Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Why I am Pro-Life: A Personal Story of Adoption
By: Stephen J. Bedard - http://1peter315.wordpress.com/
Many people consider the pro-life position to be based on a faith or religious system. Some suppose that people would be pro-choice if their religious teachers or tradition would allow them. That may be true in a few cases but this has absolutely nothing to do with my experience. I actually came to a pro-life position during my time as an atheist. I figured if this life is the only chance we have at existence, we should give every person that chance to live. However, my reason for being pro-life at this stage is not based in either atheistic or religious presuppositions.
I sometimes hear pro-choice people offering abortion as a compassionate response to certain situations. The truth is that not every pregnancy is planned, not every relationship is ideal and some circumstances are very unfortunate. What about women who become pregnant and yet are totally not able to raise a child? What about cases when there has been substance abuse and there is a risk of harm to the child? For our family, these are not just “what if” questions.
My wife and I had two children. Because both were diagnosed with autism, we decided to not have any more children as there was a good chance that a third child would also have autism. After a few years, we began to wish that we could have another child, perhaps a child without autism. We approached the Children’s Aid Society and began looking into adoption. Do not let anyone tell you that mothers that give up their children are abandoning them to a lonely existence in an orphanage. We were told that there were far few children than there were parents looking for children. We were told that we might be waiting close to a decade and even then it was not guaranteed that we would get a child. It was discouraging but we decided to go through with the adoption classes anyway.
During this time, there was a girl that we knew that was pregnant. Because she was doing drugs during the pregnancy, Children’s Aid became involved and they planned to apprehend the baby at birth. Instead, my wife and I decided to put together a plan of care and take the baby into our home. It was an interesting situation for us as we attended our last adoption class and while all the other parents were dreading their long wait, we already had a baby at home.
During that first year, we discovered that the mother was pregnant again and that drugs were still involved. While I was hesitant to bring another baby home, since we already had two children with autism and we did not know what effects the drugs would have, we decided to bring this baby home (the decision was literally made the day she was born). After getting our son out of the baby stage, we suddenly had a baby girl. Our house was now very full. However, we soon discovered that the mother was pregnant again. We decided that we wanted to keep the children together and so brought another little girl into our home.
People could easily condemn the mother of our children for taking drugs during her pregnancy. It definitely was not a good choice. However, I respect her for not taking the “easy” way out by getting an abortion. I am sure she was very uncomfortable during the pregnancy and I can’t imagine the emotional toll of knowing she would not keep the babies and having to part with them. And yet she did go through this hardship and allowed those babies to find a home and to be healthy and happy.
But what about the drugs? Is it fair to have babies go through withdrawal at birth, to possibly develop delays or other health issues? Would it not be more compassionate to end it all quickly in abortion? It was hard to watch them go through withdrawal and there are a few areas in which we see the effects of the drugs. But over all, these are beautiful, happy, loving, fun, intelligent, healthy children that we love very much. I do not see how anyone could look at our children and wish that their biological mother had chosen abortion instead. Experiencing these fantastic kids is a huge part of why I am pro-life.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Abortion and the Bible: Why Pro-Life?
By Jonathon Van Maren - http://www.reformedprolifer.com/
As almost every pro-life activist can attest, many conversations about abortion start something like this:
Pro-lifer: "What do you think about abortion?"
Passerby: "Stop forcing your religious values on us! Which church do you go to, anyway?"
It might surprise many, then, (as it certainly surprised me), that so-called "mainstream Protestants" in the US were very pro-abortion prior to Rev. Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, with groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention publicly stating their support for abortion—and this prior to Roe v. Wade. Many, it seems, take the Bible's apparent silence on abortion to mean tacit support.
What does the Bible's supposed silence on abortion mean? According to the "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice," Protestants can be pro-abortion because "the pro-life position is really a pro-fetus position, and the pro-choice position is really pro-woman." Even Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who grew up in a Christian home, took a break from writing her unreadable atheist diatribes and wrote an essay called "Why the Bible is Pro-Choice."
