Why Pro-Lifers Should Compromise on Abortion Policy

CONTEMPLATION OF JUSTICE – from the US Supreme Court building, sculpted by J. E. Fraser. (Manipulated photo used with permission by Matt H. Wade: CC-BY-SA-3.0 )

I’m going to present to you a rationale for compromising on pro-life public policy from a biblical perspective. It’s a rationale I don’t recall hearing in my 40 something years as a conservative evangelical pro-life person. If you consider yourself to be pro-life, I’d like to hear what you think.

First, I should probably give you my pro-life creds. It was during my art college years, (1978 – 1982), that I first thought much about abortion as a social and human rights issue. I was smack in the middle of the religious right push to rally the church around the issue of abortion during the late 70s. The works of Dr. Frances Schaeffer, (now deceased), and his angry son Franky, (now an ex-evangelical), were highly influential for me.

For several years I regularly picketed my local Planned Parenthood clinic, as well as an occasional independent abortion clinic. During the “Summer of Mercy” (1991) organized by Operation Rescue, I was arrested along with a group of other pro-life activists at that same Planned Parenthood for a planned, peaceful act of civil disobedience. By design, we were dragged, one by one, to a paddy wagon and put in jail for locking arms and sitting quietly in front of the entrance of the clinic.

So I got to see the pro-life movement up close. I had a lot of invigorating conversations with pro-lifers of differing backgrounds from mine, as well as with the ever-present counter-protesters. I had a life-changing conversation that I still remember with a brilliant young woman from Feminists for Life. I still smile at the memory of two blonde, articulate, regular female protesters, who had a commanding presence and were always joined at the hip, and whom the counter- protesters nicknamed “the Barbie Dolls from Hell.”

I got to see first-hand that the oft repeated media accusations against pro-lifers are not true: accusations that pro-lifers don’t care about life once it is out of the womb. That pro-lifers don’t care about women. That the pro-life movement is driven by men, and so on. These were compassionate people who lived out their convictions.

I tell you all of this to show that I have been ardently pro-life for my entire adult life, and continue to be so. I believe that upholding a belief in the sanctity of human life for all people is good for all people.
(No, I am not in favor of capitol punishment, btw.)

I know the pro-life arguments around the hard cases regarding abortion – life of the mother, rape and incest, and severe fetal deformity/disease.

The proposed exceptions

These exceptional cases bring us to the question of compromise. Since the overturning of Roe, mainstream pro-life organizations have been speaking of “an abortion free America” and “a total ban on abortion.” I understand where they’re coming from. If abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, which it demonstrably is, then there can’t be room for compromise.

But, what if God thinks otherwise?

Evangelicals believe in a God who is love (1 Jn 4:16), a God who “is light and in Whom there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5), a God who created male and female as equals in His image (Gn 1:26,27), Who “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they should repent” (Ez 18:23, 32; ch 33:11), who created the ideal of lifelong, faithful, monogamous, marriage (Gn 2:23-25; Mt. 19:3-6).

So, hypothetically, if such a God were to deliver a body of public policy to a nation of people, He wouldn’t compromise on what He knows to be right, would He?

Except that, if you think about it, that’s exactly what he did when he delivered the 10 commandments and the Torah to the Hebrew nation under Moses. The Torah contains several concessions. Jesus spells one out here: “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” He’s explicitly allowing a concession around a right and good ideal because of mans’ brokenness.

I contend that the Torah is not an expression of God’s ideal. The ideal expression came with Jesus and the New Covenant – you have heard it said…but I say to you: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Hold on to that particular thought for a moment.

This idea is not widely understood. I take crap for this all the time in my conversations with atheists and “skeptics.” In the Torah they think they see God condoning male sexism, slavery, xenophobia, and genocide. If God is so good, they say, then why did He hand deliver such an inferior body of law to His people? The Freedom From Religion Foundation could do better than that. Supposedly.

Well…why would a compassionate, holy, and just God compromise His standards with fallen people?

I’m sure the answer is multi-faceted, but the obvious one to me is that the Hebrew nation couldn’t have handled a higher standard, so God gave them a low bar. If God were to remain just, demanding obedience to the highest bar would’ve wiped the Hebrews out. Can you imagine – “if you even look at a woman to lust after her you are liable to judgment”? Not committing adultery was at least possible for them. As it was, the nation failed miserably to obey God’s Torah for much of its history, even given a law containing concessions.

Before Moses and the Torah, the Hebrew nation was enslaved for 400 years to an idolatrous nation that served a pantheon of gods. This was all Moses’s generation had known apart from whatever slivers of oral tradition around YHWH may have survived within the enslaved population. The Hebrew people who received the Torah from God were unregenerate, were not born again, did not have the Spirit of God dwelling within them. That would all come later when Jesus would eventually establish a better covenant, a better salvation, and a better kingdom based on better promises, and a better torah. (“Torah” literally means “instruction.”)

This is my rationale for compromise today. Let’s apply it to abortion policy in America.

I believe the pro-life position to be correct and good. It’s certainly best for innocent life in the womb, but also arguably for women and society as a whole. But we are now charged with coming up with public policy that must apply to a diverse population of people, many of whom do not hold to a pro-life ethic. Furthermore, law demands compliance, and consequences for failure to comply. I’m arguing that we need to set the bar lower than “an abortion-free America.”

In my opinion, post Roe, abortion should be allowable in 3 exceptional cases. In each of these cases, the mother will have had no say in some aspect of her pregnancy. Therefore, compromise is justifiable. Let’s look at each case.

When the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother

This one is a no-brainer. Abortion has always been allowed to save the life of the mother, and pro-life groups argue that this is still the case today, post-Roe, in every state despite what some media claim. The pro-life position has never been that the life of a developing fetus takes precedence over the life of the mother, but that the rights of both should be considered.

In cases of pregnancy resulting from rape and/or incest

I understand the pro-life arguments against abortion in this case – that the resulting new life is not at fault; that two wrongs don’t make a right, and so on. I have a friend who describes himself as “the product of a rape.” He has a lovely family now and is happy to be here.

Nonetheless, the reality is that if a woman can be forcibly made pregnant, and then by law cannot terminate that pregnancy, then we truly are mandating forced pregnancy. I don’t see justice for the woman in that. For those women who choose to carry such pregnancies to term for the sake of the developing baby inside of them, they are remarkable human beings choosing extraordinary compassion and self- sacrifice. But I think it is too much to ask that women should have no choice in such a situation.

In cases of severe fetal deformity/life threatening disease

Again, I understand the arguments. But again, I think forcing compliance is asking too much of women who do not agree with those arguments. There are a number of fetal diseases that usually result in the death of a developing baby before, during, or shortly after birth.

I have supported and watched a mother who is very close to me carry a baby diagnosed with trisomy 18. We all hoped and prayed for a miracle. She carried the baby for 20 weeks, and then delivered a stillborn son. I watched her and her husband humanize and dignify this baby’s short life by naming him, holding him after birth, weeping over him, and eventually scattering his ashes in the mountains. I think what she did was amazing, right, and beautiful – tragic though it was.

