Less than human?

Many support liberalized abortion policies because of a "quality of life" ethic. What lies behind this ethic, and where does it lead? Is it biblical?

Richard Fredericks PhD., is associate professor of religion at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland.

In the United States today, one out of every four pregnancies ends in abortion. In 14 metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Seattle, abortions outnumber live births.1 Three abortions are done per minute, 4,200 per day, 1.5 million per year a total of more than 20 million since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. Since 1974 the war on the unborn has produced twice as many casualties each year as have all the major wars in U.S. history, from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam. 2

Less than 3 percent of all abortions are done because of serious defects, rape, incest, or danger to the mother. In almost every case the abortion is done because someone perceived the pregnancy as an inconvenience, a social or financial hindrance to personal happiness.

Is this a gross violation of the sixth commandment? One's answer depends on how one views the fetus. The term fetus is simply a Latin word meaning "unborn child." Is the fetus really a child, a member of the human family, and thus deserving of protection? Or is it only tissue, a part of a woman's body whose right to survival is based on whether or not the mother feels she wants it?3

In their 1973 decision the Supreme Court justices gave their answer to this question by ruling that while the unborn are human, they are not persons. The fetus is only a "potential life" and therefore does not have legal right of protection. This understanding of the human fetus is rooted in the "quality of life" ethic.

Basic to this ethic is the concept that human beings do not necessarily have intrinsic value or even equal value. In deed, many Homo sapiens should not be seen as persons at all. Simply put, personhood is based on achievement. Unless a human achieves and maintains a certain level of intellectual or physical performance, he or she is not a person, does not have a life worth living, and therefore is disposable if seen as a threat to a full person. 4

Several developments in this nation indicate that this ethic is reaching beyond the question of abortion. Euthanasia, the medically induced "good death" for those deemed no longer fit to live, has become more acceptable5—and has even been practiced many times by members of the medical profession. And there already have been several instances of infanticide, cases in which newborns with some type of genetic deficiency were placed in a hospital nursery crib marked "Do Not Feed" and allowed to die of dehydration—a process that took six days in the case of Bloomington, Indiana's "Baby Doe" in April 1982. 6

All arguments that support this ethic recognize a hierarchial structuring of the value of individual humans based on relative worth. So, for example, the mother's happiness may be considered more important than the child's life, or society's financial well-being than ex tended care of the terminally ill. This is a dramatic shift away from the biblical view of human life as sacred.

An article that appeared in the journal California Medicine three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion illustrates the need to repudiate the old ethic based upon the sanctity of life in order to be comfortable with abortion: "It has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The results have been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception, and is continuous, whether intra- or extra-uterine, until death. . . . This schizophrenic subterfuge is necessary because while the new ethic is being accepted, the old one has not been rejected." 7

If personhood is based on capabilities or achievements, then who has the authority to draw the line between mere entities and genuine persons? What will keep those who hold the power in society from categorizing as nonpersons those whom they consider a threat to their happiness? If one believes in the fallen condition of humanity, this is terrifying.

Classifying humans as nonpersons

The questions just raised are not idle questions. The 1973 abortion decision was not the first time that, based on economic considerations and the supposedly superior rights of others, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a certain class of humans to be nonpersons.

In 1857, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court ruled that members of the Black race were less than human and the property of their owners. As such, they had no rights that White men were bound to respect. Freeing slaves would violate the Fifth Amendment by causing an undue financial hardship to those who were truly human White slave owners. 8

This was a pro-choice decision, in this case the choice of the slave-owner. The basis of this tragic decision was a narrow view of humanity that arbitrarily limited personhood to a particular skin color.

This century saw an even more direct analogy to America's increasing implementation of death laws to solve social and economic problems. Hitler's "final solution" declared the Jews nonpersons and an unacceptable burden and threat to society. The result was the Holocaust, the extermination of 6 million Jews.

In 1920 Felix Meiner published a small volume in Leipzig, Germany, that paved the way for Germany's doctors to become the directors of the Nazi killing program. In this book, The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value, the authors "declared the Hippocratic oath obsolete, denied that there is an absolute right to life, and decried the 'wasted manpower, patience, and capital investment' needed to 'keep life not worth living alive.' [They] forcefully argued that the terminally ill, the unproductive, the feeble-minded, and all 'useless eaters' have the 'right to the complete relief of an unbearable life' and should be 'given a death with dignity.' " 9

Killing the useless for financial reasons became morally acceptable. Before the first Jews entered the gas chambers, the "Charitable Transport Company for the Sick" carried 250,000 German citizens deemed unfit to live to places where they were given "good deaths." Among these were World War I veterans who were amputees, the incontinent elderly, and Gypsies.

