Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Sanctity of Life

Years ago John Stott under the auspices of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity wrote a book called "Issues Facing Christians Today". In Chapter 15 he addressed the subject of Abortion. In the opening paragraph he began by admitting that: "The debate over abortion is...complex. It has medical, legal, theological, ethical, social and personal aspects." But he goes on: "What is involved in the abortion issue is nothing less than our Christian doctrines of both God and man, or, more precisely, the sovereignty of God and the sanctity of human life." He adds a little later reflecting on the commandment "you shall not kill": ... "the taking of life is a divine prerogative which is permitted to human beings only by specific divine mandate.

Without looking at each case on its individual merit we cannot, I believe, make any sweeping statements stating that all abortion in every situation or circumstance is wrong. But there are general principles that should guide us in our deliberations and, for me, the sanctity of life (see above) is an overriding factor.

The pro-abortion lobby have usually side-stepped this issue by arguing that the foetus is not a viable human being - not really 'living' - until a certain stage of its existence and therefore to abort it is not murder. I would not fully agree with that but it at least seems to make some kind of scientific sense. However there seems to be some new thinking emerging which is the cause for very deep concern. The following is from a website which quotes a lady called Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com. Let me first of all qualify what I will quote by saying first, that it is second hand (you can read the webpage I am quoting the quote from here); and second, I do not know the exact context that the quote is taken from. However if these quotes are accurate and true then it represents a worrying turn of thinking. The writer of the article Dr Albert Mohler writes:

"In a recent article, Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com conceded what the pro-life movement has contended all along — that from the moment of conception the unborn child is undeniably a human life. And yet, Williams argues that this unborn human life must be terminated if a woman desires an abortion.....In recent weeks leaders of Planned Parenthood disclosed that they are moving away from the pro-choice language because it just isn't working. Mary Elizabeth Williams agrees, saying that the change is “long overdue.” She argues that the pro-abortion movement has fallen prey to the “sneaky, dirty tricks” of the pro-life movement — a movement she says has controlled the life issue for too long.

Mohler continues: "Then, in chilling candour  Williams proceeds to affirm that every single unborn child is a human life. But, her argument is not pro-life. Far from it. In her words:

“When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn't the same? Foetuses aren't selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.”

Mohler comments: "Williams skewers the “pro-choice” evasion. The foetus is a human life, she asserts — every foetus wanted or unwanted by its mother, planned or unplanned as a pregnancy. She even affirms that life begins at conception. But, she quickly argues, the fact that the unborn child is a human life doesn't mean that it should not be aborted." She explains:

“Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a foetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.”

"So" - comments Mohler -"the mother and the child are both fully human, fully alive, and fully recognized as human life. But the mother can abort that human life within her for any reason or for no stated reason at all. Williams argues that the mother is an autonomous agent, whereas the unborn child is not.

In other words the unborn child is a human life, but not a human life worthy of respect or protection. But who is making that judgement? Not God certainly but the woman whose body it is and who rules over that body like a king rules his kingdom or a dictator his subjugated subjects. Its a double denial then first of God and second of the sanctity of every individual life. If that criteria were applied to other circumstances and people then we are in deep, deep trouble.

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