So the automatic assumption that a pro-lifer must have derived his or her beliefs from the Bible or the church is not a necessarily safe assumption. While most believe that the Bible is unequivocally pro-life, people have argued and do argue that one can support abortion—the violent destruction of a developing human life in the womb—and still claim to be a Christian living consistently with the commands of Scripture. Both the pro-life and pro-abortion side, it would seem, agree that what the Bible says or doesn't say is important.
The main argument touted by abortion supporters to highlight the Bible's support of abortion, or at least tacit acceptance, is that the Bible remains supposedly silent on the issue. One professor wrote sarcastically that nowhere does Scripture say "Thou shalt not abort." This argument in and of itself, of course, is patently ridiculous—the Bible does say "Thou shalt not kill" (or "thou shall not murder"), and so we simply have to ask ourselves who exactly the pre-born are, and whether or not their destruction would be permitted under God's injunction against murder. Further, the idea that the Bible does not oppose abortion simply because it does not explicitly say "Thou shalt not abort" is facetious—the Bible doesn't explicitly say "thou shall not use toddlers for target practice" but no one thinks that the Bible's "silence" on this matter means tacit endorsement of such a practice.
The Bible clearly states that human beings were created in God's own image. Thus, taking their life would constitute murder.
Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute puts it this way:
A century ago racists argued from the alleged silence of Scripture that blacks were not human. Some even denied that black people had souls. Again, this was hardly persuasive. While Scripture does not mention every specific race and nationality, it does teach that all humans are made in God's image and were created to have fellowship with Him (Genesis1:26; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:10-11, James 3:9). The inference is clear. If blacks are human beings, they are made in God's image, too. No further proof from Scripture is necessary. The same is true with the unborn. If embryos and fetuses are human beings, commands that forbid the unjust taking of human life apply to them as they do other humans. Appealing to the Bible's alleged silence on abortion misses the point entirely.
The Bible clearly tells us that the child in the womb is one created in God's image—see Isaiah 46:3-5, Psalm 127:3-5, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 119: 73, and Luke 1:41-42, among others. Thus, the Bible's injunction against shedding innocent blood would apply to the child in the womb, as per Genesis 1:26, Exodus 23:7, and Proverbs 6:16-17. The claim, then, that the Bible is "pro-choice" because of its "silence" is one that, quite simply, fails the reading comprehension test.
Scott Klusendorf also points out that permissiveness of abortion is the context of Scripture—beyond simply being not true—would also be ahistorical, since children were viewed as being a special gift from God (Psalms 127:3-5, 113:9, Genesis 17:6, 33:5) while infertility was often considered to be a curse (Samuel 1:5, Genesis 20:17-18, 30:1,22-23.) Simply put, the idea of having one's offspring poised, dismembered, or suctioned in piece inside the womb is one that would have been completely counter-cultural for a culture that saw children as a visible blessing from God.
Biblical opposition to abortion, then, is really quite simple. The Bible is not silent on abortion—rather, the Bible lays out for us that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings created in God's image. Thus, we must simple determine whether or not the pre-born child in the womb is a human being created in God's image—which both Scripture (think of the fetus John the Baptist leaping in the womb to greet the Lord Jesus, at that point only a zygote) and science confirm.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Making a Clear and Concise Case for Life
By: Tim Barnett - http://www.clearthinkingchristianity.com/blog/
If you were given 5 minutes to make a thoughtful and persuasive case for the pro-life position, could you do it? Do you have the moral logic of the pro-life argument committed to memory? Does your case rely solely on some passages of Scripture, or are you capable of using modern science and sound logic to defend your view?
My goal here is to help you lay out the fundamental case against abortion. I’m going to attempt to boil down the pro-life argument to its bare bones, so that anyone can defend it with considerable comfort and confidence.
The moral logic of the pro-life position can be expressed as a simple syllogism with premises (P) followed by a conclusion (C).
P1: It’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being without proper justification.
P2: Elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being without proper justification.
C: Therefore, elective abortion is wrong.