At the Nuremberg war crimes trials, psychiatrist Dr. Leo Alexander demonstrated that the people who participated in and condoned the atrocities of those two decades were not demented monsters. They were very ordinary people who chose to remain silent rather than risk losing their own prosperity, popularity, or positions. The majority of Christians in Germany continued to attend church regularly but remained silent. Silent!

What is the Adventist role in this drama that involves life and death? Several things moved me from apathy to involvement. First, was my discovery regarding abortions in Adventist hospitals. Many Adventist hospitals do not per form elective abortions. 10 But I discovered that in some of those that do, an overwhelming majority of the abortions are elective (i.e., done for some reason other than a defect in the child or danger to the life of the mother) a practice allowed under No. 5 of the guidelines the church has recommended to its medical institutions. 11

I soon realized there would not be a pro-life or a pro-choice movement if the abortion question really centered on the tiny fraction of abortions involving rape, severe mental retardation, or danger to the mother. The real issue is two views of human value.

Next, I saw pictures of what happens in an abortion. What is being torn apart by a suction curette 10-13 weeks into a pregnancy is not a "blob" or "unwanted tissue" but a child with perfectly formed little arms, hands, fingers, and even fingernails; feet with toes and toenails; a face with eyes and expression; and a brain that has been emitting strong brain waves for a month before the "termination." I was looking at a human being with potential and not at potential life.

Then a young Adventist pediatrician told me of a late saline abortion that failed. The baby was born alive and crying but was placed in a sealed bucket to suffocate. The pediatrician was horrified by this act of murder. I will never forget her tears as she looked at me and asked, "How can we do this?"

And I met Patti McKinney, the president of the fastest-growing organization in America: WEBA (Women Exploited by Abortion). Started five years ago with two members, it currently has 36,000 members and chapters in 30 states. Patti introduced me to another angle of the "women's issue" in abortion the in credible sense of betrayal and the equally tremendous physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional scars left with many who choose to abort.

Meeting Patti had an impact on me for another reason. This courageous lady, who appears regularly on national television, was at one time a member of our church. She left us because she believed we were not serious about our call to keep all the commandments of God. Her question was "OK, Adventists, what about the sixth commandment?"

Finding God's will

Next to apathy ("I don't want to get involved" or "If the church is neutral, so am I"), the predominant response I have found among Adventists, especially clergy, is a denial that the Scriptures have anything to say concerning this is sue. This, to me, is a view that discredits Scripture and God Himself. Would God be silent on a matter of such great moral import, leaving everyone to do what is right in his own eyes?

The Old Testament contains three principles that impinge on abortion:

1. God is against murder. The sixth commandment may allow for some forms of capital punishment or self-defense, but it specifically forbids the taking of an innocent life by violent means. No exceptions are offered, no conditions (economic, emotional, or otherwise) are given under which taking an innocent life is accept able to God (see Deut. 24:16).

God especially condemned those who sacrificed their children for their own sins (see Jer. 7:30-34 and Micah 6:7) and those who "ripped open the pregnant women [double murder] ... to enlarge their borders" (Amos 1:13).* The Biblical Archaeology Review reports that in Carthage child sacrifices similar to those condemned by Jeremiah, were motivated by economics, though they were given religious trappings. Child sacrifice was more prevalent in wealthy homes than in poor ones. The wealthy were disposing of their "unwanted" children in order to protect their standard of living. 12

2. God affirms the personhood of the unborn. He views the unborn not as potential life but as persons, individuals with identity and worth for whom He already has a destiny: "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" (Jer. 1:5).

"Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. . . .

Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;

and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them" (Ps. 139:13-16).

3. God has a special concern for the weak, the orphan, the voiceless, and the oppressed. Those who have no power are the objects of His special regard and are to be so treated by His people. "Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked" (Ps. 82:3, 4).

The unborn are persons to God. They are the most defenseless of persons. To be God's servant is to defend such as these in a selfish, brutal world.