This woman had a supportive husband and extended family in addition to her faith and pro-life convictions. But I think it is too much to ask to force all women, even those who may not believe in miracles or who may be in difficult circumstances, to comply with a total abortion ban in cases like this.

Conclusion

I am not advocating compromising one’s own pro-life position here. The question here is about setting a lower bar regarding public policy for the diverse, general population. Kinda like God did with the Hebrews. Allowing abortion in these difficult situations does not require abortion for those who hold to an uncompromising pro-life ethic. It does not militate against a culture of life. It does seek to balance the interests of girls and women with the interests of their developing offspring.

There is nothing else like pregnancy in terms of what it requires of an individual. An unplanned pregnancy in and of itself is a life-altering undertaking, even without abusive or life threatening circumstances surrounding it. Few woman would choose a life-threatening pregnancy, non-consensual sex, or a life-threatening diagnosis for her developing offspring. While it is indisputable that a new human life begins at conception, it is a justifiable compromise that women have the option to end a pregnancy in these situations.

I am very interested in hearing your comments below.


(Here is the link to my new video rebuttal to, “The History of Abortion,” in case you missed it):
https://youtu.be/JLvniDOrQgo

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12 comments on “Why Pro-Lifers Should Compromise on Abortion Policy

  1. Lisa DuBois says:

    Thank you for your bold and thoughtful article. I love reading your posts; they often challenge me. I am grateful for the research you share (as in your recent video).
    In this post, you have eloquently stated what I have thought, but have not had the courage to say to either camp.
    I recently heard a story from a friend who had been a nurse. She is pro-life, but had also seen some of the horrors of botched abortions. One was a poverty-stricken mom in the south who had been raped by her own husband and became pregnant with her 6th child. They couldn’t even afford to feed the other 5. She made the very hard decision to undergo a less-than medically stable abortion. The result was both mother and baby died. Her five motherless children were left with a rapist dad.
    I cannot imagine the decision some women must face.
    I believe in the sanctity of life, that God created each of us with a destiny and a purpose. I also know we live in a fallen world where there are usually no “black-or-white” answers.
    Thank you for courageously walking into those muddy waters and inviting conversation. I pray that it ignites greater desire in people (starting with me!) to communicate and connect instead of to build walls and condemn.

    • I know your comment was not meant for me (so please pardon my intrusion), but I just have to ask: Since no one is forced to undergo an illegal abortion, how do such botched abortions provide anything resembling an ethical ground for legal abortions? If the woman in your anecdote didn’t want her 6th child, why not simply give her child up for adoption to one of the many childless couples wanting to adopt a child? How is a child’s potentially poverty-stricken future a justification for murder?

  2. Hi Scott,

    Again, I thought this was thoughtfully written and I know you always have a heart to do good, but I’ll offer my reasons why, aside from an actual, medically verified life-threatening pregnancy (and not some imaginary “health” reasons that are emotionally-based or otherwise have no objective medical basis), I don’t see how the other exceptions are ethically justified or escape the charge of murder (which is a term I’ll use because it’s Biblically and ethically accurate; the only reason I wouldn’t use that term with regards to saving a mother’s life is because, if the child is threatening the mother’s life, even unintentionally, saving the mother would fall under a case of self-defense).

    Rape/Incest:
    You wrote,
    “if a woman can be forcibly made pregnant, and then by law cannot terminate that pregnancy, then we truly are mandating forced pregnancy.”

    The problem is that the state is not forcibly making a women pregnant, so it’s false to suggest it is mandating forced pregnancy. All it would be doing is prohibiting murder. Moreover, no one (not even the rapist) can force a pregnancy. No act of sex can be known ahead of the act to result in a pregnancy. Furthermore, it’s unlikely most rapists’ goal is to impregnate their victim. So while a pregnancy might result from forced sex, the pregnancy itself can’t be said to have been forced. Were it possible to force a pregnancy by copulation, infertile couples would not have to resort to other medical procedures. Given that a pregnancy cannot be forced, and since the only thing the state would be doing is prohibiting murder, there doesn’t seem to be any argument left for allowing abortions on the basis of “forced” pregnancies.

    It’s also worth noting that granting abortions on the basis of rape isn’t realistic. I suspect if such an exception were made, we would immediately see a steep rise in “rape” cases. After all, any women who didn’t want her child could simply claim to have been raped by a stranger and no evidence could be brought forth to dispute such a claim. At least in the case of life-threatening pregnancies, medical evidence can (or should) be provided to prove that killing the baby is necessary. Legalizing abortion on the basis of rape would be a slippery slope leading to unlimited abortions as sure as night follows day.

    Finally, if an execution must occur following a rape, it should be the rapist (the guilty party) put to death and not the child (the innocent party). And I’m not being flippant. If anyone must die in this situation, it should be the rapist (I’m not for the death penalty in most rape cases, but I think there are times it may be appropriate. The death penalty is another issue of course, but since God is for it, I’m for it… I realize you quoted the verse about God not rejoicing over the death of the wicked, but that is not suggesting He opposes the death of the wicked. He simply takes no pleasure in it, much like I take no pleasure in punishing my children if they should misbehave, but I nevertheless will do so if necessary… But I digress).

    Unborn child deformity/life threatening disease:
    You wrote,

    “I think forcing compliance is asking too much of women who do not agree with those arguments.”

    Why is their disagreement with arguments predicated on a prohibition against murder relevant? If I don’t agree with the law against bank-robbery, should my disagreement give me license to rob? Again, it’s not clear why a woman’s subjective disagreement has any relevance to the objective prohibition of murder.

    With respect to the child’s situation, it’s also not clear why any eventual suffering or death provides a license to murder. We’re all going to die and we’re all going to suffer in one way or another in life, but nowhere does God allow the taking of an innocent life on such grounds. Nor is it clear why the proximity of death or suffering of the child should nullify God’s laws against murder. Why not simply do what we can to mitigate the child’s discomfort or pain until they die? Isn’t that what we do in hospice care for those who are terminally ill? In fact, murdering an unborn child on the basis of pain or suffering would logically lead to the same argument being used to support euthanasia. What’s worse, since the child cannot and does not consent to his or her own murder, why can’t we murder anyone whom we deem is suffering (sort of like the two old ladies in Arsenic And Old Lace) under the pretext of mercy-killing, regardless of the proximity of their death?

    Regarding setting a lower bar:

    The problem with using the Old Testament as a ground for lowering the bar of societal ethics is that Jesus didn’t regard such a lowering with approval. In fact, He came to raise the bar to what God intended it to be, and we are in no position to engage in a regression of God’s expectations against His will.

