‘To take the lives of these babies in the womb breaks my heart.’
I posted this excellent video, with the following commentary, on my Facebook page earlier this morning:
“If they are a patient, they are a person. And if they are a person, they deserve our protection.”
– Dr. William Lile, from the linked video (which I strongly urge you to watch)
Folks, I have so far been silent on the subject of New York’s decision to permit abortion through the third trimester and even, under certain circumstances, up to the due date of the child (and to significantly expand the number and types of practitioners who can perform abortions). That is because I have been reading up on the issue, and prayerfully pondering how to respond to it. I am not saying that this response is perfect; I am not perfect. I am aware that it may cost me friends. So be it. Not only as an individual, but as a Christian clergyman, I believe that I have to speak.
Abortion, and the right to life (the latter of which is enshrined, among other places, in our own Declaration of Independence, which states that we have been “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights” – that is, rights which cannot be taken away – and that among these are the rights to “LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”), have not, historically, been major features of my personal “platform.” I have in fact spent most of my life being mildly pro-choice; it is only in relatively recent years that I have come around to a more emphatically pro-life viewpoint.
Even so, I occupy (as I have commented on this blog previously) what I suppose some might consider a “moderate” position on the abortion issue, in that I believe abortion should be safe (to protect the life and health of women, in the event that it is medically necessary – but see below), legal (to ensure that it is safe), and rare (because the taking of a human life should always be a last resort, never ever a first option – and abortion should never be considered a form of birth control).
I am resolutely opposed to the reprehensible calls by those on the extreme left for abortion “on demand, without apology” (e.g., elective abortion) – and expecting the government (and thus, the taxpayers) to fund it.
On the subject of “my body, my choice” – frequently touted by those advocating the pro-abortion position – this is obviously false on its face: a fetus may depend on the woman’s body for its survival, prior to a certain stage of gestation, but from the moment of conception it is clearly a distinct individual, having its own individual genetic makeup (combining genes from both parents), and its own distinct, individual development.
“My body”? As one recent photo of a pro-life poster (which I wish I could find; I apparently failed to save it) put the matter, “since when do we think a woman has four legs, four arms, two heads, two hearts, and two different sets of genes?” It is not (just) a woman’s body; and therefore her sovereignty over it is a shared sovereignty: shared with the father of the child, if he is in the picture, and with the unborn child itself, who from the moment of conception is a child not only of his or her human parents, but a child of God.
And this brings me to my next point: I am a Christian, and more than that, I am an ordained Anglican priest, in a classical, traditional, and orthodox Anglican jurisdiction, the United Episcopal Church, whose Core Values clearly state, “we believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”
This is not something de novo; it is part of historic Christian teaching, emerging at least as early as the Didache (late first to early second century, A.D.), which very clearly and emphatically stated, “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” The Epistle of Barnabas (contemporary with the Didache) clearly categorizes care for the unborn child as falling under the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” In this, the still-new Church stood in opposition to late Hellenistic culture, which frequently practiced both abortion and infanticide.
That some Christian clergy and churches now “affirm” a “right” to abortion is an indication of how far away many parts of the Church have fallen from its own roots, its own wellspring of faith. I cannot do so, and remain true to the standards of both my own ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and more importantly, the historic teaching of the Christian Church as a whole. The willful killing of an innocent person is a sin as well as a crime; it is a moral as well as a social evil; it is an offense against both God and man. And who could be more innocent than an unborn child?
I have read the arguments advanced in favor of New York’s new law, and I have considered them. And I have come to the conclusion that they are either well-meaning but wrongheaded, or they are simply disingenuous. They are seeking to “solve” problems that by their own admission hardly ever exist, or they are opening the way for a great increase in elective abortions, far later in the pregnancy, than heretofore. In fact, they are doing both.
And I am hardly alone in that assessment. As Dr. Omar Hamada, OB/GYN, has stated, “I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt. I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies. There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.” Note that distinction. I would rather trust the word of board-certified OB/GYNs such as Dr. Hamada and Dr. Lile than that of politicians and social activists with an ideological agenda.
There may be rare occasions where the death of the unborn child is a sad but unavoidable side-effect of good-faith efforts to save the life of the mother. That is a very different thing from abortion. And with respect to those rare occasions, they should be an occasion for solemn regret and sorrow – not celebration, as we saw with the smiling politicians and cheering activists, and the illumination of major public buildings (including the World Trade Center) in pink light, that occurred in New York.
CELEBRATING a law which allows for the killing of larger numbers of babies, later in the pregnancy, by a larger number of practitioners, than ever before? What manner of evil is this?
The death of an infant – and by the third trimester, it is clearly and unequivocally an infant – should never be the occasion for celebration. That the State of New York seems to think that it is, is indicative of the mentality behind this decision. New York is hiding behind high-sounding rhetoric and admittedly rare exceptions, to justify greatly expanding the situations and circumstances in which abortions can occur. And that is, in my opinion, unconscionable.
May God help us, and have mercy on our souls.