Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category

Right to Life – but No Right to Support?

May 23, 2014

One of the arguments proposed by advocates of permitting intentional abortion is that even if a fetus or embryo has a “right to life” (by virtue of being a separate human being), that right does not include a right to insist on another person’s assistance.  For example, if you need blood transfusions to live, that does not mean you have a right to demand blood from another person, nor to demand continued blood transfusions from someone who has begun to volunteer.

One possible response to this argument is to say that humans do have a duty to preserve the lives of others, and if your neighbor needs a blood transfusion to live, you do have a moral duty to provide that transfusion.  The Westminster Standards, and Jesus’ example of the Good Samaritan, suggest that such a duty exists – not as a “right to life” but as a duty to preserve life.  That response really should suffice.

Suppose that we are wrong on this counter argument and that there is no general moral duty to inconvenience oneself to preserve one’s neighbor’s life.  Still, there are clearly cases everyone accepts in which a person has a moral duty to support the life of someone else.  We may be able to convince our friendly opponents of this with several examples:

1. The case of the car accident victim.  Suppose you crash into another person and they are dying unless you act to save their life.  In that case, I think most people would agree that you have some duty to try to save their life, even if it is inconvenient for you.  This is somewhat analogous to the embryo or fetus, because the person is in the womb of his mother due to something his mother did.  Therefore, she has a duty to save his life, even if it is inconvenient for her.

2. The case of paternal child support.  Suppose you father a child out of wedlock.  Most people seem to agree that the father has some duty to (at least) financially support the child, even if the child’s life itself does not absolutely require such support.  The justification seems to be either that the father acted by begetting the child and/or that the father has paternal duties toward the child. Much more so, a mother likewise acted, has maternal duties, and should minimally be required to save the child’s life for a few months.

3. The case of a young infant.  Suppose the fetus is born and consequently becomes designated an “infant.” If a mother were simply to refuse to nurse (or otherwise feed) the child, we would view this as neglect and as murder if the child died from it.  The same would be true if a single father refused to feed the infant.  The justification here is pretty clearly parental duty.

Thus, in short, a general answer to this argument is that (a) we do have a general duty to preserve life and (b) that general duty is heightened in the case of parents with respect to their offspring.  The only thing that remains to be seen is whether such a duty applies to offspring who have not yet offsprung.

But surely the duty is one that is based on the helplessness (or negative maturity) of the child, not on the self-sufficiency or maturity of the child.  This can be seen from the fact that failure to feed a 30 year old son is not neglect, unless that son has a serious disability such that he cannot feed himself.  An embryo or fetus is much more helpless and immature than an infant.  Thus, the parental duty of support should be much greater for a fetus or embryo than for an infant.


Kermit Gosnell

January 19, 2011

Apparently Dr. Gosnell has been charged with murder on the basis that 7 of the children he was paid to kill were born before he killed them (link to story). As far as I know, the mothers of the children have not been charged.

Critique of Bishop Olmsted’s Response

December 25, 2010

Bishop Olmsted, responding to blogger criticism of his decision to remove the “Catholic” designation from St. Joseph’s hospital because it took the life of a child in defense of the life of the child’s mother, stated:

I really don’t read the blogospheres. I try to pray each day to find my identity in Jesus Christ. I start my day, every day, with an hour of adoration. I celebrate the Eucharist. I pray morning prayer, mid-day prayer, evening prayer, and night prayer. My identity comes from Christ. Christ is present in his living body, the Church. That’s my identity – it comes from that. If I’m unfaithful to that — then whether I’m looked at one way, or another – if I’m given praise or whether I’m given ridicule – it doesn’t matter. What I’m called to be is faithful to Jesus Christ and his Church.


A few responses:

1) He’s not going to win any bonus points from me for blowing off the blogosphere. Obviously, though, he’s under no moral duty to read what people write on the Internet or in the newspaper, or what they say on TV or over the radio. Whether the media is old or new, he’s not under a moral duty to take any interest in what other human beings have to say about things.

2) For someone who really thinks it doesn’t matter, he looked rather nervous and he sounded quite defensive. Perhaps, however, the nervousness had some other source, such as what his fellow bishops will be saying about his decision.

3) His mention of his adoration, Eucharist, and daily prayers is a reference to the fact that he is required under the canon law of his church:

Can. 663 §1. The first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer.

§2. Members are to make every effort to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice daily, to receive the most sacred Body of Christ, and to adore the Lord himself present in the sacrament.

§3. They are to devote themselves to the reading of sacred scripture and mental prayer, to celebrate worthily the liturgy of the hours according to the prescripts of proper law, without prejudice to the obligation for clerics mentioned in ⇒ can. 276, §2, n. 3, and to perform other exercises of piety.

