Tag Archive: Abortion is Murder

Letter to the Editor: Ohio Representative Craig Riedel Supports Extreme Anti-Abortion Legislation — HB413

craig-riedel-quote-on-abortion

The following letter was recently submitted by me to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

Supposedly, Republican Craig Riedel represents the interests of all his constituents in the 82nd District. However, it seems clear, at least to me, that the only people Riedel is interested in representing are people who hew to his right-wing political and religious beliefs. Riedel continues to trample the line between church and state, repeatedly supporting legislation that forces his religious beliefs on others. (Please see Should Every Effort be Made to Preserve Human Life?)

I get it. Riedel is adamantly anti-abortion. However, many of his constituents, including some of his fellow Republicans, do not support his extreme views. Take Ohio House Bill 413, legislation supported by Riedel. This bill, if enacted, effectively outlaws abortion in Ohio. Further, HB413 criminalizes abortion, both for the physician and the patient. HB413 adds terms such as abortion murder and aggravated abortion murder to Ohio law. If convicted, Ohioans could face life in prison.

Not only does HB413 effectively outlaw and criminalize abortion, it makes no exception in cases of rape and incest. That’s right. Riedel has no problem with forcing women to carry fetuses to term, even if they have been raped. Worse yet, Riedel supports requiring physicians to reimplant fertilized eggs from ectopic pregnancies. Never mind, that such a procedure is medically impossible and could lead to women bleeding to death. All that matters is that the fertilized egg be spared at all costs. It seems, then, that not only is Riedel anti-abortion, he is also anti-science.

I am left wondering what happened to the Ohio of my youth. There was a time when our political parties worked for the common good of the people of Ohio. Today, right-wing extremism rules the roost in Columbus. How can Ohioans ever find common ground on issues such as abortion as long as men such as Craig Riedel demand pregnant women be kept hostage by his peculiar religious views? And make no mistake about it, Evangelicals and other conservative Christians are the ones driving women to resort to back-alley abortions. Using an incremental approach, right-wing Republicans have enacted a plethora of legislation meant to roll back Ohio to pre-Roe v. Wade days.

Is it really in the best interest of Ohio women to outlaw and criminalize abortion? I think not. While I support legislation that regulates abortion post-viability, I can think of no rational reason to ban access to morning-after drugs and procedures that end unwanted pregnancies. The only thing standing in the way is religion.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Other posts about Rep. Craig Riedel

HB565: Ohio Republicans Take ‘Abortion is Murder’ to its Logical Conclusion

Children Should be Taught Facts, not Religious Beliefs, in Ohio Public School Classrooms

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Should be Executed if They Have an Abortion

Abortion is murder and nobody has the right to take the life of an innocent child. One of the stupidest arguments on the pro-abortion left is that it’s “my body, my choice.” The absurdity is beyond any sound logical reason. Abortions are not “performed” on women or their bodies, it’s committed on an innocent child.

Here is the thing, women should have absolutely no say whatsoever in the issue of abortion. The abortion debate has already been settled. God hates the hand that sheds innocent blood (Proverbs 16:17) and the mother who takes her child in to be murdered is the primary hand in the perpetration.

Women should not get to choose whether or not they get to abort their child. There should be no choice, ever. If you commit murder, you should be put to death. Why should a mother be allowed to determine the fate of a child? If the millions upon millions of murdered children could speak for themselves, would they do so the way their mothers did? Would they choose to end their own life?

— Jeff Maples, Reformation Charlotte, Abortions Are Not Performed on Women, So Women Should Have No Say in the Matter, September 25, 2019

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Satan Uses Birth Control to Kill Babies

nancy-campbell

I am sure your heart yearns to stop the holocaust of abortion, the dismembering and burning alive of living babies in the womb.

However, I think that the devil, who is the mastermind behind abortion, has hoodwinked those of us who say we are prolife. The devil, who comes to “rob, kill, and destroy,” hates life. His plan goes beyond abortion. The trio he uses to rob, kill, and destroy are contraception, sterilization, and abortion. His first aim is to eradicate life before it is born. Abortion is his back-up plan.

Statistics tells us that clinic abortions are decreasing, but the aborting and stopping of life is increasing. Americans are now being introduced to “mail-to-your-home abortion pills” so mothers can freely annihilate their babies.

The American Life League states that “Using formulas based on the way the birth control pill works, pharmacy experts project that about 14 million chemical abortions occur in the United States each year.” That’s more babies killed through the Pill, and its various associated methods, than through abortion!

….

The devil does not have the power to give life. He cannot give conception. And therefore, He seeks to undermine God’s power to give life. We, as God’s people of life must be truly pro-life. We must think pro-life. We must have God’s mind about pro-life. If we have the mindset to stop life by our own decision, or the pill, or other contraceptive devices, that’s not pro-life. It’s pro-choice.

— Nancy Campbell, Above Rubies, The Heart of the Matter, June 10, 2019

Abby Johnson is a Hypocrite When it Comes to Abortion

abby johnson anti abortion hypocrite

Evangelical and Roman Catholic blogs and news sites are buzzing with posts about the anti-abortion movie “Unplanned.” Starring Abby Johnson, a former clinic director for Planned Parenthood, the movie supposedly reveals the deep, dark, evil agenda of those who are pro-choice. According to the movie, Johnson had a come-to-Jesus moment and left Planned Parenthood after seeing an ultrasound of 13-week fetus and concluding that it was a baby. Anti-abortionists have turned Johnson into their latest saint, but as the following excerpt from Texas Monthly will show, her story contains omissions, contradictions, and outright lies. Nate Blakeslee writes:

As it happens, the discrepancy between Johnson’s account and Planned Parenthood’s records is just one of many problems with her story. Johnson describes my piece as the “sole source for every other abortion-supporting website to try and debunk my story.” This is flattering but far from true. My report followed on the heels of an account from the online magazine Salon, which was the first to report on an alternative reason Johnson may have quit her job: She had been disciplined by her boss shortly before she had her alleged conversion experience. Johnson, who was in her late twenties when she became clinic director, had been placed on a “performance improvement plan,” a fact she did not deny when I interviewed her not long after the Salon report came out. Johnson claimed she had fallen out of favor because she was resisting pressure to increase the number of abortions the clinic performed (a claim Planned Parenthood denies) and that she was never afraid she was going to be fired. But Salon discovered another curious fact. Johnson did not show up at the offices of the local anti-abortion organization, led by an activist named Shawn Carney, until nine days after she says she had her crisis of conscience. Oddly, she gave a local radio interview attacking Carney’s organization the day after she says she witnessed the disturbing ultrasound. (Johnson told me back in 2009 that she was still struggling with how to handle her crisis of conscience and wanted to keep up appearances.)

Then there was the Texas Observer story, which came out shortly after mine. Observer reporter Saul Elbein managed to land an interview with Johnson’s close friend Laura Kaminczak, who had remained tight with Johnson since college and who had been an assistant director at another Planned Parenthood clinic. The interview is more devastating to Johnson’s credibility than any set of records could ever be. Kaminczak knew all about Johnson’s troubles at work because she had the same troubles herself. She told the Observer that an email exchange between the two friends—one that discussed their respective coworkers in a highly inappropriate fashion—was discovered by one of Kaminczak’s subordinates, who took it up the chain of command. Kaminczak was fired, and Johnson was required to begin reporting to her own boss on a weekly basis.

According to Kaminczak, Johnson was upset, and she lashed out in a way calculated to cause the most harm she possibly could. “This whole thing is really just about a disgruntled employee,” Kaminczak told the Observer. “That’s all. It’s all just her way of getting back at [her boss].” Kaminczak said that Johnson did in fact mention seeing an abortion performed on an ultrasound not long before she quit but that she wasn’t at all upset about it. In fact, Johnson said the clinic’s increased use of ultrasound was likely to result in more effective procedures that were easier on the patient. There was certainly no description, replete with gruesome details, like the one she would later give. That story, Kaminczak said, was “bullshit.”

Johnson’s decision to join the Coalition for Life, the same anti-abortion group that had picketed her clinic for years, was “completely opportunistic,” Kaminczak told the Observer.

“She called me two weeks before this whole thing broke,” Kaminczak said, “and she told me she was thinking about going to the coalition. She had been having serious money problems—she’d been talking about bankruptcy—and she told me that Shawn [Carney] had promised her $3,000 speaking gigs if she came over.”

When Elbein questioned Johnson about Kaminczak’s account, she didn’t deny that the email exchange had occurred, but she insisted that it was not why she had been disciplined, and she denied having told her friend that she was considering declaring bankruptcy.

Johnson did go public with her story and was booked on Bill O’Reilly’s show shortly thereafter. From there the story of the converted clinic director began snowballing and never stopped—despite the investigative reporting done by myself and others.

