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The following was written by Francis Cardinal George, the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago. In this letter is an opportunity to send an email to your state representatives opposing this action.  I did this and encourage others to follow suit.  This letter was addressed to the Catholics of his diocese:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: I write to you concerning a most serious matter that negatively impacts the church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Jan. 20 that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the administration has seemingly ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. As a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens because of their religious beliefs. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. All that has been built up over so many years in our Catholic institutions should not be taken away by the stroke of an administrator’s pen.

This order reduces the church to a private club, destroying her public mission in society. In generations past, the church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.

Therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.

Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the administration’s decision.

A letter similar to this is being sent to their people by diocesan bishops around the country. I thank you for your consideration of this unprecedented challenge to religious liberty. You and your families are in my prayers; please keep me in yours.

Sincerely yours in Christ, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago

Go to part 4 here

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The following public letter was issued Feb. 10th, 2012 by Mary Anne Glendon (former United States Ambassador to the Vatican), John Garvey (President, Catholic University of America), Princeton scholar Robert P. George, Notre Dame law professor Carter Sneed, and Yuval Levin of the Ethics & Public Policy Center. Currently, this letter is being circulated and in the process of acquiring many more signatories. It is a strong rebuttal to the HHS regulation “compromise” recently offered by President Obama. The letter reads:

Today the Obama administration has offered what it has styled as an “accommodation” for religious institutions in the dispute over the HHS mandate for coverage (without cost sharing) of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. The administration will now require that all insurance plans cover (“cost free”) these same products and services.  Once a religiously-affiliated (or believing individual) employer purchases insurance (as it must, by law), the insurance company will then contact the insured employees to advise them that the terms of the policy include coverage for these objectionable things.

This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy.  It is certainly no compromise.  The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust.  Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.

It is no answer to respond that the religious employers are not “paying” for this aspect of the insurance coverage.  For one thing, it is unrealistic to suggest that insurance companies will not pass the costs of these additional services on to the purchasers.  More importantly, abortion-drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives are a necessary feature of the policy purchased by the religious institution or believing individual.  They will only be made available to those who are insured under such policy, by virtue of the terms of the policy.

It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer.  It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer.  What matters is what services the policy covers.

The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.  This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.  It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept as assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.

Finally, it bears noting that by sustaining the original narrow exemptions for churches, auxiliaries, and religious orders, the administration has effectively admitted that the new policy (like the old one) amounts to a grave infringement on religious liberty.  The administration still fails to understand that institutions that employ and serve others of different or no faith are still engaged in a religious mission and, as such, enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.


John Garvey, President, The Catholic University of America

Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

O. Carter Snead, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Yuval Levin, Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Go to part 3 here

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The recent ruling, concerning the Catholic Church and contraception, reinforces the evidence that President Obama is attacking religious liberties.  Prior to this ruling the administration adopted a new phrase that is supposed to sum up our constitutional religious freedoms by saying the people of the United States have the freedom to worship.This is not what the constitution says.  Freedom to worship is an effort to privatize all religious practice and remove all vestiges of religious symbols and practice from the public square.  The first amendment of the constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Notice this amendment only limits government from forcing their will upon the people.  It supports our personal freedom of religious expression public and private.  This political move by the current administration, to frame it as freedom to worship, is an attempt to limit our religious liberties, without violating our first amendment rights.  It is a veiled attack on all religious expressions.

Currently, we are witnessing an attack against the Catholic Church by the Obama Administration.  I believe this ruling on contraception and insurance is just one example of what is going to happen to any and all religious beliefs in the future if we reelect President Obama.  The following are highlights of a recent post by Chuck Colson concerning this ruling.

The Time is Now[1]by Chuck Colson

As you know by now, Obama Administration has refused to grant religious organizations an exemption from purchasing health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, surgical sterilization, and contraception.

The Catholic bishops responded quickly, decrying the Administration’s decision for what it is — an egregious, dangerous violation of religious liberty.  And folks, we evangelicals must stand with them. While all of us may not share the Catholic view of contraception, all true Christians believe that the taking of human life in utero, whether surgically or by abortifacient drugs, violates the basic human right to life.

Many bishops have already declared that they will not obey this unjust law. The penalty for such a move would be severe. Catholic hospitals, universities, and other organizations would be forced to pay punitive fines ($2,000 per employee) for refusing to purchase insurance that violates the teachings of their church.

But Catholic institutions aren’t the only ones affected by this mandate. Prison Fellowship, for example, which employs 180 people, could not morally purchase insurance for its employees that covers abortifacients. Nor could we afford the fines we would incur.

For some faith-based institutions, it would spell the end of their existence — and their far-reaching service to the public and to the needy. As Mike Gerson pointed out in his excellent Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, it’s crazy that the government would drive charities like the Salvation Army and other Christian groups out of business. The government simply can’t afford to replace the services they provide — such as “homeless shelters, food banks, health care, welfare-to-work, prisoner re-entry programs” and much more.

I am not a member of the Catholic Church.  However, this issue is one of religious freedom and not about one particular church.  Decisions like this are a great threat to all religious liberty.   German pastor Martin Niemoeller, reflecting on the Nazi terror, said this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.

We must stand in support of our Catholic brothers and sisters on this issue.  I encourage you to read and sign the petition prepared by the Becket Fund.  I am open to other ways to fight this injustice.  Please email me your suggestions by your comments.

Go to part 2 here

[1] http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/18710

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I thought I’d end my series with an article by Scott Klusendorf teaching pro-life advocates how to defend the life of the unborn.  It may even change the stance of an open minded abortion supporter.

How to Defend Your Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes or Less

By Scott Klusendorf www.prolifetraining.com

Suppose that you have just five minutes to graciously defend your pro-life beliefs with friends or classmates.  Can you do it with rational arguments?  What should you say? And how can you simplify the abortion issue for those who think it’s hopelessly complex?

Here’s how to succeed in three easy steps:

1) Clarify the issue. Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: Is the unborn a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, killing them for any reason requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.

In other words, arguments based on “choice” or “privacy” miss the point entirely. Would anyone that you know support a mother killing her toddler in the name of “choice and who decides?” Clearly, if the unborn are human, like toddlers, we shouldn’t kill them in the name of choice anymore than we would a toddler. Again, this debate is about just one question: What is the unborn? At this point, some may object that your comparisons are not fair—that killing a fetus is morally different than killing a toddler. Ah, but that’s the issue, isn’t it? Are the unborn, like toddlers, members of the human family? That is the one issue that matters. (See the “Toddler Tactics” article for more on this.)

Remind your critics that you are vigorously “pro-choice” when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. You support a woman’s right to choose her own doctor, to choose her own husband, to choose her own job, and to choose her own religion, to name a few. These are among the many choices that you fully support for women. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves.1 No, we shouldn’t be allowed to choose that.

2) Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy. Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

3) Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest. Ask the tough questions. When critics say that birth makes the unborn human, ask, “How does a mere change of location from inside the womb to outside the womb change the essential nature of the unborn?” If they say that brain development or self-awareness makes us human, ask if they would agree with Joseph Fletcher that those with an IQ below 20 or perhaps 40 should be declared non-persons? If not, why not? True, some people will ignore the scientific and philosophic case you present for the pro-life view and argue for abortion based on self-interest. That is the lazy way out. Remind your critics that if we care about truth, we will courageously follow the facts wherever they lead, no matter what the cost to our own self-interests.

1. Gregory Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons (Lomita: STR Press, 1999) p. 11.
2. See also, T.W. Sadler, Langman’s Embryology, 5th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1993) p. 3; Ronand O’Rahilly & Pabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.
3. Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998) p.2.
4. A. Guttmacher, Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation (New York: Viking Press, 1933) p. 3.
5. Stephen Schwarz, The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990) p. 18.

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Part 21 Why embryonic stem cell research is morally wrong

Currently, there is a controversy raging over embryonic stem cell research.  In this article Scott Klusendorf conveys clarity and shows the issue can be simplified.

Is Embryonic Stem Cell Research Morally Complex?

By Scott Klusendorf www.prolifetraining.com

Case closed: Research that destroys one human being so that another may benefit is immoral.

When advocates of embryonic stem cell research say that we have a moral obligation to save lives and promote cures, what they really mean is that human embryos should be cloned and killed for medical research. But you would never know it by listening to their rhetoric. Now I’m all for saving lives. I’m also for stem cell research.  But I’m opposed to one kind of stem cell research that requires killing defenseless human beings so that others may (allegedly) benefit. That’s immoral.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are fast growing, unspecialized cells that can reproduce themselves and grow new organs for the body. All 210 different types of human tissue originate from these primitive cells. Because they have the potential to grow into almost any kind of tissue including nerves, bones, and muscle, scientists believe that the introduction of healthy stem cells into a patient may restore lost function to damaged organs, especially the brain. Human embryos have an abundant supply of stem cells which scientists are eager to harvest in hopes of treating Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses. There’s only one problem: You must kill the embryo to get its stem cells. Advocates of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) often reply that the embryos in question are not human organisms, but stem cells with the potential to become human beings. This is an unabashed lie. Embryos don’t come from stem cells; they are living human beings that have stem cells.  And extracting these cells is lethal for the tiny human subject.

Closely related to ESCR is the cloning process known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, which involves creating an embryo that is a genetic clone of the patient and then using that embryo as a source for stem cells. Advocates of ESCR euphemistically called this “therapeutic” cloning which they sought to distinguish from “reproductive” cloning. But the distinction is totally misleading because all cloning is reproductive. So-called “reproductive” cloning means allowing the cloned human to live. “Therapeutic” cloning means creating him for research and then killing him before birth. In either case, the act of cloning is exactly the same and results in a living human embryo. The only question is how we will treat the newly cloned human being.

Is ESCR complex?

