There is a psychological war going on today that is at odds with the principles Jesus taught. In Matthew 23:4-7, Jesus described religious leaders who would put emotional, moral burdens on people and do nothing to help them: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be carried and lay them on men’s shoulders: but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers, but all of their works they do to be seen of men…” In the same way, many people mishandle the major moral issues of our day by pressing others to correct their behavior. We call it emotional mind games.
Galatians 6:1-2 describes how Christians should act: “If a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness considering yourself lest you should also be tempted. Bear you one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Years ago, I knew a religious leader whose son had engaged in a sexual act that resulted in a pregnancy. The religious leader had been a prominent opponent of abortion, but when he learned of the pregnancy, he encouraged the young woman to have an abortion, and he paid for it. This kind of hypocrisy reflects the lack of empathy in our culture today. I would blame it on our society’s drift away from God and from what Jesus taught.
There is a cemetery in Rome known as the Flaminio Cemetery. A religious group in Rome secretly obtains the remains of fetuses from abortion clinics and hospitals. They bury these aborted babies in a place they call the Flaminio Cemetery. At each grave, they place a cross with the name of the mother who terminated her pregnancy. The idea is to use emotional mind games to shame the women who gave up their children.
While we oppose abortion, we also know from experience how difficult the decision can be. We regularly receive letters from women who are struggling with guilt feelings years after having had an abortion. When Jesus dealt with the woman taken in adultery, he did not condone what she had done.,However, He said to the religious people who were ready to punish her, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her” (John 8:3-12).
We tend to rate sin. The wrong I do is a minor offense, but your sin is a major one. We must stop the emotional mind games and follow the example of Jesus. He told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” We will accomplish much more with empathy and compassion, working to provide alternatives to destructive behaviors instead of trying to shame people into rejecting sinful choices.
The Week Magazine (October 23, 2020, page 11) had some interesting data on abortions in the United States. Here are the abortion rates per 1000 women ages 15-44 in some of the states:
Arkansas 6.2 Oklahoma 6.2 Alabama 8.3 Mississippi 8.6 California 17.3 New York 27.4 New Jersey 28.2
Middlebury College in Vermont conducted the study of abortions in the United States. If the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, the national reduction in abortions would be 12.8%, and 90% of the American abortion industry would remain intact.
The main point of all this is that laws and court rulings cannot control people’s moral choices. If we are to stop infanticide in America, it will have to be done by changing the thinking of our population. The question remains as to whether a woman’s personal rights supersede the personal rights of a child.
This reminds me of the story of a man who came to the United States of America. He came because he heard that it was the land of the free, and you could do anything you wanted because all human rights were guaranteed. On his first day in America, he saw a man he didn’t like the looks of, so he punched him in the nose. He was arrested and brought before a judge. “I don’t understand,” the man said, “I thought America was the land of the free!” The judge said, “That it is, but your freedom ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
It is well understood that unborn human babies have a great awareness of conditions outside the womb during the last several months of their development. One question that remains unanswered is how much unborn babies understand about what is going on in the outside world. Is the awareness of the outside world present in all embryos, and is there such a thing as embryonic communication?
Researchers at Spain’s University of Vigo writing in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution have an interesting report on bird embryos. While inside their eggs, they seem to perceive signals from and generate signals to the outside world. The studies involve yellow-legged gulls receiving warning signals from adult birds. Not only do the unhatched birds receive the signals, but they produce strong egg vibrations transferring the information from the adult birds to other embryos. Scientists are still studying what the unhatched birds do with this information. It may relate to when the baby birds peck their way out of the egg.
Ecologist and co-author of the study, Jose Noguera, says he is confident that this phenomenon is present in other bird species. We suggest that it is likely to be true of other forms of life. Some species have synchronous births where many young are born at the same time to reduce the efficiency of predators. Could embryonic communication control that to some extent? Are human babies aware of a pending abortion, and if so, at what stage of the pregnancy?
There are many questions involved in this field of study, and they do have relevance to today’s moral issues.