Much as she did with Texas Monthly, Johnson has dismissed the Texas Observer, which has a long history of award-winning reporting, as a “liberal publication.” (Full disclosure: I worked there sixteen years ago.) But Elbein’s reporting speaks for itself. Kaminczak, who had, after all, just been fired by Planned Parenthood, had no incentive to come to her former employer’s defense. Nor did she have anything to gain by talking to the Observer; sometimes people just tell the truth because it is in their nature to do so.

And sometimes it is not. If you don’t want to believe Johnson’s close friend, how about Johnson herself? As I reported in my original story, Johnson’s own contemporaneous account on Facebook of her decision to leave the clinic does not line up well with the story she began telling publicly a month later. This is what she wrote on the night she quit:

Alright. Here’s the deal. I have been doing the work of two full time people for two years. Then, after I have been working my whole big butt off for them and prioritizing that company over my family, my friends and pretty much everything else in my life, they have the nerve to tell me that my job performance is “slipping.” WHAT???!!! That is crazy. Anyone that knows me knows how committed I was to that job. They obviously do not value me at all. So, I’m out and I feel really great about it!

Johnson never mentioned being pressured to increase abortions, witnessing the ultrasound-guided procedure, or suffering a moral crisis.

I confronted Johnson with these posts in the winter of 2009 in an interview at the offices of the Coalition for Life, which was just down the street from the clinic. Johnson sat on a couch with a cushion in her lap, not far from where she had sat when she told her conversion story for the very first time, to her erstwhile adversary Shawn Carney. He was perched nearby as I questioned Johnson, nodding supportively. Johnson told me, in essence, that the Facebook account was a cover story she cooked up until she could figure out what she really wanted to say.

One of Johnson’s conflicting explanations for why she left has to be false. How are we supposed to judge whether or not Johnson is telling the truth now? Well, in addition to the discrepancies outlined above, she also told me that abortions were performed by a for-profit company at Planned Parenthood (they are not), that local anti-abortion activists had never threatened physical violence (they had), and that she never made plans to go public with her story (she did).

And, of course, there are the records of the procedures performed—or not performed—on that fateful day in Bryan. Johnson seems to feel the version held by the Department of State Health Services—the ones the agency has refused to share with reporters—will vindicate her account. Unless the department changes its current policy, we may never know. But a person could be forgiven for asking if the release of the records would really change anything. If you view Abby Johnson’s story as an inspiring parable of redemption, there’s likely very little that would change your mind. Likewise, if you don’t think the government—or anyone else—should be telling women not to have abortions, are you really going to go see this movie?

The Abby Johnson story is a rabbit hole. I, for one, am climbing out. Enjoy the film.

Johnson, a Baptist-turned-Lutheran-turned-Episcopalian-turned Catholic, had two abortion herself before giving birth to her daughter. Johnson and her husband have seven children.

13 week fetus

13 week fetus

 

Recently, Johnson was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe in punishing women who seek to have abortion services.”  When asked if she supports abolishing abortion in Texas, Johnson replied, “Of course. But I don’t support bills that criminalize women.” Johnson believes women who have abortions are “victims,” not criminals. And therein is revealed the hypocrisy of Abby Johnson and many of her fellow anti-abortion zealots. If life begins at fertilization and abortion is murder, then those who materially participate in aborting a fetus are guilty of capital murder. Johnson wants abortion doctors prosecuted for murder, but not the women having the abortions. Of course, she has to believe this due to her own abortions. To say that women should be prosecuted for murdering their “babies” means that Johnson, herself, should be arrested and charged with a capital crime; a crime, by the way, that carries the death penalty in Texas.

In Texas, you don’t have to actually pull the trigger to be charged with murder. If you materially participate in a murder, in the eyes of the law you are just as guilty as the person who snuffed out a person’s life. If, as anti-abortionist say, abortion is murder, then everyone who participates in the procedure: doctor, nurse, clinic staff, and patient, are guilty of homicide. Is this not the logical conclusion of believing life begins at conception? Why do anti-abortionists such as Johnson refuse to own this fact? The same goes for anti-abortionists who make exceptions for rape and incest. The only rationally sound anti-abortion — I refuse to use the term pro-life since most pro-lifers are only concerned with the pre-born — position is one that outlaws and criminalizes abortion regardless of the reason.

Let me conclude this post with one further observation about the “abortion is murder” position. If it is God who opens and closes the womb, and Jesus holds in his hand the keys to life and death, doesn’t this make the Christian God the greatest abortionist and murderer since Adam and Eve got off the Ark? Far more inseminated eggs/fetuses are miscarried than are aborted. Who is culpable for these miscarriages? Damn, theology is a bitch, isn’t it? God alone is to blame for miscarriages, thus he is the greatest abortionist of all time. And if this is true, shouldn’t God be arrested, charged with murder, and executed? Most Evangelical anti-abortionists are pro-death penalty. These immoral hypocrites believe serial killers, mass murderers, and abortion doctors should be executed. Fine, but shouldn’t God face the same punishment? Or are his “murders” somehow different from those committed by mere mortals? Perhaps it is time for God to be strapped to a gurney and given a lethal injection. If abortion is murder, how can Evangelicals arrive at any other conclusion but this one?

Other posts on abortion

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Abortion and the Religious Right

Quote of the Day: Why Women Have Abortions After 24 Weeks by Dr. Jen Gunter

Quote of the Day: The Facts About Late-Term Abortions by Dr. Jen Gunter

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Democrats Are Baby Killers and Will Kill Christians Next!

ch fisher

In denying born babies the right to medical care and survival, Democrats have crosses a line that we knew they had the determination and moral bankruptcy to cross for decades. No doubt they are a delusional group of demon-influenced or possessed individuals, inhuman across the spectrum of their shredded and deficient moral systems. They have strained at the thinning membrane of common decency and finally broke through to commit the greatest outrage for all time. It is classic Saul Alinsky stratagem that models the Hegelian Dialect—create outrage after outrage until society implodes from the stress-overload to their sensibilities. They are prepared to jump into the chaotic aftermath and offer diabolical solutions to the great problem they created.

This is bizarre and unacceptable in a civilized nation. One does not fall lower in character and become more despicable than one who murders a baby. These Democrats have sanctioned the premeditated murder of helpless babies struggling and crying out for the security and love of a mother’s arms. It also violates their oath of office and the Constitution that guarantees every human the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If allowed to stand, this barbarous moral failure—no doubt inspired by Satan himself and inserted into the eager conduit of the Democrat Party—will remove the final barrier to cold-hearted, brutal persecution of Christians and political Conservatives when the Dems get back in power. If someone thinks that a bit farfetched, he or she is ignorant of history.

— C.H. Fisher, Truth Keepers,  Has it now come to this — Premeditated Baby Murder?, March 1, 2019

Quote of the Day: I Didn’t Kill My Baby by Dr. Jen Gunter

dr jen gunter

On Feb. 5, during the State of the Union address, President Trump implied that women like me executed our babies after birth.

….

I am an obstetrician and gynecologist who has delivered newborns who could not live, either because they were extremely premature or had birth defects. I have provided abortion care for women after 24 weeks gestation faced with similar outcomes who chose a surgical abortion over a vaginal delivery.

And I also delivered a son who was born to die — my own son.

….

According to the president, we are executioners.

If you are going to accuse me of executing my child, then you need to know exactly what happened. It’s not a pleasant story and the ending is terrible. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to read it. But you need to know the truth, because stories like mine are being perverted for political gain.

It pains me to remember. And yet, it is the only memory of my son, and so even though it cuts, I keep it close.

I was pregnant with triplets and at 22 weeks and three days, my membranes ruptured — that is, my water broke, far too early. I knew it was catastrophic. Almost no baby born before 23 weeks can survive.

With the knowledge that I would probably be a parent for only a few minutes, I headed to the hospital. I told my husband at the time that it would be all right, that maybe I was wrong.

I lied. It was easier on me.

After we consulted with a high-risk obstetrician and a neonatologist, I heard the dismal news I had expected: The survival rate for male triplets at 22 weeks and three days was less than 1 percent.

And so I waited. I waited to bestow the names I had so carefully chosen on three boys who seemed destined to die at birth.

For a day nothing happened. That was cruel because I began to hope that maybe I could hang on for a few weeks and maybe one or more would survive. I couldn’t help but indulge in the fantasy. And I resented that hope because I knew the worst day of my life was almost here.

I know other parents in similar situations also cling to hope. I have delivered those women; sometimes their wrenching sobs push their child who is born to die into the world. Maybe their child had a lethal birth defect. Maybe their child was extremely premature, like my Aidan. There are a lot of ways a newborn can be born to die.

After a fitful night of sleep at the hospital — because when you know Death is standing at the doorway waiting for your baby, you don’t sleep well — I got up to use the bathroom.

And then, all alone, I realized I was delivering. There was no time to cry out. I stood alone in the hospital bathroom and delivered my own son. He fit in my hands.

….

And then a nurse parted everyone and brought him to me wrapped in a blanket. He was dying, she said. Did I want to hold him?