Regrettably, moral concerns with ESCR are often dismissed as anti-science and anti-progress. “Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role of science in discovering the truth,” Prime Minister Tony Blair told critics of Britain’s plan to clone human embryos for research.1 Echoing these same sentiments, U.S. Senator Orin Hatch remarked, “It would be terrible to say because of an ethical concept, we can’t do anything for patients.”2 However, if Blair and Hatch are correct that scientific progress trumps morality, one can hardly condemn Hitler for grisly medical experiments on Jews. Nor can one criticize the Tuskegee experiments of the 1940s in which black men suffering from syphilis were promised treatment, only to have it denied so scientists could study the disease.

Despite claims to the contrary, ESCR is not morally complex. It comes down to just one question: Is the embryo a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the embryos in question are not human, killing them to extract stem cells requires no more justification than pulling a tooth.

The science of embryology is clear that from the earliest stages of development, embryos (whether produced through normal reproduction or cloning) are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless.3

Pro-cloning advocates like Ronald Bailey insist that we gain no real knowledge from these scientific facts. Bailey argues that embryonic human beings are biologically human only in the sense that every cell in the body carries the full genetic code, meaning that each of our somatic (bodily) cells has as much potential for development as any human embryo. Put simply, Bailey would have us believe that there is no difference in kind between a human embryo and each of our cells.4 This is bad biology. Bailey is making the rather elementary mistake of confusing parts with wholes. The difference in kind between each of our cells and a human embryo is clear: An individual cell’s functions are subordinated to the survival of the larger organism of which it is merely a part. The human embryo, however, is already a whole human entity. It makes no sense to say that you were once a sperm or somatic cell. However, the facts of science make clear that you were once a human embryo. Robert George and Patrick Lee say it well. “Somatic cells are not, and embryonic human beings are, distinct, self-integrating organisms capable of directing their own maturation as members of the human species.”5

What makes humans valuable?

Some ESCR advocates concede that zygotes (early embryos) are biologically human but deny that they are complex or developed enough to qualify as valuable human beings with a right to life. The argument goes that humans have value not in virtue of the kind of thing they are (members of a natural kind or species), but only because of an acquired property, usually the immediate capacity for self-awareness. Embryos do not have this immediate capacity and therefore fail to qualify as subjects with rights. There are two problems that underscore the arbitrary and counterintuitive nature of this claim. First, the self-awareness argument proves too much. Newborns lack meaningful self-awareness until several months after birth, so what’s wrong with infanticide? Second, George and Lee point out that if humans have value only because of some acquired property like self-awareness or sentience and not in virtue of the kind of thing they are, then it follows that since these acquired properties come in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees.6 Do we really want to say that those with more self-awareness are more human (and more valuable) than those with less? Philosophically, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

The crux of the matter

Here’s the question to ask your critics at work, school, or church: Given a choice between a therapy that happens to be lethal for human subjects and one that is not, wouldn’t we be inclined to favor the therapy that is not lethal? Wouldn’t that be even more the case if that non-lethal therapy turns out to be vastly more promising, and far less speculative, than the lethal therapy?7 Stem cells drawn from adults have already yielded some striking achievements, and they do not require the killing of the human being from whom they are drawn.8 The extraction of stem cells from human embryos does, however, result in the destruction of defenseless human beings. Therefore, it is morally wrong. There’s nothing complex about it.

1. “Don’t turn Against Science, Blair Warns Protesters,” London Daily Telegraph, November 18, 2000
2. Cited in “Clone Wars,” National Review On-Line, July 1, 2002
3. See, for example, Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Toronto: B.C. Decker, 1988) p. 2; Ronand O’Rahilly and Pabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.
4 Ronald Bailey, “Are Stem Cells Babies?”  Reason, July 11, 2001.
5. Robert George and Patrick Lee, “Reason, Science, and Stem Cells,” National Review Online, 7-20-01.
6. Robert George, “Cloning Addendum,” National Review Online, 7-15-02; Patrick Lee, “The Pro-Life Argument from Substantial Identity,” Tollefsen Lecture, St. Anselm’s College, 11-14-02.
7. I owe this question to Hadley Arkes, “Senseless on Stem Cells,” National Review Online, 8-23-04.
8. For a complete summary of these adult stem cell treatments, go to www.stemcellresearch.org.

Go to part 22 here

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Pro-abortion advocates want to hide the fact that abortion can be harmful to the mental health of women.  Here are two articles that look at studies that demonstrate the psychological damage done due to having an abortion.

Abortion tied to sharp decline in women’s mental health[1]

By Ryan Jaslow

(CBS) Do women who have an abortion risk their mental health?

A provocative new study shows that women who have an abortion face an increased risk for mental health problems including substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.  “Results indicate quite consistently that abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure,” the authors wrote in the study, published in the September 1 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 877,000 women, including 164,000 who had an abortion. They found women who had an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk for mental problems.

Women who had an abortion were 34 percent more likely to develop an anxiety disorder, 37 percent more likely to experience depression, 110 percent more likely to abuse alcohol, 155 percent more likely to commit suicide, and 220 percent more likely to use marijuana.  Nearly 10 percent of the problems could be attributed to abortion, the authors concluded.

“There are in fact some real risks associated with abortion that should be shared with women as they are counseled prior to an abortion,” Dr. Priscilla Coleman, professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green State University, told the Daily Telegraph.   About 827,000 women have an abortion in the U.S. each year.

Abortion & Depression[1]


Christchurch, New Zealand (LifeNews.com) 1/4/06A new study conducted in New Zealand finds women who have abortions are more likely to become severely depressed. The report confirms the results of a comprehensive study in 2004 in the U.S. showing abortion leads to a host of mental health problems.

The New Zealand study found that having an abortion as a young woman raises the risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.  The findings come from the Christchurch Health and Development Study of 1265 children tracked since their birth in the 1970s.

Some 41 percent of the more than 500 women in the study became pregnant by the age of 25 and 90 women had abortions.  Some 42 percent of the women who had abortions had experienced major depression within the last four years. That’s almost double the rate of women who never became pregnant. The risk of anxiety disorders also doubled.  According to the study, women who have abortions were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be addicted to illegal drugs.

David Fergusson, who led the study, said the results show access to legal abortions is not necessarily good for women. He also said the study confirms abortions cause women mental health issue — rather than alleviating them as abortion advocates claim.

Meanwhile, researchers at Bowling Green State University in 2004 examined data on nearly 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 34 who had experienced an unintended pregnancy.   Their survey found that women who have abortions of unexpected pregnancies were 30 percent more likely to experience subsequent problems with anxiety than those who don’t have one.  Women in the study who had abortions and suffered from general anxiety disorder experienced irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a pounding or racing heart, or feelings of unreality.

Go to part 21 here

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20100587-10391704.html

[2] http://www.abortiontv.com/Glitch/AbortionAndDepression.htm

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Some pro-abortion advocates admit the unborn is human but say the fetus is not a person and therefore can be killed. In the following article pro-life president of the Life Training Institute Scott Klusendorf will provide some clarity to this issue.  For additional arguments on the person-hood of the unborn I suggest reading my answer to my atheist friend Tom on January 18th in the comment section of “Defending the Life of the Unborn part 5.”

Confusing human value with human function[1]

Abortion advocates like Mary Anne Warren claim that a “person” is a living entity with feelings, self-awareness, consciousness, and the ability to interact with his or her environment.  Because a human fetus has none of these capabilities, it’s not a person. Warren makes two assumptions here, neither of which she defends.  First, she doesn’t say why should anyone accept the idea that there can be such a thing as a human being that is not a human person.  What’s the difference?  I’ve never met a human that wasn’t a person, have you?  Second, even if Warren is correct about the distinction between human being and human person, she fails to tell us why a person must possess self-awareness and consciousness in order to qualify as fully human.  In other words, she merely asserts that these traits are necessary for personhood but never says why these alleged value-giving properties are value-giving in the first place.

In his article “Why Libertarians Should be Pro-Choice Regarding Abortion,” Libertarian philosopher Jan Narveson makes points similar to Warren.  His larger purpose is to tell us who is and is not a subject of libertarian rights.  He argues that humans have value (and hence, rights) not in virtue of the kind of thing they are (members of a natural kind or species), but only because of an acquired property, in this case, the immediate capacity to make conscious, deliberate choices.  Because fetuses lack this acquired property, they have no rights.  A woman’s choice to abort, then, does not negatively affect the fetus or deny it any fundamental liberties.

But this can’t be right.  Newborns, like fetuses, lack the immediate capacity to make conscious, deliberate choices, so what’s wrong with infanticide?  What principled reason can Narveson give for saying, “No, you can’t do that?”

Peter Singer in Practical Ethics bites the bullet and says there is none, that arguments used to justify abortion work equally well to justify infanticide.38 Abortion-advocates Michael Tooley and Mary Anne Warren agree.  For example, if the immediate capacity for self-consciousness makes one valuable as a subject of rights, and newborns like fetuses lack that immediate capacity, it follows that fetuses and newborns are both disqualified.  You can’t draw an arbitrary line at birth and spare newborns.  Hence, infanticide, like abortion, is morally permissible.

Lincoln raised a similar point with slavery, noting that any argument used to disqualify blacks as subjects of rights works equally well to disqualify many whites.

You say ‘A’ is white and ‘B’ is black.  It is color, then: the lighter having the right to enslave the darker?  Take care.  By this rule, you are a slave to the first man you meet with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly—You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again: By this rule you are to be a slave to the first man you meet with an intellect superior to your own.

But you say it is a question of interest, and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another.  Very well.  And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.

In short, if humans have value only because of some acquired property like skin color or self-consciousness and not in virtue of the kind of thing they are, then it follows that since these acquired properties come in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees.  Do we really want to say that those with more self-consciousness are more human (and valuable) than those with less?  As Lee and George point out, this relegates the proposition that all men are created equal to the ash heap of history.

Philosophically, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.  Humans have value simply because they are human, not because of some acquired property that they may gain or lose during their lifetimes.  If you deny this, it’s difficult to say why objective human rights apply to anyone.