§4. With special veneration, they are to honor the Virgin Mother of God, the example and protector of all consecrated life, also through the marian rosary.

§5. They are to observe faithfully an annual period of sacred retreat.

And again:

Can. 276 §1. In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service of His people.

§2. In order to be able to pursue this perfection:

1/ they are first of all to fulfill faithfully and tirelessly the duties of the pastoral ministry;

2/ they are to nourish their spiritual life from the two-fold table of sacred scripture and the Eucharist; therefore, priests are earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic sacrifice daily and deacons to participate in its offering daily;

3/ priests and deacons aspiring to the presbyterate are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily according to the proper and approved liturgical books; permanent deacons, however, are to carry out the same to the extent defined by the conference of bishops;

4/ they are equally bound to make time for spiritual retreats according to the prescripts of particular law;

5/ they are urged to engage in mental prayer regularly, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and to use other common and particular means of sanctification.

I bring this up simply to note that what he says he is doing is simply what canon law requires him to do.

4) These requirements are not as rigorous as the requirements for those in monastic life, but they do impose a significant daily burden on a person. The various hours require not just a quick “Hail Mary,” but reference to the books that dictate the particular prayers, hymns, and readings for that particular day and hour (there’s a great deal more discussion here, for those interested).

5) It’s easy to believe that the bishop has found his identity in this, which he has (exceedingly sadly) confused with Christ. A life of daily attendance on these requirements is a disciplined life that adheres to rules. Those who have been in the military may have seen men like this who found a sense of identity in the rules and regimes associated with that life. The prayers at regular intervals from a book that requires simply obedience, not thought, provide a regime that can be followed and give one a sense of belonging.

6) Such discipline is (in itself and without consideration of the end to which it is being put) a good thing. God has created men to obey. Indeed, it is even good to be regular in praying to God – not so that it will become a rote chore, but to be in the habit of turning to God to seek His aid, thank Him for His gifts, confess our sins, and praise Him for His greatness. Rome further perverts the matter by including all sorts of mariolatry into the regime, but that’s neither here nor there.

7) Rome, however, uses this as a yoke to place on the shoulders of their priests (bishops are priests too). It becomes a duty that they must do to please the Church and (it is implied) God. But God has not asked for this – God has not said that this is what will please Him.

8) I have to admit that when I heard this short speech, many verses flooded into my mind. The first passage was this:

Luke 18:9-14

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

When questioned about his decision, this bishop put down his critics and exalted himself, based on his rituals. But he’s missing the point, what God desires is not the rituals, but the contrite heart:

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

What this attitude of following the rules of religious life in the Roman religion misses is what Jesus himself taught:

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

9) A final passage also came to mind as fitting the situation.

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Here’s a bishop talking about going through his rote prayers – the minimal requirements of his clerical office, and yet he has just condemned a hospital that made the very difficult decision to use lethal force to defend the life of a woman from her child. Was that decision right? Ultimately God will judge, but normally lethal force is permitted in defense of life. If, in fact, the situation is as it has been reported, it appears that the woman had the right to defend herself.

10) I was also struck by the fact that the bishop’s stated identity was not Christ alone, but “Christ and the Church.” What he considers to be faithfulness to Christ is faithfulness to the rules of his church. However, in following the rules of his church, he’s not following God’s law. I’m not simply talking about his failure to allow self-defense to be a justification for killing in this case, but about the fact that he offers worship (hyper-dulia) to Mary, engages in idolatry (in the latria of what is truly bread), and seeks to be right with God (evidently) through faithfulness rather than by faith.

– TurretinFan

P.S. I was also a little surprised he didn’t mention Mary. But don’t worry, there’s an image of Mary based on the Guadalupe idol behind him.

Murder Update – Tiller Receives Justice

June 2, 2009

Apparently George Tiller, a notorious murderer of children, was himself murdered by an unknown assailant. It was wrong of the assailant to do this, and yet I rejoice that this killer of children has received substantive (though not procedural) justice that he would not have received under the laws of the place where he was.


Thanks to Ms. La Shawn Barber for pointing out both this murder and another murder that happened about the same time (link). In the second case, however, the murdered person did not receive substantive justice – he was not himself guilty of a crime worthy of death (as far as we can tell).

The Editor-in-chief of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano said it, so it must be true

May 21, 2009

The Editor-in-chief of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano has claimed that President Barack Husein Obama “is not a pro-abortion president.” (link) If this is where Benedict XVI is getting his information about the American president (and I’m sure folks will assure me that the pope has other sources than the Vatican newspaper), then it would explain why he did nothing as a nominally Roman Catholic school called “Notre Dame” honored the most pro-abortion president that America has ever had. One really has to read the entire article for oneself (and, as one of my pseudonymous readers likes to point out, just because it is in a news article doesn’t mean its true). The article is from the “Catholic News Agency.”