Shouldn’t a woman have the right to decide whether she will give up nine months of her life to carry a baby and then years of raising the child? Is aborting a child infanticide? What can we learn about abortion in the Bible?
The most fundamental problem is that conception is supposed to occur when a man and a woman are united in marriage. Many women seek abortions when they are pregnant and unmarried. There are also situations where a married couple doesn’t want a child or can’t afford one. This creates a difficult choice. What we must consider is when is an embryo a human being, and is it ever an extension of the mother’s body?
Scientifically the embryo is a human, and genetically everything about the child’s physical makeup has been determined at conception. Morning sickness shows that the baby is not an extension of the woman’s body and that her body recognizes it as a foreign entity. The baby growing inside the womb is aware of much of what is going on outside and can respond to outside stimuli long before birth.
We don’t see direct instructions regarding abortion in the Bible. However, there are numerous indications that the unborn child is human. Exodus 21:22-23 says that a man who kills an unborn child in a fight should bare the punishment designed for a man who killed another human.
Many biblical passages talk about humans being made in the womb. Consider these:
“When God punishes me, how shall I answer Him? Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” Job 31:13-15
“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalms 139:13, 16
“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I sanctified you. I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4-5.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb…” Luke 1:41.
Even though there are no specific instructions regarding abortion in the Bible, we see the sacredness of human life. This area of decision making is challenging. Nobody should minimize how difficult it is for women to stand for the sacredness of human life by choosing to allow the life inside her to survive. That child could bless a family that can’t have biological children. We need to support women who reject infanticide and help the innocent child find a home with the love and family that God intended.
One of the challenges that college students face in America today is the fact that many of their professors try to force their own personal opinions on them. We have reported on examples of college mind control in previous postings such as HERE, HERE, and HERE.
The Week magazine for August 28, 2020, (page 8) reported on a case at Iowa State University. Professor Chloe Clark announced she would eject any student who engaged in saying anything negative about “Black Lives Matter, gay marriage or legal abortion.” Say goodbye to academic freedom for students being able to express their own opinions.
A free and open discussion leads to understanding and learning. There is no way to advance those things when professors attempt to force their young disciples into college mind control. To make matters worse, they are doing it while being supported by public tax dollars and high-priced tuition paid by the parents.
In 2016, the Indiana legislature passed a law, signed by then-governor Mike Pence, requiring women to have an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion.Planned Parenthood represented by the American Civil Liberties Union succeeded in blocking the law by tying it up in various courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Now according to Indiana’s attorney general, “Planned Parenthood has conceded defeat.”
Court challenges have blocked other Indiana abortion restrictions. A law passed in 2016, also signed by governor Pence, required the burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion. The Supreme Court upheld portions of that law. If you require that fetal remains be buried or cremated, you are admitting that the aborted baby was a human and not “an extension of the mother’s body.” Disposing of an aborted baby is not the same as discarding hair or fingernails.
With the ultrasound requirement, when a woman sees her baby moving its limbs and making facial expressions, she may decide not to have the abortion. One of the problems with abortions is that many women have guilt feelings and psychological reactions in later years. The ultrasound may avoid some of that.
The recent U.S. Supreme court decision in a Louisiana abortion law case is apparently why Planned Parenthood has conceded defeat. The Court struck down the Louisana law, but Planned Parenthood seems to be concerned that wording in Chief Justice John Robert’s opinion might justify other restrictions on abortion. Thus, the State of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky agreed to ask U.S. District Court to dismiss the lawsuit and end the injunction.
The legalities of the abortion issue continue as various state legislatures pass new laws, and abortion advocates file suits against them. In this election year, the debate over abortion will continue. If we put the same amount of energy and study into producing solutions, the savings in money and emotional stress would be huge. As a parent of three adopted children, I can tell you that there is a massive shortage of babies for couples who cannot conceive and desperately want to have a child.
The ultimate answer is for men and women to live morally as God has called us to. When we stray from God’s instructions, we create all kinds of dilemmas.
