Simple Concepts Concerning Life

In memory of the 50 million Americans lost since the dreadful Roe v. Wade decision, I wrote a poem for a competition hosted by the Manhattan Declaration (you can read it here).  The point of the poem is simply this: A little girl in the womb has no guarantee of liberty or the pursuit of happiness in America because she has no guarantee of life.

Two contrary points are typically made by those who favor abortion.  First, it is said that the baby in the womb is something less than human, not quite considered a person.  Maybe it is a fetus or embryo, but not a person.  And because it is philosophically impossible to determine at what point the embryo becomes a baby, we are not at liberty to impose a definition upon the mother. She is free to choose for herself.  Second, the argument is made that because the mother will have the primary burden of caring for the child, then she must decide whether to allow her birth.  Each of these arguments is fundamentally unsound.

On the first point, the question must be answered concerning the child in the womb. If it is not human, then what is it?  If it is human, then it must be protected.  Terms such as fetus and embryo only obscure what ought to be obvious to all.  What kind of embryo is it?  What kind of fetus is it?  Obviously, they are human embryos.  As such, they should be protected under the law.  According to our Declaration of Independence, “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Still, the argument persists because pro-abortion advocates claim that humanity is not so easily defined.  When do the cells and DNA actually become a full human being?  Our simple response to this inquiry is, “When is it ever not human?”  From the moment of conception, a human being is in process—a process of growth which continues throughout the time in the womb and even for most of the next two decades after the child is born.  There is growth and development (in the strictly physical sense) from conception to the age of 18 or so.  This is undeniable.

In fact, this line of reasoning is so filled with common sense that it permeates our legal code.  Take, for instance, Title 16, Chapter 5A, Subchapter II, Paragraph 668 (a), of the United States Code:

 “Whoever, within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof… shall knowingly…take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or in any manner any bald eagle commonly known as the American eagle or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both…”

What is particularly illuminating in the U. S. legal code is the threat of criminal sanction for taking not just the egg of the eagle but also the nest.  It is clear enough that the egg of the eagle is protected (for the sake of protecting all eagles); what is even more astounding is that the eagle’s nest is also protected.  Why?  Because the nest is also a necessary part of the life-development of a bald eagle.  In the case of the bald eagle, the law protects a collection of non-living sticks and limbs because those sticks and limbs provide a nesting area for an egg which—if all goes well—will eventually develop into an eaglet, which–if all goes well–will one day fly as an eagle.  The nest of the egg of the eagle is protected in America because Americans value eagles and want to protect them.  The womb of a mother is not protected in America because Americans…

Now, on the second point of debate, again, the law is clear.  Those who advocate for abortion will say that they may be personally opposed to it, but they cannot feel compelled to burden the mother when child-rearing is her responsibility.  (There are many false assumptions built into this argument—child-rearing is a mother and father responsibility; children are not burdens but blessings; and one cannot be opposed to something and advocate for it in the same breath).  On the basic point of whether the child is the mother’s responsibility solely because it is part of her body, I would appeal to common sense and the law.

Common sense makes plain that the child in the womb is not simply a subsidiary part of the mother’s body.  When a couple goes for an ultrasound, they don’t go there to find out what kind of tumor is growing on the mother’s body.  They go there to find out the ___________ of the ___________.  (Could you fill in the blanks? They go to find out the sex of the baby).  It is simply ludicrous to assert that the baby is like a hemorrhoid, and abortion is good in the same sense as Preparation H.  This is not a part of the mother’s body; it is a separate human body.  The ultrasound is able to determine its sex. If it is a little boy, it will have a little boy organ which belongs to him—not to his mother.

In the law, the same common sense provisions can be found.  Even if we were to say that the baby were merely a growth on the mother’s body, and, because it is her body and her burden, it is also her free choice, we still would not think that the mother is free to do whatever she wants with her body.  Women are not free to do anything they want with their bodies; neither are men.  One cannot expose his body to others without facing charges of indecent exposure.  One cannot prostitute his or her body without facing criminal charges.  One cannot fill his or her body with illegal drugs without violating the law.  There are a great many things one cannot do with his or her body.  There simply is no absolute right to your own body when you live in community with others.