Go to part 20 here

[1] Klusendorf, Scott, “Five Bad Ways to Argue about Abortion,”   http://www.prolifetraining.com/Five-Bad-Ways.asp

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Part 18 What if the mother’s life is in danger?

The pro-life position is both the mother and the child are worthy of protection.  However, there are rare circumstances when the life of the mother and child are in mortal danger.  This time I will use an article by Steve Wagner, from Stand to Reason, to answer this question.

What if the Mother’s Life is in Danger[1]?” Is abortion always wrong?

Key Tactical Point

Just as there is an underlying test of your compassion when people bring up abortion in the case of rape, when someone asks “Would you say that abortion is wrong when used to save the mother’s life?” they are testing whether you are a reasonable, compassionate human being. It’s critical that you pass this test in order to maintain credibility and have further opportunity to make the case for the unborn. But it’s also critical that you use this opportunity to clarify the moral logic of the pro-life position.

My First Response

”What life threatening conditions are you referring to?”

(They will likely not have any idea; you can then offer them the following helpful information.)

A Thorough Response

Note: This response clarifies the moral logic of the pro-life position and explains how that position should be applied to ectopic pregnancy.

“When the motherʹs life is truly in danger, we must treat both the mother and child as human beings worthy of protection, for that is what they are. I’m aware of only one medical circumstance when abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life: ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, the newly conceived human being implants on the wall of the fallopian tube (or some other tissue) instead of on the wall of the uterus. As the embryonic human being grows, the fallopian tube will rupture causing severe blood loss and probably death. In these cases, there is no way to save the child’s life. If we do nothing, both human beings will die. Because we believe it is better to save one life than to lose two, we remove the child (causing his death) and save the mother. The death of the child is an unintended, although foreseen, consequence. So abortion in this instance is the killing of an innocent human being WITH proper justification. Notice though, this is not because the child is not human, but rather because the child is going to die no matter what. The childʹs death is unavoidable, so protecting the mother becomes our primary concern.”

Pass the Test of Compassion

The response above also passes the test of compassion that is involved with this objection. You are not more concerned about the fetus than the mother. You are equally concerned with both. To further show your views on the value of the mother are no different than the average person’s, you may want to make reference to other life threats (see below) and the dystocia case (also below).

One Key Distinction: Life Versus Health

See the article entitled, Is Abortion Legal Through All Nine Months for Any Reason? for a review of the legal importance of distinguishing between life and health threats.

Should we allow abortion for a threat to the health of the mother? If so, we are placing the health of one human being (the mother) over the life of another (the child). This seems clearly wrong. There is no other circumstance in which we would allow someone to kill an innocent person to protect herself from a health threat. We don’t allow those who are exposed to disease to kill those who exposed them, do we? No. When someone’s health is threatened by the existence of another, we attempt to remove the one threatening and treat the one threatened. We can do this in the case of the pregnant woman whose health is affected by her child. We can remove the child (as soon as possible for him to live) and treat the mother of her condition.

Threats That Are Not Threats

We agree that there are a number of conditions that threaten the pregnant woman’s life. But with many of these threats, we can treat the mother and save the child:

  • Preeclampsia (Toxemia): Occurs in 1 in approximately every 12 pregnancies (5% – 8%). This is a condition of swelling, elevated blood pressure, and protein in the urine. This condition can be effectively treated either by delivery (after 36 weeks) or by bed rest (prior to 36 weeks). Delivery can also be attempted after 24 weeks with reasonable assurance the fetus will live. In some cases delivery prior to 24 weeks may be necessary although the likelihood of the child’s survival is reduced.
  • Eclampsia (Toxemia with Seizures): Occurs in 1 in approximately 2000 pregnancies (.05%). This condition is marked by seizures that are caused by pregnancy (as opposed to some other known factor). Treatment is the same as for Preeclampsia, but this condition is more severe, usually requiring delivery either naturally or by C-section.
  • Placenta Previa: Occurs in 1 in 200 pregnancies (.5%). The placenta covers all or part of the cervix. Although this condition has the potential to be life-threatening, with proper medical management (usually bed rest, but sometimes hospitalization), both mother and child can be protected from harm. In the case of an early placenta previa, sometimes the baby does not survive. There is no moral wrong here; this is simply a specific case of miscarriage, in which no person causes or intends the child’s death. Click on babycenter.com. Helpful information on placenta previa, including drawings, can be found on this page as well as the March of Dimes page linked under Placental Abruption, below.
  • Placental Abruption: Occurs in 1 in 100 pregnancies (1%). The placenta detaches from the uterine wall. If not treated, this can harm both mother and child.  See marchofdimes.com

For more information about pregnancy risks, see Medline Plus: Health Problems in Pregnancy

One Other Threat Worth Mentioning: Dystocia

Prior to the turn of the twentieth century, one type of dystocia (any case of abnormal or difficult labor) – when the baby’s head is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvis – presented pregnant women in developed countries with an agonizing choice to save her child (by undergoing a dangerous and probably lethal Caesarean Section) or to save her own life (by undergoing a craniotomy operation that crushed the baby’s skull). Even today, this choice may still be presented to some women in developing countries where C-sections are not routine. Although some dispute whether craniotomy is truly necessary, let’s assume it is for the sake of the argument. What if there truly was a case where we could save either mother or child, but where one must die to save the other.

Are There Other Threats to the Mother’s Life that Warrant Abortion?

In most other cases of life endangerment, we can treat both mother and child. For example, a pregnant woman with cancer can be treated while the baby tolerates the chemotherapy given to the mother. See Thomas Murphy Goodwinʹs excellent article on high-risk pregnancy management.

Go to part 19 here

[1] “What if the mother’s life is in danger?” © 2005 Steve Wagner www.str.org

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Part 16 Why abortion is wrong even in the case of rape

I will finish my series by posting a few good articles on various issues dealing with the unborn.  The first one comes from Alan Shlemon, a friend who is on staff at Stand to Reason.  He is the author of The Ambassador’s Guide to Islam and speaks on a wide variety of topics.   In this article he helps give some clarity to this difficult issue of rape and abortion.

Rape and Abortion by Alan Shlemon

My friend, Susan, chose the easy route when she found she was pregnant. Susan was raped. She thought about going to the local abortion clinic. Except the head of the pro-life club – the one Susan had joined at her Christian university – was a frequent protester outside. How could Susan walk past her friend and then into the clinic? But without an abortion, she’d feel guilty, shameful, and embarrassed once her Christian friends and family found out. Given the option of a quick abortion or enduring a nine month pregnancy with the rapist’s child, Susan chose the easy route. She chose life.

“Easy” was the word she used. It caught me off guard. How can she call that easy? The physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth are difficult. There’s morning sickness, backaches, the pains of childbirth, and all the possible complications. Then there’s the psychological component: the stigma of being an unwed mother, the humiliation of rape, feelings of guilt, and the anger at the man who hurt her.

And after giving birth, you either endure the gut-wrenching turmoil of handing over your child to an adoption agency or begin the arduous task of parenting a newborn – as a single mom.

So, why did my friend refer to her decision as the “easy” route?  Two reasons. The first was her understanding of the logical reasoning and arguments against abortion. She believed that, despite being raped, having an abortion was the wrong choice.

I remember being challenged with this question by a student during my debate against a women’s studies professor at California State University in San Marcos, CA. I explained that rape doesn’t justify abortion. Here’s how I knew. I asked the audience, rhetorically, if a mother can kill her three-year-old girl who is conceived through rape. No, because rape doesn’t justify killing a three-year-old. If you can’t kill a three-year-old girl because she was conceived through rape, then you can’t kill that same girl because of rape if she’s still inside her mother’s womb. It’s the same girl; it’s just she’s not born yet in one case.

Some abortion-choice advocates protest this reasoning by pointing out that I’m talking about two different things. The three-year-old is a born girl and the one inside is not. That’s a big difference. But notice now that they’re changing the distinction. It’s no longer a matter of being raped or not, but whether the child is born or not. This proves that rape is not the real issue. Abortion-choice advocates think that the unborn is not a human being like the three-year-old girl. They just use rape as an extreme example because of its powerful rhetorical effect.

Here’s another way I look at this question. Imagine a woman is raped, gets pregnant, and the rapist is caught. Would we allow the woman to shoot and kill the rapist? No. If we don’t allow the woman to shoot the rapist who’s guilty, then why would we allow the woman to kill the child who’s innocent? Why should the child pay for the crime of her father?

Yes, my friend was victimized. But she realized that it would be wrong to then turn around and victimize another completely innocent person – her own daughter.

Susan knew this. She decided that to carry her child to term was easier because these apologetic arguments simplified the logic of her predicament. They provided a powerful moral compass during a tumultuous time.

But there was a second reason that Susan felt her decision was the easy route. She avoided the heartache of abortion. Rape creates a long-term, painful memory of a past event. And the child may be a reminder of that for years to come. But an abortion adds a second painful memory – that of killing your own child. It often leaves a woman broken and guilty. It neither un-rapes her nor erases the memory of that event.

Instead, women who abort often remember what the birthdate would have been had their child survived. Each year that day reminds them of not one crime, but two: the rape and now the abortion. That leads many women into anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Susan didn’t want that. It would only make her situation more difficult.

So my friend chose life to avoid the heartache of abortion. Now, her daughter, Mandy, is a beautiful, six-year-old girl. Although Susan wasn’t ready to be mother, she found loving Christian parents who were. Susan still gets to see Mandy and they’ve developed a loving relationship.

It is often thought that a woman who has become pregnant through rape only needs emotional support. Logical arguments are said to be largely irrelevant. But it turns out that Susan was able to work out her dilemma through moral reasoning. Apologetic arguments she learned at her pro-life club, combined with her friend’s emotional support, gave her a foundation to make the right choice.

But Susan knew it was also the easier choice. If Susan chose abortion, she’d be consumed with guilt and shame for untold years. Instead, her choice to give Mandy life also gave herself life. Not only was her daughter able to live, but Susan was able to live – live with herself for making the right and easy choice.

