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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Immorality of Abortion

This blog is prompted by news yesterday that a Pennsylvania doctor used scissors to kill babies.  The details apparently are gruesome.  Aside from his usual abortion procedures, some babies were born alive, then he inserted scissors to cut their spinal cords to kill them.  One headline today says he had "no regard for women seeking abortions," which seems more than odd, given what happened to their children.

I am familiar with the arguments for abortion, usually summarized under the concept of American freedom, a "woman's right to have control over her own body."  Despite the biological facts of viability--when a fetus can live on its own, if taken from the womb with care--the advocates for abortion never have admitted that this is murder of a human being, even when viability exists.

An Incident with Senator Arlen Specter

During the 1990s, the abortion debate was continuing on the U.S. Congress.  U.S. Senator Arlen Specter was a crucial vote on the issue, and he was leaning towards the "woman's right to control her own body" position.  Living in Maryland at the time, I made a trip to the building in Washington where the Senators' offices were found.  I tracked down Senator Specter and rode with him in an elevator to say what I had to say.  I asked him about what I called, "The Magical Wall of a Pound of Flesh," which I posed to him this way.

"If a baby is on one side of the vaginal wall one minute, then that mother theoretically legally can have an abortion; that is, can have the baby killed under the law.  Yet if that baby passes through the vaginal wall--which may weigh perhaps a pound--to be born alive, and then is killed, then the one taking the life can be charged with murder."  Senator Specter said, "I get your point, but that does not change the issues we are discussing."  That was the end of the exchange, and we parted ways.

The Nature of Abortion

What are the issues we are discussing, if we suspend for now the religious objections to the question of whether abortion is "right or wrong?"

Abortion is bloody work, to begin with.  It may not take very long--if the procedure is done by an expert, and if the baby still is very small.  The medical procedures vary, depending on how large the baby is.  Larger babies sometimes have to be cut up inside the womb, then the pieces vacuumed out.

How Abortion Is Argued By Its Defenders

Abortion in the United States was made legal after many arguments listing the horrible things that happened to women seeking illegal abortions:  infections, sterilization, and deaths.  Abortion has been presented as a public good to protect the health of women.  Pro-Choice defenders usually refer to abortions as "health care" and "medical procedures," as if abortion is something merely beneficial for women needing "help."

Advocates for abortion on demand stay away from referring to unborn babies as babies, at least in public.  They often use the term, "tissue," to describe what is removed in abortions.  They may use  medical terms, such as fertilized ovum, zygote, embryo, and fetus, which are morally neutral and accurate.

At six weeks--often the time when a woman learns she is pregnant--the embryo within her has a head and the beginning of eyes, arms, and legs.  Readers will be amazed at how quickly what Pro-Choice advocates call "tissue" begins to develop organs and neural functions, in Prenatal Development.  Women seeking abortions often ask, "Will it feel pain?," and are told by pro-abortion counselors, No, which is untrue.  The movie, Silent Scream, shows the responses of a fetus at a mere eleven weeks.

Advocates for abortion are not interested in the facts of what happens to the little person subjected to death in this way.  They seek to use emotional rhetoric concerning "the horrors of denying needed abortions to good women needing medical care," rather than the details of what we know.  They are interested in removing any grounds for moral reservations, so they use indoctrination to create the idea that the "thing growing" is not really a baby, but "tissue" or something "not yet human."

There are millions of dollars at stake for abortion providers, who use advertising to create the illusion that this procedure is merely a medical procedure some women need.  Beautiful women with gentle voices look into the cameras and speak convincingly how this "private decision was good" and how women ought to fear having others "interfere with personal choice and the control over your own body."  Abortion is presented as no more a moral choice than liposuction or a tummy tuck.

Abortion as Against Nature

No other species kills its young as we do.  Dogs and cats will abandon or kill weak and sickly newborns.  We know that the principle, survival of the fittest, often is at work in many species.  Many fish, amphibians, and insects, produce many fertilized eggs because the newborns will be eaten as prey, or otherwise not survive.  Elephants and whales grieve when one of their little ones becomes sick, or dies.

Human beings are, by nature, different.  In nearly all civilizations, normal human parents do all they can to keep alive, care, and sacrifice for any baby born sick, malformed, or with some physical or mental handicap.  Even the poorest mothers give up their own food, if they believe giving it to their little baby will keep it alive.  And if that little baby dies, all normal mothers grieve, and some even have grieved so their own health fails as a result.