I was being poked and prodded. Needles piercing my skin. Drugs for sedation. I was being held down (I don’t resent that; I just couldn’t cooperate, and I know it was an emergency and everyone was really trying). A speculum was also in my vagina, opened wide so a doctor — a friend of mine trying not to cry — trimmed Aidan’s umbilical cord dangling from his placenta that was still inside my uterus.

I tell myself it was all those things that prevented me from holding him, but I know the truth.

I wasn’t brave enough.

If I held him and saw him die, then I would know exactly what I was going to face if the other two delivered (ultimately, my other two sons survived).

As Aidan’s parents we had decided that invasive procedures, like intravenous lines and a breathing tube in a one-pound body, would be pointless medical care. And so, as we planned, Aidan died.

— Dr. Jen Gunter, The New York Times, I Didn’t Kill My Baby, February 26, 2019

If you have the time, please read Dr. Gunter’s heartbreaking article in its entirety. It certainly casts a different light on pregnancy complications and late-term abortions; a light that anti-abortionists don’t want people to see.

HB565: Ohio Republicans Take ‘Abortion is Murder’ to its Logical Conclusion

craig-riedel-quote-on-abortion

Ohio Republicans introduced a new bill yesterday that takes the phrase ‘abortion is murder’ to its logical conclusion. HB565 outlaws all abortions and makes performing or having one a capital offense. The bill also does away with exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.  One of the bill’s sponsors is Craig Riedel, state representative for District 82. Riedel is my representative and lives in nearby Defiance, Ohio. Riedel, a Catholic, is stridently anti-abortion, so it comes as no surprise that he is one of the sponsors of HB565. Riedel was also instrumental in the recent passage of HB214, a law that criminalizes doctors performing abortions on women whose fetuses have Down Syndrome.

HB565 doesn’t surprise me in the least. The Ohio legislature is controlled by a super-majority of staunch, right-wing, anti-abortion Republicans. These Republicans make Governor John Kasich look like a liberal. The only way to repel their attacks on abortion rights is to run them out of office and replace them with men and women who put people before religion. Make no mistake about it, the assault on abortion is religiously driven, primarily by Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons. Only those with minds sotted with religious delusions would criminalize abortion and make it a capital crime. Only the Craig Riedels of the world put God and theological dogma before women’s health.

I hope my fellow Ohioans are paying attention to the anti-abortion spectacle currently on display in Columbus. Far too many of us wrongly think that the people who wave signs that say, God is pro-life and abortion is murder, are ignorant, harmless country bumpkins. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ohio is primarily a rural state, and people who live in small communities such as Ney, Bryan, Defiance, Hicksville, and countless other places, have been voting into office right-wing Republicans for decades. Senior Ohioans such as myself remember an Ohio that was considered a progressive state, one governed by officeholders who worked for the common good of the Buckeye state. That Ohio no longer exists. In its place is a state government where God and the Bible come first, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues.

It is unlikely that this bill will pass constitutional muster. But, maybe the real issue here is to get HB565 before the U.S. Supreme Court so the court can overturn Roe v. Wade. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all anti-abortion laws at the state level? Outlaw abortion in the states and then make a full-bore frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. If attempts to criminalize abortion at the federal level are successful, this means the United States returns to the days when abortions were performed in backrooms and alleys. Ultimately, it means more unwanted children will be brought into the world and more women will die of complications from illegal, unsafe abortion procedures. We must not forget that the people who believe that abortion is murder often think that using birth control is a sin too. Imagine, if you dare, a country where women no longer have access to birth control and they once again must live in fear of unwanted pregnancy. Is this really what we want for Ohio and our country? If the answer is “no,” then the only answer is to elected leaders who put their duties and obligations to their constituents ahead of their fealty to God.

I am not suggesting that religious people cannot hold office, but if they are unwilling to separate church from state, then they are not fit for office. Our governmental structures are, by design, secular, and politicians who ignore or refuse to understand this must be replaced by people who do. For far too long, voters have treated the religious beliefs of politicians as being beyond criticism and critique. Since we now know that religious beliefs have political and social consequences, those of us who consider the separation of church and state essential to the future of our secular state must expose and critique the religious beliefs of politicians. The same applies to atheistic, agnostic, and humanistic politicians – we must question their beliefs as well. What we believe matters, as HB565, HB214, and other anti-abortion bills show. If we want a country where secular, humanistic ideals drive the legislative process, then we must elect candidates who value these things. It really is that simple.

Previous Articles About Abortion
Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

Is God Pro-Life?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Is God Pro-Life?

3 day old human embyro

Three Day Old Human Embryo.

A hundred or so local anti-abortion residents held a protest at ProMedica health system’s Defiance, Ohio facility yesterday. These zygote lovers were protesting Promedica’s decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Toledo’s lone abortion facility — Capital Care. Anti-abortion zealots in the Ohio legislature have passed numerous anti-abortion laws and regulations in recent years. One recent bit of legislative wonder requires abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. This requirement has put most of Ohio’s abortion clinics out of business, much to the delight of anti-abortion God worshipers.

Ohio is on the cusp of being the first state to totally ban abortion; either by enacting strict, impossible-to-meet regulations or directly assaulting Roe v. Wade with a ban on abortion. This is what happens when Republicans are given super majorities in state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion almost forty-five years ago. Yet, here we are, re-litigating an issue decided decades ago. And abortion is not the only right under attack. Republicans control most state legislatures. Believing that Christianity is the one true religion and that the Bible is the moral framework by which all Americans should live, these politicians demand that secular governments bow to God’s theocratic will. Abortion is just one issue, among many. Take any of the church and state issues litigated from the Scope’s Monkey Trial forward. Many of these court cases are being challenged and, in some instances, overturned. Christian zealots will not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House and every state capitol. They will not rest until the wall of separation between church and state is breached and secularism is banished from the realm. One need only to look to the Middle East and Europe to see what happens when theocrats gain the power of the state; people die and freedoms are lost. The only way to turn back this assault is to elect to office people who value the U.S. Constitution and its secular principles and values.

Signs at the ProMedica protest sported messages such as: Killing babies is not healthcare, Abortion is always the wrong choice, and God is pro-life. Most of the protesters were either Evangelical or Catholic — the two dominant sects in this area. While Catholics, at one time, voted for Democrats and pro-union candidates, recent decades have brought a virulent swing to the right. These days, Catholics are every bit as caustic as Evangelicals, especially on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.

I have no doubt that these protestors sincerely believe that God is pro-life, but such a belief is rooted in fanaticism, and not fact. Anti-abortionists selectively appeal to the Bible as justification for their anti-abortion rhetoric, but a careful reading of the Bible suggests that God is not, in any way, pro-life; and that people who claim God is on their side are ignoring vast amounts of Biblical and historical evidence to the contrary. If anything, God is blood-thirsty, violent megalomaniac who has caused untold pain, suffering, and death (if he is indeed real, as Christians insist he is).

According to the Bible, the pro-life God of the Bible drowned millions of people with a flood, including children and pregnant women. How can it be said that God is pro-life if he murdered fetuses by drowning them? Down through the pages of the Bible we find story after story detailing Jehovah’s genocidal rage against anyone and everyone who refused to bow in fealty and worship him. The New Testament is no better. One need only look at the death of Jesus to see the homicidal tendencies of the Christian deity. What kind of father does what God did to his son? Worse yet, this same God created a place called Hell; a place where he tortures all non-Christians for eternity. This God is such a psychopath that he fits the dead with new bodies that will tolerate torture in the fire and brimstone of the Lake of Fire. What a monstrous being!

And then there’s the fact that if God is the giver and taker of life, then he is responsible for the ten to twenty percent of pregnancies that end with spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). If God is pro-life, why then are these pregnancies not carried to term? Surely, God can keep spontaneous abortions from happening. Why does he sit on the sidelines and do nothing? The same argument could be made for children who die due to war, murder, malnutrition, disease, and parental neglect. If God is pro-life, shouldn’t he intervene and save children from death? If God truly cares about the pre-born, surely he still cares for them after they are born. Yet, all the evidence points to the fact that God is indifferent to the plight of his created beings. One could even argue that the evidence suggests that the pro-life God is a figment of Christian imaginations.

No, God is not pro-life, and neither are his followers. Most pro-lifers have a schizophrenic approach to life. The very same people protesting at ProMedica can be found defending U.S. militarism, capital punishment, and all sorts of anti-life government policies. At best, most pro-lifers are pro-fetus, hypocrites of the first-degree. Take protesters who released balloons to honor the babies have been aborted. They showed no regard for what balloon releases do to the environment and wildlife: that released balloons eventually return to the ground, causing wildlife deaths when they are ingested. This fact is a great example of the myopia of anti-abortionists. They are one-issue crusaders who only believe in protesting in support of the pre-born. Once a child is born, all bets are off.

