Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Recovering from Fetus Fatigue

It appears that millions of evangelicals, especially younger ones, are experiencing fetus fatigue. They are tired of the abortion issue taking center stage; it is time to move on to newer, hipper things--the sort of issues that excite Bono: aid to Africa, the environment, and cool tattoos. Abortion has been legal since they were born; it is the old guard that gets exercised about millions of abortions over the years. So, let's not worry that Barak Obama and Hillary are pro-choice. That is a secondary issue. After all, neither could do that much damage regarding this issue.

Evangelicals (if that word has any meaning), for God's sake, please wake up and remember the acres of tiny corpses you cannot see. Yes, the Christian social vision is holistic. We should endeavor to restore shalom to this beleaguered planet. That includes helping Africa, preserving the environment, and much more. However, the leading domestic moral issue remains the value of helpless human life. Since Roe v. Wade, approximately 50 million unborn humans have been killed through abortion. Stalin said, "One death is a tragedy. A million dead is a statistic." Too many are now Stalinists on abortion. The numbers mean nothing, apparently. The vast majority of these abortions were not done to save the life of the mother, a provision I take to be justified. Things have reached the point where bumper stickers say, "Don't like abortion, don't have one." It is simply a matter of private, subjective taste. But how about this: "Don't like slavery, don't own slaves"? Two human beings are involved in this matter, inescapably.

The biblical argument against abortion is direct and powerful:

1. The fetus is a person made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27; Psalm 139:13-16).
2. Murder is unjustly killing a person and is sinful (Exodus 20:13).
3. Abortion is (all things being equal) the unjust killing of a person. Exception: when life of
the mother is directly endangered.
4. Therefore: (a) abortion is morally wrong and sinful before God.
5. Therefore: (b) abortion should be illegal and stigmatized socially (Romans 13:1-7).

One can build a strong pro-life argument apart from the Bible as well, but I will not address that here. See the new book called Embryo by George and Tollefsen on this.

The Democratic contenders are both militantly pro-abortion. If one wins, he or she will likely appoint several Supreme Court judges. If so, you can forget about overturning Roe v. Wade, which would return the legality to the states. This is not as good as a Human Life Amendment (which Huckabee supported), but it is better than the moral and legal abomination that is Roe. v. Wade. Both Democrats would also fund stem cell research on human embryos and provide as much federal funding as possible for abortion. The president can also issue executive order that have tremendous power. William Jefferson Clinton did so a few days after talking office in 1993. Hillary or Obama would do something very similar. Obama even voted against a bill that would save the lives of infants born alive after a botched abortion. One could go on. Please see the blog entry, "Why Pro-Life Presidents Matter," by Joe Carter.

Evangelicals, for God's sake, please wake up. Remember the least, the last, and the lost: the millions of unborn human beings who hang in the balance (Matthew 25:31-46). No, this is not the only issue, but it is a titanic issue that cannot be ignored. Rouse yourself to recover from fetus fatigue. God is watching.


The Daily Fuel said...

Dr. Groothuis:

A heartfelt plea, no doubt, your call to Evangelicals. Your point about slavery rings particularly convincing.

Perhaps, as you say, it fetus fatigue. Or, perhaps, it is charlatan fatigue, exploitation fatigue, political opportunist fatigue. Call it what you want.

Perhaps the truth is that people are tired of being manipulated by politicians, preachers, and fake paladins of the cause (on both sides of the issue).

Perhaps we are just tired of being exploited for political gain by unscrupulous politicos who see abortion as the election-cycle godsend that mobilizes the faithful and lures them to the polls, only to abandon them on their knees after every election.

I, for one, am sick and tired of things getting worse and worse for common folks because someone has figured out that Roe v. Wade is a magic carrot that can be waved forever over people's heads, while their liberty, their livelihood, and the future of their children are methodically eroded every day.

I would prefer to live in a world in which political adversaries are willing to work together toward the achievement of a common, realistic goal (the reduction of all elective abortions), rather than in a world where the goal is to crush one's political adversaries in hope of achieving an unrealistic, ideological goal (the eradication of abortion) to the detriment of everything else. But the world I live in, the only one for me, is alas not such a place.

Jeff Burton said...

Professor, I'm ashamed that your plea is even necessary. Thank you.

Sirfab: though it is difficult to conentrate with a magical vegetable hovering over my head, I have to respond. I would be gladly willing to suffer higher taxes, lower living standards, eroded liberty, and a bleaker future for my children in exchange for abolition of those monstrous abittoirs.

