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Abortion and the Christian Church
Terry L. Johnson
WITHOUT QUESTION THE abortion controversy is the moral issue of our day. Because it deals with the critical issues of life and death, how the controversy is resolved is the fundamental question we face as a nation.
January 22, l973, the U.S. Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on demand in America. The decision distinguished between each trimester, restricting abortions in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters to cases where the health of the mother is threatened. However, because “health” was defined loosely enough to include psychological health as well as family and social considerations, the reality in America is abortion-on-demand up to the day of birth.
Since l973 over 30 million abortions have been performed in America. One in four pregnancies is terminated by abortion at the rate of l.5 million per year. There are few families that have not been touched by it. Each one of us is likely to know someone who, in the midst of troubling circumstances, made the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy.
The question that faces the church is forced onto us by the 6th Commandment and the Christian understanding of the sanctity of human life. God calls the church to the aid of the weak and helpless, to be their help and defender. Since Scripture regards unborn life as human life, we cannot but take up their cause and speak for those who have no voice and cannot defend themselves. But before we proceed it may be helpful to clarify that this, indeed, is what the issue is all about.
The abortion debate, more often than not, resembles the proverbial two ships passing in the night. This perhaps is inevitable. In many ways, abortion is an issue which cannot be debated. One is either for killing the unborn or against it. The pros and cons, insofar as they avoid this single central question, beg the question. Our passing ships are surrounded by schools of “red herrings,” often touching our sympathy and interest but, finally, irrelevant to resolving the dispute. Let me attempt to express what the debate is not about and then re-focus on its central concern.
What The Abortion Debate Is Not About
What The Abortion Issue Is About
- It is not a debate about freedom of “choice.” Joseph Sobran recently suggested the following scenario in his nationally syndicated column. Let's imagine proponents of slavery defending their position by arguing, “Please understand, we are not pro-slavery. We do not think that slave-owning should be mandatory for white people. We just think that the question is complex. It is a difficult issue. Slavery should remain one of several options, an alternative. People should have a choice as to whether they will own slaves or not.” What is the problem with this argument? It is, of course, an extreme case of begging the question. It overlooks the issue at stake which is the rights of the third party involved, the slaves.
This is exactly our view of the cry for “choice.” It begs the question of the nature of the third party, the fetus, whose existence depends upon the choice being made. It assumes that the fetus is not human, the very issue in question. “Pro-choice” has a nice ring to it, especially when compared with the opposite, “anti-choice.” But, if we step back, analyze the debate and realize that the question being begged is not resolved, then we will quit talking about “choice” and begin to talk about the fetus. If fetal life is human life, the debate about choice ends immediately. After all, we do not offer harried parents the right to choose to terminate their two year olds, at least not until we determine that they are not human. If fetal life is human life then there is no choice to be made.
- It is not a debate about women's rights, or about a woman's “right to do with her body whatever she pleases.” First of all, we deny that any one has the right to do with his body whatever he pleases. One may not mutilate oneself. Suicide is still illegal in most of the country, and should be. Life is a gift which God gives, and no one has any absolute “right” to do with it whatever he wishes.
But, more serious than this, here, too, the question as to the nature of the unborn is being begged. The “woman's right to her body” argument assumes that the fetus is part of the woman's body which she, then, has a right to eliminate. Leaving aside the question of whether or not a woman or a man has the right to lop off unwanted appendages, the fetus is not a part of the woman's body. It is foreign tissue and one day her body will naturally reject it. At conception it has its own genetic code, at 3 weeks it will have its own heart beat, at about a month and a half it will have its own brain waves. We answer this argument, quite simply, “It is not your body!” Yes, the woman's body must carry and bear the child. But if we are right in our view of the unborn, a woman's rights and choices must be exercised prior to conception since, to paraphrase an old saying, her rights end where the fetal nose begins. If fetal life is human life, this argument begs the question since one's personal rights may never be allowed to terminate the rights, much less the existence, of another.
- It is not a “religious issue,” or a matter of one side imposing its religion on the other side. We say it is no more a “religious” issue than any other public policy decision. We will only grant that it is a religious issue if others will grant that all public policy, indeed all law, is religious. How is this so? All law arises from, and gives expression to, the values of a people. But values ultimately are unprovable and must be taken by faith. One cannot prove that human life is sacred or, for that matter, that marriage or private property is sacred. These values must be taken by faith and so, by faith, we believe and legislate against murder, adultery, and theft. Law is inherently religious. To single out anti-abortion laws, as such, is a red-herring.