An anti-abortionist who lives near me told the Defiance Crescent-News, “They [ProMedica] became complicit in murder when they signed that transfer agreement.” As long as Christian zealots continue to believe that life begins at conception, and any and all forms of abortion are murder, there’s no possible way to work with them to reduce the need for abortion. Instead, people such as myself are forced to fight their irrational, anti-woman assault on women. Believing that God is on their side and the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word, Evangelicals and conservative Catholics cannot and will not compromise. Trying to reach such people is a waste of time. All any of us can do is strip them of the power of the state. This is accomplished through electing politicians who believe it’s important to protect a woman’s right to choose; who believe that women have a Constitutional right to control their own bodies. At this juncture in American history, this means running Republicans out of office. Remember, if we don’t realize the importance of the hour, we are going to wake up one day and find ourselves living in what Evangelicals have long desired — a Christian nation. Come that day, abortion rights will be the least of our problems.

Previous Articles About Abortion
Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

preaching anti abortion gospel lexington kentucky (5)

Recently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker struck down an Alabama law that “enabled judges to put minors seeking abortions through a trial-like proceeding in which the fetus could get a lawyer and prosecutors could object to the pregnant girl’s wishes.” (CBS News)

According to CBS News:

Alabama legislators in 2014 changed the state’s process for girls who can’t or won’t get their parents’ permission for an abortion to obtain permission from a court instead. The new law empowered the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem “for the interests of the unborn child” and invited the local district attorney to call witnesses and question the girl to determine whether she’s mature enough to decide.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided Friday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, writing that the law unconstitutionally and impermissibly imposes “an undue burden on a minor in Alabama who seeks an abortion through a judicial bypass,” and violates the girl’s privacy rights by enabling a prosecutor to call witnesses against her will.

Both the judge and the ACLU said they were aware of no other state with such a law.

Every state requiring parental consent for abortions involving minors must also have a “judicial bypass” procedure so that girls can get a judge’s approval in a way that is effective, confidential, and expeditious, the ACLU said.

The state had argued that the law was intended to allow a “meaningful” inquiry into the minor’s maturity and the process was still a “confidential, and expeditious option for a teenager who seeks an abortion without parental consent.”

The civil rights organization said it had the opposite effect, by enabling lawyers for the state or the fetus to subpoena the minor’s teacher, neighbor, relative or boyfriend to testify she’s too immature to choose an abortion, or that continuing the pregnancy would be in her best interest.

It is unclear how many such proceedings have happened since the law was enacted. Walker noted that a district attorney this summer opposed the abortion request of a 12-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a relative.

….

That Alabama legislators — most of whom worship the Evangelical Christian God — enacted such a draconian, anti-woman, anti-abortion law should surprise no one. Anti-abortionists will not rest until they have banned abortion, criminalized its practice, and granted personhood to human zygotes. In fact, most anti-abortionists object to abortion for any reason — including rape and incest. Some anti-abortionists even go so far as to oppose abortion even if the life of the mother is at stake, believing that God is the giver and taker of life, and if he wants the mother to live he will make it so.

Not only do anti-abortionists oppose abortion for any reason, an increasing number of them object to the sale and distribution of birth control, believing that God alone opens and closes the womb. These zealots, knowing that access to birth control reduces the need for abortion services, choose to let their peculiar interpretations of an ancient religious text trump what is best not only for women, but for the unwanted children they will bring into the world if they don’t have access to birth control.

Previously, I wrote that I no longer use the phrase pro-life to describe those who oppose abortion. The reason is simple. Anti-abortionists are only pro-life when it comes to the unborn. They will go to the ends of the earth to protect human zygotes and unborn fetuses, but once babies are born, anti-abortionists lose all interest in their welfare outside of throwing a few diapers and cans of formula the way of new mothers. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly Republican, supporting policies that harm countless people, including mothers and newborns. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly pro-war, pro-capital punishment, anti-euthanasia, anti-single payer/universal health care, and a host of other things that should, in my mind, be consistent with people hold a pro-life viewpoint. While I am sure that more than a few anti-abortionists are not as I describe here, the loudest voices in the movement support policies that are anti-family.

This is why it is impossible for those of us who support a woman’s right to an abortion to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Theologically driven, anti-abortionists will accept no compromise. Supporting abortion rights is, in the anti-abortionist’s mind, akin to supporting murder. I find it hard to work with people who think that, because of my views on abortion, I am a murderer. Even my support of morning-after drugs is viewed as advocating murder. In the eyes of anti-abortionists, the moment sperm and egg unite in the wombs of women, the results are human beings that should have the same constitutional and legal protections as I have. Insane! you say. Yes, but make no mistake about it, if anti-abortionists have their way, aborting a fetus will be considered premeditated murder, worthy, ironically, of the death penalty. Currently, anti-abortionists, as they continue their incremental assault on Roe v. Wade, are attempting to pass state laws that require burials for aborted or miscarried fetuses. According to the Guttmacher Institute, anti-abortionists continue to make it harder and harder for women to receive abortions. Currently:

  • Physician and Hospital Requirements: 38 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician. 19 states require an abortion to be performed in a hospital after a specified point in the pregnancy, and 19 states require the involvement of a second physician after a specified point.
  • Gestational Limits: 43 states prohibit abortions, generally except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health, after a specified point in pregnancy.
  • “Partial-Birth” Abortion: 19 states have laws in effect that prohibit “partial-birth” abortion. 3 of these laws apply only to post-viability abortions.
  • Public Funding: 17 states use their own funds to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions for Medicaid enrollees in the state. 32 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds except in those cases when federal funds are available: where the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In defiance of federal requirements, South Dakota limits funding to cases of life endangerment only.
  • Coverage by Private Insurance: 11 states restrict coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, most often limiting coverage only to when the woman’s life would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term. Most states allow the purchase of additional abortion coverage at an additional cost.
  • Refusal: 45 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion. 42 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions, 16 of which limit refusal to private or religious institutions.
  • State-Mandated Counseling: 16 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (5 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (12 states) or long-term mental health consequences for the woman (6 states).
  • Waiting Periods: 27 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. 14 of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure.
  • Parental Involvement: 37 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. 26 states require one or both parents to consent to the procedure, while 11 require that one or both parents be notified.

Here in Ohio, most abortions are banned after twenty weeks. As of April 2017, Ohio law requires:

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two trips to the facility.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Medication abortion must be provided using the FDA protocol. The use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Most women will undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; since the provider must test for a fetal heartbeat. The woman will be offered the option to view the image.
  • An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered or if her physical health is severely compromised. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community, that a fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy.

Since 2011, Ohio governor John Kasich has signed into law more than a dozen anti-abortion laws, resulting in the closure of half of Ohio’s abortion clinics. Showing that they will not be satisfied until ALL abortion is outlawed, Ohio anti-abortionists are attempting to pass a fetal heartbeat bill which, if enacted, will effectively ban all abortions in Ohio. Late last year, Governor Kasich vetoed the latest heartbeat law, saying that it would not survive constitutional challenge. His veto brought the ire of anti-abortionists. Never mind that Kasich has done more to advance the anti-abortion cause that any governor, all that matters to anti-abortion zealots such as Janet Porter is that the governor refused to support their latest bill. This reveals, yet again, that it is impossible for pro-choice advocates to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Adopting a scorched earth policy where no quarter will be given, anti-abortionists despise anyone who dares to deviate from their extremist views. If Governor Kasich is now in league with Satan, those of us who support a woman’s right to choose have no hope of finding ways to meaningfully work with anti-abortionists to reduce the number of abortions. So, we go it alone, advocating for easy, free access to birth control and comprehensive sex education in the public schools. Realizing that there will always be unwanted/accidental pregnancies — for whatever reason — we believe that access to morning-after drugs is essential.

Dark is the hour for those of us who support a woman’s right to choose, but we must not give in or lose hope. We must continue to fight, pushing back at every turn, until the gains made by anti-abortionists are overturned — either through legislatures or the judicial system.

Other posts on abortion

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

The Insanity of the ‘Life Begins at Fertilization’ Movement

aaron wilsonThe goal of the pro-life movement is to make ALL abortion illegal. They will not stop their war against women until fertilized eggs receive the same constitutional protections afforded post-birth humans. Using the incremental approach, pro-lifers have successfully made it impossible for women in many states to get an abortion. Some zealots even go so far as to say that birth control should be outlawed. I have no doubt that once the U.S. Supreme Court is at full strength that zygote warriors will attempt to re-litigate Roe v. Wade.

I have written several articles on abortion you might find helpful:

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception

Tristan Vick also wrote an article for this site on abortion titled, Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take).