Readers really should read on the subject of biologically-driven attachment.  There is the deepest biological bond between a mother and child.  No man can understand this.  The best fathers also will care for and sacrifice to keep their young alive, and they also grieve with their wives.  Yet the worst men are uninterested in understanding or supporting the women in their lives who love their children in a way that is species specific, and deeper and more meaningful than passion in bed.  We need more education for such men.

Care and nurture, bonding between mother and child, even father and child, are built into our very nature.  In the case of human beings, depending on the health and normal development of a child, many years are required for a dependent child to grow into independent capacities for self-preservation and survival.  Just as the baby growing inside the womb needs protection, the baby outside the womb requires protection for many years for survival.

If Pro-Choice forces initially had argued for abortions solely in cases where the physical life of the mother was threatened, a normal person could understand the moral dilemma.  Nevertheless, we also know many normal women whose biological instincts to give life are stronger than the instinct for self-preservation.  Many, when faced the choice of either killing their baby or risking death for themselves, have preferred to give life to the unborn child within them.

Those defending abortion as "choice" or a "woman having control over her own body" are uninterested in showing the remains after this "innocuous procedure":  the little arms and legs, hands and feet, heads and torsos, of babies chopped and ground up in the name of personal freedom.

Legality is Not Morality

The legal right to an abortion always has been cast as merely a personal choice to "terminate a pregnancy," which is a euphemism for "killing a baby."  The results we know.  Millions of babies with no health issues in utero are killed, chopped up, and sucked out of wombs.  After Roe V Wade, millions of women have been indoctrinated with the idea that, since abortion is legal, it is moral.

That idea is completely false.  Because something becomes law does not mean it is moral,  American and world histories are full of laws that have been judged immoral by later generations.

In America, the extermination of Native Americans as sub-human savages was legal, as was slavery, and indentured servitude.  Abuses of both child and adult labor, and suppression of organized labor, was legal.  It was legal to deny voting rights to women, certain immigrant groups, and to African Americans in our own time.  We know Nazi Germany's eugenics program, and its Final Solution for Lebensraum so the Third Reich's peoples could expand and grow.  In our own time, we have many examples of genocide, where one people judges another as subhuman, and worthy of death.

In ancient Greece and Rome, abortion was reserved for affluent women.  Sometimes, if a girl baby was born and unwanted--as in China in our times--she was killed and discarded.  That also has occurred in many other cultures, where male babies have been valued more.

We know some women have been subjected to cruel husbands who, unwilling to use condoms or uncaring of the burden of more children, impregnate their wives and girlfriends.   Such women may hold such men in complete contempt, and with them, the babies made by them.  We understand such horrible pressures, and such motives for abortions.  We know some couples seek abortions to prevent public knowledge of their sexual liaisons, to keep infidelity and reputations intact.  We know some abortions occur to keep careers intact, or to keep the fun happening.

Nevertheless, in all these cases, sexual self-control or the moral determination to seek solutions--without either conceiving or killing a baby--are not considered.  I personally believe that the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s has empowered Pro-Choice people.  "Do your own thing...love the one you're with...live for today" have elevated the Individual and denigrated individual responsibility for moral and social consequences of behavior.

The unborn baby is hidden from view.  He or she has not developed the capacity for speech, or accumulated money to hire an attorney.  The unborn baby is a flutter in the stomach, or a growing bump on the stomach, not a person but a "symptom of a condition." that can be "taken care of."  There is no biological or moral necessary connection that the unborn child is part of the human continuum, a living representative of our species.

The Christian Opposition to Abortion

I do not know the actual percentages of the divisions between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life advocates within my own community of faith, which is Christianity.  It is safe to say that the liberal Protestant churches have sided with the Pro-Choice faction.  The Roman Catholic Church, and the theologically conservative Protestant churches have sided with the Pro-Life faction.  There are many Christians within every denomination who are completely unsure about where they stand on abortion, in particular, if they or family members have had life experiences clouding any clear decision.