This is why I do what I do. The pro-life skills I teach around the country are designed to help people like Susan. It gives them the logical tools to ground their thinking when emotions are blowing them in every direction. And your partnership helps me do that. Not only are you equipping the Susan’s of this world, you’re also helping to save the Mandy’s.

Go to part 17 here

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Bible speaks out against killing an innocent unborn human being

The Bible does not use the word abortion, therefore, there a no verses that state “Thou shalt not abort an unborn fetus.”  However, if the unborn is human, the Bible speaks out against murder.

The following verses establish the fact the Bible teaches the unborn is human:

  • Luke 1:41 “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Only a living human baby can leap in a mother’s womb.
  • Luke 1:44 “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” The NASB Greek New Testament Dictionary says the transliterated word brephos (baby) means an unborn or newborn child.  The Bible teaches the unborn is human.

The 6th commandment deals with murder.

  • Exodus 20:13 (NASB) “You shall not murder.” This moral law is one of the Ten Commandments.  Author Moses used a Hebrew word (ratsach) that in context refers to taking an innocent life with premeditation (English translation murder).  The KJV version of the Bible reads, “You shall not kill.” Using the word “kill” instead of “murder” can be misleading.  During the 17th century the word “kill” carried a connotation more closely resembling today’s use of the word murder.  This Biblical commandment teaches it is wrong to take the life of an innocent human; therefore in Exodus 20:13 “murder” is the more likely English word.

Murder is a universal or objective moral wrong.  The verses in Luke establish the unborn baby is human.  Therefore, according to the Bible to abort a baby in the womb is murder.  This constitutes a clear violation of the 6th commandment, “You shall not murder.”

Go to part 15 here

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Part 12 Bible teaches the unborn is alive and human

Parts 1-11 I made the case for the humanity of the unborn in a way that someone can present in the public square.  Now I will turn to the Bible to defend the unborn.  Christians can be confident the Bible supports the prolife position.

Scriptures that support the unborn is alive and human.

  • Psalm 51:5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David was the author of this psalm. The context takes us to back to 2 Sam 11:1-12:25, when Nathan confronted David concerning his heinous sin with Bathsheba and the death of her husband Uriah.  David not only had sex with Uriah’s wife, he had him killed in battle. Psalm 51 was a reflection from David looking honestly at what he had done.  He was asking for God’s mercy and admitting he was sinful from the moment his mother conceived him.  Only a human can be sinful from before he was even born.
  • Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God selected Jeremiah for a special job as a prophet to the nations.  When did God select him?  Jeremiah writes God knew him before he was even conceived.  He was selected for his special duty prior to birth.  Jeremiah 1:5 multiple times uses the personal pronoun “you” to establish God was speaking about the person Jeremiah.  Clearly, he was human before he was born.  Only a person could be known before conception.
  • Genesis 25:21-24 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’  So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 The LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.’ 24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.” As with Jeremiah, God prior to birth established the future for both sons.  The younger son, Jacob, out of his loins would come forth the nation of Israel.  The offspring of Esau would eventually form the nation of Edom.  Repeatedly, Edom will submit to the nation of Israel as written in Genesis.  In verse 22 these two children wrestling while in Rebekah’s womb.  Babies that wrestle, prior to birth, are alive and well.  Words like babies and boys used while they are still in the womb, establish the humanity of the unborn.
  • Luke 1:14-15 He [John the Baptist] will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born.  The Holy Spirit is God’s comforter for humans who follow Him.

Only humans can be sinful at birth, be known by God, have an established purpose, and filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb. These scriptures are strong evidence for the full humanity of the unborn.

Go to part 13 here

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Set Apart Christ as Lord Part 2

Answering the Tough Questions

1 Peter 3:15

This series is based on 1 Peter 3:15.I will begin with some background information.The author Peter walked with Jesus and probably was the one disciple that had the closest relationship with Jesus.This is someone I am going to listen to.Peter is writing to persecuted Christians; individuals suffering for living out their faith in a hostile environment and courageously telling others about Jesus.They needed to hear words of encouragement; they needed to hear that what they were doing, sharing Christ to everyone, was good and needed to continue.History tells us persecution was so bad during this time period, Nero was burning Christians alive to give off light for his celebrations.They were continually being tortured and executed for their faith.

Peter is going to share a way to live courageously in the face of persecution. He tells them in 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

I believe the key sentence is “In your heart set apart Christ as Lord.” When Peter refers to the heart he is focusing on their entire being.This would entail their emotions, will, and intellect.The words “set apart” in this case means to separate Jesus from everything that would get in the way.They were to devote themselves to Jesus with their entire being.The words, “Christ as Lord” Peter is telling them to focus on the fact Jesus is God and as such He is their king.They were to totally submit to Him; nothing less would do.

This is a message that should resonate with us.We too are to exalt Jesus to the highest because Christ is Lord; He is God and He is our king and worthy of our complete devotion.

To summarize, “In your heart set apart Christ as Lord,” means to devote our total existence to Him because Christ is God and is ruler over our lives.So how does that work?What does it look like?Peter is going to show us how to set apart Christ as Lord.I will continue this discussion in part 3.

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Part 11 What pro-life advocates can do to fight abortion

If you are prolife you need to ask yourself the question, what can I do?  Babies are being killed daily and there doesn’t seem to be an end to this tragedy.  As prolife advocates we need to do something.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. We can help guide woman away from having an abortion.We need to lovingly give a woman the truth about abortion.  If she needs support send her to a crisis pregnancy center.Since the unborn is clearly a human being it is wrong for a woman to have an abortion.  If we do not speak out it is equal to agreeing that the woman has the right to kill her unborn human person.  On this issue there is no moral neutrality.
  2. We can either counsel as friend or help find counseling help for any woman who has had an abortion.  The media tries to downplay the psychological damage of a woman having an abortion.  Both men and women who have lost a baby to abortion need our assistance to find help.
  3. Defend the life of the unborn with convincing arguments at work, with your relatives, and with your friends.  Learn how to answer common objections (See parts 3 – 6) and use the acrostic SLED to diffuse pro-abortion advocates four main contentions why the unborn is not human.
  4. Teach classes or write articles defending the life of the unborn.  The materials provided in my series can serve as a foundation for communicating the truth of the issue.
  5. Lend support to crisis pregnancy centers, either financially or with your time.

In this series I have argued that abortion is not morally complex.  In the public square we can achieve moral clarity by asking three questions.  1) What is the embryo?  We answered that with science: The unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings.  2) What makes humans valuable?  We answered that with philosophy: Humans are valuable in virtue of the kind of thing they are, not because of some acquired property.  SLED helps us make that case.  3) What can we do?

My next series of posts, I will make the case demonstrating the Bible is clearly against abortion.  These are arguments that cannot be made in the public square, since secular society has discounted the truth of the Bible.  However, for the Christian the Bible delivers God’s truth and is foundational.  What we will see in the Bible is that all unborn human persons are made in the image of God and should be protected.  I will also answer scriptural objections to the prolife position.

Go to part 12 here

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I would like to share a tool that will help you make a case for the intrinsic value of the unborn.  The embryo differs from a newborn in four ways, but these differences are not significant in the way that abortion-advocates need them to be.  The acrostic SLED is a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences.[1] People discriminate against the embryo because of…

  • S ize: People want to disqualify the humanity of embryos because they are so small, especially in the early stages of development.  I had a premed student look at me in disbelief when I argued for the humanity of the embryo at the cellular level.  He felt the microscopic fetus in a petri dish was not human.  I asked him, do large people have more rights than small ones?  Men are generally larger than women. Do they deserve more rights?  Is Shaquille O’Neal more of a person than Hillary Clinton simply because he is larger?  Surely no one would argue that it is less a crime to beat a small child than it is a large one.  Clearly, the size of the fetus is not the issue.
  • L evel of Development: True, the fetus is less developed than a newborn, but why is this relevant?  Is a four-year old girl who has yet to develop her reproductive system less human than a 17 year-old who has?  Is that same four-year old less human because she does not match the intellectual prowess of a teenager?  Clearly not. It is one thing to say that human beings at a certain stage of development have the inherent capacity for critical thinking. It is quite another to assert that your right to live depends on your immediate capacity for intelligence. Yet, if abortion advocates are correct, that rationality and self-consciousness define the morally significant person, then why shouldn’t greater rationality make you more of a person? Consequently, the intellectually and artistically gifted would be free to maximize their pleasure at the expense of those less intelligent. The all-important question becomes “What kind of mind merits human value and who decides who qualifies?” Do smart and articulate people have the right to define the small and vulnerable out of existence simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves?  Such a view is elitist and exclusive. It violates the very principle that once made political liberalism great: a basic commitment to defend the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family.
  • E nvironment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Did you stop being you when you rolled over in bed last night or when you walked from the car to your den?  If not, how does a simple journey of seven inches down the birth canal suddenly transform the essential nature of the fetus from non-person to person?  A baby girl named Rachel was born at 24 weeks gestation.  (That is barely six months into the pregnancy.)  At the time of her birth, she weighed less than a pound and could fit into the palm of your hand.  The hospital staff worked heroically to save her life and now she is a healthy young child.  But let’s assume that instead of saving baby Rachel’s life at 24 weeks, the doctor came to her room and killed her while she was resting in her father’s hand.  We would consider that an outrage, wouldn’t we?  But do you know that the same baby Rachel, that very same baby girl, can be killed through legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy simply because she is located six inches away in her mother’s womb?  Ladies and gentlemen, your right to live is not based on your current address. [2]
  • D egree of dependency: If viability makes us human, all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are non-persons and we may kill them.  A newborn is dependent on his or her mother; should we be able to kill a newborn?  Yet when it comes to the woman’s own unborn offspring, the moral logic of abortion advocates is that she has no responsibility to her child precisely because it depends on her for protection.  In other words, he can be legally killed because of his need.  This is absurd. [3]

Hence, there are only four differences (SLED) between the fetus and newborn and none of them relevant.  In the past, we have discriminated on the basis of skin color and gender.  Now, with elective abortion and destructive embryo research, we discriminate on the basis of size, level of development, location, and degree of dependency.  We’ve simply swapped one form of bigotry for another.