Yesterday, The Gospel Coalition — a Fundamentalist,Calvinistic, parachurch group — published an article by Aaron Wilson titled, What Christians Should Know About Embryo Adoption. That’s right, EMBRYO ADOPTION.  Tens of thousands of children need adoptive families, yet people such as Aaron Wilson are focused on rescuing frozen embryos — who are, in their minds, human beings with constitutional rights — from being criminally murdered. Here’s some of what Wilson had to say:

A hallmark of the evangelical church in America is the backing of a pro-life worldview. As such, abortion clinics and the politics that govern them are primary areas of focus in this important cause. However, there’s another front that often gets overlooked in the fight for life: the state of the thousands of children who remain cryogenically frozen as human embryos following in-vitro fertilization cycles.

A growing Christian response to this issue is the life-affirming answer of embryo adoption.

If you haven’t heard of embryo adoption, you’re not alone. Even though thousands of children in the United States could immediately benefit from this act of love, many people—Christians included—remain unaware of this adoptive need.

Because embryo adoption can be confusing, here are six answers to common questions.

1. What is embryo adoption?

Embryo adoption is a way to care for children who, for lack of a better phrase, are “left over” and kept in a cryogenic state following an in-vitro fertilization cycle. Through embryo adoption, an adopting mother gives these children a chance at birth by allowing their embryonic form to be thawed and transferred to her uterus. If one or more implant, the mother then carries and births the child (or children) though she is not genetically related to them. Embryo adoption is often referred to as pre-birth adoption.

2. Isn’t embryo adoption the same thing as in-vitro fertilizatio (IVF)?

No. In many ways, it’s the opposite. In-vitro fertilization creates life as a form of reproductive technology. Embryo adoption is a response to the fact that life has already been created and that it needs a womb to continue developing the way God intended babies to grow.

3. How many embryonic babies exist in cryopreservation?

In the United States alone, a projected 700,000 children exist as frozen embryos. Of these, an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 are available to be adopted. That number grows every week. These statistics reflect two pressing needs: A movement of families who are willing to adopt and an awareness of the life-affirming options available to parents who already have remaining embryos.

4. Is embryo adoption really adoption?

Because the U.S. government doesn’t agree with the Bible’s claim that life begins at fertilization, embryo adoption isn’t considered legal adoption in America. The government only sees human embryos as cells, and so treats embryo adoption as a mere transfer of property. As such, many fertility clinics prefer “embryo donation.”

Biblically informed Christians, however, shouldn’t shy away from using life-honoring terms. Just as Jesus was adopted by Joseph in a preborn state (not received as a donation from God), Christians should honor life by using theologically accurate language.

….

6. How can I care for frozen children?

….

Inform. Most people have never heard of embryo adoption. Those who have often confuse it with IVF. Much adoption evangelism needs to take place inside the church on behalf of these frozen lives. Share embryo adoption articles on social media. Talk with friends. Do research. Talk to your elders and your small group about ways your church can be involved in the mission field that is embryo adoption.

….

Adopt. The most powerful way to care for these tiniest of children is to personally open a womb and a home to them. A great place to start is to check out the website of the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

When God Became an Embryo

Jesus didn’t leave his throne for a manager, at least not directly. He first left his throne nine months earlier for a womb.

How much grander is the story of the incarnation when we realize the Son of God went from ruling the universe to becoming the smallest, most dependent, most microscopic form of human life. The God who authored a world that can’t be measured, humbled himself into a form that can’t be seen.

And this same God who became a human embryo to save sinners would have his church stand up for the many human embryos regularly discarded or frozen indefinitely. Consider how you can expand your pro-life passion toward the littlest lives by championing the cause of embryo adoption.

As someone who believes women should have the unrestricted right to an abortion pre-viability, Wilson’s article is a reminder of the impossibility of working with pro-lifer’s to reduce the number of abortions. Unable to differentiate between a blob of cells and a human life, pro-lifers obstinately refuse to compromise their beliefs. This is why I no longer waste my time arguing or debating with members of God’s Zygote Squad®. Their Fundamentalist religious views have blinded them to the horrific damage caused by their incessant assault on reproductive rights. They will not rest until Ozzie and Harriett, Leave it to Beaver, and the Duggars are the gold standard for American families.

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

fetus

Guest post by Tristan Vick

INTRODUCTION

I’ve always been somewhat of a pedant when it comes to terminology. Personally, I just think it’s better to know what you’re talking about when you’re pontificating on some cultural or social subject rather than, say, not knowing anything but thinking you’re the bee’s knees simply for having an opinion. I may not be a narcissist, but I certainly am a stickler for using correct terminology.

Often in the pro-life vs. pro-choice abortion debate, the pro-life side will make the hyperbolic claim that “abortion is murder!”

They also like to imply if you support abortion that you are in support of murder. They don’t seem to realize that the pro-choice side isn’t pro-baby killing. We don’t want unnecessary abortions either. But when it comes to the abortion debate, we pro-choicers have understood the fine nuances of the pro-life proposition which they clearly have failed to properly consider.

That’s what I want to examine today. All the nuances that the pro-life side has utterly, and completely, failed to properly consider let alone adequately address. So without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.

PART 1: The LEGAL TROUBLE with the Pro-life Stance

Of course, the short answer is, no, abortion is not murder. In most cases it’s a legal medical procedure. A necessary one even.

In my experience, what the pro-life side is attempting to say, rather poorly, is that they think abortion should be classified as murder.

But this is where things get tricky. Because murder is specifically a legal term with very specific meanings under very well-defined contexts. In fact, the law distinguishes between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree murder, understanding there is a scale to consider. Where premeditated murder, manslaughter, and involuntary / accidental manslaughter differentiate is no trivial matter. The law recognizes, rightly so, that there are different forms of taking a human life, and not all of them are equal in terms of culpability or even in punishment.

This is common sense to us, since we all know that a drunk driver accidentally running over some school children crossing the street is different from honestly not seeing a child jump into the street chasing a ball before it’s too late which is even more different still from raging out and mowing down a bunch of children crossing the street in your car.

These are different forms of killing. With different factors that apply. And the law must consider each and every one of the variables at play in order to be unbiased, just, and true. A law that doesn’t do this, well, wouldn’t be a very good law, I think you’ll find.

And that’s why I find is problematic when pro-life people claim “abortion is murder.”

What kind of murder would you like it to be? Just murder isn’t a thing. Not in the eyes of the law. So pro-life supporters have to be more specific.

Although they seem to suggest they want abortion to be classified as a form of murder, I’ve never seen any logical, moral, or philosophical arguments given to make that case. It seems most of the time it is used as a shock-tactic. A bit of hyperbole. It fits with the right wing narrative that demonizes all abortion as evil and equates it with the most heinous crime imaginable, taking another human beings life against their will.

But then, here we have a new problem. If you want to provide legal protections to an unborn fetus, in the same way you provide legal protection to an autonomous adult, you’d have to show their free will has been violated, and then, as you can imagine, this implies you must first prove an unborn fetus has a free will to be violated in the first place. Not an easy task, I can assure you.

You see, as with those who claim abortion is murder, they seem to be confusing legal rights of an autonomous individual with the rights of an unborn fetus, not yet a fully actualized individual, and are making the incorrect assumption that the fetus’s rights deserve broader legal protection, even at the sake of the mother’s rights being restricted.

However, this is problematic for several reasons.

First, in law there is no legal precedent for this strange usurping of an adult’s rights by an unborn fetuses rights since children’s rights are, and always have been, limited by the law until they become legal adults.

At most, a fetus could be granted the same rights as a child, but not being an individual where free will is recognizable, not even being born for that matter, seems to set strict parameters on what kind of rights that unborn fetus could have in a state of law. After all, in order to make a claim that their rights have been violated, they need to face their accuser in a court of law, and this can’t happen. Which is why in pro-life happy states the trick is always to grant the State the right to make the claim on behalf of the unborn fetus.

But this raises ethical concerns on the treatment of women, and by extension their unborn offspring.

For example, in El Salvador, women are frequently jailed for having miscarriages. Because, in their case, powers outside themselves control them through laws and regulations, deciding on behalf of the fetus, what the mother – viewed a property of the state – should be dictated.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/17/el-salvador-anti-abortion-law-premature-birth-miscarriage-attempted-murder

Saying that others should make legal claims on behalf of the unborn fetus opens a whole can of worms that have proved to dangerously restrict, even endanger, the well-being of women. In a free and civilized democracy like America, arguing for such restrictions is Draconian.

Yet since 2005, there have been more than 380 cases in the U.S. alone – the so-called land of the free – where pregnant women have been jailed, arrested, and / or tried for crimes against their unborn fetuses.

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/arrested-having-miscarriage-7-appalling-instances-where-pregnant-women-were

Being charged for criminal conduct and jailed for a natural miscarriage is like having your house knocked down in an earthquake and being arrested and imprisoned for the destruction of private property. It’s beyond the pale, goes against all reason and common sense, yet there are policies in place which carry out these absurd and inconceivable policies gleefully and without question.