    Regarding “the diverse, general population”:

    Diversity may be fine with respect to what we eat, how we dress, what kind of music we like, what language we speak, etc. However, there is no diversity on the objective ethical duty to not murder. God doesn’t issue ethical commands to the believer only. Objective, universal ethics are universal for a reason, and their objectivity is not dependent on the subjective whims of a diverse society. This is why all men everywhere stand guilty before God and need the Gospel, regardless of the diversity of their culture or beliefs.

    Regarding the need to “balance the interests of girls and women with the interests of their developing offspring”

    It’s not clear how any interest we have at all gives us license to forego God’s commands. As I noted in the beginning of my comment, since self-defense is a justified reason to take the life of another who threatens our life, that’s about the only thing found in scripture which might provide a justified ground for killing an unborn baby, and even then I’m speculating (since there’s no way to be certain that the mother will in fact die if she continues her pregnancy), but willing to err on the side of saving the mother. However, one will search the scriptures in vain for any other personal interest that allows a mother to murder her unborn child.

    Well, I hope I’ve been fair in my analysis and rebuttal. Thanks again for the time you took to write the posts and share your thoughts.

    Many blessings,

    Frank

    • Frank, thanks for your critique, and for being Frank with me. I especially want to get to your critique of my rationale, as that is the new idea (to me, at least) that I want to explore. But first, I do have a problem with a couple of your other points, and I believe you have lost sight of my main point, which I want to reiterate. (Please excuse my caps for emphasis):
      I am proposing a COMPROMISE for abortion PUBLIC POLICY. I am not attempting to create an ethical justification for elective abortion, nor am I arguing that abortion is morally good in these exceptional cases. Several of your comments elaborate standard pro-life arguments, which I already agree with.

      Regarding rape/incest you wrote:
      “The problem is that the state is not forcibly making a women pregnant, so it’s false to suggest it is mandating forced pregnancy… Moreover, no one (not even the rapist) can force a pregnancy. No act of sex can be known ahead of the act to result in a pregnancy. Furthermore, it’s unlikely most rapists’ goal is to impregnate their victim. So while a pregnancy might result from forced sex, the pregnancy itself can’t be said to have been forced…”

      Of course it can. If a pregnancy results from forcible rape, then it is a forced pregnancy – or perhaps more accurately, a forced conception. It doesn’t matter what the rapist’s intent was, or the degree of certainty around whether or not conception would occur. If she didn’t consent, both the act and the conception can be said to be forced, as there would be no pregnancy apart from the act.

      And of course I never said the state was making anyone pregnant. I said, “if a woman can be forcibly made pregnant, AND THEN by LAW cannot terminate that pregnancy, then we truly are mandating forced pregnancy” – or perhaps more accurately, as far as the state is concerned, forced gestation.

      I find it disingenuous when abortion rights activists use the term “forced pregnancy” to refer to the outlawing of elective abortion, when they have in mind unwanted pregnancies resulting from consensual sex. That’s not what I’m doing. The possibility of pregnancy by rape COUPLED WITH the state banning all abortion will amount to actual forced pregnancy for victimized women who do not want to carry such a pregnancy to term.

      Regarding your slippery slope concern: 85% of rapes are perped by an assailant known to the woman. I advocate we work on improving the system so that more than 2% of rapists face consequences. There needn’t be a slippery slope if women are required to name their assailant, or in the case of an anonymous assailant, submit to dna testing. Maybe the behavior of sexually irresponsible men would change if they knew they may be accused of rape and held liable for their irresponsible sex if a pregnancy occurs.

      Regarding severe fetal deformity/disease
      I wrote: “I think forcing compliance is asking too much of women who do not agree with those arguments.”
      You responded: “Why is their disagreement with arguments predicated on a prohibition against murder relevant?…”

      Because women who do not agree with the pro-life arguments are the ones who are likely to follow their doctors’ recommendations to abort their diseased/malformed/dying fetus. They are
      the ones likely to weigh the risk/reward and not see the point in carrying a diseased fetus for weeks until it dies in utero, and then delivering a dead fetus.

      You continue: “…If I don’t agree with the law against bank-robbery, should my disagreement give me license to rob?…”

      Apples and oranges. Again, there is nothing else like pregnancy in terms of what it requires of women. I am not arguing in favor of people disregarding laws with which they disagree. I’m arguing for A CONCESSION to allow abortion around medically diagnosed circumstances that are statistically hopeless for the developing fetus, for those women who want that.

      You continue: “Again, it’s not clear why a woman’s subjective disagreement has any relevance to the objective prohibition of murder.”

      It’s clear to me. It’s because she’s the one who is going to have to carry, deliver, and possibly care for the baby. Maybe she can’t afford the multiple surgeries needed to alleviate the suffering of an infant who is going to die anyway. These are not simple questions for most people. Furthermore, it’s not clear what the pro-life approach is in every situation. In the case of an adult person who is struggling on life support, what is the pro-life answer? Is it to take every possible measure necessary to keep the person “alive,” regardless of the cost? Even if it’s just machines breathing for him and keeping him alive”? Should the family go further into thousands of dollars of debt every day? If so, for how long? I don’t think the government is equipped to mandate those answers.

      You continue: “Why not simply do what we can to mitigate the child’s discomfort or pain until they die?”

      I don’t disagree with this. But the point here is not what I agree with, but that this should be a point of COMPROMISE, and people will then have to live with and be held accountable for their choices. And to be clear, with these 3 exceptions we are FAR from advocating abortion as birth control, or promoting a false reality where there is such a thing as consequence-free sex. With the life-of-the-mother issue, and the severe-fetal-deformity issue, we are usually not even speaking of unwanted pregnancies.

      Regarding setting a lower bar, you write:
      “The problem with using the Old Testament as a ground for lowering the bar of societal ethics is that Jesus didn’t regard such a lowering with approval. In fact, He came to raise the bar to what God intended it to be, and we are in no position to engage in a regression of God’s expectations against His will.”

      1) Again the issue is not about “societal ethics,” but law/public policy and its enforcement.
      2) Your comment conflates the church and the world. The Old Testament context is somewhat analogous to our secular society today in that we CANNOT IMPOSE the standard of Jesus, VIA CIVIL LAW, onto a mostly unregenerate population. That is not “God’s expectation and will” (unless you can show me otherwise from the scriptures.) True, we do not lower the bar for the church, but nowhere does Jesus indicate that we are to seek to impose His ideal standard onto worldly populations via human governments in this age. We have zero mandate from Jesus to impose a human theocracy. Jesus said His kingdom “is not of this world.”

      Regarding “a diverse, general population” you continue:
      “… there is no diversity on the objective ethical duty to not murder. God doesn’t issue ethical commands to the believer only. Objective, universal ethics are universal for a reason, and their objectivity is not dependent on the subjective whims of a diverse society. This is why all men everywhere stand guilty before God and need the Gospel, regardless of the diversity of their culture or beliefs.”

      True, all people need the gospel leading to spiritual birth, but the point of spiritual birth is not to achieve universal rule-keeping, as I’m sure you would agree. Abiding by the high ideal of what Paul refers to as the “law of love” is a positive consequence of relational unity with God and man, because “love is the fulfilling of the law.” But that’s not going to universally happen in the world, in this age, and it cannot be legislated.