So, we conclude with two simple and undeniable truths.  At conception, human life begins.  And, no one should have the right to rob another human of her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  With these simple facts recognized, we will see the value of human life soaring in America again like the eagle’s.

Life Is the Winner

A Baby in the Womb

The little boy came galloping into his living room with his six-guns a-blazing.  On cue, his dad made a series of agonizing contortions, grabbing his chest and groaning loudly as he fell to the floor in dramatic style, making sure his little gunslinger received full compensation for his cowboy skills.  The little boy loved the scene. Gunfights were always OK in this living room corral—as long as the little guy was allowed to win.

When dad decided to fire back his imaginary pistols, the pint-sized Paladin refused to die in agony.  Instead, his face switched from glee to gloom, and his lip slightly quivered: “No fair. Gunfighters don’t sposed to die.  I don’t want to die, daddy.”  Life and death games are always more fun if you are on the winning side of life.  We never really outgrow this lesson, do we?

I thought of this as I considered how most of us consider ourselves “pro-life,” but we are a little unsure of how far this conviction should take us.  Do we, for instance, refuse treatment for a life-threatening disease on the grounds that the treatment was derived from the stem cells of human babies who were aborted?  It is a dilemma which tests the seriousness of our pro-life convictions.  Like the little boy, we don’t want to die.  Sure, we don’t want to destroy babies in the womb just to harvest their stem cells, but we really don’t want to die.  Should we refuse treatments derived from human embryos?

Thank God, that isn’t a choice we actually have to make.  You may think this is a choice you will have to make, but it isn’t.  Here is the reason you won’t have to make that choice.  There are no treatments being successfully used to cure anything with embryonic stem cells.  None.  Nothing is being helped—much less cured—by embryonic stem cells.

You may not believe this claim, or you may be confused by it.  After all, you might have received stem cell treatments.  One of your loved ones may have been helped by stem cell treatments.  So, you think that stem cells are being used to treat disease, right?  You are partially correct.  Stem cells are being used.  However, the stem cells which are being used to treat diseases are adult stem cells—not from human embryos.

In fact, a group of doctors who form the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics has compiled a list of stem cell success.  So far, according to their count, there are 73 successful treatments for diseases which use non-embryonic stem cells.  And there are 0 successful treatments using embryonic stem cells.  The score is 73-0 against taking stem cells from aborted babies.  In any game, 73-0 is a lopsided blowout.  Even in a staged gunfight, the dad insisted on at least 1 victory.  Embryonic stem cells have none.

Unfortunately, politicians have exploited the success of non-embryonic stem cells to continue aiding the abortion industry by encouraging embryonic stem cell research, but the science is against embryonic stem cells.  Common sense morality is against them, too.  Embryonic stem cell research destroys human life, while non-embryonic research extends it.  The choice is obvious, isn’t it?  The good news for us is that maybe we don’t have to die—thanks to non-embryonic stem cell research.  The sad news, on the other hand, is that some life has to die for embryonic stem cell research to take place.

Impact of Abortion

Blacks and the impact of abortion

Dr. Alveda King here  and

Bishop Harry Jackson here have spoken out against abortion because of the way that it affects the African American population.


These two outspoken opponents of abortion are not completely off-base in asserting a black genocide as a result of abortion.  When one researches the history of abortion, he finds a clear link with the same eugenics movement which drove the Nazi machine in its lust for a pure race of men.  Margaret Sanger was clearly racist and a purist when it comes to birth control and abortion.  Much more study needs to be done in this area, but there are indications that the black community is adversely and disproportionately affected by abortion.