Archbishop Raymond Burke and Priorities

March 27, 2009

This article (link) suggests that Archbishop Raymond Burke knows where his priorities lie.

Previously, according to the article: “In his remarks, Burke told Terry that American parishioners should press U.S. bishops to withhold the sacrament. ‘It is weakening the faith of everyone,’ Burke said.”

Now, according to the article, “‘If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it,’ said Burke, the former St. Louis archbishop.”

He continued, “I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly to my brother bishops.”

Before my critics say it, I’ll say it. Randall Terry is something of a firebrand, and his single issue is the abortion issue. He feels, and seems to be justified in this, that the American bishops are not doing what their church law says they should. He’s ticked, he wants blood, and he’s (as the Americans would say) “loaded for bear.” He had hoped to get Archbishop Burke on his side (against the American bishops) on this issue, presumably in view of Burke’s high rank within the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

I am puzzled as to how Burke could not have known of Terry’s purpose in the interview: even this blog knew what the purpose of this interview was, and reported it out on March 12, 2008 (link).


Challenge to Pro-Choice Folks

October 8, 2008

Consider watching Rhology’s video at Rhoblogy and leaving him a comment (link to video post). Warning, not for the weak of stomach. Abortion is murder, and from Rhology’s description, photos of the victims of the murder are shown in the video. I myself am not willing to watch the video – but then again I am pro-life.

If you honestly believe that a fetus is simply part of a woman’s body …

Shame on you.


When does life begin?

August 22, 2008

The Bible does not specifically say when life begins. It is clear that life begins before birth, despite some claims to the contrary. Before birth, there are essentially three “bright lines” that can be drawn:

1) Viability

This line is a moving target as technology for supporting very untimely babies improves. The current earliest viability date is around 21-22 weeks from conception. That’s significantly earlier than what it would have been about 50 or 100 years ago. In another 50 or 100 years, that age may be pushed back further, perhaps all the way back to conception – we just don’t know.

Using viability as a criterion is unsatisfying because of its reliance on technology, and because it means that a baby exactly physically the same but placed 50 years ago or 50 years from now is considered to be alive (or not) differently. Intuitively, most people recognize that this cannot be correct.

2) Quickening/Ensoulment

A second line that has sometimes been drawn is a line based on what is termed the quickening of the child or what is called the ensoulment of the child. The two are not necessarily exchangeable.

Quickening is sometimes viewed as the first time the child shows signs of life that the mother can detect. This normally occurs around 18-21 weeks, but can occur as early as 14 weeks from conception. Evidently quickening had significance in the English common law, especially as an aggravating circumstance with respect to the homicide of fetal humans.

Ensoulment is the time when an infant’s body gains a soul. Certain theologies would actually extend the child’s soul indefinitely back to Adam, essentially viewing the soul as being transmitted via the sperm. This would seem to be based at least in part on a defective understanding of Scripture relating to Adam’s federal headship.

Sometimes the time of quickening is identified as the time of ensoulment, but Scripture does not specify such a thing.

Quickening is partly counter-intuitive because it basically depends on the sensitivity of the mother. Furthermore, primiparous women usually feel this movement later than multiparous women, which would mean that a physically identical infant that was simply the first to be conceived would gain life later than a corresponding infant that was third to be conceived.

Furthermore, other signs of life are now visible with machine much earlier than when a child begins to kick from within. For example, after only 2 or 3 weeks, a heartbeat can be detected with the right equipment.

One solution is to push back ensoulment to the formation of the heart or brain (around 18 days from conception) or the formation of lungs (slightly later). One issue with such an approach is that there is no compelling Biblical data to suggest one option over another one.

3) Conception

Conception is normally identified as the moment at which a sperm cell and ovum cell combine to form a single diploid cell. This is the most widely accepted (among Christians) date for the beginning of life. There are, however, several objections:

a) Identical Twins
Identical twins are the result of a division of the original diploid cell. If they divide very early, they will have separate placentas. If they divide somewhat later, they will have one placenta with two amniotic sacs. It is believed the conjoined twins divide much later.

Often one objection is that since a given zygote has the biological potential to split after conception, the soul cannot yet be present. In short, the soul cannot be present until after twinning is impossible.