      Nonetheless, I agree “there is no diversity on the objective ethical duty to not murder.” Not murdering is indeed a low bar in most cases. It’s not a low bar in the case of these 3 exceptions because of the burden placed on the mother due to factors beyond her control. There needn’t be any dehumanizing of the developing fetus in these cases, unlike the “pro- choice” position.

      Second, if you insist on holding all pregnant women to the standard of “not murdering” their developing offspring, with no exceptions, I don’t see how you can avoid arresting and prosecuting women for paying someone to kill their offspring, or for taking abortifacient drugs.

      Third, allowing these concessions in public policy would remove the abortion-rights movement’s most potent and emotional arguments. It would be forced to address the real issue, which is the observable, biological, scientific fact that a new human life begins at conception. Instead, for decades the pro-life movement’s all-or-nothing approach has resulted in the continuation of millions of fetal deaths. A majority of the population cannot get on board with a total abortion ban, but they agree with these 3 exceptions. If these 3 exceptions were to become the only allowable cases for abortion nationwide, we would do away with well over 90% of abortions.

      Ultimately, it is not banning abortion that will create a culture of life. Laws don’t change hearts. But since we still get a say, I think compromising will get more done for the cause of the sanctity of human life.

      • Thanks for the thorough response, Scott. I want to make sure we’re understanding one another so that if there’s any disagreement, it’s not due to speaking past one another. I apologize ahead of time for the lengthiness, but, well, it’s me.

        You wrote:
        “I am proposing a COMPROMISE for abortion PUBLIC POLICY. I am not attempting to create an ethical justification for elective abortion”

        But upon what objective ethical ground is one even permitted to compromise in the matter of public policy where one has both the liberty and the duty to enact just laws? Yes, you offer pragmatic reasons (which I’ll address), but pragmatism does not form a legitimate basis for ignoring objective ethical imperatives (in this case, to not murder).

        Now I know you clearly noted that:
        “nor am I arguing that abortion is morally good in these exceptional cases.”

        The problem is not that I think you’re arguing that abortion is somehow good. The problem is that the reasons offered ignore that murder is expressly forbidden by God (an objective prohibition that applies equally to the unbeliever as it does to the believer). And if it is forbidden by God, then no amount of pragmatism nullifies His command.

        Regarding rape/incest, you suggested that it is:
        “perhaps more accurately, a forced conception.”

        I already explained this and my point wasn’t addressed. If conception can be forced simply by copulation, then there would be no infertile couples and pregnancies would occur in every instance, but that’s clearly not the case. There is no way one can force conception, not even by forced copulation. The point is, if conception occurs, it cannot said to be forced, and there’s no logical justification for applying the “forcing” aspect of the copulation to the conception.

        You clarified further by suggesting that it is:
        “ more accurately, as far as the state is concerned, forced gestation.”

        It constitutes “forced gestation” if one chooses to view it that way, just like the Biblical command to provide for one’s family constitutes ‘forced subsidy’. However, the state has a duty to oppose and punish evil, and murdering an unborn child is evil, which is why the state is justified in prohibiting a mother from murdering her child in the womb. Were that not the case, then all abortion should be legal no matter what the reason since any limit on abortion constitutes “forced gestation”. Either “forced gestation” is ethically justified or it’s not. If it’s not justified, this discussion is moot because the abortionist has a legitimate ground to affirm abortion on demand up to birth. If “forced gestation” is justified (on the basis of prohibiting murder), then it constitutes an ethical good which society has a duty to enforce.

        Rape –
        You wrote:
        “There needn’t be a slippery slope if women are required to name their assailant, or in the case of an anonymous assailant, submit to dna testing.”

        How would requiring a DNA test prevent women from lying about being raped? Let’s assume they lie but submit to such a test and we can’t find the rapist, then what? Or what if we do find the rapist? How does that justify murdering the unborn child? And why not execute the rapist (the guilty party) instead of the child (the innocent party) and simply place the child up for adoption?

        Deformities:
        With regard to the women disagreeing with prohibiting abortion, you wrote:
        “women who do not agree with the pro-life arguments are the ones who are likely to follow their doctors’ recommendations to abort their diseased/malformed/dying fetus.”

        It should be obvious that doctors could not recommend aborting such children if it were illegal.

        You also observed that women would…
        “not see the point in carrying a diseased fetus for weeks until it dies in utero, and then delivering a dead fetus.”

        No one is arguing that a woman be required to carry a dead child in her womb. If it dies, she is free to have it removed. In such a case, removing the dead body wouldn’t constitute murder.

        Regarding my bank-robbery analogy, you wrote:
        “Apples and oranges. Again, there is nothing else like pregnancy in terms of what it requires of women.”

        I wasn’t at all comparing apples to oranges. I was comparing the legitimacy of ignoring a law simply because one doesn’t agree with it. Moreover, I didn’t suggest that was your position. It’s simply that since you suggested that women might oppose such a law, it is their opposition to the law which I was addressing.

        Regarding “ an adult person who is struggling on life support” or taking ”every possible measure necessary to keep the person ‘alive,’ regardless of the cost””:
        Artificial life-support isn’t at all equivalent to the God-designed, natural support provided by a mother. And while it’s a meaningful issue to have to wrestle with, it’s not relevant here. As for the government’s role in making these decisions, perhaps where we lack clear knowledge, you’re correct that the state should have no jurisdiction. But where we know there is life, society (and its civil representative in the state) has an objective duty to protect it.

        The Old Testament:
        You offered the OT compromises as part of your justification for compromising on the issue of abortion. However, when I pointed out that the NT wouldn’t allow for such modern day compromises, you dismissed my point because I used the term, “societal ethics” , suggesting instead that the issue was about public policy. However, what is public policy to be predicated upon if not societal ethics as commanded by God? I would argue that God expects nations to uphold and promote ethical standards. And I’m not talking about “religious” practices for believers, but only ethical ones that apply universally. If we’re allowed to ignore God’s command where it comes to the 6th Commandment, then why limit legal relativism to abortion? It should go without saying that murder is serious enough to require address by legislative prohibition. In fact, there’s little more one could name that’s more important to the public interest.

        You also suggested that Jesus’ standards (about which I commented) “conflates the church and the world,” arguing that:
        “Old Testament context is somewhat analogous to our secular society today in that we CANNOT IMPOSE the standard of Jesus, VIA CIVIL LAW, onto a mostly unregenerate population.”

        The reason they didn’t impose Jesus’ standard in the OT is not because they were secular, but because Jesus wasn’t there. Should we imagine that, had Jesus arrived during Moses day to preach the gospel instead of during the 1st century that His teachings would have been any different? Moreover, regarding OT compromises, Jesus was addressing divorce, not murder. There was no compromise for murder, even in the OT.

