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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gary Chaffins and Frank Thompson Talking Abortion



This e-mail response from Gary Chaffins is printed in mutual agreement. It is intended for public consumption to help those struggling with the issue of abortion and all its complex understandings. What follows is open discussion between two people who agree to disagree. I certainly intend no harm to my new friend, Gary. He has the same consideration for me. Gary and I put this entry out for your consideration and for your discernment that opposing views may lead to new understandings. The comments from Gary are printed in blue. My response is printed in black.



Frank,

Thank you for your time today. Per your request, here is a summary of my position on the topic of Christianity and abortion. Please note that due to time constraints, I pulled together a few resources that properly reflect my position. I hope that you take the time to consider each and every resource that I have provided for you.

I recognize that Abortion is a very touchy subject and talking about it can result in anger, accusations, hurt feelings and so on. These things seem to become more of a reality whenever one approaches it from a Christian worldview. However, please note, that although I believe abortion is wrong, my message is NOT condemnation, but to offer a clear picture of the value of human life in the sight of God and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. With that said, I unashamedly admit that the Bible serves as my ultimate guide on this issue.

My position is that abortion is murder and that murderers should be punished as murderers (according to current standards of law).

Here is a concise statement that sums up my position on this topic:

"The Bible never specifically addresses the issue of abortion. However, there are numerous teachings in Scripture that make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb. Exodus 21:22-25 prescribes the same penalty—death—for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder. This clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb to be as human as a full-grown adult. For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. It is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6).

The first argument that always arises against the Christian stance on abortion is “What about cases of rape and/or incest?” As horrible as it would be to become pregnant as a result of rape and/or incest, is the murder of a baby the answer? Two wrongs do not make a right. The child who is a result of rape/incest could be given in adoption to a loving family unable to have children on their own, or the child could be raised by its mother. Again, the baby is completely innocent and should not be punished for the evil acts of its father.

The second argument that usually arises against the Christian stance on abortion is “What about when the life of the mother is at risk?” Honestly, this is the most difficult question to answer on the issue of abortion. First, let’s remember that this situation is the reason behind less than one-tenth of one percent of the abortions done in the world today. Far more women have an abortion for convenience than women who have an abortion to save their own lives. Second, let’s remember that God is a God of miracles. He can preserve the life of a mother and a child despite all the medical odds being against it. Ultimately, though, this question can only be decided between a husband, wife, and God. Any couple facing this extremely difficult situation should pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) as to what He would have them to do.

Over 95 percent of the abortions performed today involve women who simply do not want to have a baby. Less than 5 percent of abortions are for the reasons of rape, incest, or the mother's health at risk. Even in the more difficult 5 percent of instances, abortion should never be the first option. The life of a human being in the womb is worth every effort to allow the child to be born.

For those who have had an abortion, remember that the sin of abortion is no less forgivable than any other sin. Through faith in Christ, all sins can be forgiven (John 3:16; Romans 8:1; Colossians 1:14). A woman who has had an abortion, a man who has encouraged an abortion, or even a doctor who has performed one—can all be forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ."
(Source: GotQuestions.org)

The Gospel and Abortion

Furthermore, I believe that life begins at conception. In the words of Denny Burke:

"pro-lifers define abortions as any measure that causes a fertilized egg or fetus to be destroyed. Pro-lifers believe that all human beings have an inalienable right to life from conception to natural death. Notice that it’s not from implantation to natural death, but from conception to natural death. When sperm unites with an egg, a new human life comes into being. In the normal course of events, that new human life travels down the fallopian tubes and into the mother’s womb where it implants into the uterine wall. Pro-choicers often say that an abortion can only occur after implantation. Pro-lifers contend that abortion can occur before or after implantation. Human life is at stake from the time of conception, and anything that destroys that life is abortifacient."

Here are a few quotes to help justify such a statement:

A United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee invited experts to testify on the question of when life begins. All of the quotes from the following experts come directly from the official government record of their testimony.
Dr. Alfred M. Bongiovanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated:
I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.... I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life....
"I am no more prepared to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty...is not a human being. This is human life at every stage.”


