Abortion and the Value of Human Life (parts I & II)

Abortion and the Value of Human Life, Part I
(a series of articles by Vicar Eric Phillips, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Spring 2013)

marchforlife13The last weekend of January saw the 40th March for Life in Washington, D.C. It’s been that long since the U.S. Supreme Courtdeclared laws banning abortion to be “unconstitutional,” and in the intervening time, over fifty million abortions have been performed in the United States. Some of these have been deemed medically necessary-as a response to-an ectopic pregnancy, for instance, where the baby is sure to die anyway and the mother’s life is seriously threatened in addition-but such cases account for only a tiny percentage of all abortions. The vast majority are elective, usually performed because the mother fears a baby would interfere with her schooling or career, or that she doesn’t have the money to take care of a child, or that she will end up as a single parent-or some combination of those factors. All three are compelling fears, and would adequately explain a host of other decisions, but they fall far short as justifications in this case. What is the greater evil? Having to drop out of school, or killing an innocent human being? If we’re talking about an already-born baby, almost no one has any doubts about it. People who leave their newborns in a dumpster for such reasons are not only prosecuted for murder, but regarded with horror by society. What makes abortion different? Continue reading

Abortion and the Value of Human Life (part III)

Abortion and the Value of Human Life, Part III
(a series of articles by Vicar Eric Phillips, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Spring 2013)

ebenezerIn the previous columns, I’ve argued that the moral debate over abortion boils down to the question of whether human life is sacred, or just human personhood. Those who support a right to abortion-on-demand end up arguing the latter, that although a fetus is biologically human it is not yet a person, and therefore can be destroyed at will, without moral outrage. Those who seriously maintain the former, on the other hand, must conclude that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, and thus something that must be permitted only in those rare cases when it can be expected to prevent an equal or greater evil from occurring (e.g. the death of both the mother and the baby). In part II, then, I demonstrated from a few foundational biblical passages that the former is the position taught by the Christian faith. A human being is made in the image of God, and is transcendently valuable for that objective reason, before we consider all the wonderful ways in which this image manifests itself through the development of human personhood. But there’s more. If we continue looking at the biblical witness, we will see that even if we were to allow the morality of abortion to be judged on the basis of human personhood rather than human life, it would fail that test too. Continue reading

Abortion and the Value of Human Life (part IV-conclusion)

Abortion and the Value of Human Life, Part IV (Conclusion)
(a series of articles by Vicar Eric Phillips, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Spring 2013)

In the past three articles, I have made two kinds of arguments in this column. The first kind is simply logical, and forms a chain that can be summarized as follows:
1) In the legalization of abortion on demand, our culture has denied that human life has intrinsic worth, and moved all that value over to human personhood, that is, the ability of human beings to recognize themselves as persons, have relationships, and build their own identity.
2) This position cannot explain why born babies should be protected by the law, at least until they begin to show signs of psychological personhood.
3) Therefore babies (up to about one year old at least) are protected by our laws only because their parents (and to a lesser degree, society in general) value them and treat them as persons.
The second kind is theological, and forms this complementary chain: Continue reading

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

mlkjrFather Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, will join Dr. Alveda King, Director of African-American Outreach, in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and her uncle Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Father Pavone will take part in an interfaith service from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and will be present with the King family for the events throughout the day.

“We remember the events of 50 years ago because they speak to today, and the message that the march and the speech have for America is that we cannot have equality and justice until the children in the womb are protected,” said Father Pavone. “Dr. King’s dream would be absolutely unintelligible if one imagines that somehow the dismemberment and decapitation of thousands of children a day could be reconciled with that dream, or could be justified either morally or legally.”

Dr. Alveda King noted that her uncle often spoke of a “Beloved Community.” Father Pavone, Dr. Alveda King, her mother and brother are among the signatories of a 2011 declaration called “The Beloved Community and the Unborn” that draws on a Christmas sermon Martin Luther King delivered in 1967, in which he preached the following words: Continue reading