We could find more in the Old Testament to expand upon these themes. But it is the New Testament's record of God's redemptive acts through Jesus Christ that most clearly rejects the assumptions undergirding the quality of life ethic.

The Gospels elicit an immediate sense that Jesus formed a kingdom in which the self-centered, materialistic values of the world are turned upside down. "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [sacrifice himself], and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it" (Matt. 16:24, 25).

Jesus tells us that we find true fulfillment by valuing others more than we value autonomy or personal comfort. This participation in the fellowship of suffering (see Phil. 3:10) with One who died for sinners is the heart of Christianity. It declares all human life valuable. This agape lifestyle is illustrated in a number of New Testament themes:

1. The gospel reveals a God who accepts and values each of us as persons, but not on the basis of what we have achieved or ever will achieve. In other words, God loves us not because we measure up; rather, His love embraces us in our morally and spiritually defective state and declares us acceptable by grace. This is the antithesis of measuring individual human worth by levels of achievement.

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6; see also Eph. 2:3-6; 1 Tim. 1:15).

"When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but ac cording to His mercy" (Titus 3:4, 5).

We must not miss this point. While the "quality of life" ethic is consistent with an atheistic, evolutionary, "survival of the fittest" worldview, it is antithetical to the gospel. Since Eden God has shown Himself to be redemptive through great personal sacrifice. He didn't respond to sin by ripping Adam and Eve to pieces, even though they were now morally deformed and would cause Him great suffering and inconvenience. Instead, He opened a way back to the tree of life by giving Himself.

Abortion is not redemptive. The "quality of life" ethic that lies behind abortion moves in the opposite direction to that of a life lived as a response to God's grace. It breeds a sociological perfectionism that denies that people who fail to measure up have human value, and then it denies them life. It conditions us to ask What can this person do for me? rather than to respond to God's acceptance of us with the question How can I offer such love to those who need it most?

Whether we communicate to our children "Grandma is no longer a functional person and it is expensive to care for her, so we're going to help her have a good death" or "Grandma can't communicate with us, but she is still Grandma, and we can love her and take care of her until she dies" makes a real difference. Children raised with the first orientation grow up eliminating people who are inconvenient. Those taught the second grow up understanding the power of grace.

When she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Mother Teresa said, "To me, the nations with legalized abortions are the poorest nations. The great destroyer of peace today is the crime against the innocent, unborn child. ... In destroying the child, we are destroying love, destroying the image of God in the world."

In the New Testament, love is never simply warm emotions or a fuzzy theological concept. It is a way of thinking and, especially, of living. The apostles' concept of love grew out of a concrete, historical reality a bloody cross on a windswept hill called Golgotha. Jesus' death for sinners taught them that genuine love is always costly and, above all else, sacrifical and redemptive. To buy into the idea that love is satisfaction minus suffering, plea sure minus pain, or commitment only to relationships that promise no inconvenience is to deny the gospel (1 John 2:2).

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16, NIV). "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:10, 11, NIV).

The enemies of early Christians were compelled to say, "Behold how they love one another." In the book of Acts these first disciples were identified as the people of the way. They were a distinct community whose lifestyle was radically different from that of the society around them. Their values were different above all, the value they put on human life. This became evident in their relationships, as the earliest nonbiblical Christian code, the Didache, illustrates: "Our oldest moral catechism prepared candidates for baptism by instructing them: 'You will not kill. You will not have sex with other people's spouses. You will not abuse young children. You will not have sex outside of marriage. You will not abort fetuses.' " 13

For these early Christians the value of the unborn child was a logical extension of the gospel. This put them at odds with the prevailing practice in Roman society, where abortion was rampant.

2. The Incarnation speaks strongly against abortion and the ethic supporting it. Jesus Christ identified with all humanity even the unborn. When the "Word became flesh," He came as an unborn child, a fetus. Part of the revelation of His "glory" (John 1:14) was entering into the womb of an unmarried teenager. Was He at that moment "potential life" with only relative value?14

Remember, Jesus was born into poverty and hardship, destined for suffering. Looking at the Nativity story in all its harsh reality, one wonders what advice we would have offered Mary about her pregnancy. Birth in a filthy stable. Only rags available to dress the child. Jesus' identification with the poor and under privileged rather than the successful, powerful, or prosperous was so real He literally had "nowhere to lay His head." Modern thinking would deem such a low quality of life a good reason for Mary to terminate her pregnancy. Yet here is the glory of God (John 17:1-5).