Dr. Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris, was the discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down syndrome. Dr. LeJeune testified to the Judiciary Subcommittee, “after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.” He stated that this “is no longer a matter of taste or opinion,” and “not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence.” He added, “Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”

Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic: “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School: “It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive.... It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.... Our laws, one function of which is to help preserve the lives of our people, should be based on accurate scientific data.”

Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School: “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals.”

A prominent physician points out that at these Senate hearings, “Pro-abortionists, though invited to do so, failed to produce even a single expert witness who would specifically testify that life begins at any point other than conception or implantation. Only one witness said no one can tell when life begins.”

Many other prominent scientists and physicians have likewise affirmed with certainty that human life begins at conception:

Ashley Montague, a geneticist and professor at Harvard and Rutgers, is unsympathetic to the prolife cause. Nevertheless, he affirms unequivocally, “The basic fact is simple: life begins not at birth, but conception.”


Dr. Bernard Nathanson, internationally known obstetrician and gynecologist, was a cofounder of what is now the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He owned and operated what was at the time the largest abortion clinic in the western hemisphere. He was directly involved in over sixty thousand abortions.

Dr. Nathanson’s study of developments in the science of fetology and his use of ultrasound to observe the unborn child in the womb led him to the conclusion that he had made a horrible mistake. Resigning from his lucrative position, Nathanson wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that he was deeply troubled by his “increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”

In his film, “The Silent Scream,” Nathanson later stated, “Modern technologies have convinced us that beyond question the unborn child is simply another human being, another member of the human community, indistinguishable in every way from any of us.” Dr. Nathanson wrote Aborting America to inform the public of the realities behind the abortion rights 
movement of which he had been a primary leader. At the time Dr. Nathanson was an atheist. His conclusions were not even remotely religious, but squarely based on the biological facts.

Dr. Landrum Shettles was for twenty-seven years attending obstetrician-gynecologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Shettles was a pioneer in sperm biology, fertility, and sterility. He is internationally famous for being the discoverer of male- and female-producing sperm. His intrauterine photographs of preborn children appear in over fifty medical textbooks. Dr. Shettles states,"I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest—that human life commences at the time of conception—and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances. My position is scientific, pragmatic, and humanitarian."

The First International Symposium on Abortion came to the following conclusion:
The changes occurring between implantation, a six-week embryo, a six-month fetus, a one-week-old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation. The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of sperm and egg, or at least the blastocyst stage, and the birth of the infant at which point we could say that this was not a human life.

The Official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the "Human Life Bill," summarized the issue this way:

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being - a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.
Source: Randy Alcorn (www.humanlife.org)

Helpful Resources:

Can birth control cause abortion? 
"180" The Movie http://www.180movie.com/

In Christ,
Gary Chaffins 

First of all, I want to thank Gary Chaffins for e-mailing me his position after he read a blog entry I wrote about my views on abortion. We discussed abortion during a phone call prior to his e-mail. I greatly appreciate his intelligent approach and his call. It is evident he has done extensive research on the subject, and he reasonably supported his view with documented resources. 

As a person who writes a blog that is largely editorial in content, I appreciate his scholarship and documented work. I hope you read it carefully and give it your utmost consideration. He deserves your time and effort.

During a call from Gary, I asked his permission to print the entire e-mail as part of this response in my blog. As I told him, I firmly believe people must discuss important issues to find common ground and points of difference. I think bringing opinions to the table is essential to understanding compromise and to forming well-supported positions.

I applaud him on his honesty and his courage to allow me to include his response. I feel Gary is both sincere and committed to his Christian views. To me, the fact that he stands up for his beliefs is proof he is a rare person with great conviction willing to talk amiably with someone taking a slightly different stand.

Gary's biblical position is clear. I respect his references to the Bible. I will let them speak for themselves. My only comment is that all of these scriptures come from the Old Testament. The Old Testament does also contain references to God's vengeance of using abortion. It records God in his wrath causing the people of Samaria to bear their guilt because they rebelled against Him. Hosea 9:13-16 speaks of the wrath in which their infants are dashed in pieces, and their women with children "ripped up."