- It is not a matter of the wrongful imposition of morality. Again, all law imposes morality. For example, what if Joe Bloggs wants to open a cafeteria in which no blacks will be served. Can he? Does he have the right to choose not to serve blacks? No, not in America in the l980's. We have laws against such discrimination, and should, because it is contrary to our nation's values. Can Joe pay a woman half of what he pays a man to do the same job? No, that conflicts with our values too. In fact, America loves enforcing morality with coercion. We compel our citizens to participate in Social Security and all manner of charitable designs without any choice in the matter whatsoever. What amazes us is that the “pro-choice” movement, loaded as it is with people who have been using the state's club to compel civil rights and women's rights and care for the poor, now balk when it comes to protecting the unborn. Again, I believe the question is being begged. Surely, one ought not to have any reservation about stopping abortion and imposing an anti-abortion morality if fetal life is human life. Morality is, should be, and cannot but be legislated.
- The abortion debate is not about a constitutional right to abortion. Berkeley law Professor John Noonan said of Roe v. Wade and its companion decision, Doe v. Dolton, that together they “may stand as the most radical decisions ever issued by the Supreme Court.” Chief Justice Rehnquist considers it an exercise of “raw judicial power.” Why? Because it created a right to abortion out of thin air and in doing so overthrew abortion restrictions in all 50 states. Its division of the pregnancy into trimesters is arbitrary legally and medically. The idea of a constitutional right to abort preborn human life not only begs the same old question concerning the nature of fetal life but, frankly, does not exist.
However, not only do the abortionists insist there is such, they allow it to override other important rights. Should a father have some right to the child that has been conceived? The abortionists say no, and maintain that a woman may destroy a couple's preborn child without the knowledge or consent of the father. Should teenagers be set upon by abortionists without the knowledge or consent of their parents? Abortionists maintain they should. Your teenage daughter, who cannot have her ears pierced without parental permission, can undergo a procedure conducted by a total stranger which, because it destroys what we all agree would one day have become a baby, has more than ordinary potential to leave physical and emotional scars for life. What has become of the right, indeed duty, of parents to protect their children? Should abortion be used as a form of birth control? Should a woman should be able to have an abortion because it is bikini season? The “abortion rights” advocates oppose any restrictions upon abortion whatsoever, and are militant in their defense of the right to destroy unborn life at the whim of the mother.
- The abortion debate is not about “compassion” for those now living. This is one of the more pronounced and effective red herrings. Do women with unwanted pregnancies face extreme difficulties? Of course they do. I understand that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a man not otherwise known for his moral insight, recently said that the pro-lifers believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth. Comments like this show a total ignorance for the work being done by the those opposed to abortion. Thousands of crisis pregnancy centers, homes for pregnant girls, and homes for unwed mothers have been started in just the last 20 years all across this nation. Tens of thousands of children have been adopted. The pro-life movement has truly put its money where its mouth is. While compassionate toward those with unwanted pregnancies and eager to help, the line that is drawn by the pro-life movement is a reasonable one. It simply says, whatever you must do, you cannot kill your baby. To obscure this point with talk of compassion for the mother and the future unwanted child is to raise a cynical red herring (as though the solution to being unwanted is to be dead) and begs the question once more. If the pro-life position is right then surely we cannot identify “compassion” with the destruction of the unborn.
- Finally, the abortion debate is not about when life begins. George Will called the claim that we cannot know when life begins a “silly” argument, and he is surely right. We all know when life begins. Dr. Hymie Gordon, chief geneticist of the Mayo Clinic, may speak for the medical community in saying, “It is an established fact that human life begins at conception.” Also, Harvard University's Prof M. Matthews-Roth says, “It is scientifically correct to say that individual human life begins at conception.” From the point of conception, from the point the female egg and male sperm unite, there is formed a distinct, unique, human life. It is not the life of the mother. It is not a part of the father. It has a complete, unique, never to be repeated genetic code, and a complete complement of 46 chromosomes. As already noted, within l8 to 25 days it has a heartbeat. At 45 days it has brain waves. At 8 weeks it has fingerprints, a fully formed structure, and all its organs are present. At 9-10 weeks the child can squint, swallow, and move its tongue. At l2-13 weeks it sucks its thumb, recoils from pain, drinks the amniotic fluid and kicks. Fifty percent of all abortions occur after the 8th week, at which point Lennart Nilsson, in his book, A Child Is Born, (which, by the way, is not a pro-life tract and is warmly commended by the Journal of the American Medical Association) says, “Everything that will be found in the fully developed human being has now been established” (p. 71). Over l2,000 abortions per year are performed between the 6th and 9th month when the fetus is fully viable.