Some high school and college girls brought to our attention several advertisements for “medication abortions” using an “abortion pill.” A pro-life group called Students for Life Action tells us that Planned Parenthood is sending the chemical abortion medications by mail. This is an attractive means of securing an abortion for a young woman who doesn’t want anyone to know about her pregnancy.
In reality, the abortion “pill” is not a single pill, and taking it is not like taking an aspirin. The chemical abortion involves two different medications. The first is mifepristone which initiates the abortion. The second misoprostol which causes cramping and bleeding to empty the uterus. Cramping and bleeding can last several hours or even several days, and some bleeding and spotting can go on for several weeks.
The promoters of medical abortions are telling people that there is “an abortion pill.” They are not telling them how it works and how traumatic the procedure is. It is easy for a boyfriend to trivialize the chemical abortion process, but cramping, bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dizziness are all common side effects of the use of the two pills.
It is essential to understand that abortions of any kind kill a baby. The child has its own DNA. Morning sickness is the woman’s body telling her that there is a foreign body inside her. The use of chemicals to kill the baby is dangerous to the mother and can have many side effects. Saying that a woman has the right to decide what will happen to her body is true, but she needs to make the decision long before a child is growing inside her.
Selling chemical abortion medications by mail is not a good solution for unwanted pregnancies. God has given us rules for sexual conduct, and the rules work, if we follow them. We oppose abortion at all levels. We believe that education by God through His Word is the only way men and women can make good choices and avoid the pain and consequences of bad decisions.
On Monday, June 29, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required abortion providers to have admitting privileges in a hospital nearby in case of complications. The Court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016. Abortion in the United States continues to be a hot topic. In 2019, legislatures in 12 states passed 25 lawsrestricting abortions. It seems inevitable that people who profit from abortions will challenge all of those laws, and more cases will make it to the Supreme Court.
The 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States is known as Roe v. Wade. The plaintiff in the case was given the pseudonym Jane Roe to protect her identity. Her real name was Norma McCorvey. She was a poor young woman with a very troubled life who was trying to obtain a legal abortion by falsely claiming that a group of black men raped her. When that failed, she tried to get an illegal abortion. Some abortion activist attorneys who were not interested in helping her used her as a case to challenge laws against abortion. It took three years for the case to reach the Supreme Court. In the meantime, McCorvey had her baby and put it up for adoption.
In 1994, McCorvey put her name on an autobiography titled I Am Roe. Under the influence of an evangelical minister who founded Operation Rescue, she became a Christian and was baptized. She quit her job at an abortion clinic and went to work for Operation Rescue to campaign against abortion. She said she was sorry for her part in making abortion legal. She published a second book in 1998 titled Won By Love telling about her conversion. In 2004 she petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the Court dismissed the case in 2005.
McCorvey died from heart failure in 2017, but shortly before her death, she recorded a “deathbed confession.” In it, she said that her activism against abortion was “all an act” and that she was paid to do it. She said she didn’t care whether women got abortions. On May 22, 2020, a television documentary called AKA Jane Roe was released on FX. It included her “confession,” in which she said, “I took their money, and they put me in front of the cameras.” However, a friend who knew her well said that McCorvey felt guilty for the abortions and was trying to justify herself in her own mind by saying that abortions are okay. Only God knows the true feelings and motivations of Norma McCorvey. All we know is that she lived a very troubled life for 69 years.
The latest five-to-four decision by the Supreme Court was based on “legal precedent.” It indicates that any hope of reversing Roe v. Wade or finding any real solution to the abortion dilemma will be difficult with the present Supreme Court. We have pointed out before that you cannot explain a baby as “an extension of the mother’s body.” Apparently, abortion in the United States will continue as our culture is accepting infanticide as a method of birth control. State-by-state the rights of babies before birth are being eliminated.
