Monday, January 17, 2011

15 Talking Points on Abortion

by John Piper:
1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother's womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.


Dubbahdee said...

This is one of the simplest, most elegant and most direct statements on this subject I have ever read.

The first 9 I have considered before in various ways. Number 10 surprised me. An excellent point.

Number 11, however, I'm not sure I understand how it applies to abortion.

Thanks for passing this on.

Jared said...

Dubbahdee, I think Piper is referring to the idea that if we illegalize abortion, women will resort to "back alley" abortions. It's the clothes-hanger threat: "If you don't make abortion safe and legal, you will subject women to dangerous abortions."

Piper appears to be saying that we should not be coerced to take the lives of unborn children b/c women threaten to subject themselves to danger to do it themselves.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

10 is probably exemplified in the Mosaic law that required a rapist to marry the woman he raped. The rapist has the much greater responsibility with respect to the sin.

11 is perhaps a bit too broad to be easily linked to abortion at first glance. For instance, a more straightforward explication of the principle is that it is wrong for someone to threaten to gouge out his own eye if I don't slice off the ear of my brother as punishment for the allegation that my brother cut the first man's ear. The adulterer who gets a threat of suicide from his lover if he doesn't divorce his spouse is another example. These examples show why 11 doesn't seem to DIRECTLY deal with abortion. 11 is almost too broad in application because an illegal abortion or a legal abortion both end up killing the baby anyway. I think a more pertinent application might actually be that threatening suicide to compel parents (or a spouse or lover) to give consent might be more the direction Piper might be thinking of. That's just my wild guess based on the actual principle of 11 and how it might ever apply to abortion.

Dylan said...

Might #10 also be related to "the health of the mother" which is broadly interpreted and can be as simple as a woman threatening to harm/kill herself if not given an abortion?

Scott Gordon said...

I know that this comment is way after this post has been left behind, but I'm using Piper's list tonight as I teach at my church and am wrestling with #11...

Could this also apply to the "this child will be a hardship to me so I choose to abort it instead of having a mentally or physically handicapped child (or the burden of parenthood)" argument?

Jared said...

Scott, I read it as a response to the argument that if we outlaw abortion women will risk their lives getting them in "back alleys" and what-not. You see the "No Wire Hangers" signs sometimes at pro-choice demonstrations (a co-opting of the famous movie line to refer to self-administered abortions). I could be wrong, of course, but I *think* Piper is responding to the idea that if we don't make abortion safe and legal and widely available, women will be risking their lives to get them. He's saying that threatening to harm oneself that way is not an appropriate leverage for society to help them harm their babies.