One may wish to argue as to when the fetus is a “person,” or when “ensoulment” occurs but these, to me, are unresolvable abstractions and just more red herrings. Whatever you wish to call the result of human conception, it is human: it is not animal, it is not plant, it is not mineral. If it is just “matter,” it is human matter. If it is just “tissue,” it is human tissue. It has never existed before, it will never exist again. It is undeniably distinct, irrepeatable, independent, living human life. If we are to destroy such then surely the burden of proof lies with those who would claim that this form of human life is not sacred and worthy of full protection. If we are to err, let us err on the side of caution!
THOSE WHO OPPOSE abortion could raise their own set of red herrings, such as the implicit racism of some of the pro-abortion discussion (it cuts down on the numbers of children of undesirable races being born), the fate of the millions of women suffering from post-abortion syndrome, and what one author has called “the averted gaze of liberalism,” the matter of fetal pain and the brutality of abortion procedures which burn or dismember the unborn. Instead, we'll go on to the central concern. The issue comes down to this. Is it legitimate to kill unborn, developing human life? The asking of the question ought to answer it. We may speak of “terminating a pregnancy,” or whatever other sanitized euphemism we may wish to use, but the reality is the killing of preborn human life, life which differs from ours only in the length of time it has been alive and received nutrition. All the conceptus needs is time, nutrition, and a favorable environment to become a mature adult. Our position is that all human life is sacred whether it is developing, mature, deteriorating or dying. Further, all human life is to be given legal protection.
Our faith commitment (both sides must make “faith” commitments, since the sanctity or non-sanctity of unborn human life is ultimately unprovable) arises from the Bible from which we, and all of Western Civilization, have gotten the notion of the sanctity of human life. The Bible is clear in its defense of all human life, especially that of the weak, the widow, the orphan, the defenseless. Who is more defenseless than the child within the womb? Yet, today there is no more dangerous place in America to live. Rather than “beg” this question, however, let us examine the Biblical data. The Bible teaches the sanctity of unborn human life in three ways.
The Biblical Testimony
The Testimony of the Church
- By teaching that all human life is sacred. This is an obvious point to anyone even vaguely familiar with Biblical teaching. This is clearly the meaning of the 6th Commandment, the prohibition of murder (Ex. 20:l3). Human life, unlike insect or animal life, may not be wrongfully destroyed. Why? Because it alone is in the “image” of God, and therefore sacred. This is explicitly taught in Genesis 9:6, where God says to Noah in the wake of the violence that led to the flood,
“Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed. For in the image of God He made man.”
Because man is made in God's image, the wrongful taking of human life requires the ultimate penalty. Human life is of such value that its wanton destruction must be avenged through loss of life. All human life is in the image of God, and therefore sacred.
- By teaching that unborn life is human life. Among the many texts to which we could look two stand out.
- Psalm l39 has as its prominent theme God's personal knowledge of us. In vv. 7-l6 the Psalmist traces that knowledge to its extremes: “If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there,” and so forth. In v. l3 he traces God's knowledge of him to his embryonic beginnings:
For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.
God's creative work in the womb began with the “inward parts,” the kilyah, defined by the standard Hebrew dictionary (Brown, Driver & Briggs: Hebrew & English Lexicon of the Old Testament.) as the “seat of emotions...character,” and by Driver as the “inward man.” It is what makes man, man (Ps 7:9; 26:2; 73:21). What is first formed in the womb is the fundamental element of the personality, thus, “Thou didst weave me.” Our personal history, the history of us as distinct persons, begins in the womb at the beginning of fetal development. He continues:
My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought...Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance (“unformed body”-NIV); and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Notice the Psalmist numbers among his allotted days those when he was still “unformed substance” (golem), a word which refers to the “unformed embryonic mass” (Hengstenberg). Notice also the personal pronouns. “I” was made in secret; it was “my” substance; they were days ordained for “me.” One's human existence begins not at birth, but in the womb, in the very beginning stages of development. If this were the only text in all of the Bible that had anything at all to say about unborn human life it would be enough to compel us to respect the humanity of the fetus and protect its development.