The usual response is either that:

i) the original zygote has two souls (this approach assumes a deterministic view of the world); or
ii) the soul of one of the twins is created upon the splitting (this, in essence, makes one of the twins the ancestor of the other twin).

b) Too Many Deaths

Another argument against the view of life starting at conception is that it results in a large number of deaths, since it is imagines that a significant number of human zygotes fail to embed in the uterus, and consequently die. Additionally, in the production of “test tube babies” a number of zygotes are produced and normally only one or a few is ever introduced into the mother’s womb.

This argument mostly appeals to the emotions. If life starts at conception, than infant mortality is much higher than if life starts at birth, but that does not seem to have any rational basis.

c) It’s not in the Bible

The Bible does not say that life starts at the moment of conception. The counter-argument here would seem to be that the Bible does speak of people being conceived:

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

2 Samuel 11:5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

Job 3:3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.

Song of Solomon 3:4 It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

Hosea 1:6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.

Leviticus 12:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

Hosea 2:5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.

The following essentially make the comment that a woman “conceived (sometimes adding “again”), and bare a son (or the name of the son)”

Genesis 4:1 and 17; Genesis 29:32-35; Genesis 30:5, 7, 17, 19, and 23; Genesis 38:3-5; Exodus 2:2; 1 Samuel 1:20; 1 Samuel 2:21; 2 Kings 4:17; 1 Chronicles 7:23; Isaiah 8:3; and Hosea 1:3 and 8.

The following mention something essentially along the lines of “shall conceive and bear a son”

Judges 13:3, 5, and 7; Isaiah 7:14; and Luke 1:31.

So, the Bible does not explicitly say that conception is when life starts, but it makes a pretty strong connection that way.


Conception is the easiest bright line to use, notwithstanding the objections. Since we have a duty to protect human life, it is preferable to draw the line earlier (perhaps protecting non-life) rather than later (perhaps not protecting life). Birth itself is an absolutely ludicrous standard for the beginning of life, particularly in view of the fact that some children are conceived outside of the body, and the fact that an unborn child can be taken from the womb without the mother giving birth in the conventional sense(Cesarean Section, for example). Furthermore, birth is clearly not the beginning of life according to the Biblical evidence (John the Baptist and Christ being two immediately apparent examples).

There’s no particular reason to draw the line before conception, because there is no biological identity of a person before conception. However, the scientific evidence is conclusive that at conception a new biological entity is formed, distinct from both the mother and the father, and remains the same biological entity that is (if all goes well) eventually born.

All in all, therefore, the king (the one who has been given authority by God to rule the nation) has the responsibility of protecting human life including unborn human life. The king, therefore, would be wise to fulfill this responsibility by protecting human life from the moment of conception.

May God persuade the rulers of this earth to do their duty,


Thoughts on Abortion

January 29, 2008

By abortion I mean intentional unjustified termination of the life of an unborn child.

Abortion is wrong. It is a sin, and a violation of the 6th commandment. It is a particularly heinous sin when committed by a child’s father or mother. It ought to be crime, and governments who refuse to treat it as a crime risk God’s judgment for failing to act justly.

Abortion is properly classifed as murder, because an unborn child is a person. An unborn child is a human being. An unborn child has a separate physical existence from its parents, even though it is totally reliant on its mother for nutrition, support, protection, and so forth.

That the child’s father committed rape or incest is not ordinarily a justification for termination of the life of the child, whether or not the child was conceived as a result of that sinful action by the child’s father.

That a child’s mother committed a capital offense (and rape or incest might qualify as such an offense) may justify the termination of the life of the child, as collateral to the just judgment of death on the mother.

That a child is going to kill its mother may be a justification for terminating the life of the child, under a self-defense principle. That is to say, a mother (or a father acting as head of the family) may be justified in killing her child if the child is going to kill her, and if killing the child is the only way (back to the wall limitation) to stop the child from killing her.

Criminal law is not the sphere of authority of every government. Some politcal structures, like America or the European Union, have many spheres of authority. While it is the duty of the magistrate generally to protect life, it may not be, for example, for either the highest or lowest spheres of government to be enacing criminalization of abortion laws, if such laws do not fall within the proper scope of their authority.

Likewise, it is not the Christian’s duty to become abortion vigilantes, hunting down and executing justice on those who commit unjustified abortions.

That a child is very small is not a justification for killing a child.
That a child is not likely to have an enjoyable life is not justification for killing a child.
That a child is very ill is not a justification for killing a child.
That a child might endanger the life of its mother is not a justification for killing a child.

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The point of this post is not to judge sinners. Judgment is the responsibility of God and the kings of the earth. Nor is the point of this post to judge kings who are sinners.

Instead, the point of this post is to entreat the kings and rulers of this world to enact just laws that protect the lives of innocent children, and justly punish those who take their lives.

May God bless this world with more nations that protect the lives of the unborn,


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