I want to focus on a very famous Roman Catholic, the late Mother Teresa, who was the strongest advocate for protection and care of the unborn.  Indeed, she advocated for the loving care and intervention of all human beings at any stage of life, or in any condition of life.  She labored for decades in anonymity in India, taking care of the sick, poor, dying, and dispossessed (such as the Untouchables).  Eventually her heroic virtue and sacrifice for others was recognized by the entire world in 1979 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I would recommend to readers that you read Mother Teresa's Nobel Prize Lecture.  Right from the beginning, she reminded her international audience of the unborn Jesus in Mary's womb, God's gift of love to the world.  Abortion was on her mind.  She touched on many themes of love, human care for each other, and the dark progression of our times to destroy life, ignore the poor and powerless, and to assert wealth and power.  As she closed her speech, she spoke of Norway and said, "...from here the joy of life of the unborn child comes out."  Abortion was on her mind.

On February 5, 1994, she was invited to the American White House, as the honored speaker for the annual Prayer Breakfast.  President and Mrs. Clinton were horrified to hear what their honored guest had to say, which I quote in part from Mother Teresa's speech:
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today--abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere--"Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things--to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption -- by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: "Please don't destroy the child; we will take the child." So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: "Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child." And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child -- but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, "Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me." By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.

I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.
Mother Teresa was not a theologian educated in a great Catholic university with the highest academic honors.  She was a theologian educated in the school of Jesus Christ, and her honors came from the same kind of sacrificial love he had for all people.  It was ironic that two champions of abortion rights, Bill and Hilary Clinton, had given this Catholic saint an international platform from which to preach against the killing of babies, which they defended.

Christian Religious Hypocrisy

It is equally ironic that the Roman Catholic hierarchy, which has put Mother Teresa on the fast-track to canonization as a saint, has now been thrust into international infamy concerning its clergy's sexual abuses of children in their care.  Regarding abortion, there is a long documented history of nuns killing children fathered by priests.

The skeletal remains of dead babies have been found in wells and other places where nuns discarded the evidence of their sins.  In fact, I had a priest confess to me once that he had impregnated a woman in his congregation, taken her to have an abortion, then gone through the Sacrament of Reconciliation with her for forgiveness.

Protestants cannot cast stones against the Roman Catholics.  We have occasional scandals in Protestant denominations concerning both clergy sexual child abuse and the use of abortions to hide sexual sins.  Male (and also female) youth ministers and adult youth workers have abused children in their care.  Clergy and lay leaders have impregnated women, then secretly "helped" them find an abortionist to kill the children and keep both reputations and employments intact.

The priest who confessed to me said it also was well-known some women have reputations as  "priest collectors," who enjoy the sexual conquest of the most powerful religious men in their church.   This same phenomenon also is true in politics and business.  Yet, once a conception occurs, how tragic it is that little babies must be slain to cover over the sins of those who would have become their parents.

Abortion Rejected as a Moral or Religious Option

This picture I took of my daughter, Charissa, with her newborn son, Micah Steven.  Micah now is three years old.  Over three years ago, Charissa called me while I was on my way to speak in Washington DC.  She had waited until I was the last on the list to tell me she was pregnant.  Charissa was not married and did not want to tell her father, an ordained minister, the proof of her sexual activity was growing within her.  She asked me, "Are you mad?"

I paused a few seconds, then said without hesitation, "Honey, I am not mad.  I love you and nothing you can do ever will do can change that.  I am disappointed.  This will bring a premature end to what would have been a more carefree youth.  What are you going to do?  Are you going to raise the baby?  Are you going to give up the baby for adoption?  Are you going to carry this baby to term?"  The last question was not approval of abortion.  I knew that, just as she had chosen not to prevent the pregnancy, it was in her power to end it, since she was eighteen.

Charissa did not hesitate.  She said, "I'm going to have the baby, and I'm not going to give it up for adoption.  This is my problem and I'm going to deal with it."  So she did, and so she has. 

When she was trying to decide what to name the baby, she called me, and we talked about the name, Micah.  I told her the biblical prophet Micah was a powerful man of faith.  Steven, I told her, also was a great man of faith, the first martyr.  She chose that name to honor the young man she really loved, but who had been tragically killed in an auto accident a few years before the pregnancy, and some promiscuity on her part I attribute to her grief for him.

The choice to keep and raise Micah has created great difficulties for her as a single mother.  She wants to become a nurse, but has been delayed from completing that goal.  Charissa's mother and her older sister, Alethea, have been great helps to her with childcare, support, and counsel.  Micah's young mother wants to become a nurse, partly because she knows that income will provide some security for him while he grows up.

My daughter illustrates the normal response in the human species when an emotionally healthy, and morally strong woman is faced with an unexpected, inconvenient pregnancy.  She never considered allowing her personal desires to live a carefree youth, or her personal goals to become a nurse, to interfere with the right of her baby to live, and have its own mother.