- Psalm 51 is believed to have been written in the aftermath of David's sin with Bathsheba. The dominant theme of the Psalm is David's personal experience of sin and his moral accountability to God. We read of “my transgression” (vv.l,3), “my iniquity” (vv. 2,3,9), and “my sins” (vv. 3,9). He traces back his experience of sin to conception:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me (v. 5).
The NIV translates even more clearly, “Surely I have been...sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” We may remind ourselves that the non-living do not stand in any moral relationship to God and neither do the non-human. Only human beings are ever “in sin;” inanimate objects and animals never are. Thus the humanity of the unborn is affirmed from the point of conception. “I was a sinful human being from the time I was conceived in my mother's womb,” the Psalmist is saying. As such, we must conclude, his life is to be afforded the same respect and protection that all other human life is given.
These two examples illustrate the consistent Biblical perspective. Throughout the Bible the personal history of various individuals is traced back to the womb. One may review, for example, Job 3:3 (Job encompasses the whole of his existence by referring back to his conception); Jer l:5 (“before you were born I consecrated you”), Lk l:41,44 (John leaps in the womb); Gen 25:22 (Jacob and Esau struggle in the womb), etc. Fetal life is clearly regarded as human life, superintended by God, accountable to God, and part of a continuum of existence which begins at conception and ends at death.
- By providing legal protection for the unborn. Even if one were still not convinced that the Bible teaches full humanity and sanctity of unborn human life it is undeniable that it does extend legal protection to life within the womb. Exodus 2l:22-25 envisions a situation in which two men are struggling and accidentally strike a pregnant woman.
“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life...”
The above NASV translation, as well as the RSV, envision a “miscarriage” resulting. The consequence? A fine must be paid for the loss of the child and, if there is any injury to the mother, it is “a life for a life.” What is impressive about this is that it is defined as accidental and, normally, an accidental killing would not have resulted in the forfeiture of one's life (e.g. Ex 21:l3,l4). But here, even the accidental harming of a pregnant woman brings the provisions of the lex talionis to bear: “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Ex 21:23-25). Thus the Scripture is placing a strong wall of legal protection around the pregnant woman. An extraordinary value is being placed upon her life and, as a consequence, the child developing within her!
Most modern scholars agree that the NASV translation is a poor one and would follow the NIV, making the case for protecting the unborn even stronger. The NIV translation envisions not a miscarriage but a live birth: “she gives birth prematurely,” and, in this rendering, follows more closely the literal meaning of the Hebrew (lit. “her children go forth,” a phrase regularly used of childbirth; cf. Gen 21:8; 30:26; etc.). The consequence? The text refers to “no further injury.” If only the mother were intended by this phrase, it would say, “no further injury to her” (Heb. lah ending). This is omitted and, hence, the reference is indefinite. It seems that the aim is to include both mother and child. The meaning is, then, if neither mother nor child is injured, one still pays a fine! If either mother or child is injured, it is “life for a life.” Thus, truly exceptional protection is being given to both mother and developing child. So highly valued are they both that the accidental killing of either results in the forfeiture of life. And this is when the killing is accidental! It is ludicrous, even cynical, to think that the Bible can be used to defend abortion. The Scriptures uniformly view the death of the unborn with horror, even when accidental, and would find their intentional killing unimaginable.
OPPOSITION TO ABORTION is no novel doctrine. From the very beginning the church has always and everywhere opposed abortion. The early church distinguished itself from the Roman world in its opposition to the then widespread legal practice of abortion as well as infanticide. Documents from as early as the 2nd Century A.D. strictly forbid abortion, saying, “Thou shalt not destroy thy conceptions before they are brought forth,” (The Epistle of Barnabas, l4:11); “You shall not slay a child by abortion,” (The Didache; cf. Clement's Pedagogus and Tertullian's The Problem of Abortion). Similarly, Jews of both the Alexandrian and Palestinian schools condemned abortion as contrary to the law of God, the former as well as some of the latter agreeing that the fetus had legal personhood. The Protestant Reformers, Luther and Calvin, strongly opposed it, the latter calling it an “abomination...to kill a fetus in the womb who has not yet been brought into the light.” The Presbyterians declared in l869,
“that we regard the destruction by parent of their offspring, before birth, with abhorrence, as a crime against God, and against nature.”