Where a fetus’s rights are has not been clearly defined, such policies always devolve into a legal mess, and the only people who suffer for it are the mothers – the women – whose rights the law conveniently forgets about the moment anti-abortion legislation enters the equation.

Even if you are pro-life, this should force you to give some serious pause and consideration.

And from a theory of law standpoint, this is a very slippery slope. A very slippery slope indeed.

Even though we can all probably agree that a lot more work needs to be done in this area, the clear fact of the matter is, you cannot expect a fetus’s legal rights to outstrip the mother’s when those rights, in point of fact, have not been clearly or concisely defined.

In fact, we probably shouldn’t expect an unborn fetus’s rights to even be comparable to a child’s, but, perhaps, that is a debate is better left up to the legal experts.

My point in all this is essentially this: this legal problem of defining the unborn fetus’s legal standing within society has NEVER been fully or adequately addressed by the pro-life side.

The best they have come up with is to make the woman into property, give the state control over her body and reproductive choices, and punish the mother – because all she is, is chattel after all – when she fails to abide by the reproductive guidelines forced upon her and which do not consider her best interests as a mother or human being.

It’s draconian in the worst sense of the word, I think you’ll find. Yet this is essentially what pro-life proponents call for when they claim “abortion is murder.”So, to make a long question short. Is abortion murder? Not in the legal sense. No. Thank goodness.

But this is only the first trouble area. There’s more to it. So please bear with me as I detail exactly why the pro-life position isn’t a valid position and why it’s so maladroit as a social and political stance with regard to abortion.

pregnant woman

PART 2: The MORAL TROUBLE with Pro-Life Stance

The greater problem with the pro-life argument lies not on the legal side of things, but the moral and philosophical side of things.

You may have often heard it said that “abortion is evil.”

Whereas “abortion is murder” is a very specific legal claim, saying that “abortion is evil” is a very specific moral claim.

The way the pro-life side deals with this is to say that life begins at conception, with the added caveat that life is sacred — well, human life, to be specific.

Then there is the other problem of defining life.

Science says one thing. Pro-lifers say another.

Science says biological life has stages.

Science says it takes 2 weeks for fertilization.

This is where pro-lifers say conception begins – but the problem is, the fertilized egg hasn’t even attached to the uterus yet. It is also where most spontaneous abortions occur. 20 out of 100 women in America alone will have a spontaneous abortion / miscarriage before the age of 40.

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm

That’s nearly a quarter of the female populate having to suffer a miscarriage through no fault of their own. This raises the peculiar question of whether or not defining life in this way would hold Mother Nature legally accountable for abortions where anti-abortion laws take effect. It also raises theological problems for right-wing believers who claim to use God as their moral guide, when believing in an all-loving, all-powerful, Supreme Being – since an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God would share culpability in NOT preventing the fertilized eggs abortion when they could have. It would be like a doctor refusing to save a patient when they had all the power to do so. It’s inconceivable, and it suggests that God is either malevolent, i.e. completely evil, or else entirely impotent.

As to be expected though, the pro-life side chooses to ignore these unfavorable consequences and go straight for the throat of people’s moral consciences by claiming killing a hapless child is evil! Well, it’s not even a potential child yet, since the not-even-baby will likely self-abort anyway. And this scientific fact show that defining life as beginning at conception isn’t only problematic, but entirely nonsensical.

Why nonsensical? Because…

Science says it takes 3 weeks for implantation.

Still, not yet a human embryo even. So we have only a potential for human life. A potential is not a certainty. It is a possibility. Which is why defining it as a life is problematic. It’s like me saying that I might possibly go to the gym today, and you saying I’ve already went to the gym today. That doesn’t actually make any sense. And so it doesn’t make any sense to say this fertilized egg which has the potential to become a human fetus is already a human fetus.

The pro-life claim that life begins at conception is simply nonsensical for the above reasons.

But if that wasn’t enough to convince you…

Science says it takes at least 4 weeks for the embryo to officially form.

Now the potential is maximized, since an embryo can turn into a fetus. But the problem is, to come back to this issue, miscarriages. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first 20 weeks of embryonic development. So, even though we have an embryo, unlike Katniss from the Hunger Games, the chances are not in its favor. There is still the 20 in 100 chance that it will spontaneous self-destruct.

If new cars driven off the dealers lot self-destruct 20 out of 100 times, would you feel safe driving a new car off the lot? Probably not. You’d want better security than that. Which is why there are strict manufacturing and safety guidelines for the automotive industry. Yet Mother Nature is much more sloppy, a lot less predictable, and so trying to stronghold mother nature and force it to fit a definition is the wrong way to go about it. What we must do is be mindful that things are never so clear cut and dry. Not where Mother Mature is concerned. Which means are definitions of life have to, at the very least, take this fact into account? The pro-life definition of life does not.

Some pro-life sites, like Abort 73.com, although cataloging many useful abortion statistics, make suspicious claims like “Growth in the womb is a rapid process, all systems are in place by week 8.”

http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

Although this notion that “all systems are in place by week 8” is not entirely accurate. In fact, it’s a half-truth slanted to make the pro-life position seem more scientific than it really is, and by extension more reasonable than it is too.

Thankfully, the science it quite clear on the matter.

By week 8 the human nervous system is only beginning to develop. The neural pathways haven’t even been developed yet, so there’s still no “feeling any pain” since the fetus isn’t well-developed enough to even process pain. This is about the time breathing tubes develop from the throat to the lungs, and the fetus is roughly the size of a kidney bean.

http://www.babycenter.com/fetal-development-week-by-week

guttmacher statistics

According to Guttmacher Institute, the primary source for all abortion research and policy analysis, it is reported that two-thirds of abortions occur at approximately eight weeks of pregnancy or earlier. This is long before the baby is an actual fully functioning organism. In fact, the tiny kidney bean doesn’t even feel any pain!

Which begs the question, why would anyone give a not yet developed, non-functioning, kidney bean the same legal rights as a well-developed, fully-functioning, form of the fully formed organism?

https://www.guttmacher.org/
Please, don’t mistake my question as being callous. Calling a fetus at 8 weeks a kidney bean is probably more accurate than calling it a human baby. We know human babies breath and feel pain. Human kidney beans do not, or in this case, embryo’s only 8 weeks into its fetal development.

And it’s not like we’ve stripped a kidney bean of its individual rights. First of all, it’s not yet an individual anything. It cannot feel. It cannot think. It is a collection of cells still undergoing development. It’s a potential human being, but not yet anything. This is a distinction many pro-lifers seem to deliberately choose to ignore. By ignoring this point of contention, they can state that abortion is evil because it is taking a human life. But that’s simply not the case. The science doesn’t support their view, because the pro-life view ignores the science.

No less important is the fact that we are not talking about a handicapped individual here. We aren’t stripping somethings rights away which already had rights. We are talking about a stage of development. A stage of development where if the fetus doesn’t go beyond this particular stage it doesn’t becoming anything at all.

Re-read that last sentence again and let that sink in.

And that, basically, is what pro-life supporters want to give full legal rights to. A potential something, but not yet anything, maybe lifeform. Perhaps worse than this is the fact that they want to allow this not yet anything, maybe lifeform to supersede the rights of its host mother. And mothers, as we all know, do have rights.

This kind of reasoning is so muddled, so convoluted, that the best we can do is to say, sorry, but your position is unreasonable and trespasses on the absurd.

But many pro-lifers have bought into the abortions is murder / abortion is evil propaganda hook, line, and sinker. They believe, for whatever reason, that those alarmist anti-abortion videos of doctors ripping out baby fetuses from bloody vaginas with metal tongs, then chopping them up on a silver platter and throwing them into dumpsters is, somehow, an accurate reflection of real life abortion.

It’s not.

It’s pure propaganda. A fiction meant to scare people into thinking abortion is a vile practice that only immoral barbarians would carry out rather than what it really is – a live saving medical procedure carried out by medical professionals in hospitals.

Besides this, in most cases, and abortion requires merely taking a pill before the end of the first trimester. No drama required.

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion/the-abortion-pill

As it turns out, those third trimester abortions you see in videos taken in Mexico, or some such place, are the rarest of the rare.

The Guttmacher Institute states that third trimester abortions are less than 1.3% of the entire populace and are reserved for extremely rare medical conditions where there will be serious complications to the mother, fetus, or both.

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

And if you don’t think there are valid medical reasons for late-term abortions, chances are you’ve never heard of anencephaly.

Yeah. Anencephaly. Look it up.

At the same time, the Guttmacher Institute reminds us that 91% of all abortions happen in the first trimester, before 11th week of pregnancy, more than 65% occurring before the 8th week of pregnancy. Remember, that’s the time where we have the unfeeling kidney bean not yet anything maybe embryo.

And let’s not forget that spontaneous abortions/miscarriages occur all the way through the 20th week of pregnancy regardless. And that’s the cold hard reality of it.