3. In the New Testament the love of money is not the key to happiness, but the root of all evil. It is a mind-set that causes "those who want to get rich" to "fall into temptation" and wander away "from the faith" (1 Tim. 6:5-11, NIV). Jesus emphatically declared that no one can "serve. .. God and Money" (Matt. 6:24, NIV); that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions, therefore His disciples must "guard against every form of greed" (Luke 12:15). When John described Babylon, the great harlot in whom is found the blood of "all who have been slain on the earth" (Rev. 18:24), he pictured her as that spirit in humanity that values gold and silver above human lives (verses 11-13).

This is crucial. Most arguments for killing the defective and unwanted warn that preserving such people will threaten financial prosperity. The biblical priority is shown, however, in the fact that Paul identified greed as a manifestation of the sin of idolatry the sin the Old Testament was most concerned about (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5). Jesus spent more time on the topic of the danger of basing life on money than on any other. He flatly declared that "it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

Although in a context other than that of abortion, the Epistle of James concerns itself with human injustice and the link between greed and violence against the innocent: "You lust and do not have; so you commit murder" (James 4:2). "You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. . . . You have . . . murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you" (James 5:5, 6, NIV).

Jesus said, "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions" (see Luke 14:33). Clearly the Christian's goal in life is discipleship to Christ, not self-centered autonomy or financial in dependence. Christ calls us to simplicity (not to poverty) in order to free up re sources for kingdom work, the work of helping the needy. Happiness is found among those who purpose to mirror Christ's unearned, undeserved love by identifying with those who need it most: the weak, the frail, the poor, and the helpless: "For inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me" (see Matt. 25:40).

"The rest of the world goes about dis posing of the very young and the very old, the very weak, the very vulnerable, and the very poor, calling that reality. But the church is called to adopt and embrace the little ones in the name of the Lord, who was once a little one." 15

4. Finally, the "quality of life" ethic is rooted in the greatest sin of all: man's desire to play God. Trying to be autonomous, the creature living as if his finite reason were the highest authority and therefore taking the prerogatives of the Creator this is the essence of sin (see, for example, Rom. 1:25).

The first lie the Bible records is Satan's assertion to Eve that she could "be like God" (Gen. 3:5). Isaiah identified Satan's one overpowering determination as "I will make myself like the Most High" (Isa. 14:14), and he described spiritual Babylon in these words: "You sensual one, who dwells securely, who says in your heart, 'I am, and there is no one besides me'" (Isa. 47:8).

In "quality of life" literature two themes reflect the human desire for autonomy and omniscience. The first defends the "absolute rights" of men and women to total sexual freedom and of each woman to do what she wants with "her own body" (meaning the unborn child). The second suggests that those who are born with physical, 'mental, or emotional handicaps or even into poverty would be better off dead.

Do we have absolute rights to our bodies? "Do you not know that. . . you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). Making the will of God synonymous with being true to oneself, as in Eastern mysticism, is simply the idolatry the Bible warns against disguised in psychological terminology (see Rev. 9:20, 21).

As to the second theme, it is on the basis that some would be better off dead that physicians and others now play God. They act as if they were omniscient, speaking with certainty about the misery "unwanted" children will both cause and experience. Really? Who gave these physicians their crystal ball? Will this new child's life be a continual burden or a joyful praise to God? How can we know? The greatest gospel singer of this century was born as the result of the rape of a 16-year-old poor Black girl. 16

The lives of most successful men and women are lives of hardships endured and obstacles overcome. Beethoven's background included a deranged father, a syphilitic mother, a mentally retarded older brother, and a sibling born blind. Surely Planned Parenthood would have told Ludwig's mother: "Protect your freedom; terminate the poor thing." Their god is human speculation, and that god is too small, too impotent. Arguing that death is the best answer to life's problems lacks imagination and a sense of God's redemptive might. From an atheist such spiritual bankruptcy is understandable; from a Christian, inexcusable.

Should the Adventist Church take a stand on the issue of abortion? Prominent speakers within our church have said that those on the side of the sanctity of human life are the vanguard of the Religious Right that will bring in legislation limiting our religious freedoms. They conclude that we must avoid being identified with other Christians' struggle against abortion and infanticide.