Among more modern scholars, Karl Barth said, “He who destroys germinating life kills a man.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the destruction of developing life “murder.” George H. Williams, Professor of Church History at Harvard Divinity School, summarizes the church's historic position in saying
“Two thousand years of Jewish-Christian history maintain that the fetus is a person with the right to life.”
Only in the last two decades has this position begun to be challenged by those who profess to be Christians.
The Slippery Slope
SO THE QUESTION OF abortion forces us finally to this: what kind of people shall we be? The difference between civilization and barbarism is often a very thin line. Nat Hentoff, a writer for the normally radical New York newspaper, The Village Voice, wrote a series of articles in the fall of 1987 entitled “The 'Small Beginnings' of Death,” in which he warned that the strictures against killing human life are coming down, and the results are horrifying. He abundantly documents that what the right-to-lifers have been warning of for years is coming true. Once started, the circle of death will grow ever larger and will become, finally, unstoppable.
Henthoff cites the warnings of Leo Alexander, the American psychiatric representative at the Nuremburg Trials, who wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1949 an article entitled, “Medical Science Under Dictatorship.” His essay was intended to serve as a warning to the United States as to what can happen when the sanctity of all human life is compromised, particularly by the medical profession. The first steps towards genocide are very short. He wrote,
“Whatever proportion these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such thing as life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually, the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted, and finally all non-Germans. But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which the entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude towards the non-rehabilitable sick.”
Dr. Alexander was “greatly disturbed,” according to Hentoff, by developments in the medical profession in the last several decades. After reading an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1984 he said to a friend, “It is much like Germany in the '20's and '30's. The barriers against killing are coming down.”
Alexander pointed back to 1920, long before Hitler arrived on the scene, to an “enormously influential” book that was published in Germany entitled Consent to the Extermination of Life Unworthy to Be Lived. Its authors were a distinguished psychiatrist (Alfred Hoche) and a prominent lawyer (Karl Binding). Their question was, “Are there human lives which have not value to society or to their bearer?” Their answer was a bold “yes.” When Hitler gave the first direct order for genocide it came under the guise of euthanasia to a medical profession already far down the road of killing, both in attitude and action. The Holocaust began with the killing of elderly, the chronically ill, the mentally deficient and the handicapped, including children. They were a burden on society, it was argued. They contributed nothing and the cost of their care was enormous. So off they went to killing centers in trucks labeled, “The Charitable Transport Company for the Sick” (the advocates of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia specialize in euphemisms). But, as Alexander pointed out, those trucks carried not only the “useless eaters,” as they were called, but also the principle of the sanctity of all human life. They were the first 275,000 to be exterminated, a “dress rehearsal,” says Hentoff, for six million Jews and millions of others.
Many, many people scoff at these sorts of parallels. We all tire of the endless comparisons with Hitler's Germany. But it should be remembered that Germany in the l920's and 30's was the most advanced nation in the world, providing leadership in virtually everything from science, liberal arts and industry, to music and the arts. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop warned in an address given to the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled, “The Slide to Auschwitz,” “I see the progression from abortion to infanticide, to euthanasia, to the problems that developed in Nazi Germany.”
This progression is inevitable because the lines drawn between protected and unprotected life are arbitrary. The development of human life is a continuum beginning at conception and continuing, if allowed, through birth, infancy, adolescence, and adulthood. Any line that is drawn across that continuum will be arbitrary and, therefore, unstable. If abortion is stopped at the end of the first trimester then what about 3 months plus one day? If it is stopped at the end of the second trimester, what about 6 months plus one day? If abortion is legal throughout the whole pregnancy then what about the day of birth? What about the week after birth? One shouldn't think for a moment that this is unthinkable. It is happening already, witness Indiana's infamous infant Doe case, a Downs Syndrome baby who was allowed to starve to death for no other reason than that it was mentally retarded. Neither should one think that this is an isolated incident. It happens with tragic frequency. A l977 survey of pediatric surgeons found that three-fourths of their number would deny even their own Down's Syndrome infant corrective surgery to alleviate intestinal obstruction, instead, allowing the child to starve to death. More than three-fourths (76.8%) said they would acquiesce in a parent's decision to do the same. Leading ethicists such as Joseph Fletcher are saying, “It is reasonable to describe infanticide as post natal abortion...” (Human Life Review, Summer l982, p.l36). Francis Crick and James Watson, co-discoverers of the structure of D.N.A., have been so bold as to advocate a 3-day waiting period before a child is declared human. Millard Everett, in the book, Ideals of Life, said,
“No child [should] be admitted into the society of the living who would be certain to suffer any social handicap - for example any physical or mental defect that would prevent marriage or would make others tolerate his company only from the sense of mercy.”