Charissa is like the rest of us in our family.  She has been taught we must accept the moral consequences of our actions.  She knows she is a sinner.  She knows God's grace and forgiveness are available to her, if she will only extend her hand to take God's hand for healing and help.  From the day Micah was born, and forever, she holds her head up high, not in arrogance, but determined that her son will know he is loved; that his mother is proud of him; and, that he too always will be loved, no matter what he does, or the sins he himself later will commit.

The Abortionist in Pennsylvania

The news today of the doctor who used scissors to kill babies has been charged with eight counts of murder.  The details of his operation, and what he did in his "medical practice," are a ghoulish nightmare more reminiscent of the days before Roe v Wade.  As noted at the beginning of this essay, today's news expresses concerns for the women who came to him, how he treated them and the conditions to which they were subjected while seeking legal abortions.

He has been charged with murder because he killed living babies outside the womb.  This is what reminded me of my conversation with Senator Arlen Specter over a decade ago.  Had he inserted a curette into the spine of a baby inside the womb, his actions would have been legal.  Yet as soon as the baby passed through what I called the Magical Wall of the Pound of Flesh, the same action performed with scissors was called murder.

If we disregard what I consider to be a completely specious legal distinction, I believe this abortionist could be said to be completely moral in his actions.  He was complying with the wishes of the paying customers who came to him.  The pregnant women had living babies in them, at one stage of growth or other.  They came to him to have those babies killed.  However he did it, they were uninterested.  We know this because his "practice" went on for many, many years without being shut down, despite what we know now.

The abortionist was not an attorney or legal expert.  Yet as an abortionist, his conscience was hardened to and accepted his task.  His job was to kill babies for women who wanted them dead, and to see he did his job so they would pay him.  He long ago understood there was no difference between a baby on one side of the vaginal wall, and a baby on the other side of the vaginal wall, if that baby was a candidate for death.

From a practical point of view, there surely are many abortionists who have cut up and sucked out babies from their mothers' wombs with them still alive, outside the Magical Wall of the Pound of Flesh.  The "medical procedure" has to be completed, even if the little victim is struggling for life and choking on its own blood.  Surely, abortionists have finished the job by inserting a sharp instrument into the babies' brains to end, yes, their suffering.

So as I consider this abortionist, now charged with multiple counts of murder, I find his behaviors more in the spirit of the law of abortion on demand, than against the letter of the law.

Over the decades as I have heard the Pro-Choice advocates make their case in the media, I have found these women and men to be morally offensive, as well as religiously offensive.  We cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, not if we stay with the facts of what a sow's ear is.

The poisoning with saline, the cutting up of body parts, and the evacuation of a little baby, is killing.  When that little victim comes forth from the womb in a decimated, bloody, but still living, perhaps even healable condition, then no abortionist can allow the failed intention to kill within the womb to be ended by refusal to kill outside the womb.

The Pennsylvania abortionist is not alone, and all abortionists with any experience know that.  The only difference between his "scissors in the spine" practices and those of others is in lack of discretion.


On biological grounds, abortion is against the very nature and requirements of our species' survival.  On the grounds of the nearly universal evidence of normal human parents all over the world, abortion runs directly against the maternal and paternal instincts to love, feed, nurture, protect, and care for their babies and children.  On the grounds of how murder always has been defined--the forcible, violent killing of another human being, without his or her consent or agreement--abortion is murder.

Those who deny "personhood" to the helpless fetus inside the womb, but who assign it to the helpless fetus who has crossed the Magical Wall of the Pound of Flesh, are delusional or deluding.  There are two classes:  those so out of touch with their own instinctual natures they are delusional, and those who are engaged in the deception of others--for money, power, or a self-delusion of their own.

Babies are made of tissue, but their nature is not tissue but human beings at a particular stage of growth.  Abortion is the killing of babies in various stages of growth.  The killing of babies is infanticide, murder, and no act of human ingenuity can change that.

Mother Teresa said so well what the Christian position is.  Charissa, my daughter, made the Right Choice to accept the consequences of her actions; to carry Micah to term; and, to allow him to live and grow, being loved by his mother.  He will learn that God is love; that God loves the world; and, that God loves every person in the world, in utero and on past death, into eternity.

PS: (17 Feb 11) This development is interesting, reported by Mother Jones online, concerning a South Dakota law being proposed:  protecting the life of an unborn fetus.

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