But I don't have to, your bald assetions to the contrary. I challenge you to name a single liberty you have lost in the past twenty years. Perhaps you will mention your frequent calls to Pakistan that are now monitored, or maybe the humiliation of having to remove your shoes at the airport. And then I will laugh.

Craig Fletcher said...

These same pro-choicers have a double standard when it comes to the unborn. Think about the case of Scott Peterson (and all similar cases). He was convicted of killing TWO people, his wife Lacie and their unborn son. So in this case, the unborn was counted as a human being who was killed. You see similar court rulings when it comes to abuse.. if you abuse a pregnant woman and the fetus is injured or killed, then you are charged for that violent crime against the unborn baby. Then you also have the ability to grant the unborn as heirs to your inheritance, or set up grants for them, etc. So there too within the legal system they are recognized as humans already.

Then you have abortion on the other hand, even full term abortion. In this case it is NOT considered the killing of an actual human at the very same age.

The defense for this must be "but it's the MOTHERS choice." So at a certain young age, it is LEGAL for the baby's only mother to KILL them, but other people can't?

Friend of Cirdan said...

Dr. Groothuis:

You said:

The vast majority of these abortions were not done to save the life of the mother, a provision I take to be justified.

I am wondering, do you mean an abortion is morally justifiable in the event that the mother's life is at risk?

If so, could you walk me through, as briefly as you might wish, your biblical justification on this matter?

If I have misunderstood your statement, or taken it out of context, I apologize and will gladly stand corrected.

Vitamin Z said...

Dr. G,

I couldn't agree more...

Consider this: There is a news story making the rounds about a youtube video showing a military officer horribly mistreating a puppy and then throwing it off a cliff. You can read about it here if you want. The thought of it kind of makes you sick doesn't it? Yeah, me too. Our nation is a nation of pet lovers. We have a TV channel (Animal Planet) that is dedicated to them. I love animals to. We have a dog and I'm sure I'll be very sad when she dies. Her name is Molly and she is a spaz, but very sweet.

Here is the kicker:

Should we not be all the more outraged that this kind of abuse and murder happens to human babies thousands of times a day? Should not this puppy story awaken us to these atrocities and show us how backwards are values are? The problem is that we don't see abortions on youtube. Most doctors don't even want the mother to see the ultrasound. Reason? The eyes don't lie. If abortion is not wrong, why not put it up on youtube? Maybe we should. Why not?

But let me break it down for you like this... Ask yourself an honest question: Would you vote for a president that was in favor of legalized animal abuse? A president who said, "Who cares, they are just animals. Have your way with them!" Consider the outrage at Michael Vick for killing those pit bulls and the fury that is coming from this story. That candidate would never make it past the first primary.

But this is worse yet. We have a presidential candidate that is most likely going to get elected that votes for infanticide. Not puppy abuse, infanticide. (At least he is the only one who is honest about the logical outworking of abortion... infanticide) Most of us would never vote for a candidate that is in favor off puppy abuse, but for some odd, backwards reason we are goo goo nuts over Obama who would allow a mother to kill her baby even after the abortion failed and the baby was still alive outside of the mother. If you are voting for Obama, please explain this to me.

Think about this long and hard and don't tell me that presidents can't make any difference about abortion either way. Presidents = supreme court judges. How did we get abortion legalized in the first place? Supreme court judges, in 1973 with a little case called, Roe vs. Wade.

Our selfishness and backwards values are on full display with this story my friends. Think long and hard about what this says about the values of our country which is reflected in those we elect.

The Daily Fuel said...

Jeff: You paint loss of liberty as having to remove one's shoes at the airport. I don't believe there's much room for laughter, either, so let me bring you up to speed on the liberty, freedom and rights we have already lost:

- You and I and everybody else in this madhouse have already lost the right to be judged by a jury of our peers if the President declares us enemy combatants.
- We have lost the right to "habeas corpus" against indefinite detention.
- We have lost the right to privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, the protection against cruel and unusual punishment (right not be waterboarded if the president declares us enemy combatants, for example) guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment, and the right to due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
These losses may seem trivial to you, compared to the bane of abortion, mainly because you think it is impossible that any of them will affect you directly. But think about it: now that we have all lost the right to privacy, what makes you think that this administration, which has chosen to use the Justice Department as a political weapon, will not use illegal intercepts against political adversaries? You must think it is impossible, but once the protection of the law has been eliminated, everything is possible (you may need to brush up your history on the Germany and Italy of the 1930's).