The microbiome consists of trillions of beneficial bacteria that support our bodies in many ways. Some bacteria play an essential role in digestion and in separating the waste and processing it so that it can be excreted. Other bacteria play a role in our reproductive system. When I was a student at Notre Dame, there was a germ-free laboratory on campus where researchers raised animals with no bacteria. One of the complications of doing that was that even rabbits could not conceive if they were germ-free. For years, scientists have debated the question of the origin of our microbiome.
One interesting discovery that has come from prenatal research is that pre-born babies have their own microbiome separate from their mothers. For the past century, medical experts believed that babies acquired their microbiome at or shortly after birth. Research like that done at Notre Dame was thought to support the” sterile womb paradigm” hypothesis. Recent research has suggested that the origin of our microbiome may be from small amounts of bacteria built into the placenta. Discover magazine (June 2020, page 16) reviews the debate over when babies get their microbiome. Part of the problem is that it is very easy for contamination to get into the research specimens creating confusion over whether the bacteria were natural or if they came from contamination.
Our interest in this subject is not so much about the origin of our microbiome as to look at the implications of the data. Everyone agrees that the baby does not have its mother’s microbiome. Some microbes like E. coli are so common that they are found in all microbiomes. Beyond those, there is a unique makeup to each person’s microbiome, including newborns and pre-born babies.
Maintaining that a baby is an extension of the mother and therefore has no rights is to ignore the evidence. Morning sickness is caused by the mother’s immune system not recognizing a foreign object, the baby, and going into defensive mode. The baby growing inside the mother is a unique person with its own genetic makeup, awareness, and microbiome.
The abortion issue ignores the evidence and attempts to create a new vocabulary to make it seem less brutal, but taking a baby out of the womb and killing it is still infanticide. As tough as this issue is, we need to not shield the vile nature of this process by ignoring the evidence. Instead, we should look for solutions that recognize the value of life and the worth of every human being.
One of the spin offs of the approval of abortion has been the advancement of euthanasia. In virtually every country that has approved abortion, there has been an eventual acceptance of euthanasia, allowing a doctor to administer fatal drugs to a patient.
Abortion was instituted in Portugal in 2007, and in February 2020, Portugal’s parliament approved euthanasia for terminally ill people. Portugal now joins six other countries in sanctioning euthanasia – Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In the United States, medically assisted suicide is permitted in which patients administer the lethal drug themselves.
The issues involved in the advancement of euthanasia are very complex. No one wants a loved one to continue suffering when eventual recovery does not seem to be possible. I have a family member who is in that situation. Prostate and Bone cancer have progressed to brain cancer, and the burden to family caregivers, the expense, and the level of pain present are all huge issues. In the progress of the disease, who would decide to administer euthanasia? The patient may not be able to make it. Family members may not want the emotional strain of making the decision, and who would trust the decision to the state? Other factors include when did the patient realize they were going to die? How important is closure for those left behind, especially children? Can doctors be wrong about a terminal diagnosis?
First Corinthians 3:16-17 tells us that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. The context of that passage and others is that God uses His children to reach out through His Spirit to help others. Paul, in Philippians 1:20-30, talks about being ready to die. He wrote, “For I am in a strait between the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better. Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” He talks about how he can help others and, for that reason, wants to continue to live.
One of the banners carried by protesters in Portugal says, “Euthanasia doesn’t end suffering, it ends life.” That is so very true. It isn’t the end of suffering for family, for friends, for those you have tried to teach, for those considering their own lives. In this day, there is no reason for physical suffering because medical science has ways to stop the physical pain. Ending life prematurely will generate pain for others. How long will it be after euthanasia is accepted before the state will determine who should survive and who should be euthanized?
The fundamental factor in the advancement of euthanasia centers around the value of a human being. If we consider humans to be special and created in the image of God, then human life is sacrosanct. Animal life does not have that same image of God, and survival of the fittest is in control in the animal world. If humans are just animals, then killing a human is no more of a problem than killing a bug. In that case, inconvenient or unfit humans, like all other animals, can just be eliminated. This is not a trivial issue, but one that deserves thoughtful attention.