Curious. Sad. These Adventist leaders' particular concepts of eschatology have negated their ethical accountability. Concern about a future death decree should not make us ignore or actively participate in a present one. Surely for the unborn of America this is already a "time of trouble such as has never been."

Others say it is a Catholic issue. Is protecting innocent life the private do main of the Catholic Church? Proverbs 24:11, 12 and a host of other warnings from God (in the minor prophets especially) call us to defend the weak, voice less, and oppressed.

Some argue for abortion on the grounds of freedom of choice. But the question is not whether or not God has given this freedom to people. He has. Rather, for Adventists the question is whether our choices are just and moral.

Individuals are free to practice adultery or cruelty, but such choices are neither moral nor Christlike. Neither is the choice to kill an unborn child. Only when our choices are in line with God's will for our lives can we as a church pro claim with clarity what it means to em brace Christ's gospel.

Talk is cheap. The real question is not what we should tell a woman in crisis to do but rather what we, as Christ's disciples, should do for such a woman when she reaches out for help. We need to love, not just with "word or with tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 John 3:18).

William Willimon, a professor of Christian ministry at Duke University, gives a practical and beautiful example of what it means to be Christ's agents to someone in crisis:

"One Monday morning I was attending a ministers' morning coffee hour. We got into a discussion about abortion. A bunch of older clergy were against it, a bunch of younger clergy for it. One of those who was against it was asked, 'Now wait a minute. You're not going to tell me that you think some 15- or 16-year-old is capable of bearing a child, are you?' "

'Well,' the fellow replied, backing off a little bit, 'there are some circumstances when an abortion might be OK.'

"Sitting there stirring his coffee was a pastor of one of the largest Black United Methodist churches in Greenville. He said, 'What's wrong with a 16-year-old giving birth? She can get pregnant, can't she?'

"Then we said, 'Joe, you can't believe a 16-year-old could care for a child.'

"He replied, 'No, I don't believe that. I don't believe a 26-year-old can care for a child. Or a 36-year-old. Pick any age. One person can't raise a child.'

"So I said, 'Look, Joe, the statistics show that by the year 1990, half of all American children will be raised in single-parent households.'

" 'So?' he replied. They can't do it.'

"We asked, 'What do you do when you have a 16-year-old get pregnant in your church?'

"He explained, 'Well, it happened last week. We baptized the baby last Sunday, and I said how glad we were to have this new member in this church. Then I called down an elderly couple in the church, and I said, "Now we're going to baptize this baby, and bring it into the family. What I want you all to do is to raise this baby, and while you're doing that, raise the mama with it because the mama right now needs it." This couple is in their 60s and they've raised about 20 kids. They know what they're doing. And I said, "If you need any of us, let us know. We're here. It's our child too." That's what we do at my church.' " 17

In the face of economic and emotional problems, Adventists too can offer better alternatives than death. Armed with commitment and the resources of the Creator, we are called to demonstrate those alternatives within a decaying society.

*Unless otherwise noted, Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.

1. Curt Young documents these statistics in The Least of These (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), p. 30.

2. Throughout one's entire life, the most dangerous place is one's mother's womb. The chance for a premeditated fatal assault is never again as high as when one was there.

Physicians, whose entire training was once geared toward preserving life, have now become the nation's foremost executioners. The Hippocratic oath, which for centuries appeared on physician's degrees, called on the doctor to never become an executioner upon the penalty of divine curse, specifically requiring the vow, "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give a woman an abortive aid. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and art."

3. With 3 million couples longing for a child to adopt, the phrase "unwanted child" is, in the truest sense, a misnomer.

4. In his widely used college textbook on ethics, Vincent Barry demonstrates the problem well: "What conditions should be used as the criteria of personhood? Can an entity [a human] be considered a person merely because it possesses certain biological properties? Or should other factors be introduced, such as consciousness, self-consciousness, rationality, and the capacities for communication and moral judgment?. .. For example, if we believe it is the capacity to think and reason that makes one human, we will likely associate the loss of personhood with the loss of rationality. If we consider consciousness as the defining characteristic, we will be more inclined to consider a person to have lost that status when a number of characteristics such as the capacities to remember, enjoy, worry, and will are gone. . . . This doesn't mean that a death decision necessarily follows when an entity is determined to be a nonperson. But it does mean that whatever is inherently objectionable about allowing or causing a person to die dissolves, because the entity is no longer a person" (from Applying Ethics: A Text With Readings, 2nd ed. [Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1985], pp. 189, 190; italics supplied).