I am not saying that most abortions are not morally reprehensible and that any effort should be spared to reduce them to very limited circumstances (you know that some states would never ban elective abortion altogether). I am saying that we have already given up quite a lot by handing the White House to someone whose seems to have a rather cynical view of the culture of life, and who has used his power instead to dismantle protections that in place since the Bill of Rights was enacted.

matt said...

(clapping . . . crying)

thanks for the reminder and important shot in the arm . . .

Cheers my brother.

Jeff Burton said...

Sirfab: You are referring to rights that you never had. Unlawful enemy combatants have never had the right to a jury trial or habeus corpus (see Quirin 1942). Since you seem so well-acquainted with the 1940's, perhaps you will remember that all transatlantic telephone and telegram traffic was subject to surveillance without warrant during WWII. With respect to Habeus Corpus - it's been suspended twice before (Civil War & WWII), and the current rules were approved by congress (MCA in '06) so it hardly represents some anti-democratic Bush diktat. I apologize for mucking up your comment section, Dr. Groothuis, with off-topic arguments, but I am "sick and tired" of constant, unsubstantiated, and demonstrably false claims of massive erosion of civil liberties since 9/11.

ChrisB said...

"friend of cirdan,"

Do you actually need a verse to be cited to believe that it's biblically ok to preserve the life of the mother? We're not talking about the infamous "health" of the mother but her life.

If you actually had to choose one or the other, of course you'd save the one who actually has friends and family who will be impacted by her loss.

Of course, it's usually not a choice -- in most cases where abortion saves the mother's life, the baby would die in either case. You're only hurrying the inevitable to prevent an unnecessary death.

Friend of Cirdan said...


You said:

If you actually had to choose one or the other, of course you'd save the one who actually has friends and family who will be impacted by her loss.

So, the relative value of a human life is determined by how many people would be affected by the loss of that life?

And yes, as I asked the question in good faith, I really would like to see biblical justification (I don't ask for proof texts). It seems to me there are inherent risks in pregnancy (see: Rachel in Genesis 35:16ff), one of which is the possibility of complications that result in a legitimate threat to the life of the mother and child. I wonder if those risks, when they appear, justify the taking of the baby's life.

Again, I've asked Dr. Groothuis his reasoned opinion on this matter because of something he said in this post.

I am against abortion of every stripe and have had little to no interaction on this particular topic (moral justification of abortion in the case of threat to mother's life). I have, again, asked for his reasoned opinion in good faith and welcome any others to interact as well.

Provided this isn't off-topic. If so, I'll stop immediately.

Anonymous said...

A very sad example of this fatigue is a Colorado State professor of mine from a philosophy class (Moral and Social Problems, interestingly) who refuses to discuss, facilitate discussion, or accept papers on the topic of abortion. He claims that it would be "beating a dead horse".

ChrisB said...

"Friend of Cirdan" asked:

the relative value of a human life is determined by how many people would be affected by the loss of that life?

No, both are equally valuable. In the rarest of all cases, where you have to choose one over the other, you're making the heart-rending decision between two equally valuable lives. Really, I'm not sure this decision ever actually has to be made; usually if mom won't survive, the child won't either.

Now cases like Rachel's are different. Deaths during/after childbirth are horrible, but have nothing to do with the pregnancy.

Death due to hemorage vs, e.g., ectopic pregnancy are very different questions. In the former case, there's little you can do but save the child; in the latter, the child cannot survive, so why not save mom?

The Daily Fuel said...

Jeff: really? Rights we never had? Go tell the Framers. You know, I am really amazed at Americans: on the one hand they treat the Constitution like a sacred text. Don't touch it, it's perfect! On the other, well, if the President says the Fourth and other amendments do not count, what the heck, be my guest!

Also, I am glad you brought up the suspension of habeas corpus. As you say, it was suspended twice, during the Civil War and WWII: real wars, with a winner and a loser who could sit at a table and sign a peace treaty or a surrender. When do you think the war on terror (sic), made up of whole new cloth by this administration, will end? Exactly! It will end when President Bush (or, god forbid, McCain) says so. See the difference?

And yes, the current rules were approved under the Military Commission Act of 2006, largely across partisan lines, by a rubberstamping, spineless Congress who apparently has no regard for the oath it took to defend the Constitution of the United States.

So don't lecture me on rights, and don't call cries of massive erosion of civil liberties unsubstantiated. Plenty of constitutional scholars disagree with you.

And do not insult me or others by equating taking shoes off with being sent to GITMO indefinitely because the president says so.

Friend of Cirdan said...