A liberal Christian group going by the name of Matthew 25 has set up a website to convince people that Obama is the more pro-life candidate between the two major contenders.  It would be laughable, except that it is devilishly deceptive and destructive.  I do not recommend going to their site, as it would give them credibility through traffic, but here is an article that describes the movement.  You might also look for people to say they take the life issue to be more “holistic.”  By this, they mean that they feel righteous by recycling their bottles so that they are helping the environment in this global warming crisis.  Therefore, the issue of abortion is not as important any more.


Good News Well Needed

I have linked an article  which talks about the actions of one American citizen to bring clarity to the abortion conversation.  One of the realities of a post-abortion culture is that it has a difficult time defining what is human and what is not.  We have trouble saying when a baby is a baby (as is indicated in the responses by Tony and others in the blog titled “Logical, But Destructive”).  This article  tells of the efforts of one young person to force clarity on the issue of personhood.  When does a conceptus/fetus/embryo/baby become a human being, with all the rights of personhood, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  This was, after all, the question that Obama could not answer at Saddleback.

Logical, But Destructive

I once heard a Florida doctor spell out one of the most horrifying, yet logically sound arguments for abortion I have ever heard.  I include this story in our section on the fruits of abortion because I believe that poor, muddleheaded thinking is a natural outgrowth of abortion (and other sins).  As Paul writes to the Romans, there comes a time when God gives us over to a depraved mind.  It seems safe to say that encouraging a mother to kill the child she is carrying in her womb is evidence of a culture’s depraved thinking.


Here is the logically sound and yet depraved example of poor thinking:

According to this Florida doctor, he treated a college-aged female one Winter morning and had to tell her what she didn’t want to hear: “You’re pregnant.”  The young, unmarried woman was more perplexed than crushed, and she kept saying, “I don’t know what I should do.  I don’t know what I should do.”  The doctor–thinking she meant something like, “Oh, my goodness, I never planned for this; this was a mistake; I am not ready to be a mother”–tried to encourage the young woman that it would be all right and that her family would support her through the trials of having a child.  In reality, however, the young woman meant, “Should I abort the baby or not.”  Here was the exact dilemma she relayed to the doctor.


I don’t know whether I should keep the baby or not because I am scheduled to go on a mission trip with my church group this summer.  If I am pregnant, I cannot go.  I don’t know what to do.  I can do so much good by going on the trip and serving people in need, and I have the opportunity to lead people to Jesus there.  I don’t know what to do. 

Why Belabor Abortion?

Why continue harping on the same subject? Two reasons. (1) The awful destruction of human life in the wake of Roe v. Wade warrants the attention of any decent human being; (2) As this Pew Research poll reports, evangelicals are the only ones who are solidly in the pro-life camp nowadays. If we don’t hammer the point home, who will? If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Sarah Palin is giving us a great opportunity to push the culture back to life and away from death. Sadly, evangelicals–though we are the most staunchly pro-llife of all Americans–still have a full one-third of their constituents in the poll arguing in favor of abortion.

Example of Bad Fruit

Abortion is supposed to be helpful because it enables us to detect “problem pregnancies” and dispose of them before the “problem pregnancy” becomes a “problem child.” Forgetting for the moment that many of the so-called problem pregnancies result in the creation of a beautiful child like Trig Palin or Emily Rose, we can see that even in the case that a Down Syndrome child is detected early, abortion may not be a good option. Abortion is supposed to be a solution to “problem pregnancy” (such as Down Syndrome). It is true that 90 percent of Down’s babies detected are aborted. But, once again, we can see the fruit of such a practice is as rotten as a 10 day banana. This story from the UK tells the dreadful tale that 2 healthy babies are lost for every three Down syndrome babies targeted for abortion. Targeting babies for death is one of the destructive fruits of the abortion practice. Read the article here

Violins and Rights Violations

Another of the stronger arguments for abortion has been put forward by Judith Jarvis Thomson. She begins by assuming (as most of us would) that abortion is actually killing another human being. She doesn’t necessarily believe that it is the case that abortion is murder, but she wants to make a strong argument for abortion. Thus, she takes the position which we take and then argues that our position still does not mean what we think it means.