In sharp contrast, the position I have defended is that no human being, regardless of size, level of development, race, gender, or place of residence, should be excluded from the human family.  In other words, my view of humanity is inclusive, indeed wide open, to all, especially those who are small, vulnerable and defenseless.[4]

Go to part 11 here

[1] Stephen Schwarz first came up with the acronym SLED to illustrate these differences.  Stephen Schwarz, The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990) p. 17.

[2] Greg Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, pp. 26-7

[3] The descriptions under each letter were provided by Scott Klusendorf (Life Training Institute    http://www.prolifetraining.com/)

[4] Francis J. Beckwith originally came up with the wording of this sentence and the two previous.

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Part 9 What makes a human valuable?

What makes a human being valuable[1]?

We stand before two possible futures based on two radically different views of humanity.  One view says that human beings are intrinsically valuable simply because they are human.  If something is “intrinsically valuable” it is valuable by itself and not because of its associations.  According to this view, your rights do not depend on what you can do or your level of achievement but on the fact that you are a human being.

The other view asserts that human beings are merely instrumentally valuable, meaning they are mere carriers of what is valuable, most notably consciousness, intelligence, and the like. On this view, you are not fully human until you acquire certain arbitrarily selected properties or manage to function at a certain level.  Let’s look at each of these two views and how they play out in the abortion debate.

Instrumentally valuable: A human’s worth is judged by how well he or she can function at a certain level.  Dr. Peter Singer, profession of bioethics Princeton University, says the any argument used to dehumanize the fetus disqualifies newborns as well.  In other words, Singer argues that there is no relevant difference between fetus and newborn.  Neither one has acquired self-consciousness, hence, neither is valuable.[2] He recognizes that once you advance the principle that human beings have no intrinsic worth, there is no basis for protecting newborns or fetuses.  That’s why Singer’s argument permits infanticide.  He believes there is no difference between killing an unborn and killing a 1 to 2 year old baby.  As scary as this view is at least he is consistent.  If your argument against the rights of the unborn hinge on how he or she functions at a certain level, then to be consistent as Dr. Singer states, you have to apply that standard to a newborn.  If you are pro-abortion, are you also pro-infanticide?  If not, why?

Intrinsically valuable: Valuable simply because you are human.  If I was to offer you a $100 dollar bill, would you take it?  How about if I crumple is up, step on it, tear a corner off, would you still take it?  If you are like most people, the answer is yes to both offers.  The reason is because the $100 bill is intrinsically valuable.  A crumpled or torn appearance doesn’t alter the value.  The same goes for being an intrinsically valuable human.  It doesn’t matter if you are disabled, mentally deficient, or still in the womb, if you are human you are valuable.

In part 10 I will present a tool for making the case for the intrinsic value of the unborn.

Go to part 10 here

[1] Much of my information comes from Scott Klusendorf President of Life Training Institute.

[2] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) pp. 169-72.

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Part 7 gave a brief look at the scientific evidence supporting the unborn is a distinct, living, whole human being.  Next I would like to take on specific objections to the scientific evidence for the full humanity of the unborn.  Again I will utilize answers from Scott Klusendorf[1], who is the president of Life Training Institute.

  • Objection: “How can you say the embryo is a distinct, whole human being when twinning can occur up to 14 days after conception?

Reply: How does it follow that because an entity may split (or even recombine) that it wasn’t a whole living organism prior to the split?  If you cut a flatworm in two you get two flatworms.  Does it follow that prior to the split there was no flatworm?[2]

  • Objection: “Sperm and egg are alive and contain DNA.  So do bodily (somatic) cells.  Do I commit mass murder if I pluck cells from my hand?”

Reply: This objection confuses “parts” and “wholes.”  Unlike bodily cells (or even sperm and egg) which are merely part of a larger human organism, the embryo is already a distinct, living, whole human being.

  • Objection: “Most conceived embryos spontaneously abort.”

Reply: How does this fact refute the pro-life position that embryos are human beings?  Many Third-World countries have high infant mortality rates.  Does it follow that those infants who die early were never whole human beings?  Moreover, how does it follow that because nature may spontaneously abort an embryo that I may deliberately kill one?  Admittedly, these miscarriages are tragic events.  But as journalist Andrew Sullivan points out, just because earthquakes happen doesn’t mean massacres are justified.[3]

  • Objection: “Women don’t grieve miscarriages like they do the death of a newborn.”

Reply: Perhaps so, but how does it follow that the embryo is not human?  I would grieve the loss of my own son far more than the thousands who die daily in 3rd world countries.  Does it follow that 3rd World children are less human than my son?

As before, answering objections can help clear away bad arguments against the pro-life position.  Science is on our side and we need to make sure we establish that fact.  My next series of posts will focus on what makes the unborn valuable.

Go to part 9 here

[1] Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute (LFI)   http://www.prolifetraining.com/

[2] Illustration by Patrick Lee, Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Catholic University of America Press, 1996) pp. 91-94.

[3] Andrew Sullivan, “Only Human,” The New Republic, July 19, 2001.

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Part 7 Science supports pro-life

Years ago during debates on the issue of abortion, the pro-abortion side would attack by saying the pro-life side was anti-science and simply religious fanatics.  They claimed the moral high ground based on their understanding that science was on their side.  They mockingly stated the pro-lifers needed to enter the 21st century, throw away their religious arguments and face the facts; the unborn was simply a conglomeration of cells and science confirmed human life begins at birth.  In their minds abortion was a scientifically justified procedure.  To go against science and say the unborn deserved life was simply an affront to the rights of women.

Today in debates on the issue of abortion the table has been turned.  Science is no longer a friend for the pro-abortion advocates.  We now find skilled pro-life debaters like Scott Klusendorf using science to support the unborn is fully human deserving of rights and protection.  In fact some pro-abortion debaters have criticized the pro-life side for their over dependence on science in their arguments.  The reason for this dramatic change is the fact that modern science is on the side of the pro-life advocate.

I begin with citing leading embryology books that confirm this.[1] For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”[2] Here the text clearly states that upon conception the unborn is a unique human being.

Moving to the textbook Human Embryology and Teratology we read: “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed….The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.”[3] Again additional evidence the unborn is a distinct, living, whole human being.

Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question the humanityof the unborn. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.[4]

Many more embryonic books could be cited as evidence.  I found a web site that quotes and displays many books that serve as medical testimony for identifying the unborn is fully human.  The site is called ABORT73 and the key page can be found at Medical Testimony.

When answering the question “what is it” the evidence is clear; the science of embryology establishes from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. And yes they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless.

Go to part 8 here

[1] See also, T.W. Sadler, Langman’s Embryology, 5th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1993) p. 3; Ronand O’Rahilly & Pabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.

[2] Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998) p.2.

[3] O’Rahilly, Ronand and Muller, Pabiola, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.  This text book describes “pre-embryo” as a discarded and inaccurate term (p. 12)

[4] A. Guttmacher, Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation (New York: Viking Press, 1933) p. 3.

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Part 6 Why outlaw embryonic stem cell research?

Here is the final posting to answers to common objectives by Scott Klusendorf (see part 3, part 4, & part 5).

  • “If research cloning and ESCR are made illegal, people suffering from illness will not find the cures they need.” Reply: Contrary to what has been repeated again and again, human embryos are not the only source for stem cells.  Promising new evidence indicates that adult stem cells are not only effective alternatives to destructive embryo research, but may be better at battling disease.[1] There’s a reason for this.  While embryonic stem cells are more flexible, they appear harder to control once implanted.  We simply don’t know how they will behave.  Early studies with ESCR are less than encouraging.  Adult cells, meanwhile, are somewhat less flexible, but far more flexible than previously thought.  They are also easier to control. Already, researchers have coaxed stem cells from adult bone marrow into becoming nerve cells that could treat conditions ranging from paralysis to Alzheimer’s disease.  We can extract these adult cells without killing the donor, hence there is no ethical problem.  We’ll have to wait and see, but the choice between medical progress and moral principle could soon be a false dilemma, eliminating the need for ESCR.  On the other hand, it’s possible that embryonic stem cell research will one day prove effective, perhaps more effective than adult research.  That fact alone, however, will not get you around the moral objection.  Put simply, ESCR is not wrong because it’s currently less effective than adult stem cell research, but because it unjustly kills and exploits a living human being.  Again, if I have a bad eye and you have a good one, I do not have a right to take your good eye to make my bad eye feel better.   That’s essentially what happens with ESCR.  Living human beings are treated as disposable instruments simply because they are defenseless and useful to someone else.  That’s a moral evil, regardless of the cures that may follow.

Once common objections are answered, a person might be more open to listening.  None of these objections have changed the most important question in this entire debate about the unborn; “what is it?”  My next series of posts is where I am going to provide scientific evidence the unborn is 100% human and deserving protection. Go to part 7 here

[1] See www.stemcellresearch.org for summaries studies involving adult stem cells.

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Part 5 What about the issue of back-alley abortions

I am continuing to post answers to common objectives by Scott Klusendorf (see part 3 & part 4).