Princeton University's late ethicist, Paul Ramsey, rightly pointed out that every argument which justifies abortion can also be used to justify infanticide. The killing, once started, will not stop.
A nation that destroys its unborn cheapens all human life and opens a Pandora's Box of horrors. It creates a mentality, an outlook, an ethic of death which eventually will destroy any civilization which embraces it. Shall we now perform experimentations on live, aborted fetuses? Shall we now use aborted fetal tissue for medical and cosmetic purposes? Shall we even cultivate and harvest fetal life in our laboratories, allowing them to grow and mature until their organs are ready to be transplanted for use by others? This is our “brave new world,” and it is just around the corner unless the American people draw back in horror and say, “Enough!”
Consider what has happened in this country in just a few short years. We have gone from no abortion to unrestricted abortion. The advocates of abortion have gone from justifying abortion as a necessary evil to defending it as a positive good, a fundamental human right. We have gone from killing unborn life to killing defective newborn life. Thus Mother Teresa's claim that, “there are two victims in every abortion. A dead baby and a dead conscience,” rings true. The conscience of the pro-choice community and perhaps the whole nation has been compromised, seared, and it has died. Since 97-99% of all abortions are not matters of life or death, are not related to rape or fetal defects, they are ultimately matters of convenience. For convenience sake we kill 1.5 million of the unborn annually, terminating 1 in 4 pregnancies. Four thousand are killed every day. 30 million have been killed since 1973. A whole generation has been destroyed because our nation has not been willing to bear the cost and disruption caused by children. This total misconstruing of values in the richest country in the world is what is so damning.
Walker Percy, in the opinion of many America's premier novelist, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times on January 22, l988, in which he said,
“Once the line is crossed, once the principle gains acceptance -- juridically, medically, socially -- that innocent human life can be destroyed for whatever reason, for the most admirable socio-economic, medical or social reasons -- then it does not take a prophet to predict what will happen next, or if not next then sooner or later. At any rate a warning is in order. Depending on the disposition of the majority and the opinion polls -- now in favor of allowing women to get rid of unborn and unwanted babies -- it is not difficult to imagine an electorate or a court ten years, fifty years from now, who would favor getting rid of useless old people, retarded children, anti-social blacks, illegal Hispanics, gypsies, Jews . . .
Interestingly, the eminent author's letter was not published or even acknowledged by the Times. A follow-up letter from Mr. Percy was likewise ignored.
Why not? -- if that is what is wanted by the majority, the polled opinion, the polity of the time” (Human Life Review, Spring 1988).
The media has its bias but, for the church, abortion is an issue which cannot be ignored. For the Christian church it is what Francis Schaeffer called, “the greatest moral test of the century,” and one which it dare not fail.
The great British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, has warned,
“Our Western way of life has come to a parting of the ways; time's takeover bid for eternity has reached the point at which irrevocable decisions have to be taken. Either we go on with the process of shaping our own destiny without reference to any higher being than Man, deciding ourselves how many children shall be born, when and in what varieties, which lives are worth continuing and which should be put out, from whom spare-parts--kidneys, hearts, genitals, brain boxes even--shall be taken, and to whom allotted. Or we draw back, seeking to understand and fall in with our Creator's purpose for us rather than to pursue our own; in true humility praying, as the founder of our religion and our civilization taught us: Thy will be done.
This is what the abortion controversy is about, and what the euthanasia controversy will be about when, as must inevitably happen soon, it arises. The logical sequel to the destruction of what are called “unwanted children” will be the elimination of what will be called “unwanted lives”--a legislative measure which so far in all human history only the Nazi Government has ventured to enact.
In this sense the abortion controversy is the most vital and relevant of all. For we can survive energy crisis, inflation, wars, revolutions and insurrections, as they have been survived in the past; but if we transgress against the very basis of our mortal existence, becoming our own gods in our own universe, then we shall surely and deservedly perish from the earth” (Human Life Review, Summer 1975).
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