I recently attended an open discussion about abortion that the Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma put together. During the evening one of the pro-choice people in the room explained why he is okay with abortions and his reasoning was that the unborn do not have a right to life because they are not able to hold preferences. When asked later if he would be okay with the killing of 14 year olds who were mentally retarded he said yes because they too can not hold preferences about their world. What I understood from that is that a person has value only if they are able to have a preference about the way they live and change it if they are not satisfied. I’m sorry if I am misrepresenting you, but this is what I understood from what you said.
I would like to argue that a person, no matter their intelligence level, has value because God made them and gave them value. Several verses in the Bible speak to the fact that man was created in the image of God.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Gen 1:27 (NAS)
God said this right before he created man and man is the only thing that was created in the image of God.
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16
In these verses we see that, even before we were born, God knows everything about us and it stands to reason that if he knows everything about us then he knows which of his creations are going to have a mental handicap. God is able to create people so they don’t have a mental handicap so if He creates them with a mental handicap they must still have value because He created them and every human that God creates has value. There are other verses that explain why humans have value, but for me these verses sum it all up.
Aside from the fact that all human value is found in God I know personally that measuring a person by their mental capacity does not make any person a lesser human. The problem with finding human value in mental capacity is that there are many forms of intelligence that can not be tested by an IQ test. I have a sister, Tami, who is mentally retarded, but I would say she has more intelligence than many people it just looks different. We adopted her when she was 4 years old and since she has joined our family she has never put her shoes on the wrong feet (and we never taught her) and she is able to dribble a basketball as good as most people. She also has great musical rhythm and when she hears a song with good rhythm she can not help but drum along. But she is also tricky and is able to do a lot more than she lets on. She doesn’t talk much but every once in a while she will slip up and speak clearly, but then she tries to act like it was a mistake so that she does not have to work so hard. While she may not be able to say her ABC’s or count to 10 without help I don’t care and I can’t imagine anyone who has met her saying her life has no value just because she is not really able to hold preferences about her life. She is my sister and the fact that God has said her life has value is enough for me.