  • “If abortion is restricted, women will die from back-alley abortions.” Reply: This objection makes sense if the unborn are not human.  Why subject women to a dangerous operation?  But if a human child is involved, why should the law be faulted for making it more risky for someone to kill an innocent human being?  Should we legalize bank robbery so that it is safer for felons?[1] As abortion advocate Mary Anne Warren points out, “The fact that restricting access to abortion has tragic side effects does not, in itself, show that the restrictions are unjustified, since murder is wrong regardless of the consequences of forbidding it.”[2] Again, the issue isn’t safety, but “What is the unborn?” Nonetheless, the claim thousands died annually from back-alley abortions prior to 1973 (when Roe. v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S.) is just plain false.  Dr. Mary Calderone, former medical director for Planned Parenthood, wrote in 1960 that illegal abortions were performed safely by physicians in good standing in their communities and that fact alone explained the very low death rate.[3] Abortion advocates often reply that many deaths were covered up or unrecorded.  This is pure conjecture.  To support this assertion, they must present evidence to counter Dr. Calderone (who was one of their own leaders).  In addition, the Centers for Disease Control report 39 women died from illegal abortion in 1972 (the year prior to legalization), not 5,000 to 10,000 as claimed by abortion advocates for each year prior to Roe.[4]
  • “We shouldn’t let ethical questions over cloning and ESCR impede scientific progress.” Reply: Culturally, I fear we’ve embraced a technological morality that asserts that simply because we can achieve X, we are permitted to do X–in this case, clone human beings for destructive research.  You can see this in British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s statement that those who oppose cloning embryos for destructive research are “anti-science:” Blair writes: “There is a danger, almost unintentionally, that we become anti-science.  Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role of science in discovering the truth—rather it should inform our judgment about the implications and consequences of the truth science uncovers.  [We will] not stand by as successful British science once more ends up being manufactured abroad.”[5] On that same topic, U.S. Senator Orin Hatch remarked, “It would be terrible to say because of an ethical concept, we can’t do anything for patients.”[6] However, if Hatch and Blair are correct that science trumps morality, one can hardly condemn past atrocities such the Tuskegee experiments of the 1920s in which black men suffering from syphilis were promised treatment, only to have it denied so scientists could study the disease.  Moreover, if “convictions about what is natural or right should not inhibit science,” how can we condemn Hitler for using Jews for grisly medical experiments, as happened in the death camps?

Go to part 6 here

[1] Greg Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, p. 9.

[2] Mary Anne Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” in The Problem of Abortion, Joel Feinberg, ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1984) p.103.

[3] Mary S. Calderone, “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem,” American Journal of Public Health, July 1960.

[4] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC Surveillance Summaries, September 4, 1992.

[5] “Don’t turn Against Science, Blair Warns Protesters,” London Daily Telegraph, November 18, 2000.

[6] Cited in “Clone Wars,” National Review on-line, July 1, 2002.

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Part 4 What about cloning?

I am continuing to post answers to common objectives by Scott Klusendorf (see part 3).


  • “There’s no good moral argument for making research cloning illegal.” Reply:  The key moral issue in cloning is not how a human being comes into existence, but how we treat that human being once life begins. In order to perfect the cloning process, millions of living human embryos must be destroyed.  This is immoral.  It treats the distinct human being as nothing more than a disposable instrument used to benefit others.  Since human beings are intrinsically valuable in virtue of the kind of thing they are, rather than some benefit they confer on others, cloning research is morally problematic and should be banned.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed a total ban on human cloning in 2001, but the U.S. Senate, led by Democrats, refused to affirm the House ban.  Now that the Senate is back in Republican control, the prospects of passing a total ban are better (though by no means guaranteed) than the 2001 legislative session.  Ironically, even those opposed to a total ban on cloning claim to reject the practice.  However, this again is misleading.  What they oppose is the birth of a cloned human, not its creation for research purposes.  In other words, they support what is reasonably referred to as “clone and kill” legislation. Under this legislation, human embryos will be created then destroyed for the express purpose of extracting their stem cells to treat people suffering from degenerative diseases. [1] Supporters of the law insist it contains a strict prohibition against cloning human beings.  That “strict” prohibition is simply that all cloned embryos must be killed before they have a chance to develop into more mature human beings.  In other words, human lives may be created using cloning technology if and only if the creators agree, under threat of law, to destroy the embryonic child.  That is the so-called ethical safeguard that allegedly prevents the cloning of human beings.
  • “The federal government should not get involved in abortion.” Reply: It already has, with crashing bells and cymbals.[2] One branch of the federal government, the courts, has totally co-opted the issue from the legislative and executive branches, leaving the people no say in the matter.  In other words, nine men decided national policy for the rest of us.

Go to part 5 here

[1] See for example Senate bill S. 2439, sponsored by Democrats Dianne Feinstein, Ted Kennedy, and Tom Harkin, along with Republicans Arlen Specter and Orin Hatch.

[2] Hadley Arkes, Hearing on H.R. 4292, the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2000,” Committee on the Judiciary July 20, 2000.

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Part 3 Answering pro-abortion objections

As I stated previously, the abortion debate comes down to one question, what is the unborn.  However, many times when I’ve gotten into conversations on this issue, people try to sidetrack me using quick hitting objections.  Has anyone else had this problem?  Before I go into the scientific evidence I would like to take on a series of objections.  I call answering these “clearing the brush” so the listener will more apt to listen to the truth concerning the status of the unborn.

The following information was taken from a document I received from Scott Klusendorf[1].  He runs a pro-life organization called Life Training Institute.  I highly recommend his book, The Case for Life.  His answers to popular objections are short, concise and well thought out.  Anyone reading this that is pro-abortion may find his or her objection clearly answered.

  • “I personally oppose abortion, but I think it should remain legal.” My reply (thanks to Greg Koukl for this): “Why do you personally oppose abortion?”  Answer (the only one they can give): “I personally oppose abortion because it kills a baby.”  My reply: “let me repeat back what you just said.  You personally oppose abortion because you think it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies?” (Let the question sink in.)  If the unborn are human, like infants and toddlers, why not protect them in law?
  • “You shouldn’t legislate morality!” Reply: Why not?  Morality is the only thing you can legitimately legislate.  Otherwise, you are suggesting that lawmakers take away peoples’ freedoms based on the whims (preferences) of lawmakers.[2] Imagine a lawmaker saying, “We’re going to pass a law demanding that you like chocolate ice cream over vanilla.”  If the unborn are human, like other children, we should legislate to protect them.
  • “The law cannot stop all abortions.” Reply: Laws against rape do not stop all cases of rape, but no one that I know suggests legalizing the practice.  The fact is that laws against rape, like laws against abortion, drastically reduce illegal (and immoral) behavior.  Would anyone that you know suggest that legalizing rape would not increase its occurrence?  Prior to Roe v. Wade (1973), at best there were 210,000 illegal abortions per year.  (More conservative estimates suggest a mean of 89,000 per year.)  Within 7 years of legalization, totals jumped to over 1.5 million annually.[3] True, no law can stop ALL illegal behavior, but that’s not the point.  The issue is not, How many people are breaking the law?, but, are the unborn human?  If so, we should legally protect them the way we would any other group that is unjustly harmed.  Perhaps what this objection has in mind is that there would be widespread resistance to outlawing abortion.  That should not be a factor in deciding law.  Imagine saying to a minority group suffering discrimination (say, for example, blacks), “We will protect you as long as it meets with popular approval and is not too difficult to do so.”  This would be an outrage, and rightly so.  Persons deserve protection under the law because justice demands it, not because (or only if) it is easy.

Go to part 4 here

[1] Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute (LFI)   http://www.prolifetraining.com/

[2] Hadley Arkes develops this theme in First Things: An Inquiry into the Principles of Morals and Justice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986) p. 27.

[3] For a study on estimates prior to legalization, see Thomas Hilgers, et al, “An Objective Model for Estimating Criminal Abortions and Its Implications for Public Policy,” in New Perspectives on Human Abortion, ed. Thomas Hilgers (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1981) p. 78.

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Part 2 There is only one question: What is the unborn?

In part 1 I made the statement the only question that needs to be answered in the abortion debate is what is the unborn?  This question trumps all other issues such as choice, privacy, trusting women, rights, etc.  I will try to provide clarity in regards to answering this question.

Imagine you are a dad taking a nap on the couch and your young son comes up from behind you and asks can I kill this?  What do you say?  The answer of course is you need to see what “this” is.  If it is a slug take it out back and kill it.  If it is the next door neighbors kitten then no.  If it is the little friend from the down the street, then counseling is needed.  Before we can kill something we need to know what it is.

This applies to the unborn.  Prior to killing it we must answer the question what is it.  If the embryo is not a human, then of course kill it.  When we have an operation to remove an appendix no one holds up protest signs to argue against killing it.  The same goes for the unborn.  If the unborn is not human, then take it out and kill it.  However, if the unborn is human then it is wrong to take his or her life for any reason (other than life for life situations)[1].

If the unborn are humans like toddlers, we should not kill them in the name of choice, privacy, trusting women, etc., any more than we would a toddler.  Some reading this might argue, “Killing a toddler not the same as killing embryo.”  I would reply, “Ah, that’s the issue.  Are they the same?  Again, we’re back to one question, what is the embryo?”

This same question, “What is the embryo,” clears up confusion on Embryo Stem Cell Research (ESCR).  If you have a good eye and I have a bad one, can I take your good eye to make my bad eye feel better?  Clearly, I cannot.  Human beings should not be forcibly stripped of their body parts to treat others.  Hence, if the embryo is human, like you, we cannot kill it to benefit someone else.  It’s that simple.

Let me be clear. I am vigorously “pro-choice” when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods.  I support a woman’s right to choose her own health care provider, to choose her own school, to choose her own husband, to choose her own job, to choose her own religion, and to choose her own career, to name a few.  These are among the many choices that I fully support for the women of our country.  But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves.  No, we shouldn’t be allowed to choose that[2].

Go to part 3 here

[1] Greg Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons (STR Press, 1999) p. 3

[2] Majority of the content has been taken from articles written by Greg Koukl http://www.str.org and Scott Klusendorf  http://www.prolifetraining.com/

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Part 1 Reasons why women have abortions

The issue of abortion seems to have the nation divided.  The pro-choice side sees themselves as protecting the rights of women. The pro-life side sees themselves protecting the life of the unborn. For the most part both sides would say it is wrong to take the life of an innocent human.  Whereas the pro-life advocates argue human life begins at conception, the majority of the pro-choice would say the unborn doesn’t qualify as a human until after birth.