This is a valid argument since the conclusion follows necessarily and inescapably from the two premises. Therefore, to show that the pro-life argument is false, the abortion-choice advocate must show that the argument is not sound. That is to say, they must demonstrate that one or both of the premises are false. Keep in mind that to just blindly deny the conclusion to the argument would be completely irrational.
It’s only fair to ask, are there any good reasons to believe that premise 1 and 2 are true? Let’s examine each starting with premise 2.
The most common way to get out from under the second premise that, elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being without proper justification is to simply deny that the unborn is a human being. After all, if the unborn is not human than the argument doesn’t apply to abortion. Many uninformed people choose to argue in this fashion, but as I will show, this has serious scientific problems. Here are just three pieces of positive scientific evidence to help make your case that the unborn is - as a matter of fact - a distinct, whole human being.
First, the unborn has a unique genetic fingerprint. At the moment of conception the unborn gets 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father. These 46 chromosomes make up his or her DNA. This first cell that we all develop from is different from every other cell in the mother’s body. Every cell in the mother’s body has the mother’s DNA, but not this one. This cell - called a zygote - has it’s own unique genetic makeup and it gets this unique genetic makeup at the moment of conception.
Second, the unborn has a unique genetic signature. This genetic signature proves it’s a human being - a member of the species homo sapiens. When forensic scientists find a corpse, or blood, or a hair with follicle intact, they can analyze the DNA to find out if it belongs to a human or something else. This is because human DNA has a very particular genetic signature.
Just as an interesting fact, the basic genetic differences between any two people on the planet would typically be around 0.2 percent—even if they came from different people groups (i.e. African and East Asian). We actually share 50 percent of our DNA with a banana. Yet no forensic scientist would ever confuse human DNA with that of a banana.
Third, the law of biogenesis demonstrates that humans always produce humans. This isn’t complicated. Dogs makes dog, cats makes cats, and, you guessed it, humans make humans. This is just elementary biology.
Therefore, using modern science we can say, with confidence, that the unborn is a unique individual given its genetic fingerprint and that this individual being is a human being given its genetic signature and the law of biogenesis.
A very common challenge that might come up at this point is that the unborn is “just a clump of cells” and “doesn’t look like you or I.” Don’t let this comment sidetrack the discussion. Technically speaking, we’re all “just a clump of cells.” You and I are just a larger clump. The source of this challenge comes from a confusion of the stages of development with the human being going through those stages. Just as an oak tree goes through many stages of development - seed, sprout, sapling, and finally tree - the human being also goes through many stages of development over its lifetime, initiating at the moment of conception.
Of course, the appearance of a human zygote doesn’t look like a human adult. But what does that matter? A human zygote looks exactly like a human zygote is supposed to look at that stage of development. Furthermore, human fetuses look a certain way, and human babies look another way, and human teenagers look another way still, and human seniors look a different way from that. Comparing the appearance of an individual at different stage of development is irrelevant. No matter the stage of development and the consequent appearance at that stage, they are all human beings.
Therefore, we can confidently affirm that the second premise is true. Elective abortion intentionally kills an innocent and defenseless human being without proper justification.
In case you are wondering what I mean by, “without proper justification,” this might be a good time to add some clarification. I am simply saying that the reasons people give for killing an unborn human wouldn’t be proper justification for killing a newborn human, and, therefore, would not qualify as proper justification.
For example, would economic hardship be proper justification for killing a newborn baby? Of course not! We don’t kill people because they are a financial burden. Since the unborn is just as much a human being as a newborn, it would be equally wrong and without proper justification to kill an unborn human for the exact same reason.
Almost all abortion-choice advocates assume the unborn is not human like the newborn. But as we have already demonstrated this assumption is completely false.
This brings us back to the first premise (P1). Since premise 2 has a solid scientific and rational basis for its veracity, the abortion-choice advocate is left to attack premise 1. The problem is, premise 1 seems so obviously true. This is a morally intuitive principle that most honest people are willingly to acknowledge. Isn’t it just obvious that it’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being? So how do they get out from under the weight of this moral claim? What normally happens is they will say it’s not wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being, but it’s wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human person.