        You further argued:
        “nowhere does Jesus indicate that we are to seek to impose His ideal standard onto worldly populations via human governments in this age.”

        First, in a society where we are able to participate in the legislative process, we are to pass laws that reflect ethical righteousness, since the stewardship of our vote (like every other part of our lives) is something for which we will certainly give an account to God.
        Second, on the issue of murder, the Bible is clear that its prohibition extends to all men everywhere since the beginning, not simply to the church since Jesus’ day.

        You observed:
        “We have zero mandate from Jesus to impose a human theocracy.”

        Nor am I arguing for one. And it’s an unwarranted leap in logic to equate the prohibition of murder with the establishment of a theocracy. Even atheistic marxist countries have prohibitions for murder, and no one would accuse them of instituting a theocracy.

        Regarding God’s ethics as relevant to all men, you wrote:
        “all people need the gospel leading to spiritual birth, but the point of spiritual birth is not to achieve universal rule-keeping,”

        I wasn’t suggesting the gospel is about mandating universal rule-keeping. I only mentioned it because the gospel is God’s solution for man’s universal rule-breaking, which logically presupposes that men everywhere at all times are subject to God’s ethical rules. After all, one cannot violate a rule which doesn’t apply to him. And if ethical rules apply to all men, then society has a duty to observe and uphold them.

        Regarding lowering the bar for murder, you wrote:
        “It’s not a low bar  in the case of these 3 exceptions because of the burden placed on the mother due to factors beyond her control.”

        But this is merely a restatement of your position, not an argument for why a burden nullifies the 6th Commandment. The question that remains to be answered is, precisely HOW does a burden beyond a woman’s control constitute a legitimate ground to murder? And why would such exceptions be limited to the abortion issue? Again, why wouldn’t a financial burden beyond my control justify bank-robbery? And I’m not here comparing apples to oranges. I’m comparing the operating premiss that a burden beyond one’s control provides an excuse to violate God’s universal ethical rules.

        You raised the issue of civil penalty by observing:
        “if you insist on holding all pregnant women to the standard of “not murdering” their developing offspring, with no exceptions, I don’t see how you can avoid arresting and prosecuting women for paying someone to kill their offspring, or for taking abortifacient drugs.”

        First, I already noted my agreeing to the exception in cases where the mother’s life is threatened. However, in a situation where one’s life is threatened, killing is no longer considered “murder” but instead is a case of self-defense.
        Second, you’re correct about the penalties. If a woman violated the law and murdered (or had someone else murder) her baby, then she should face civil penalties (as well as any other accomplice in the murder).

        You argued:
        “allowing these concessions in public policy would remove the abortion-rights movement’s most potent and emotional arguments.”

        Is it necessary (or ethically justified) to ACTUALLY murder babies simply to take away abortionists’ arguments? I’ve found that merely proposing these exceptions is sufficient to expose their hypocrisy and demonstrate that these exceptional situations are not of any real concern to them.

        You observed:
        “If these 3 exceptions were to become the only allowable cases for abortion nationwide, we would do away with well over 90% of abortions.”

        You may be entirely correct in that assessment, but how does that at all provide an excuse to murder the other 10%?

        “it is not banning abortion that will create a culture of life. Laws don’t change hearts.”

        I agree. Laws prohibiting murder do not stop people from murdering. And yet we do not permit murder merely because there are people who will violate the law. Perhaps rather than allowing special exemptions for murder, perhaps we ought to focus on evangelism so that hearts are in fact changed.

        “compromising will get more done for the cause of the sanctity of human life.”

        How does legalizing the murder of 10% of babies do more for life than outlawing murdering babies altogether? After all, 0% murders is still less than 10% murders.

        Well, I apologize again for the length of my comments. Were there a simpler way to do this, I’d spare you my long-windedness. Thank you, however, for providing a forum to discuss this.

        Many blessings.

      • I was reflecting again this morning on why anyone might make compromises on this issue, and it occurred to me that perhaps some might seek a complete ban on abortion via gradual steps, i.e., first ban all but the exceptions you noted, and then once that is established, a complete ban could be fought for.

        If that’s what one is intending, however, there would be no need to advocate for compromise or offer arguments why such exceptions are acceptable. Rather, it would be more reasonable to simply state that a complete ban is the goal, but that, for the sake of strategy, we’re seeking to do it in steps.

        If that were what you were advocating for, I’d agree with such a strategy, since a partial ban is better than no ban at all. However, such a strategy shouldn’t be accompanied by an attempt to justify such exceptions since anyone with a Biblical worldview would never accept any exception for murder. Again, better to simply lay out the strategy of eliminating this holocaust piecemeal if that’s the only way to win a fight against abortion.

        • Thanks again Frank, I wish we could sit over a cup of something and talk. I can’t figure out a way to keep this concise. I mostly want to get to the rationale for compromise, but a couple of other points command attention:

          On the “forced pregnancy/conception” point, I really don’t get your argument. The degree of certainty that conception will or will not occur is not relevant as the process of becoming pregnant is never a sure thing, even with something as direct as IVF. What is certain is that copulation is essential to the process w a natural pregnancy. If a woman is raped and a pregnancy results, there is a causal relationship between the rape and the pregnancy. To say the sex was forced but not the pregnancy is bizarre to me. She was impregnated by force.

          If I wanted to keep my lawn manicured with pure green grass, and you kept trespassing at night to plant sunflower seeds all over my yard, what is your defense when the sunflowers start coming up? “I didn’t germinate the seeds, I just planted them”?

          Also, I think one of the weirder consequences of the sexual revolution is that the link between sex and pregnancy has apparently been broken in the minds of many people. I think we have an abortion problem today precisely because many think there is, or should be, such a thing as consequence-free sex. This is a fantasy. Your argument is buddies with that idea. The fact that sex doesn’t result in a viable pregnancy every time does not minimize the causal relationship between hetero sex and pregnancy.

          For the sake of time and space, the only other point I want to address is one where I think you’ve misunderstood my point:

          You wrote, “It should be obvious that doctors could not recommend aborting such [diseased/malformed/dying fetal] children if it were illegal.”

          But it’s not illegal. Thus was my statement:
          “[Their disagreement is relevant] Because women who do not agree with the pro-life arguments are the ones who are likely to follow their doctors’ recommendations to abort their diseased/malformed/dying fetus. They are the ones likely to weigh the risk/reward and not see the point in carrying a diseased fetus for weeks until it dies in utero, and then delivering a dead fetus.”

          Doctors routinely recommend abortion in cases of severe fetal disease/deformity. I said “I’m arguing for A CONCESSION to allow abortion around medically diagnosed circumstances that are statistically hopeless for the developing fetus, for those women who want that.” I’m arguing for a concession, not a law mandating abortion in such situations. Pro–life women would still be free to refuse.

          You continue, “No one is arguing that a woman be required to carry a dead child in her womb. If it dies, she is free to have it removed. In such a case, removing the dead body wouldn’t constitute murder.”

