been if that child had never been born. In fact, I am a little jealous at how quickly they’ve been trained to distort reality.

The humans who have been through the distortion tutelage usually aren’t even afraid of the right things! When a parent talks about both the hardship and the “blessing” of raising that child (yes, the Enemy often makes good come to the family through this vermin), a little whiff of reality sets in. And when that happens it becomes harder for us to kill the next one. So keep bleaching from their minds the idea of these babies being real persons.

The Responsibility of Fatality

Another thing: the clean, clinical description of the prenatal tests nicely ignored any discussion about how much the culture loathes these disabled children. How laughable for them to think that “tests” are neutral in a world like theirs!

The doctors and so-called ethicists are the best among them for our cause. Keep working on the medical professionals to believe that termination is a responsible choice, especially when you know the mother doesn’t have anyone around her to support the birth of her child.

A Well-Informed Genocide

And another thing: The following sentence was perhaps your best: “When prenatal testing reveals that a fetus has a serious birth defect, some women may consider ending their pregnancies.” Hilarious! Yes, yes, yes! Let the mothers think they are just making an “informed, personal choice” rather than realize that they’re part ofour culturally orchestrated attack on children who have the extra chromosome. The Holocaust was fun, but this is even more satisfying. They actually think their individual choices don’t accumulate into genocide.

Now enough with the commendations! Here are a few things you neglected.

No Baby Pictures

Why in the world did you allow them to have drawings of babies in the graphic above the article? Yes, some humans are so calloused that they don’t care whether it is a baby or not. But most don’t like to think too much about it. Don’t give them any evidence that the little creatures they are destroying are actually human just like them. Don’t make this mistake again. Test tubes or computer code or something like that are far better. Keep it clean and scientific.

Bury Abortion

As much as I appreciated your opening the article with the story about the friend with the disabled child, you overdid it. The headline was about prenatal screening and you immediately made the story about abortion. The humans are stupid but even they can see an agenda this obvious. Next time bury the abortion bit later in the story so that the test results always end with a “compassionate” termination.

Avoid Real Sufferers

Never suggest that they talk to parents who are raising children with disabilities. For some unknown reason to me, when they talk to people who have experienced real suffering rather than imagined suffering, they get encouraged and emboldened. You know how our Enemy works in suffering.

Killing Can Be a Good Thing

In the future, only present all the hardship and expense and loneliness and how awful their lives will be, always couching it in terms of how horrible their baby’s life will be. They feel better, and their hearts get just a little harder, when they rationalize that killing their baby was a good thing. That’s the reason that if we can convince a woman to have an abortion she will likely have more.

Make these corrections and I’m sure your next piece will be even better. And I knowThe New York Times will be happy to print it.

Content with your work, for now,


Science and The Moral Life of Babies

Photo Anne Geddes via

Romans 2:14-16

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when,according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

I think this study proves what many carefully observant parents have observed in their babies’ behavior.

Story from the Guardian (a UK newspaper):

Research with very young babies suggests that the roots of compassion, empathy and moral reasoning might be in place from birth.

Research with young babies suggests that judgments about what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour might be inborn. Photograph:

If you have any experience of babies you’d be forgiven for thinking of them as entirely selfish, self-oriented little beasts with scant regard for others. It has long been thought that children are born amoral and that it is the job of their culture to teach them the difference between good and bad. However, studies with very young babies suggest that they might be much nicer than we previously thought.

For instance, babies seem to empathize with the distress of others – crying in response to the cries of other babies and stroking or offering toys to those who seem to be upset. Babies also spontaneously help strangers who are struggling. When experimenters acted out a range of troublesome scenarios such as trying to open a cupboard with their hands full or straining to reach a dropped peg – 1-year-olds came rushing to their assistance, sometimes traversing extensive obstacles to do so. And it’s not just that babies happen to like picking up dropped pegs. If the experimenter was straining to reach a peg that they had deliberately thrown down, rather than accidentally dropped, babies didn’t come to their rescue.

These findings suggest that young children may have natural inclinations to assess the intentions of those around them and to help them achieve their goals when they seem to be struggling. The experimenters were unfamiliar to the babies yet they tried to help them spontaneously and without any encouragement from their parents or any reward. If you watch the linked videos above, you’ll note the experimenter doesn’t even thank them. The authors of these studies interpret this behaviour as evidence that the rudiments of empathy, compassion and altruism may already be in place much earlier than expected, perhaps even from birth. But simply feeling for someone’s anguish isn’t necessarily as sophisticated as reasoning about good and bad.

To explore the roots of this sort of moral evaluation, researchers at the Universities of Yale and British Columbia showed babies a display in which puppets help or hinder each other. For instance, one character will attempt to travel up a hill and either be pushed down or helped up by other puppets. Given the option afterwards, almost all babies will choose to play with helpers and not hinderers. What this suggests is that babies from as young as 6-months of age are making judgments about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour. And, like most adults, they have a preference for good.

What’s more, babies seem to think that bad behaviour should be punished. Anecdotally, the researchers report that babies go beyond simply choosing the good puppet over the bad one. They also smile during the helping episodes and shake their heads sadly during the hindering episodes, sometimes even giving the hinderer a good smack around the chops before choosing to play with the helper.

This taste for retribution has been shown experimentally as well. Eight-month-olds watched the display shown in the linked videos, in which the dog in the blue shirt helps the rabbit by returning its ball and the dog in the yellow shirt selfishly runs off with it. Babies subsequently gave treats to the helper but took treats away from the hinderer.

This desire to see selfish acts punished is nuanced. On the whole, babies always prefer to play with characters who have acted kindly and not with those that have acted selfishly. However, it depends on context. Babies from 8 months will sometimes reward mean behaviour if it is directed towards a puppet who was observed acting selfishly in the past. Not only do babies deliver retribution themselves, they also seem to value it in others.

Most of these studies have been conducted on babies from around 8-months of age but the findings have been replicated with babies as young as 3-months. It is unlikely that they could have learned about rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour in so short a period. Even if this sort of evaluation could be learned that quickly, many of these babies did not have brothers or sisters so would have few opportunities to witness episodes that model moral behaviour.

The authors interpret the results as evidence that judgments about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour might be inborn. They may have evolved over millennia of living in groups where working together and protecting our kin have proven beneficial. Adult morality is a great deal more complex than that seen in babies but this raft of research suggests that, rather than having to be learned, the emotional roots of niceness might be in place right from the get go.

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