So, Thomson—for the sake of the argument—says the unborn baby is a child in the womb. She then argues (1) that it is not always wrong to kill another human being; and (2) that it is not necessarily wrong to kill an unborn child. On the first point, Thomson argues that we kill soldiers in battle. We also kill criminals with execution. So, killing human beings is not inherently evil. There is such a thing as a just killing. The question is whether killing an unborn child is just or unjust.

On the second point, Thomson admits that it sounds like the right to life is stronger than the right for a woman to choose what happens to her body. But Thomson asks you to imagine you awoke one morning with a world famous violinist attached back to back to you. As it turns out, you are the only one who is able to support his blood type and kidney function; thus, you were chosen to give him life. Without you, this man can no longer live, and the world would be robbed of the greatest violin music in its possession. So, you simply must choose to keep the violinist alive. You did not ask for this assignment. You did not want this assignment (just like a woman using contraceptives did not ask for and did not want her pregnancy assignment). Would you be compelled to live with this human being attached to your back for 9 months? If you say no, then does that not argue that you are actually more concerned about your right to control your body than you are about the inherent right to human life? Doesn’t that make the point that abortion is not inherently evil?

Thomson develops the argument much more extensively than I can relate here. The end of the matter is simply this: Thomson argues that even if you can prove that abortion is killing a baby with the right to life, you have not yet proved enough. You need also to prove that the killing is an unjust killing. There is such a thing as a just killing of other human life. Just as we would recognize that it would be an undue burden to keep the violinist alive, so, too, must we realize that women are being asked to suffer an undue burden by keeping another human being alive. We may think it is good and right for women to do this, but this is a far cry from mandating such behavior for all women. Abortion may be killing, but it is not unjust killing in Thomson’s view.

So, how would we argue that abortion is an unjust killing (when the mother considers the baby an unwanted intrusion and an undue burden)?

To learn more of Thomson’s argument, click here. To read a portion of her argument, click here.

For a very good response, see Beckwith’s article here.

Saplings, Eaglets, and Little People

I want us to pause for a bit and consider a few other arguments for abortion. Judith Jarvis Thompson (and others) have put forward reasons for accepting abortion. We should listen to the best arguments and think about them because there are people who think they are doing good by supporting abortion rights for women. So, let’s have a conversation with a few of the better arguments for abortion.

First, some would say that the child (fetus, conceptus) in the womb is not a human life. Rather, they would say that it is a potential human life. Just as an acorn is not exactly an oak tree; so, the fetus is not a human baby. They would argue that it has the potential to become a tree, but it does not yet possess “tree-ness.” In the same way, the fetus does not yet possess humanness, even though it has the potential to become a human being. So, they would conclude that aborting the fetus is not killing a human being; rather, it is terminating a process which had the potential to produce a human being.

In response to this first argument, let us say we must compare apples to apples, or, in this case, acorns to acorns. The analogy does not hold between an acorn and a fetus for the simple reason that the acorn is not germinated, and the fetus is already fertilized and already in the growth process of what it is meant to become. If one were to compare an acorn to a fetus, then he would need to make the comparison between the fetus with a tender, young shoot of the acorn as it has germinated in the ground and broken through the surface of the earth. Even a sapling is not yet a tree, but we do not doubt the “tree-ness” of the sapling. If one were to pull the sapling out of the ground, we would understand that he just killed the tree, wouldn’t we?

Even more clearly, the point can be made by looking to our environmental and animal protection laws (even as crazy as some of them can be). Father Tad Pacholczyk, in an article titled “Imposing Our Beliefs on Others,” points out that our federal laws protect the eggs of eagles, yet allow for destroying the human child in development. We have seen bumper stickers like, “Save the baby whales, but kill the baby humans.” Something appears to be amiss in a culture which protects plants and animals in development but not human beings. We may wish to agree that saplings and eaglets have value and deserve a measure of protection, but wouldn’t we also want to agree that human beings have value, too?