          Re-read my statement above to see how this misunderstands my statement. Requiring a woman to carry a fetus that is diagnosed with a fatal condition – to carry it until it dies – is asking a great deal. Some women will, but for those who don’t feel they are up to it, this seems like a reasonable concession to me.

          On to my rationale for allowing such concessions:
          I don’t think I can improve on my argument but I can elaborate.
          You wrote, “when I pointed out that the NT wouldn’t allow for such modern day compromises, you dismissed my point because I used the term, ‘societal ethics,’ suggesting instead that the issue was about public policy…”

          Yes. There is a big difference – one is enforced with governmental power/force and the other is not.

          You continue, “…However, what is public policy to be predicated upon if not societal ethics as commanded by God?…ethical ones that apply universally…”

          I don’t agree with this. I can only think a very few specific commands of God from the Torah that arguably serve as a basis for our laws today. In giving the Torah to Israel, God was establishing a theocracy, explicitly stated. That’s not what we’re to do as followers of Jesus under His New Covenant – and we certainly shouldn’t push to encode the high and ideal standard of Jesus into law, because that’s too high a bar for the general population. Remember, law includes enforcement and punishment. There is a great deal in the NT about the law (which kills) vs the Spirit (which gives life).

          I think what you’re articulating is closer to an Islamic conception of public policy than a NT one. This is precisely what secularists/atheists fear that evangelicals are pushing: seeking to encode Judeo-Christian values into American law – imposing our religious values onto everyone else. They assume that we want to outlaw homosexuality, contraception, drinking, gambling, dancing, smiling, etc. What they fail to understand is, it’s not specific “Christian” laws that we seek to incorporate, but rather, that America was founded upon biblical PRINCIPLES upon which specific laws stand; a biblical understanding of REALITY that serves as a basis for everything else, and which has given us freedom from tyranny, among other blessings, at least so far.

          Examples of such biblical principles:
          1) the fallenness/brokenness of human beings. Therefore human beings cannot be trusted with power. Therefore we don’t have a king; we have the rule of law and a system of checks and balances.
          2) our rights come from a transcendent Creator, not from men, (foremost among those rights being the right to life.)
          3) a belief in limited state power and self-government. This means no state church, religious freedom for everyone, freedom of speech, press, association, assembly, and so on. All these are based on a “low view” of humanity, which, ironically, ends up producing the most freedom for everyone.

          I have often asserted in this blog that the best we can hope for in government is pluralism and freedom for everyone within the constraints of the Constitution. I suggested in this post that “the OT context is somewhat analogous to our secular society today in that we CANNOT IMPOSE the standard of Jesus, VIA CIVIL LAW, onto a mostly unregenerate population.”

          You replied, “The reason they didn’t impose Jesus’ standard in the OT is not because they were secular, but because Jesus wasn’t there. Should we imagine that, had Jesus arrived during Moses day to preach the gospel instead of during the 1st century that His teachings would have been any different?…”

          I didn’t say they were secular. It’s an analogous situation because both populations are unregenerate. It is incorrect to assume that they would’ve imposed Jesus’s standard onto a population fresh out of bondage to an idolatrous nation. Love your neighbor? Your enemies? If you lust or get angry you are liable to judgment? The whole scheme was for the Torah to serve as a “tutor” for a couple of thousand years until such time as the Messiah, faith, and sonship would come through Jesus (Gal 3:21-29).
          You continue, “…Moreover, regarding OT compromises, Jesus was addressing divorce, not murder. There was no compromise for murder, even in the OT.”

          It is not as cut and dried as you say. Jesus says Moses [God] allowed divorce bc of men’s hardness of heart, even though God hates divorce. That’s the principle. I guess you could argue there was no compromise for “murder,” but there certainly was for homicide. God was “with Joshua” to kill every living thing in Jericho, including women and children who, presumably, were not warriors. Yet we know this was not God’s ideal will. God didn’t allow David to build His temple bc he had shed so much blood, yet God had empowered him and others to be great warriors. Such was the covenant they were under. Mosaic law also is less-than-ideal regarding women. Jesus transcended those laws as well.

          I would add that I am not comfy with the term “murder” in the exceptions I’ve mentioned. Especially in the case of severe fetal disease/deformity, these are not even “unwanted” pregnancies. The parents may be motivated to spare their child pain and suffering. So the idea of “malice aforethought” associated with murder doesn’t really fit here. These are tragic situations, and it feels malicious to use the term “murder,” even though I don’t see abortion as a solution.

          A quick comment on your afterthought. A gradual elimination of abortion does indeed seem like the best course to me. However, if I’m being honest, if abortion were banned nationally except in cases of the 3 exceptions I’ve mentioned, I don’t think the will would ever be there to go beyond that. As it is, my compromise is not acceptable to the “pro-choice” side anyway. But I still think there is great value in demonstrating that pro-lifers do, in fact, see and care about the mother in crisis. I also think it is worth forcing the “pro-choice” side to articulate a case for abortion on demand without being able to appeal to rape, incest, fetal deformity, and the life of the mother.

          And, sure, since we have a say, I do agree that we certainly should try to pass laws that are just and in conformity to objective reality as defined by God. Such laws will minimize suffering and create a culture of life. But I’m going to put the vast majority of my time into service with a view toward reconciling human hearts to God.

          Shalom to you!

          • Scott,

            Were it not for the considerable distance between us, I’d love to sit down and have a cup of something. For now we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with this digital fellowship until we’re finally gathered together in God’s presence, though at that point I suspect these discussions will be quite moot.

            As is my custom, this will be lengthy for the sake of thoroughness and clarity.

            To address the “forced pregnancy/conception” issue, I’m not sure where I’m failing to be clear. The thing is, when speaking of causality, one needs to distinguish between these different types of causes: Material (what materially constitutes the effect), Formal (the arrangement of matter of an effect), Efficient (what actually brought about an effect), Sufficient (what, if present, will absolutely bring about the effect), Necessary (what must be necessarily present to bring about an effect), and Final (the teleology or reason for bringing about the effect).

            When you note:

            “the process of becoming pregnant is never a sure thing, even with something as direct as IVF. ”

            That’s precisely my point, i.e., copulation is not a sufficient cause. A “forced” event instantiates precisely because the force is sufficient to bring about the effect. If conception is merely a potentiality, then its instantiation cannot be said to have resulted from force (i.e. a sufficient cause), but from other conditions (i.e., an efficient cause) which brought it about. At best, one may suggest that an ‘attempt’ to force conception occurred, but that would require intent, and as I suggested, it’s rarely (if ever) the intent of a rapist to bring about conception.

            You then looked to the chain of events and note that copulation preceded the conception, effectively recognizing rape as the ‘efficient’ cause when you write:

            “there is a causal relationship between the rape and the pregnancy. ”

            However, to acknowledge copulation as an ‘efficient’ cause is an a posteriori judgement precisely because, as you already acknowledge, copulation is not a sufficient condition, nor even today a necessary condition (given IVF technology).