As for those alarmist videos, they are just that, alarmist propaganda. And that wouldn’t be so bad if such propaganda only duped fools into believing it, but as it happens it can dupe otherwise reasonable people into believing it as well. And that’s dangerous, I think you’ll agree. Dangerous for the very reason that it weaponizes our ignorance and then seeks to use it against us.

When all is said and done, the facts are the facts and are readily available for anyone who wants to educate themselves on the truth of the matter. And the fact remains, second and third trimester abortions are extremely rare. *Extremely* and *rare* being the key words here.

So setting an arbitrary definition for the definition of “life” — one which conveniently aligns precisely with their pre-selected worldview, but which seems to habitually butt heads with the science — is all the pro-life side has to offer us. And I think you’ll agree, that’s simply not good enough to convince anyone that abortion ought to be considered murder or that it’s inherently evil. This is a black and white, overly simplistic view that doesn’t understand the first thing about the complexities and nuances involved in addressing the major ethical concerns permeating this debate.

So we’ve learned two things so far.

  • The pro-life side’s legal claim of unborn fetuses having rights is nowhere in evidence and needs to be developed into a viable argument before being put into law.

As it is, the pro-life side has offered a non-starter. It’s a poorly thought out position based on political biases and emotional prejudices. It hasn’t considered any of the relevant material, which is why it relies on emotional pleas and alarmist tactics while vilifying the other side’s position, offering only propaganda instead of facts, to try and persuade others of the worthiness of their cause. It’s an ill-informed opinion masquerading as fact. And it’s dangerous.

  • The pro-life definition of “life” is deeply flawed if not completely nonsensical.

Furthermore, it conflicts with what the science shows to be fact. At the same time the definition being offered deliberately ignores competing definitions and attempts to overrule them by making moral platitudes designed to manipulate people’s emotions into giving up these other well-defined definitions for vague, an nebulous ones which only seek to sow further confusion rather than bring any clarity to the issues at hand.

These are not trivial concerns, mind you. These are serious objections to the pro-life position. Damning, you might even say.

The entire pro-life side of the debate must first overcome these major obstacles and objections in order to become a viable argument. Only once it has been formalized as a real argument can it be worthy of consideration and debate.

Right now, all they have is an opinion. And it is on this lofty opinion that so much anti-abortion legislature hangs. Which is quite frightening to anyone with half a brain. I don’t say this to be divisive. What is shows is that pro-life supporters simply haven’t thought through the issues, have no solutions for the problems, yet want their position to carry the same moral weight. It doesn’t.

On the other hand, the pro-choice side succinctly avoids these same pitfalls and therefore is the sturdier position. It does this because it is offered, not as a fully independent argument, but as a contra-argument to what the pro-choice side offers, or in this case, fails to offer. The pro-choice side, by design, sides with reasonable and just policies based on our current scientific, legal, and moral understanding of what abortion really is. A valid medical procedure. As such, it’s not pushing an agenda in the same way the pro-life side is clearly pushing an agenda. It’s a counter-offer to that agenda, which says that you cannot arbitrarily strip a woman of her civil liberties simply because you have arbitrarily selected and random definition of “life” which you wish to impose on everyone else regardless of the consequences. Hence the pro-choice stance can be viewed as a push-back against the inherent illogicality of the pro-life stance.

ship

PART 3: The PHILOSOPHICAL TROUBLE with the Pro-Life Stance

The pro-life position is plagued with legal problems as well as moral problems. But it is also riddles with practical philosophical problems. That’s just a fancy way of saying, if you were to give it a deeper consideration, the pro-life position is philosophically unsound.

There are two distinct philosophical failings of the pro-life side of the debate.

The first is how one gives autonomy to individual with no identity.

The second problem arises when you give the right to autonomy to two individuals inhabiting the same body and place their identities in opposition thus into conflict.

First, for the sake of argument, let’s concede to the argument and agree that life begins at conception.

We can grant pro-life proponents this much, because even if this is the definition we are using, the bigger moral problems are yet to come. In fact, you might even say the pro-life side still has all their work ahead of them.

In order to explain the problem, I first have to make everyone aware of a philosophical riddle that has baffled philosophers for centuries.

It’s called The Ship of Theseus paradox.

Now, the paradox has been discussed by ancient philosophers such as Heraclitus and Plato, and more recently by heavy weight thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The paradox, according to the Greek historian Plutarch, is as such:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

— Plutarch, Theseus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

Essentially, the problem asks you to imagine Theseus’s ship. It is uncovered by modern archeologists on some Grecian beach. Unearthing it, they take the ship to a museum and, low and behold, discover some of the ship’s wood planks have rotted away. Subsequently, they replace those planks.

Now, here’s where the philosophical paradox comes into play. After a few years of sitting in the old museum, a few more of the ships planks rot away. Those too get replaced. Another few years crawls by, and another couple of planks get replaced. This continues on for many years until, finally, we come to the last original plank. It too has rotted beyond repair, and therefore gets replaced.

The paradox asks us, at what instant did Theseus’s ship change from one thing to another?

Some would say that it stopped being Theseus’s ship after 50% of the planks were replaced. Others would say it was still Theseus’s ship right up till the last plank was replaced. After that, no longer. But others would argue that it was still Theseus’s original ship even after all the planks were replaced because some of those new planks had been a part of the original at one time and thus carried with them the essence of Theseus’s ship.

Now, there’s not need to wrack your brain. There’s no actual solution to the riddle.

What the paradox is designed to show us is that things have recognizable forms, but these forms change. Because of this changing forms, whether the original or a facsimile, a thing has a kind of identity unto itself whereby we recognize its form as either Theseus’s ship or not Theseus’s ship.

The reason this becomes important in the abortion debate is this. When you define life as beginning at conception, you still haven’t identified when the life is a person. The essence of being a person is quite different from simply being a living thing. Single celled amoebas are living. Nobody rights laws protecting them. A multi-celled bacteria is a living thing. But we recognize it as either a bacteria or not a bacteria. But when you have a human embryo, we know it is a human embryo because it’s not a full-grown child. And then, we know and fetus is not an embryo.

So the problem with defining life at conception is that you’re trying to define one thing as another thing. You’re trying to define the single-celled amoeba as a multi-cellular bacterium, and as we all know – this isn’t possible. It’s nonsense. A thing is a thing is a thing. And that thing cannot be some other thing… until… well, it is. And that’s the Theseus Ship paradox in a nutshell. Or should I say bottle?

Simply put, to say life begins at conception and then giving that embryo legal rights would mean ONLY that embryo has legal rights. Not the fetus. You would have to write a separate law to say that the fetus has legal rights, apart from the embryo, if that’s what you want to say. And, to compound matters, you’d have to write yet one more set of laws to distinguish the rights of a fully living child apart from both a fetus and an embryo.

And this is a basic philosophical consideration which one would need to take into account before writing laws, since something as complex as biology involves changing forms.

Yet the pro-life side would rather not think about it in this detail. Again, probably because they aren’t offering a formal argument for their position. They aren’t offering reasons. They are offering mere opinions and then telling you, often times quite passionately, how they feel about their own opinions.

Well, I hate to be the barer of bad news, but an opinion doesn’t make a valid argument.

Of course, you will recall I mentioned there were two parts to the identity problem.

The second part is more subtle, but also that much more damaging to the pro-life stance.

Even if we grant the pro-life definition of life, and even if we grant them that an unborn fetus is entitled to certain legal protections, what they seems to be forgetting in all of this is… the MOTHER.

As an already fully actualized, autonomous, individual she has legal rights. Thus had legal standing in cases brought against her by her unborn fetus. Which is technically impossible, which, inevitably, explains why pro-lifers always argue for legal involvement in such cases when erecting anti-abortion policies. They NEED to control the mother’s rights, because what they are doing, in this case, is putting the mother’s rights in opposition to the unborn fetus’s rights.

This creates a big moral problem. Because the only way to resolve this issue, in a court of law, is to demote a woman to the status of property.

In the case of abortion, what the pro-life side is seeking to do is say that the unborn fetus resides inside the host mothers, as a tenant resides inside an apartment building, and that the mother cannot unlawfully evict the fetus because the fetus has every right to live there – and has nowhere else to go.

The problem isn’t that a fetus cannot pay its rent, but that the mother has been made into property in order to imbue the unborn fetus with the same legal rights and standing as the woman mother.

I’m sure you can see how making a person into property is not only ill advised but, all things considered, completely amoral. Yet, this is what has to happen when you place an unborn fetus’s legal standing on par with its autonomous mother’s. A conflict of identity which pits individuals against each other in both legal and moral terms – which is a huge philosophical problem.

And, no, saying “life begins at conception” does not solve this problem. It only exasperates it. It presupposes all life is sacred, but for mysterious reasons that aren’t justifiable and only muck up the discussion with unnecessary metaphysical considerations that have no place in the discussion.