You said:

Really, I'm not sure this decision ever actually has to be made

I think this is a point that has become clearer to me as we've talked back and forth a bit today and I've continued thinking as the day has gone along.

I can think of some scenarios in which I think there is a real moral dilemma over what to do, and then there will be, as you say, heart-rending decisions to be made that are, if not easy, clear.

In the case of Rachel, I construct the hypothetical "what if there had been, in their day, medical care comparable to ours that determined she would, as we know, die during the birth of Benjamin if it was carried out. What then? Would we say it morally justifiable to terminate the pregnancy to save Rachel?"

I'm afraid, however, these hypothetical scenarios may be unhelpful to dialog though as they are only specific cases from which, due to varying factors in each other specific case, drawing broadly applicable solutions may be problematic.

Anyway, I've taken up enough space. Thanks for the interaction!

Grace to you,

The Daily Fuel said...

Going back to the original topic of the post. Please indulge me and read the following quotes.

"The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law."

"We elected a pro-life Republican Congress that did nothing to actually care for pregnant women and babies. And they took their sincere evangelical followers for granted, and played them for suckers."

"The so-called evangelical leadership -- Dobson, Robertson et al. also played the pro-life community for suckers."

"Conversely the "pro-life" ethic of George W. Bush manifested itself in a series of squandered opportunities to call us to our better natures. After 9/11, Bush told most Americans to go shopping while saddling the few who volunteered for military service with endless tours of duty [...] if our highest aspiration is to be a consumer with no thought or care for our neighbor, we will remain a culture in which abortion is not only inevitable but logical."

"Republicans have also been hypocrites while talking big, for instance about their pro-life ethic. But what have they achieved? First, through their puritanical war on sex education they've hindered our country from actually preventing unwanted pregnancy."

And, finally...

"I am an Obama supporter. I am also pro-life."

These are selected passages from an article I could have written myself. In fact, the author of the article makes several points I have made on this blog before. Don't you want to know know who really wrote it?

Jen R said...

Republicans aren't looking for judges who will rule that the unborn should be a legal "person" with full human rights. When was the last time that even came up in a confirmation hearing? They're looking for "strict constructionist" judges who will rule that there's no right to privacy in the Constitution. McCain won't move us any closer to legal recognition of unborn humans' rights than Clinton or Obama would.

To those who say "we" haven't lost any rights: any loss of human rights -- or any loss of an American's civil rights -- is MY loss, and YOUR loss, not just the loss of the poor people who are actually spied upon illegally, imprisoned indefinitely, or tortured.

Mike Austin said...

It seems to me that the leaders of this new political movement are not excluding abortion, but they do not want political engagement to be limited to abortion. And cut Bono a break. He's not into the ink, and has done more for the cause of Christ than many of the regular suspects.

Burns said...

First of all, Republicans haven't done jack about abortion, and they never will. Meanwhile, John McCain will lead us into WWIII.

Second, I believe abortion should be outlawed, but conclusion 5 doesn't logically follow from 4. There are lots of things that are against the law of God that shouldn't be part of the civil code. For instance, should we start enforcing the fourth commandment or outlaw hatred in one's heart. You need to bridge the gap in your argument.

M. Van Drie said...

Politics will not change the problem of abortion. No political party will get rid of abortion.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

If the state cannot protect innocent life by law and force, what can it do?!

Tom Grey said...

Abortion was legal in some states before Roe v. Wade.
If R-McCain gets elected, and nominates pro-life/ anti-Roe/ judges, Roe can be overturned in another decision.

If D-Obama or D-Clinton get elected, and nominates pro-abortion judges, Roe won't be overturned.

I suffer from Holocaust Fatigue -- there is too much about the Nazis, not enough about the SE Asian commie Killing Field folk. That 1.5 mil genocide in Cambodia that the Dem Party essentially voted for in 1974-1975 (cutting military options, cutting funds to S. Vietnam).

The pro-life leaders have been weak to push "pro-life" supporting Congresspeople to act in a more abortion reducing manner.

If 3/4 of the States called for a Constitional Amendment to make abortion a states issue, Roe could be overturned. Why aren't pro-life folk trying that? (It's too hard ...)

Well, I'm lazy too. But voting pro-life in 2008.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


WWIV is already underway. How did you miss it? The Islamists declared it on 9/11/2001. WWIII, in case you missed that as well, was with the USSR. We won.

The Daily Fuel said...

It won't be long before it will be clear that the real winner of what Dr. Groothuis called WWIII was China, particularly if we convince ourselves that we are already fighting WWIV.

Burns said...

