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[ JBEM Index / Volume 3 / Number 3 ]

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Am I A Murderer?

Dr. Calhoun is an obstetrician completing a fellowship in Maternal/Fetal medicine. Currently in Tigard, Oregon, he will soon be serving an Air Force commitment in Biloxi, Mississippi.

You shall not murder.

EXODUS 20:13

If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, foot for foot, hand for hand, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.

EXODUS 21:22-24

I. Premise

Abortion is the wrongful taking of an unborn baby's life before birth. Abortion is always immoral.

II. Scriptural Supports

The confusion that surrounds many evangelical's thoughts on abortion stem from an incomplete understanding of definitions. Abortion is the taking of an infant's life prior to birth in a premeditated and ruthless manner. Taking an ectopic from a woman's fallopian tube is not then, by definition, an abortion. It is done knowing that the woman will die without therapy and not done in an attempt to kill the infant. The sole purpose of the surgery is to save the woman's life. It is not done with the intent of killing the infant as with abortion.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 1 praise you because 1 am fearfully and wonderfully made; 1 know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when 1 was made in the secret place. When 1 was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

PSALM 139:13-16

The argument one hears include most often that the fetus (unborn infant) is a "bit of tissue" or "like a tumor or cancer" that the woman is free to cut out at her convenience when it threatens her lifestyle. The scriptures paint a decidedly different picture. Abortion of an unborn infant is covered by the Mosiac law (Exodus 21:2225) complete with fines for no injury, and including death if you killed an unborn infant in a woman as a result of your negligence in a fight. If the sanctity of unborn life was not held in esteem, why even bother to make a law against it?

Psalm 139 is quite graphic in its portrayal of personhood beginning at conception. The poetic language does great justice to the complex series of events that take place in essentially the first 68 weeks when most abortions are done. The remainder of development is merely maturing what has been laid down.

The remainder of scriptures do not speak directly to the question of abortion; yet all the scriptures are unwavering in their affirmation of life. Christ constantly told His disciples how much they were worth in the Kingdom of Heaven. Children were a blessing; and in Matthew 19:14, He pointed out that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

III. Common Arguments for Abortion

1) RAPE - The US has about 70,000 rapes each each and the population is at risk at about 100 million or about 1/1600. Assume that we calculate one pregnancy per 1000 rapes, that calculates to 70 pregnancies per year in the entire nation or one per year in a state of 3.5 million. Hardly the basis for wholesale slaughter of 1.5 million infants per year.

2) INCEST - Assume that the number of women available to incest (assume ages 6-18) is roughly 5 million individuals. If we assume that about 10% of the women are abused and one per thousand will get pregnant, that still only amounts to about 500 pregnancies per year. That is probably high, but still hardly justifies all the infants killed.

3) GENETICALLY "ABNORMAL" INFANTS - These amount to about 1 % of all abortions or about 10,000 per year. Of these, over 90% are done on infants with Trisomy 21 or Down's Syndrome which is not a fatal anomaly. They have a shortened life span of about 30-60 years with varying degrees of mental retardation. They also have increased incidence of other birth defects, like heart and abdominal defects. The remainder of the abnormal infants fall into some other genetic abnormality or severe physical abnormality.

So, the sum total of all the reasons for abortion amount to about 10,000-11,000 infants per year to justify 1/2 million deaths per year. This total does not address the fact the children are not "put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin," (Deut. 24:16) in the case of the rape and incest victims' children. The genetic deaths are hard to justify as well, since most of the Down's infants are educable and not severely retarded.

The other genetic infants and severely damaged infants present a more difficult problem. They are essentially "terminally ill" and will not generally survive. The infants with severe hydrocephalus, severe encephalocoeles (brain herniation), severe cardiac disease (hypoplastic left hearts), and severe spina bifida all have little chance of survival. The Lord has said though:

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

(PSALM 139:16)

God has told us that we are not to decide when a person will or will not be brought home to Him. The life of a child is in His hands. Whether or not a person has utility should not be the criteria of his worth nor bear on the aggressiveness of treatment. This is not to say if a person has no hope of recovery that we ought not to give them the opportunity to die with peace and comfort. The child cannot speak for himself and so must be vigorously defended as an innocent.

IV. My Odyssey

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him; . . . hands that shed innocent blood.

(PROVERBS 6:16-17)

My personal odyssey began in high school in 1972 before I became a Christian. I debated the issue of abortion before Roe v. Wade and violently defended the "right" of a woman to abort her infant since this was just a "parasite" and "bit of tissue" that looked more like a fish or baby pig than a human. (Ahh, evolution!) This delusion persisted until I went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. While there, I saw "A Man for All Seasons" about Thomas More and his death for his principles. I also broke up with my old girlfriend and struggled under considerable strain. I began reading my Bible again and looked at Exodus 20:13 in the RSV which talks about "killing." I thought that I had made a mistake and ought to consider changing professions to become a pastor and pacifist. All before I knew the Lord! I went home for Christmas, convinced of this needed change and talked to an old friend and came to know Christ through her. As a result, I became a rabid antiabortionist and discovered God wanted me at the Air Force Academy. I even refused to go to the abortion clinic during my obstetrics rotation in medical school, in spite of threats of lousy grades. I went into obstetrics in part as a response to try and help in this area.

While in residency I faced some of the most stressful and tragic things of my life. I saw severe hydrocephalus, severe anencephalies, heart defects, kidney disease, etc. I caved in under the tragedy and let my pity overrule my knowledge of scripture and took part in some abortions for severe defects and Trisomy 18 and 13 (99.9% fatal). I rationalized it, but:

All the days ordained for me were written for me in your book before one of them came to be.

These words haunted me. I went to my Fellowship in Portland and carried the excess baggage with me. I continued to perform genetic amniocentesis (search and destroy missions) for maternal age and still helped do abortions for severely affected infants (not Down's or Turner's Syndromes, I sanctimoniously told myself until a good brother and sister gently showed me God's word - "Thou shalt not murder." (Ex. 20:13) For that reason, I no longer perform genetic amniocentesis for age, and I no longer do abortions for any reason. Abortion for any reason is immoral. I sought God's forgiveness for my sins against the innocent and know that I am "forgiven indeed."

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be look wool.

ISAIAH 1:18

[ JBEM Index / Volume 3 / Number 3 ]

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