I confess Gary is a much more competent biblical scholar than myself, but I have difficulty paralleling God's complete sanctity of the fetus referenced by Gary with God's decree of complete desolation in the Bible, including annihilation of the fruit of women's wombs, due to their transgression. Surely, these fetuses were innocent of worldly sin and incapable of causing the sins of their fathers and mothers. I find this contradictory to pro-life belief.

Gary and I agree about the definition of conception: "When sperm unites with an egg, a new human life comes into being." Yet, in our conversation, he informed me that his anti-abortion stand also supports the ban of the morning-after pill (EC), or emergency contraception. Gary is careful to delineate "implantation" from "conception." I also understand his point here. Destruction of an implanted embryo that has adhered to the wall of the uterus is defined as abortion. I believe that too.

Gary and I disagree about the fact that morning-after pills necessarily destroy human life. In truth, morning-after pills a means of contraception that most likely perform the task before conception. The emergency contraceptive/morning-after pill has three modes of action (as does the regular birth control pill); it can work in one of three ways:
  1. The normal menstrual cycle is altered, delaying ovulation; or
  2. Ovulation is inhibited, meaning the egg will not be released from the ovary;
  3. It can irritate the lining of the uterus (endometrium) so as to inhibit implantation.
Morning after pill contain contain a form of the hormone progesterone called levonorgestrel. Another regimen of EC pills is a combination regimen containing forms of two hormones: progesterone and estrogen. Pills in this regimen are really just the pills used in oral contraception, but a woman must take more than one for them to work as emergency contraception.

EC should never be used as a primary form of birth control. And, similar to regular birth control, EC will not terminate an existing pregnancy. Yet, human conception rarely occurs immediately after intercourse, instead, it usually as long as several days later after ovulation. During the time between intercourse and conception, sperm continue to travel through the fallopian tube until the egg appears.

It is evident the morning-after pill is most effective when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. The influx of synthetic hormones prevents the ovaries from releasing the egg, thus stopping an unwanted pregnancy. Once a fertilized egg implants, EC will have no effect. This explains why doctors advise women to take the pills no later than 72 hours after unprotected sex -- the chances of it working past that point are very low.  

Despite any disagreement on whether many people believe the definition of life involves implantation and not just conception, the evidence that EC prevents a fertilized egg from adhering to a "thinner" uterine lining is questionable. And, most certainly the hormonal action of EC as described in numbers 1 and 2 above does not destroy a fertilized egg, or as Gary defines "a new life."

Studies have shown that most of the time, women take the morning-after pill for their own peace of mind. For example, a risk of pregnancy may occur when a condom slips off or breaks during intercourse, when a woman forgets to take her birth control pills two days in a row, or when a diaphragm or cervical cap moves, breaks, or tears.

Findings report in 78% of all cases, taking emergency contraception is unnecessary because the woman could not have conceived a child (meaning she was not fertile to begin with). Thus, emergency contraception only has an effect 22 percent of the time. Taking a morning-after regimen does not abort a fetus.

I happen to believe in EC if for nothing else, for a woman's need for emotional security, not for her simple convenience. I understand some abuse of these pills is inevitable, yet birth control is necessary in many cases. And, in most cases, if not in all cases, EC is a form of birth control and not an abortifacient device. I think pro-life attempts to legislate morning-after pills off the market threaten a woman's rights to freedom of contraception.


My Main Concern With Pro-Life Legislation

Gary and I agree that abortion can be morally and even legally wrong. But I, unlike Gary, think the right to have an abortion must be preserved for certain circumstances (Please read this entry for my stance: http://allthingswildlyconsidered.blogspot.com/2014/04/abortion-womens-rights-and-innocent.html) while Gary believes all abortions must be banned.

I, perhaps with a little too much spirited impetus, prodded Gary about what would be done to women who have abortions once the law makes abortion illegal. And, by the way, let's not forget "it takes two to tango," and a potential father shares the responsibility for committing this crime. I asked Gary if he considers abortion is murder in the first degree. He said he believes it is.

Here is what Gary believes, and it is the 
focal point of our disagreement:
"My position is that abortion is murder and that murderers should be punished as murderers (according to current standards of law)."