This series will focus on making the case the unborn is fully human at conception and human rights begin at that point.  I will make my case scientifically, philosophically, and finally, theologically.  I will start by defending the unborn with arguments that could be used in the public square. I will make my case utilizing evidence from science and philosophy.  I will then finish the series demonstrating the Bible supports the pro-life position.

Let me begin by stating the problem.  In the United States over 51 million abortions have been performed since 1973[1].  The overwhelming majority of all abortions, (95%), are done as a means of birth control. Only 1% are performed because of rape or incest; 1% because of fetal abnormalities; and 3% due to the mother’s health problems.

Women give a variety of reasons for having an abortion[2].

  • Postpone childbearing: 25.5%
  • Desire no more children:  7.9%,
  • Cannot afford a baby:  21.3%
  • Having a child will disrupt education or job: 10.8%
  • Has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy: 14.1%
  • Too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to pregnancy: 12.2%
  • Risk to maternal health: 2.8%
  • Risk to fetal health: 3.3%
  • Other: 2.1

The vast majority of the reasons for an abortion are not medical.  Is abortion an appropriate means of birth control?  If the unborn is not human then abortion would be an appropriate procedure for any reason.  However, if the unborn is human, then outside of protecting the life of the mother, killing an unborn is wrong and needs to be stopped.

My entire case rests on answering the question, what is the unborn?  My job will be to establish the fact the fetus is a precious unborn human person deserving full protection from being killed by a doctor performing an abortion.

Go to part 2 here

[1] National Right to Life; http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/facts/abortionstats.html

[2] http://www.abortiontv.com/AbortionStatistics.htm

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Moral Ignorance among American Youth

Dennis Prager recently wrote an article on why Americans can’t think morally[1].  He based his article on an academic study by David Brooks.  Brooks surveyed American youth, ages 18 to 23, on the issue of morality.  What he found was young people today make moral decisions based on individual choices; what they feel like doing at the moment.  An objective or universal standard of morality is completely foreign to a majority of this age group.  Whereas, 60 years ago the majority of society believed morality was revealed, inherited, and shared.  Murder, theft, lying, and rape were objectively wrong.   Today these universal morals have given way to personal preferences.  All standards of morality are thrown out and replaced with a subjective choice.  Without a universal standard, transcendent from humanity, there is no way to judge the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

Prager believes secularism is to blame.  When God is removed as the foundation of morality then the individual determines what is right or wrong.  Prager writes…

The intellectual class and the left still believe that secularism is an unalloyed blessing. They are wrong. Secularism is good for government. But it is terrible for society (though still preferable to bad religion) and for the individual.

One key reason is what secularism does to moral standards. If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than “yummy” and “yucky.” They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, “There is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?'”

With the death of Judeo-Christian-God-based standards, people have simply substituted feelings for those standards. Millions of American young people have been raised by parents and schools with “How do you feel about it?” as the only guide to what they ought to do. The heart has replaced God and the Bible as a moral guide.

And now, as Brooks points out, we see the results. A vast number of American young people do not even ask whether an action is right or wrong. The question would strike them as foreign. Why? Because the question suggests that there is a right and wrong outside of themselves. And just as there is no God higher than them, there is no morality higher than them, either.

Forty years ago, I began writing and lecturing about this problem. It was then that I began asking students if they would save their dog or a stranger first if both were drowning. The majority always voted against the stranger — because, they explained, they loved their dog and they didn’t love the stranger.

They followed their feelings.  Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?

[1] Prager, Dennis; “Why Americans Can’t Think Morally,” http://townhall.com/ 9/20/11

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Is Richard Dawkins a Coward?

During the fall of 2011, Dr. William Lane Craig Christian philosopher and debater, was in Europe on a speaking tour.  Independent organizations attempted to find an atheist to debate him.  This process was more difficult than anticipated.  Three outspoken atheists turned down the invitation; AC Grayling, Polly Toynbee, and Richard Dawkins.  Fortunately, one prominent atheist, Stephen Law, accepted the invitation to debate Dr. Craig.

The most famous of the group, that refused to debate, was Richard Dawkins.  He has written books and articles criticizing religion and attacking the Christian worldview as dangerous.  On occasion he has publicly stated no one has been able to answer his arguments against the existence of God outlined in his book, “The God Delusion.”  What Dawkins ignores is the fact Dr. Craig has on multiple occasions responded to his arguments.  On Craig’s website, Reasonable Faith, I found many responses to Dawkins.  Here are a couple of examples:  Richard Dawkins’ argument for atheism in The God Delusion.   Second, Dr. Craig gives a very detailed response to The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God.  Dawkins contention no one has responded to his arguments is either naïve or a lie.

I asked an atheist friend of mine why Dawkins wouldn’t debate Dr. Craig and he said possibly it was a personality conflict.  I told him that would be the last reason.  Richard Dawkins is the one with the caustic attitude.  All you have to is read the quotes from his books.  I went to dinner with Dr. Craig when he spoke in Escondido a few years ago and he is kind and caring.  I’ve listened to over 30 of his debates and he seems to always show great respect to his opponents.  Dawkins refusal to debate has nothing to do with a personality conflict.

A prominent atheist from Oxford called Dawkins a coward.  On You Tube you can watch a 6 minute video called: Oxford Atheist Calls Richard Dawkins “Coward” for Not Debating William Lane Craig  I highly recommend viewing this video.

A source close to Dawkins said he refused because Christian John Lennox recently soundly defeated him in a debate and he didn’t want to go through that experience again.  In public Dawkins can vilify Christians but at the same time will not take on a leading Christian debater.  Why fear debating a Christian who supports a belief system Dawkins thinks is grounded in ignorance?  What is there to be afraid of?

In my mind there is no doubt Dawkins fears his arguments will not standup.  AC Grayling and Polly Toynbee also ran away from debating Craig.  This is sad when the top minds for atheism are afraid of a philosopher.  My thinking is either put up or shut up.

In my own experience, I have found error always runs from the truth.  Craig knows how to expose the weaknesses of the atheist viewpoint, while at the same time strongly defending the theistic/Christian worldview.  I’ve heard Dawkins debate and if I were him I’d hide.  He is better off writing books and hiding behind his words rather than putting forth his arguments in a public debate.  He would get destroyed.

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As I conclude I would like to briefly summarize some of the key points of this series.

  • Writings of ancient historians Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger established:
    • Jesus was real.
    • He had devoted followers before and after his death.
    • He died on the cross.
    • Followers would rather be tortured or die than to deny Jesus.
    • Jesus was sentenced by Pilate.
  • Archeology supports
    • Many Old Testament finds give evidence for ancient cities as far back as the time of Abraham.
    • Famous archeologist Dr. Ramsey says New Testament writer Luke is an historian of the first order (authored Luke and Acts).
    • John 5 includes insignificant details of five columns surrounding the pool of Bethesda and an archeological dig supports the description of the pool.
    • No archeological find has contradicted the New Testament writings.
  • Addition historical evidence
    • No mention of the destruction of the temple in AD 70 supports the New Testament writers wrote prior to that date.
    • Thousands of ancient manuscripts (24,000) help textual critics give us an accurate Bible.
    • Eyewitness writers supported the accuracy of their writings with their lives.

Remember all the additional sources I utilized in this series for establishing the historical Jesus are secondary to the writings of the Bible.  What we have in the New Testament are multiple independent attestations that give us a clear picture of who was the historical Jesus.  The Bible is not a single book but a collection of writings from eyewitnesses or men who received their information from eyewitnesses.

When you look at the Jesus of the critics, the interesting thing is Jesus begins to look like them or what they want him to be.  The Jesus Seminar has molded Jesus to look like a moral sage, one who goes around pontificating about how to love others.  The problem is the Jesus of this group is not the Jesus of the Bible; that’s because they hate the true Jesus.  Their Jesus would never have offended anyone, let alone been persecuted and crucified.  He would have been too meek and mild to draw attention to himself.

Does it matter which Jesus we believe in?  Jesus believed it did.  In John 8 he told the religious Jews that if you don’t believe He was who said He was they would die in their sins.   This warning applies today.  If you follow a false Jesus, he warns you there are eternal consequences.

What can you do with this information?  When you watch a television program or read articles attacking the Biblical Jesus, ask yourself the question, do they believe the supernatural is possible.  Many times I’ve watched Bible programs on the Discovery or History channel only to see John Dominic Crossan explaining away some section or teaching of the Bible.  This man is an atheist and believes God is a creation in the minds of people.  His denial of the supernatural forces him to explain away all the miracle accounts recorded in the scriptures.  This series on the historical Jesus should have equipped you to evaluate critical sources of information.

I began this series in part 1 reflecting on the experiences of atheist Lee Strobel, a newspaper journalist, who thought Christianity was false.  When tried to prove the Jesus of the Bible was fabricated.  After looking at the evidence he dedicated his life to following Christ.  Today he speaks all over the world and writes books in support of Christianity.  Some of his books include The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator and The Case for the Real Jesus.  Lee Strobel’s books are outstanding support for the historical Jesus of the Bible.  After years of being an atheist, Strobel chose to follow Jesus.  How about you?  Who do you say Jesus is?

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Test #3:  What additional historical evidence supports the Jesus of the Bible?

1. Dating of the 4 Gospels

2. Mountains of Manuscripts

3. The Writers Testimonies

The Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) wrote about supernatural occurrences such as divine healings, miracles and the resurrection.  These men walked and talked with Jesus.  According to all the historical sources we have, these writers were honest and sincere men of integrity.  Honesty and integrity are always assumed in evaluating historical literature unless there is compelling evidence otherwise.  We have good reasons to trust the Gospel writers.

So why would they include in their accounts something as unbelievable as miracles?  Wouldn’t they risk people discarding their accounts as fables?  Throughout the New Testament they wrote about incredible healings, walking on water, individuals rising from the dead, casting out demons, and much more.  If they were making it up what would be their motivation?  An atheist friend told me they made up the miracle stories so they could bask in the glory of starting a new religion.  I asked him what did these New Testament writers receive for their supernatural writings.  Did they get fame and fortune?