            So we see that the distinction between different forms of causation makes all the difference in the world to this issue, which is why the subsequent example about planting dandelions in yards is yet another irrelevant example of an efficient cause. Moreover, you built intent into the example which, while also irrelevant to the causal issue, is still comparing apples to oranges since the goal of rapists is almost never conception.

            Regarding the assumption of “consequence-free sex, ” :

            I don’t think there’s any loss of link between sex and pregnancy. If people assume they can have sex without conception, it’s only because the ubiquity of birth-control drugs/methods has lulled them into believing there is less chance of conception, which further leads to a laissez faire attitude when not using any birth control at all. However, such carelessness doesn’t at all speak to (much less diminish) a causal relationship between sex and conception. After all, people who are careless in their sexual behavior don’t do so because they suddenly believe that babies are delivered by a stork. They know full well the causal relationship between sex and conception. That they may have a false belief as to the frequency of such an effect during their carefree sexual behavior is altogether a different matter.

            You then opined that my “argument is buddies with that idea.”

            It’s not at all clear how that’s so given that I never argued against a causal relationship between copulation and conception. I’ve merely clarified the distinction between efficient, sufficient, and necessary causes and how those distinctions logically undermine the notion of a “forced” effect of an efficient cause in the case of rape.

            Regarding doctors recommending abortion due to a diseased, malformed, or dying baby:

            You noted that such a recommendation is currently legal. Why then seek a concession to something that is already legal? But I was arguing that such a concession shouldn’t be legal, and if it were not, doctors could not recommend abortion, which was my point. Moreover, if doctors couldn’t recommend abortion, why would it matter if women accepted pro-life arguments or not?

            You then argued:
            “Requiring a woman to carry a fetus that is diagnosed with a fatal condition – to carry it until it dies – is asking a great deal.”

            This is the ‘conditions which ask a great deal allow for evil’ premiss that has still not been supported by argument or evidence. Why does asking a great deal under such circumstances allow for murder? Why not bank-robbery because my financial burdens ask a great deal from me? The point that I’ll continue to make is, unless one can offer an objective basis for suspending universal ethical duties, any such suspension is entirely arbitrary and without any Biblical merit. To ignore God’s commands because of our empathy with such women is, quite frankly, an entirely emotive position. And to be clear, I get it. I’m not a Vulcan. Emotionally, I feel for such parents as well. I’m not at all suggesting it’s easy to wrestle with the terrible suffering this world has to offer. But nowhere are we allowed to commit evil to avoid suffering.

            Regarding civil law:

            You disagree with my claim that public policy is to be predicated upon ethics (I shouldn’t have to qualify “ethics” with “as commanded by God” since no other objective ethics exist), and you do so ostensibly because you believe that (1) ethics are not enforced by the state and (2) to do so is tantamount to a theocracy closer to an Islamic conception of public policy.

            Number (1) actually is just another way of stating a disagreement with my premiss, so it doesn’t add anything new. Number (2) is a straw man, because an Islamic conception of public policy requires an acknowledgement of religious and not just universal ethical duties (e.g., a non-muslim is not free to speak poorly of Mohamed, etc.), and this is not at all what I was suggesting.

            You did concede:
            “I can only think a very few specific commands of God from the Torah that arguably serve as a basis for our laws today.”

            This is what I had in mind. My view is that such commands only include universal ethics (those also generally recognized by the NT) and do not include OT religious/ceremonial laws or OT civil laws specific to their nation and conditions at the time. Now, if you don’t include all universal ethics, I’m wondering what criteria you’re using to choose which Biblical ethics should be reflected by civil law and why only those.

            You then articulated this view of civil law:
            “it’s not specific ‘Christian’ laws that we seek to incorporate, but rather, that America was founded upon biblical PRINCIPLES upon which specific laws stand; a biblical understanding of REALITY that serves as a basis for everything else”

            Just how does one divorce between Biblical principles from Biblical ethics? To be precise, how is the former not predicated on the latter? And if the latter grounds the former, then what we already have is Biblical ethics as a legitimate basis for law (not that legislators actually follow this principle, but that’s another matter entirely). I’ll address your enumeration of these in the end.

            You asserted:
            “the best we can hope for in government is pluralism and freedom for everyone within the constraints of the Constitution”

            Unfortunately, it’s doubtful the Constitution constrains many if any politicians or jurists today. Nevertheless, without God and His universal ethical commands, not even the Constitution is a legitimate ground for civil law.

            “I suggested in this post that “the OT context is somewhat analogous to our secular society today in that we CANNOT IMPOSE the standard of Jesus, VIA CIVIL LAW, onto a mostly unregenerate population.””

            I’m not suggesting we impose into civil law the “standards of Jesus”. Jesus expected a change of heart, which is not something that can be encoded into law even in principle (though the Orwellian Left is certainly making an attempt at thought-policing). I’m only suggesting we encode universal ethical behavior rules (at the very least, such ethics as would have some negative consequence on another and which would have been present during both the OT and NT) into civil law.

            You observed:
            “It is incorrect to assume that they would’ve imposed Jesus’s standard onto a population fresh out of bondage to an idolatrous nation.”

            I didn’t assume they would obey. I assumed Jesus would have taught the same thing. The fact is, even during the NT era they didn’t obey. Instead, they crucified Him. But how does the OT alleged disobedience and the NT actual disobedience at all serve as a prescriptive model for our civil duties? More specifically, how does anyone’s disobedience nullify objective ethical duty?

            Regarding the murder-status of abortion in the cases under discussion, you wrote:
            “in the case of severe fetal disease/deformity … the idea of “malice aforethought” associated with murder doesn’t really fit here. These are tragic situations, and it feels malicious to use the term “murder,” even though I don’t see abortion as a solution.”

            Murder isn’t simply about malice of forethought. It’s primarily any killing of an innocent without ethical justification or God’s consent (and by “innocent”, I don’t mean sinless; I mean someone not guilty of a capital offense). For example, in the OT, when Saul is fatally wounded and asks his servant to kill him, the servant does so. David finds out and has that servant killed because his killing Saul was without justification. It didn’t matter that had no “malice of forethought”. The fact is, he had no right to kill Saul. Moreover, if we don’t call these cases of abortion “murder”, we’re misleading others by not representing it as the evil that it is. In fact, it may give such parents the fortitude they need to do the right thing by having a proper understanding of the evil of abortion.

            Finally, to go back and address your earlier enumeration of our founding principles, one of them forms the bedrock of my position quite well when you observed:
            “our rights come from a transcendent Creator, not from men, (foremost among those rights being the right to life.)”

            Yes, precisely. And upon this point I’ve argued against murdering unborn babies merely because they’re deformed, suffering from a lethal condition, or the result of rape. God alone gave them an inalienable right to life of which no man on earth has any right to deny them. And with that, I rest my case.

            Peace and blessings to you as well, my friend!