Saying abortion equates to the same thing as murder simply isn’t true. It’s not even a logical consequence of “life beginning at conception” because the law does not automatically imbue all forms of life with equal rights, let alone state that preventing a thing from gaining a life is the same thing as taking it. Another reason saying that “abortion is murder” is simply incorrect.

And, finally, stating rather matter-of-fact like that “abortion is evil” is simply a failure of moral reasoning of the highest order. Quite frankly, it is the embarrassing admission that you’re not yet ready to have a sophisticated discussion on the finer, highly complex, aspects of human rights and ethics. It is the happy display of one’s failure to reason through the issues well – and it’s not deserving of any special kind of consideration – at least not until a better argument is made.

woman

CONCLUSION

The bottom line is this. Right out of the gate the pro-life stance is indefensible. Consequently, it fails to meet the challenge of justifying itself and making a valid case on numerous fronts, including the legal, moral, and the philosophical.

Worse than this stupendous failure, however, is that the pro-life position seeks to jeopardize a mother’s rights, a woman’s civil rights, and places her at the mercy of policy makers who haven’t the first clue as how to address the complicated bio-ethical concerns something like human biology and abortion raise. Meanwhile, the pro-life side continues to defer all responsibility of a rigorous examination of the relevant concerns and continues to deride the pro-choice side and offer only the wailing lamentation that “abortion is murder” and, in their mind, “abortion is evil” even though these claims are nowhere in evidence and are often found to be in opposition of the truth.

Needless to say, a lot of work needs to be done first developing their argument before the pro-life side can carry any relevant weight in civil rights discussion. As it is, it’s not even close to being a valid, let alone viable, argument. At most it’s an opinion which deliberately seeks to fortify itself behind the walls of ignorance. Then asks us to use this ignorance to lash ourselves senselessly with it – because feelings. I think you’ll agree with me that this simply isn’t good enough. Especially when it comes to import hot topic issues like women’s rights and human rights.

Meanwhile, the pro-choice stance doesn’t suffer these same flaws and isn’t in conflict with science or legal theory in the appalling way the pro-life stance clearly is. The pro-choice side honors the woman’s autonomy and doesn’t fall into the same trap of pitting her identity and rights as an individual against those of her unborn fetus’s. And it certainly doesn’t seek to make her into chattel or the property of the state by placing her at the mercy of the courts and ignorant politicians and policy makers who ask her to lash herself with the biting tendrils of their ignorance as well – because feelings.

As a rationalist, I can only see the pro-life position as a non-starter. Indeed, it appears that at this time, the pro-choice position is the only valid position in the whole abortion debate. And that says a lot about why this debate never seems to be able to be resolved. The side that needs to argue their case, the pro-life side, continually fails to do so. Yet relying on the strength of their propaganda alone they have convinced thousands to take their side – because feelings – and despite the fact that it defies all reason to do so. And that’s the sorry state of affairs as they are today, in 2016, I’m sorry to report.

I don’t expect what I will say will change very many minds. But it’s worth noting, that whenever an advocate for pro-life says that “abortion is murder” or that “abortion is evil” they clearly haven’t thought things through. People who understand the finer details and all the nuances of the problem would simply not resort to emotional appeals. They’d approach the problem more thoughtfully and with deep consideration.

At the end of the day, if it were up to me to decide, I would strongly urge pro-life supporters everywhere to stop making moral platitudes and proclamations based on their emotional knee-jerk reactions to some alarmist anti-abortion propaganda videos on the Internet and get to work making their case as solid as they can in order to win the uphill battle of tackling the scientific, legal, and moral problems of their unrefined, ill thought through, largely illogical, and frequently damaging position.

Tristan Vick is a published author who writes both fiction and non-fiction. In 2014 he sold the rights to his zombie novel series BITTEN to Permuted Press and Winlock Press. In addition to this, he also has published the cult hit paranormal detective novel The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston: Rough Justice, also by Winlock Press. His next major novel will be the cyberpunk techno-thriller Robotica, published by Regolith Publications. In addition to his fiction work, Tristan Vick has published numerous books in the area of religious history and philosophy. He co-edited the critically acclaimed book Beyond an Absence of Faith with the philosopher Jonathan M.S. Pearce, which collected the de-conversion stories of religious apostates from a variety of religious faiths including Islam, Christianity, Hindu, and two cult survivors. More recently, Tristan Vick published a critical examination of the work of Christian apologist Randal Rauser and Christian apologetics in general in his book The Swedish Fish, edited by the religious scholar and historian Robert M. Price.

You can learn more about Tristan Vick and his other works by going to his official author blog: www.tristanvick.com

You may find his religious and philosophical writing online at www.advocatusatheist.blogspot.com

Tristan Vick’s Amazon.com author profile can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Tristan-Vick/e/B005359NBO/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

You can follow Tristan Vick on social media here:

Twitter

Facebook

Tumblr

Google+

Should Women be Prosecuted if They Have an Abortion?

route 18 abortion signs-001

A sign near our home in rural Northwest Ohio

Imagine for a moment a banker, automobile dealer, racecar driver, and a career criminal get together to plan a bank robbery. The banker will provide blueprints for the bank and the combination for the safe. The automobile dealer will provide a fast getaway car. The racecar driver, putting his NASCAR skills to work, will drive the getaway car. The career criminal will be responsible for actually robbing the bank. Is only the career criminal culpable for the bank robbery? Or does material participation in this criminal enterprise make each participant guilty of the crime? I think all of us would agree that every person who played a part in the crime is criminally liable.

Evangelicals believe that abortion is murder. From the moment of conception, according to pro-lifers, that which grows in the womb of the mother is a human being who deserves complete protection under the law. Imagine my surprise then, to hear Evangelicals distance themselves from Donald Trump’s recent statement that women who have abortions should be punished. Granted, Trump later walked this comment back, but his first comment accurately reflects taking pro-life dogma to its logical conclusion.

If abortion is murder, then every person who materially participates in the killing of the zygote/fetus is equally culpable. Pro-lifers are quite willing to use the force of law to prosecute doctors who perform abortions. Some Evangelicals even go so far as to say that performing an abortion is a capital crime worthy of the death penalty. In past years pro-life zealots have murdered abortion doctors. Many within the pro-life movement think that such murders are justifiable homicide. In 2005, Polly and I attended a church where one of the church members wanted to have a moment of silence on the February 6th birthday of pro-life hero Paul Hill. You may remember that Hill murdered abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett. He was executed by the state of Florida on September 3, 2003. According to pro-lifers, abortion doctors are no different from the Nazi or Japanese doctors who experimented on prisoners of war during World War II. Abortion doctors are no better than serial killers, men and women who — according to pro-lifers — place no value on human life.

But what about abortion clinic staff? Are the nurses who materially participate in abortion procedures criminally liable? How are they in any way different from the banker, automobile dealer, and racecar driver in the story above? And surely the woman having the abortion is the bank robber in the story above. She is the one who decides to abort her fetus. She is the one who makes the appointment, goes to the clinic, takes off her clothes, puts on a hospital gown, lies on a table, and allows the abortion doctor — with his nurse assisting — to terminate the pregnancy. Surely the woman is criminally responsible for the murder of her unborn child.

Why all the Evangelical angst and dancing around the issue when asked if women should be punished for having abortions? This issue seems quite clear to me. If life begins at conception and abortion is murder, then the women making choices to kill their babies — regardless of whether they take abortion-inducing drugs or have surgical procedures — are guilty of premeditated homicide. Some Evangelicals try to avoid the logical conclusions of their abortion equals murder beliefs by suggesting that women having abortions are in some way or the other mentally or emotionally incapable of understanding what they are doing. I think most women who have abortions would be quite offended by such false assertions. While certainly deciding to have an abortion can be and often is a difficult decision for women to make, to suggest that women are somehow unable to rationally make this decision is ludicrous. For whatever reason, women choose to have abortions. It is their legal right to do so. Our law recognizes that women have a fundamental right to control what happens to their bodies — even though that right is currently under vicious attack by pro-life zealots.

It is time for pro-lifers to own their beliefs. The last 10 years have seen an unprecedented assault on women’s rights. Realizing that it is unlikely that they will ever overturn Roe V Wade, pro-lifers have turned to the states to advance their draconian anti-abortion laws. These new laws have been so successful that in some states it is almost impossible for women to find an abortion provider. Pro-lifers will not rest until fertilized eggs are granted the same constitutional rights as 30-year-old women. I do not think for a moment — once they successfully outlawed abortion — that they will continue to view women who have back alley abortions as victims. As has been clear over the past 25 years — at least to me — many Evangelicals will not rest until they have turned the United States into a Christian theocracy. Once they have gained this power, they will use it just as ruthlessly as ISIS and other violent theocratic groups. Quite frankly, Evangelicals cannot be trusted with our civil liberties. Bound by the Bible and its teachings, they have no recourse but to push God’s laws into every aspect of American life. It is for this reason that people who value secularism, humanism, and freedom must oppose theocratic Evangelicals at every turn.