Among Barry's criteria are inadequate moral judgment (based on whose criteria of morality?); irrationality (based on what definition of rationality? Jesus was repeatedly declared insane by the most educated religious leaders of His day); or even the loss of the capacity to worry (ponder Matt. 6:24-31). The bottom line is one human deciding another is not worthy of life. It is finite man assuming the role reserved for an infinite God.

5. In March 1986 the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs ruled that it is not unethical to selectively kill patients who are in comas judged irreversible by withholding all food and water, even when death is not imminent. The bottom line again was economic the rising cost of caring for such individuals. Dr. Nancy Dickey, the chairperson of the AMA Council, said the determination of which patients were in irreversible comas would be left up to the individual doctors. "There will be no checklists."

6. During that time 10 couples offered to adopt the child, knowing that the majority of Down's syndrome children are not massively (and often not even moderately) retarded. A few days after the child's death, Joseph Sobran, in his syndicated Los Angeles Times column (Apr. 20, 1982), declared that "opposition to infanticide will soon be deplored as the dogma of a few religious sects who want to impose their views on everyone else."

At the time this article was written California was considering ratification of a bill that would require each pregnant woman to have a test done to determine if her child had Down's syndrome or spina bifida. If either was present, she would be required to receive counseling emphasizing the trouble and cost of raising such children and would be offered state assistance if she opted for abortion. Spina bifida children are usually only crippled, not mentally retarded. But now their personhood is a matter of debate.

7. California Medicine 113, No. 3 (September 1970), pp. 67, 68.

8. Chief Justice Taney wrote, "They [Blacks] have for more than a century been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the White race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the White man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might be justly and lawfully reduced to slavery for his own benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it" (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U. S. 393, pp. 404-407).

For a detailed and documented treatment of the Dred Scott decision, see Young, pp. 1-20.

9. Gary Bergle, "The Never Again Is Happening Now," People of Destiny, September/October 1984, p. 12; quoting from Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value, English reprint (Santa Ana, Calif.: Robert L. Sassone, 1975), p. 76. For a far more complete treatment of the involvement of the medical profession in Hitler's extermination program, see Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Pyschology of Genocide (Basic Books, 1986).

10. See Michael Pearson, "Abortion: The Adventist Dilemma," MINISTRY, January 1988, p. 5.

11. See "Abortion Guidelines for Adventist Medical Institutions," MINISTRY, January 1988, p. 20.

12. Lawrence E. Stager and Samuel R. Wolff, "Child Sacrifice at Carthage: Religious Rite or Population Control?" Biblical Archaeological Review, January/February 1984, pp. 31-51.

13. Quoted in William Willimon, "A Crisis of Identity: The Struggle of Mainline Protestant Churches," Sojoumers, May 1986, p. 28.

14. In this context it is valuable to notice how Luke, a physician, writes of the conception of John the Baptist. An angel tells Zachariah that his son will be "filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15; see also verses41-44).

15. Willimon.

16. In reality, more than 90 percent of the teenagers who commit suicide come from rich families and have successful, educated parents, no material hardships, and no handicaps. Among adults it is the rich, the beautiful, and the successful (by material standards) who commit suicide. Suicide among the poor is almost nonexistent, and among the handicapped there is practically none!

George Tribou argues powerfully: "To have destroyed the defective infant, Helen Keller, would have been to destroy also the teacher-humanitarian who was Anne Sullivan. In countless cases throughout the world a defective child has not been an expensive, heart-rending burden but a priceless gift that has brought out the hidden strengths of a father, a mother, and sisters and brothers.... How foolish that we condemn the 'Me-Generation' and then are tempted to remove from them the defective children who offer them the opportunity to forget the me and to remember the others. . . . We will never know how many Helen Kellers and Beethovens are destroyed each year in America's abortion mills, or how many Anne Sullivans are left without the challenge that makes an Anne Sullivan" (quoted in John Powell, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust [Alien, Tex.: Argus Communications, 1981], p. 129).

17. Willimon, p. 27.

Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 728x90

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

Richard Fredericks PhD., is associate professor of religion at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600