So they make a distinction between a human person and a human non-person. On this view, it’s wrong to kill a human person, but it’s fine to kill a human non-person. So this new challenge can be summed up as follows: “The unborn may be human, but they are not persons.”
How do you respond? I ask a question in response. I simply ask, “What’s the difference?” This question puts the burden of proof on the person making the assertion.
The abortion-choice advocate is putting human beings into 2 categories: human beings who are not persons and human being who are persons. This distinction permits the killing of human beings that are not persons (like the unborn), but does not permit the killing of human being who are persons (like you or me).
Please understand the seriousness of this distinction. This same rationale was used to justify killing Jews, African-Americans, and Native Americans. They were all, at one time, arbitrarily disqualified from being persons, and as a result, were denied fundamental rights including the right to life. The exact same thing is happening right now in our culture with the unborn.
If you can’t kill humans who are persons, but you can kill humans who aren’t persons, then you had better be very clear about the differences between the two. What you find, however, is that all of the criteria that they use to deny personhood to the unborn are arbitrary and self-serving.
The four differences that are commonly cited to support this distinction are: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. You can remember all four attributes with the acronym SLED. Let’s look at each one briefly.
First, they will try to argue that the unborn is too small to be a person. Since when does size equal value? Just ask yourself, are men more valuable than women because they are generally larger? Do taller people have more worth than shorter people?
It’s obvious that embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Clearly, your size should have no bearing on your worth. Humans are valuable because of what they are, not because of their size. Therefore, we cannot disqualify the unborn as human persons based on size.
Second, people will point to the unborn’s level of development to argue that they are not persons. But does one’s level of development really determine their value? Are four year-old girls any less valuable than 14 year-old girls simply because they are less developed?
Of course embryos and fetuses are less developed than you or I. But again, why is this relevant? Some people say that self-awareness makes you a human person. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human persons. You see if we disqualify the unborn because it’s less developed, then we also have to deny personhood to other humans.
For example, a one-week old infant lacks the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, the developmentally handicapped and those with Alzheimer’s disease. Do we really want to say that these aren’t human persons as well? This is exactly where this line of reasoning takes you.
Third, it is often argued that the unborn doesn’t become a person until it leaves the womb. This, again, is irrelevant. In what way does your environment determine your value? Does where you are have any bearing on who you are? Does your value as a human person change when you move from one location to another? If not, then how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from human non-person to human person? If the unborn are not already persons, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable. The truth is they have been valuable all along.
Apologist Greg Koukl illustrates this point beautifully by sharing a story of a little girl named Rachel who was born premature at 5 months. She was born at only 1 lb 9 ounces and quickly dropped to under a pound soon after. She could rest in the palm of her daddy’s hand. Doctors worked heroically to save her life. Now if a doctor came into the hospital room where little Rachel slept in her mother’s arms and killed her we would consider him barbaric and a murderer. However, unborn little girls and boys at the same age and level of development are being killed by doctors all the time through abortion procedures because they are in a different location.
Finally, some will argue that the unborn is not a person because they are dependent on their mother for survival. Why is your degree of dependency relevant to your value? The unborn depends on its mother for food, shelter and protection, but does viability equal value? If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin, kidney medication or any other medical intervention to keep them alive cannot be considered persons either. Conjoined twins, who share blood type and bodily systems, would also have no right to life. In fact, all newborns and many elderly people are very dependent on others for their survival. Clearly, degree of dependency does not determine personhood.
As you can see, the main differences that are cited to disqualify the unborn as persons turn out to make no significant difference.
Therefore, the first premise is also true. Since both premises are true, the conclusion follows necessarily and inescapably. Our conclusion, not simply our assertion, is that elective abortion is wrong and, as a result, should be stopped.
This is the pro-life case in a nutshell. Try to commit the basic points to memory so that you can quickly, naturally and persuasively make the case for life.