The truth is they lived in poverty, were whipped, spend months and years in jail and the vast majority eventually paid for their writings with their lives.  Not a single one changed their story, even when tortured.  Truly the only motivation was to tell the truth about Jesus.  They wrote about the miraculous because that is what they saw.  They supported their written testimonies with their lives.

There are individuals who die for what they believe even today.  However, the difference is they are not eyewitnesses of the actual events in question. People don’t die for a lie they know is a lie!  These men gave their lives in defense of what they believed to be true.

Critics like the Jesus Seminar eliminate chapters and verses of the Gospels as being authentic because they include accounts of the miraculous.  They have a presupposition miracles are impossible and they apply that belief to the authenticity of the scriptures.  This is not a convincing argument.  Whenever you see critics writing about events such as the resurrection in Time Magazine or Newsweek, remember they have most likely ruled out the supernatural before they even considered the evidence.  Once they rule out the miraculous, then they will try to provide a natural explanation for the event.  Usually, it is a weakly contrived story.  Their reasoning is any natural explanation is better than a supernatural one.

When it comes to the accuracy of the Gospel writers you have a choice of whom you are going to believe.   Would you trust individuals writing 2,000 years later who don’t believe in God, think miracles are impossible, and are critical of the eyewitnesses?  Or would you believe in the individuals who walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus and backed up their writings with their lives.  In my mind the choice is easy.  I choose to believe the eyewitnesses.  How about you?


Part 5 The importance of hell by Pastor Tim Keller

Pastor Tim Keller wrote an interesting commentary entitled, “The Importance of Hell.”[1]  His article brings forth some crucial points in the discussion on hell.  I would like to summarize his four main points.

1.   It is important because Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else.  Jesus is someone most people respect and are willing to listen to.  He spoke from the perspective of being fully God and fully man.  This gives Him incredible authority to speak about God’s justice and His judgments.  Jesus can be said to be the Lord of love and the author of grace and yet He paints a horrific description of hell.

2.   It is important because it shows our utter dependence upon God.  Hell teaches us separation from God is the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone.  We were originally created to walk with God.  It is sin that separates us.  Without God our souls lose the ability to reason, feel, chose, give, or receive love or joy.  We were designed to worship God and enjoy Him forever.  Separation from God removes those positive qualities resulting in hell.

3.   It is important because it unveils the danger of living for self.  In hell God gives us over to our sinful passions.  J.I. Packer writes: “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen…Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice.  All receive what they actually chose, either to be with God forever, worshipping him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves.”  (J.I. Packer, Concise Theology p. 262-263)  In hell we get what we most wanted here on earth, to be masters of our own life.  Even in this world we see self-centeredness is a destructive lifestyle.  The more self-absorbed and self-pitying we are, the increased likelihood breakdowns will occur.  A soul focused on God lives a more fulfilled life.  Interesting was in the parable in Luke 16:19ff it shows the rich man blame-shifting.  He was saying he didn’t have enough information to avoid hell.  He told Abraham to warn his family about the horrors of hell.  Abraham says they have the scriptures and can make the right decision.  The rich man never repented or sought after the presence of God; he still was locked into self-worship.  CS Lewis says the doors to hell are locked from the inside.

4.  It is important because we can clearly see how much Jesus loves us and how much He did for us.  The death of Jesus on the cross was a horrible experience but nothing compared to the pain in His soul.  God forsaking Him was far worse.  It was a glimpse of hell.  For that period of time it was a loss of relationship with the Father.  In human relations separation can be emotionally devastating.  The closer the relationship, the tougher it is when the person walks away from us.  Imagine the perfect relationship between the Father and the Son.  The Father forsaking the Son had to be unimaginable.  Our understanding of who Jesus is answers the objection, “Why would God punish an innocent man to pay for my sins?”  It was God incarnated (God in human flesh) that took the punishment on the cross, not a third party.  Only at the cross is our relationship with God restored and we spend eternity loving and praising God for what he has done (Rev. 5:9-14).

Go to part 6 here

[1] Tim Keller, “The Importance of Hell,” Redeemer Presbyterian Church

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Test #3:  What additional historical evidence supports the Jesus of the Bible?

1. Dating of the 4 Gospels

2. Mountains of Manuscripts

When it comes to the New Testament manuscripts the originals (autographs), penned from the various Biblical writers, do not exist.  What we have are copies of copies.  Therefore, the more copies we have the more we can check the accuracy of the manuscripts.  This is the same standard for all ancient writings.  The two issues historians use to judge accuracy is the closeness of the copies to the original and the number we have.

When you look at ancient manuscript evidence for other historical writings it is a nightmare when compared to the Bible.  Ancient books are accepted as historically accurate with scant manuscript evidence.  The closest copies we have for the vast majority of non-Biblical writings are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years after the original.  In addition to the late date these manuscripts have very few copies.

Next to the New Testament the second greatest number of manuscript copies is Homer’s Iliad, which was the bible of the ancient Greeks.  There are fewer than 650 Greek manuscripts of it today.  These copies come to us from the 2nd & 3rd century AD and following.  When you consider that Homer composed his epic 800 BC you can see a huge gap between the original and the copies of over 1,000 years.

On the other hand when we come to the Bible we have 5,664 ancient Greek manuscripts.  There are between 8,000-10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, plus thousands of other copies for various reasons.  We have nearly 24,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament that serve as pieces of a puzzle for the textual critics to work with to give us an accurate Bible.  Around 306 of these manuscripts date back to the 3rd century AD.  In fact we have one manuscript scrap from the book of John that originated somewhere between 100 -150 AD.  A number of scholars have even dated it earlier.

Armed with this wealth of evidence it is up to the textual critic to insure the accuracy of the New Testament.  And yet there are errors in today’s copy of the New Testament.  Most scholars would number of errors in the manuscripts in the thousands.  These same scholars say the Bible we have today is almost 100% pure.  How can that be?

Remember the Bible was copied over hundreds of years without the use of copy machines; it was all done by hand.  Errors are bound to happen even though the copyists had rigorous standards to eliminate errors.  Some probably happened because eyeglasses were not yet invented and poor eyesight caused some mistakes.  Other errors occurred in word order.  In English word order is very important but in Greek it is not.  In English there is a difference between “Dog bites man” and “Man bites dog.”  But in Greek it doesn’t matter.  Therefore, meanings are not changed even if word order changes.  If one word is put out of order in a Greek manuscript and that manuscript is copies 1,000 times, scholars count that as 1,000 mistakes.  The same happens on a single misspelled word; if it is copied 2,000 times that equals 2,000 mistakes.

You can see how the total number of errors increases dramatically.  Some estimates have the number of mistakes around 200,000 but that number is actually small when you consider what constitutes a mistake.  Billions, billions of mistakes are possible counting them using this method.  Yet, scholars say what we have is 99% pure and no teaching or doctrine of Christianity is compromised.  The reason is when you have 24,000 ancient manuscripts the textual critics, who study these documents, can easily spot most errors and make the appropriate corrections.

The great scholar F. F. Bruce said this: “Perhaps we can appreciate how wealthy the New Testament is in manuscript attestation if we compare the textual material for other ancient historical works.  For Caesar’s Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 BC) there are several extant manuscripts, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some 900 years later than Caesar’s day[1].”

What I find difficult to understand it why the Bible with mountains of manuscript evidence is continually under attack and yet, books with as few as 10 manuscripts are given a free pass; no one questions their accuracy.  Is there a possible scholarly bias?

Go to part 12 here

[1] Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Downers Grove, Ill. 60515: Intervarsity Press, 1964

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Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

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On the day before the 10 year memorial of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House, I felt I needed to say something about this horrific incident.

I remember I was working out that day, lifting weights at the local YMCA gym.  There were two large televisions presenting the morning news but I was not paying attention; I was focused on my workout.  A fellow exerciser tapped me on the shoulder and said look at the screens.  What I saw over the next 10-15 minutes at the gym blew me away.  The surreal pictures of a plane crashing into one of the towers of the World Trade Center left me speechless.  The entire gym was quiet as we were all glued to the television scenes not knowing what to say or how to react to what we were witnessing.  The main thought that was expressed throughout the gym was “I cannot believe this is happening.”  I went home and my wife and I watched in horror at what occurred over the next few hours.  For weeks we continued to watch the television news as the drama unfolded.

Ten years later, most people I talk to about this incident remember what they were doing when the planes struck the towers.  Highly emotional incidents seem to have a profound effect on our memories and we retain them with much greater detail than we do living out our mundane daily routines.  I will never forget 9/11 and watching the news this week has been a good reminder of what happened.  It has helped me to pray for the survivors and to celebrate the heroism that occurred throughout the city of New York.  People risked their lives to save strangers and demonstrated to me, as individuals made in the image of God, that when pressed into a corner Americans will step up to the challenge and save others even if they lose their own lives.

You see God did a similar thing by sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for us.  A familiar passage for many is John 3:16 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and this act was motivated by love.  The Apostle Paul expands this historic event with the words in Romans 5:6-8 (NASB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Whereas, the lives that were heroically saved at 9/11 will all someday die, those Jesus has saved will not perish (be separated from God) but will have life everlasting.  What Jesus did on the cross provides an opportunity for everyone in the entire world to experience the joy of knowing God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and experiencing eternal life after death.

As a reminder of what happened at 9/11, I would like to share a link to a testimony of a pilot who was bumped from his assignment of flying the plane that crashed into one of the towers.  He should have been killed that day by the Islamic terrorists but instead was spared.  The events that occurred the day before 9/11 and his concluding statements are incredibly compelling.  I highly recommend watching this video as Peter Scheibner describes what it’s like to have had two people die in his place, and how this has left him with an urgency to live for God’s glory.  Watch video here

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