  3. Jeff says:

    Scott,
    Thanks for the opportunity to engage in respectful dialog on this hot issue. It seems to me that you’re addressing the fact that making abortion illegal isn’t the solution we need. I’ve heard it said if we want to change the culture on this issue, don’t need to make abortion illegal, we need to make it unthinkable. As you clearly said, if we all agreed on your proposed public policy exceptions, it’s likely that there would be far fewer abortions.

    I disagree with the exceptions (and I think you do too), but unless people have a change of key beliefs, they’ll see a total policy ban as harmful. As a result, we might not get a reasonable compromise and resulting policy progress. It seems many in our culture today care more about if God is good than if God is real…they are unwilling to consider the intellectual question of God’s existence if they perceive Him to be harmful. Similarly, I think many are unwilling to approach the intellectual conversations about abortion because they see it as an essential tool to combat brokenness and pain around them.

    Intellectually, I like Scott Klusendorf’s framing: 1) it is wrong to kill innocent human beings, 2) abortion kills innocent human beings…therefore abortion is wrong. Most won’t debate point 1, so the conversation has to focus on point 2. SLED is an acronym to remember the differences between an adult human being and a fetus: Size, Level of development, Environment, Degree of dependency. Anyone can use this to make a convincing pro-life argument based on science and reason (alone or with scripture). It also can be used to make a 30-second “elevator” case for life. However, I don’t like that this approach doesn’t help someone who’s hurting, and its never effective to bring an intellectual bulldozer to heal wounds.

    Stephanie Grey does a good job of reminding us to be loving and aware of the potential hurts of the people we’re talking to. Ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims. There’s some alarming statistics out there about the rampant increase in victims of the bad ideas of the sexual revolution. It’s increasingly likely that our fellow image-bearers in these conversations have wounds that will interfere with intellectual analysis of the issue.

    All that said, a few counters to the proposed exceptions:
    1) We’ve all heard stories similar to “the doctor said he’d never walk again”…if the goal of medicine is to do no harm, we make room for “miracles.” A procedure that attempts to save the life of a mother, and in the process is unable to save the child is very different from a procedure that intentionally terminates the child’s life. The distinction and underlying philosophy about human life is huge.
    2) Consider the person who is violently assaulted, and must undergo years of surgeries, treatments, and therapy but still might not be fully restored. They also have no choice. In the case of the woman, the purpose of her womb is to nurture someone else’s life. That new life has her DNA, but is also unique. We know from scripture that God redeems people and situations out of terrible evils. That child is not in any way responsible for the evil that was perpetrated on their mother, and has the potential to live an amazing life that makes the world a better place. On the other hand, I once heard a terrible story about a couple that aborted a child they thought was conceived in rape, but after the fact discovered it was too far along and was actually their own child. Killing the baby won’t bring healing, but it might bring more pain.
    3) Again, despite well-meaning, educated efforts, doctors make mistakes. If we take irreversible action to kill a child, don’t leave room for unanticipated outcomes. What if the diagnosis is wrong? What emerging advance will cure the condition, repair the deformity? In the process of trying to help that child, what new idea will help countless others? More fundamentally, why is that life not worthy? Everyday hurting, imperfect people do amazing things. Our cultural fear of pain sometimes blinds us to the beautiful things that sometimes result from pain. Every parent of a disabled child that I know would said it’s hard, but not one of them would choose to kill their kid if they had to do it over again.

    Again…thanks for the discussion…

    • Jeff, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I pretty much agree with all of what you wrote, but again, the question for me here isn’t about what I agree with, but rather, can a pro-lifer justify compromise in public policy due to broken humanity’s “hardness of heart”? Still wrestling.

  4. www.americanwestphoto.com says:

    A few things… It is a relevant issue about whether a woman can be forced to have an abortion. I come down on your side of things. There needs to be some kind of provision that allows a woman to avoid being forced to carry her child. It is not something I want to say, but I recognize certain realities. Here is where I think the problem lies: Decisions regarding abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc. should be a two-way decision between God and the individual. Not a four-way decision (the individual, God, the state, and me.) or three-way (the individual, God, and the state). Especially the state! Our Constitution has no provision for the state to interfere with these matters.

    Relegating abortion to the purview of the individual states, not the Feds, is a good step. Still, the issue of money comes into play. There should be no taxpayer funding for abortion. I resent being a party to abortion via taxation. Planned Parenthood is a multi-billion dollar business with the blessing of the Federal government. The states in deciding their laws should not be allowed to find public funding in any form.

    Lastly, I always get frustrated about arguments about the “science”. This is a tactic of the left to draw us into arguments that sidestep the real issues of right and wrong and the Constitution. Science can be debated forever with no resolution. Covid is a good example: The science gets into the weeds. The important issue that must be forced in debate is whether the state can force an individual to put something in his body that is harmful or against his religion or will, etc. That question must be asked over and over without getting caught up in the weeds. It’s a simple yes or no question, but the left is able to sidestep it, often by diverting to the “science””. Same with abortion. Should the state be involved with a woman’s decision to abort? I say “no”. I think that is the general direction of your post here.
    -Mark James

    • Thanks Mark, for taking time to comment!
      You raise some interesting points. Unlike with the COVID shot (about which there is still a lot unknown), I think the science is unequivocal with regard to abortion: it is an observable, biological fact that a new human life begins at conception. Therefore, abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. I think the state has an interest in prohibiting abortion on three levels:

      1) protecting and upholding the innate dignity and value of all human life is first of all good and true in principle, and in practicality, guards the basic right to life of all people, regardless of distinctions like race, age, gender, viability, wantedness, sexual orientation, religion, disability, intelligence, economic status, and so on. So it is in the state’s interest to protect the sanctity of human life.

      2) There is a specific, unique human life at stake – abortion takes the life of an innocent individual. A developing fetus is human life at its most vulnerable. He or she has no voice, and no ability to defend or represent him/herself. It is precisely the rights of the minority/the vulnerable/the defenseless that laws are designed to protect against the will of the powerful/the majority. This is the state’s business.

      3) This one is less objective, depending upon one’s worldview, but I think it is in the state’s interest to uphold the institution of marriage and nuclear family because of how these institutions benefit the state and society. There is tons of social science on this. Society is pretty sick if, as a nation, we think a mother should have the right to kill her developing offspring in utero. We shouldn’t have gotten used to this idea, and abortion should certainly not be seen as a form of birth control.

      Your last paragraph raises an interesting comparison:
      regarding the CV shot, should i have the right to determine what gets injected into my body? I say YES.
      Regarding abortion, should a woman have the right to determine what gets injected/ejaculated into her body? I say YES.
      But once a pregnancy has occurred, it is no longer a simple question of her bodily autonomy as there is now another body (or bodies) involved.

      “Sex without consequences” is a fantasy. If sexually active heterosexuals know they don’t want children, it is relatively inexpensive now to get a vasectomy or tubal ligation and pretty much permanently avoid the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy.

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