Here is the Ohio Revised Code section for the penalty that applies to this argument:

2929.02 Murder penalties.

"Whoever is convicted of or pleads guilty to aggravated murder in violation of section 2903.01  of the Revised Code shall suffer death or be imprisoned for life, as determined pursuant to sections 2929.022 , 2929.03 , and 2929.04 of the Revised Code, except that no person who raises the matter of age pursuant to section 2929.023 of the Revised Code and who is not found to have been eighteen years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense shall suffer death. In addition, the offender may be fined an amount fixed by the court, but not more than twenty-five thousand dollars."

It is necessary to understand when young people are tried as adults in criminal court, they face the same penalties as adults. This includes the death penalty or life without parole. In addition, once a juvenile has been transferred to adult court and convicted of (or pleaded guilty to) any felony, he or she is thereafter deemed not to be a "child" in any subsequent case. Likewise, a juvenile who has had the adult portion of a "serious youthful offender" sentence invoked is no longer deemed a child.

I can view this penalty for anyone convicted of having an abortion only one way: this view is absolutely and totally unjust. In fact, the ramifications for destroying the liberties of Americans and endangering our youth are unthinkable. I understand how Gary, in his solid commitment to moral and ethical behavior, believes some who decide to have an abortion are akin to murderers, but, in reality, to judge that all abortions are murders and all who have an abortion are murderers who must receive the necessary penalty under law for such an offense, is irrational and, in my mind, unholy.

To legislate an end to the right to abortion squarely puts the responsibility for death to "abortionist murderers" upon those who insist upon lobbying for such sweeping laws. In my opinion, the present anti-abortion movement diminishes its stance by insisting that all those who abort are killers. The Christians who stand behind the symbol of the cross as an absolute conviction to ending all abortions practice a means of revenge, and do, in effect, attempt to crucify those who abort.

The reason I use the defense of the morning-after pill is to illustrate that all who choose to prevent a new life are not ruthless, uncaring criminals, and, not all those who wish to plan pregnancy through the use of contraceptives are reckless pleasure seekers.

Would many right-to-life advocates also prohibit the sale of birth control pills? I think so. Then condoms and then... anything that prevents conception... because in their minds intercourse is only deemed "right" for purposes of some kind of legal procreation in marriage? Do these people reject all acts of sex outside of traditional heterosexual marriage? This would deny homosexual freedom of sexual contact and expression.

Let me be damned if I am wrong. I risk taking the chance to disagree with pro-lifers. I do not like abortion, but at the same time, I recognize the need to make it available to those in certain circumstances who need it and who use to continue their peaceful existence. To accuse all who have of abortions of the crime of murder is more than gross over-generalization. It is just bad, bad thinking.

I want to close my response by again thanking Gary for representing his views and the views of many others like him. I respect the rights of everyone to believe in good principles and to practice their beliefs. I respect Gary and his pro-life advocates for their choices; however, I do see a great distinction between adhering to chosen personal commitments and pushing legislation that mandates questionable moral principles that must be followed by all.

I will fight this pro-life "cover all abortion" stand with my writing.

My proof rests on the beliefs that America could not stop abortion through law, neither could it enforce anti-abortion law and convict all those guilty of the crime. Death and life imprisonment to those involved in committing abortions would amount to a new genocide of sexually active citizens, young and old, and to a very negligible decrease in abortion labeled as "infanticide" by pro-lifers.

In an innocent vision of a perfect world, juvenile lovers would be holding hands and kissing; consenting, enamored adults would be amorously enjoying safe-sex love affairs; and married couples of all ages would be engaged in sensible, financially responsible family planning. Maybe you wake up in this reality. I don't. My eyes view complications, and my mind works to apply feasible solutions.

As a member of a jury, I could no more give the death penalty to a woman who has what is considered now a legal abortion than I could commit my own soul to hell. Let's live in a moral America with all its cracks and marred surfaces while we look at the exact circumstances of all ethical concerns.

With some of the illogical governmental actions lately, I see many better opportunities to save lives than to outlaw abortion. More state-sponsored, unenforceable, knee-jerk reactions to lobbyists offering big money and false promises to end dilemmas will only contribute to the demise of our freedom and liberty.

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