Stick to philosophy Groothius. History ain't your forte.

Oh, and read some Van Til while you're at it. :)

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

That is an insult, not an argument. You've done nothing to refute my point. We are already at war, McCain would not "lead us" into another one. But if a war is necessary, he knows the military better than any Democrat.

I've probably forgotten more Van Til than you've ever read. I reject his method as circular. See Gordon Lewis's critique in Testing Christianity's Truth Claims.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


China has designs on the entire world, as it has ever since Mao (and maybe before). It is still communist, of course, although many forget this.

I don't much like the US policies toward this gigantic and dangerous country. I hope the Christian movement there grows and finds its way into government, such that the communists are outnumbered and eventually overthrown (peacefully).

Burns said...

That was intended to be light-hearted banter; hence the smiley face. :) No argument was intended. Cheers.

P.S. Take a chill pill.

Anonymous said...


A smiley emoticon cannot magically turn a jab into "light hearted banter". I believe that you know this.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

Dr. Groothuis:

Fetus fatigue does exist among the younger generation, I agree. As a born again Christian, I am vehemently pro-life, as a member of “generation Y”, I suffer from the conundrum you have accurately described in your blog. Obviously, many in my generation find the words “pro-life” a little more nuanced than the older, suburban, evangelical guard. One could argue that President Bush violated almost every tenant of just war theory in waging war in Iraq; just cause, comparative justice, right intention, proportionality and most importantly, last resort. So, is it "pro-life" to preemptively invade a sovereign nation state filled with oil wealth while sitting out of conflicts in Rwanda, Darfur and The Balkans? This war has displaced millions of Iraqis, killed thousands of soldiers and civilians and fueled additional conflict between Turkey and the Kurds in the north. In addition, this administration gave three billion dollars worth of no bid contracts to VP Cheney's former company Haliburton. I would ask, is illicit military aggression coupled with back handed cronyism pro-life?

It is true that evangelicals, myself included, catapulted Bush into the White House on the promises on abortion and marital reform. In return, Bush appointed two Supreme Court justices who publicly stated they would respect judicial precedence (i.e. they would not overturn Roe v. Wade). Moreover, marriage reform is now a non-issue among the White House administration.

In short, I will speak for myself and not my generation, I feel used by the Republican Party. I was promised much and delivered little. And while I appreciate the humor of your comment regarding my generation, "it is time to move on to newer, hipper things -- the sort of issues that excite Bono," the comment was patronizing at best, hurtful and misleading at worst. Presumably, a few fair and balanced views of prime time Fox News reports and a subscription to World Magazine would help to reeducate my Brian McLaren following, U2 worshiping, naïve contemporaries and get us thinking straight.

Maybe a more accurate representation of the heart behind international aid for a dying and amoral world can be found in Matthew 25:31-46. While it would be nice to believe voting for the right issues and legislating Judeo-Christian ethics is an exemption from Christ’s mandate, I think I rightly judge by this passage that Christ is explicitly stating orthodoxy is not an exemption from orthopraxis. Thus, when I vote for a pro-life republican candidate, I am willingly voting for the continuation of a war started by, one could convincingly argue, unjust means. I am also approving the unjust economics of cronyism and institutional racism (isn’t it ironic our African American brothers and sisters vote overwhelmingly democratic?) when governments are commanded by God through Scripture to deliver justice to every facet and group within its jurisdiction.

As a Biblically based Christian, God never asks me to choose between justice and morality, between orthodoxy and orthopraxis. As a Christian in America, I am forced, by the voting process, to make difficult decisions between these very issues. I am pressured into dividing Biblical mandates into two categories: integral and superfluous. The process is tiring, humbling, and, unfortunately, divisive.

For the upcoming election, I have a deep concern; John McCain can hardly be considered an evangelical dream vote. His republican bent is certainly a “western style” republicanism; conservative finances with a more liberal social stance. He publicly castigated certain evangelical Christian leaders for “the evil influence that they exercise over the Republican Party.” While one can be and should be forgiven for a flippant comment, it is important to note that the out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Would you publicly commend me to vote for this man?

This vote is a difficult one for me, one I am walking towards with much thought, council, hope, prayer and tears. Thank you for reading my rather lengthy post.

Yours for the Cause of Christ-

M. Helseth said...

I think "Friend of Cirdan" asked an important question. I too am wondering what the biblical justification is for intentionally taking the life of a baby if the mother's life is threatened. And as a sidenote, how many cases of that are there REALLY? Not many I suppose. (And I'm speaking from first-hand experience here.)