Dr. John Collins Harvey (in "Distinctly Human," Commonweal, Feb. 8, 2002) has apparently received a religious revelation of such earthshaking importance that he could not help but blather it with the most "inviolable" authority: "The human embryo...from conception... has an inviolable dignity." Perhaps Dr. Harvey would not mind performing a little experiment to convince the rest of us of the inviolability of the truth of his recent revelation: Fill one side of a petri dish with a dollop of human sperm and the opposite side of the same dish with a dollop of human eggs, and use a glass rod to nudge the dollops nearer to one another -- nearer and nearer -- "dignity" approaching with each vanishing micro-millimeter of distance between the dollops, until the dollops meet. And there you have it, vio la, "inviolable dignity." I'm so glad the good doctor has finally cleared up for us once and for all the question of when "inviolable dignity" begins. Oh, and I'm sure that God in His inviolable wisdom made certain that such inviolable dignity would be reflected in His creation as well. Alas, God does not seem to have taken care to preserve the "inviolable dignity" of the embryo, since, as Dr. Harvey admits, "Products of conception die at either the zygote, morula, or blastocyst stage. They never reach the implant stage but are discharged in the mentrual flow of the next period...It is estimated that [this]...occurs... in more than 50 percent of conceptions...In such occurances, a woman may never even know that she has been pregnant." Never even know that the "inviolable dignity" of the human embryo has been disgraced by it's undignified expulsion "more than 50 percent" of the time? Horrors! Talk about the REAL abortion scandal! Pro-lifers should be crying their eyes out every day at figures like that, and praying with their clasped hands day and night for God to remove THAT "curse" upon the embryo's "inviolable dignity."
But I don't suppose that the Grand Fetal Executioner in the Sky is going to listen to such prayers. Indeed, anyone who cares to open an "inviolably dignified" book like the Holy Bible can read for themselves that God does not seem inviolably concerned with the fate of even full grown children and fetuses, let alone embryoes:
GOD THE ABORTIONIST
Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
- Psalm 21:10
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born?let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
- Psalm 58:3,8
As for Israel, their glory shall fly away like a bird, and from the womb, and from the conception? Give them, O Lord: what will Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts?they shall bear no fruit?
- Hosea 9:11-16
Notice that the prophet Hosea is pleading with God to punish the Israelites by murdering their unborn babies. The Bible never really provides a logical rationale as to why fetuses, babies, and children must be punished for the sins of their parents and others. Some would suggest that for God to kill unborn babies for their parent's sins is somewhat misdirected retribution.
- Gene Kasmar, WHY? The Brooklyn Center High School Bible Challenge. Part 1: The Evidence
THE GOD WHO DROWNS AND BASHES BABYS
Every living thing on the earth was drowned [including pregnant women, and babies - ED.]
Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
- Genesis 7:23
Thus saith the LORD? Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
- 1 Samuel 15:3
Joshua destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD commanded.
- Joshua 10:40
The LORD delivered them before us; and we destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones.
- Deuteronomy 2:33-34
Kill every male among the little ones.
- Numbers 31:17
The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and?Samaria shall become desolate?they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
- Hosea 13:15-16
With thee will I [the LORD] break in pieces the young man and the maid.
- Jeremiah 51:22
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
- Psalm 137:9
According to the Bible, God gave orders to kill children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. The pestilences were sent by God. The frightful famine, during which the dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of his dead mother, was sent by God. God drowned an entire world with the exception of eight persons. Imagine how such acts would have stained the reputation of the devil!
- Robert G. Ingersoll
WHERE ARE GOD'S PRIORITIES?
It seems odd to me that Pro-lifers want to base their views on the Bible. I suggest they study it more thoroughly. According to the God of the Bible it was more important to stone a woman to death if she should "entice you to follow after other gods," than it was to rescue the life of any fetus she may have been carrying. It was more important to stone a woman to death the day after her wedding night "if she was discovered not to have been a virgin," than it was to wait and see if she might have conceived new life that night. It was more important to stone a woman to death for "adultery," than to wait and see if she might be pregnant. It was more important to stone a woman to death for "failing to cry out while being raped within earshot of the city," than it was to spare the life she might have conceived during that ordeal, during which the rapist may have held a knife to her throat, or strangled her into silence and submission.
And what about the test of "bitter water" mentioned in chapter five of the book of Numbers? The test consisted of mixing dust from the floor of the Hebrew tabernacle with "holy water" to make a concoction that a woman drank to test whether or not she had committed adultery. If she had, it says, "her belly will swell and her thigh will rot." Scholars have pointed out that "thigh" is a euphemism for sexual organs. So if the woman had committed adultery and had conceived as a result, then the "bitter water" would induce an abortion ("her thigh would rot"). (I wonder if this means that Bible-believing women who are accused of having affairs ought to swallow some dirt from the floor of their church mixed with "holy water?" Or better yet, swallow an abortion pill like RU-486 in front of the whole congregation?)
And what about children who "curse their parents?" The Bible says, "Kill them!" (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Mat. 15:4; Mark 7:10) The Bible does not say how old the child has to be, but it does emphatically state that they must "surely be put to death." One of the fathers of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin, took such a command seriously enough to have a small boy in Geneva beheaded for having struck his father.
Ah, the good old days, when God fearing people had higher priorities than "saving fetal lives." They were too busy stoning whomever enticed them to worship other gods, stoning adulteresses, stoning women who weren't virgins on their wedding night, stoning women who "failed to cry out" during rape, and stoning sassy children?to worry about "the fate of fetuses."
THEOLOGICAL OPTIONS FOR PRO-LIFERS TO PONDER
Why do some devout Christians express immense concern over whether or not a fetus is aborted? Most of them believe that an aborted fetus' soul goes directly to heaven, so dying during the fetal stage of life "saves" a soul which otherwise might have grown up and gone to hell. (If this is the case, then what's the theological problem with abortion?)
There are less cheery theological options of course. Perhaps God empties the bag of the abortionist's vacuum into eternal hellfire? (Theologians from Augustine to Jonathan Edwards considered it perfectly right for God to send dead fetuses straight to hell. Though today's pro-lifers appear uncomfortable worshiping a God who has less compassion for a dead fetus than they do.)
There is also the option that God, who ordains all things, including the deaths of fetuses, may have ordained the rise of abortion clinics and made abortion legal so that the individuals who so choose "get what God ordained and what they deserve." It's a Calvinistic idea to be sure, tied in with the one directly above it, but equally sound, theologically speaking. (So if the clinics are a means of carrying out God's judgment, why protest their existence?)
And lastly there is the option of baptizing fetuses in the womb (by having a minister or priest insert a water-filled syringe into the womb and perform a "baptismal ceremony" before the abortion takes place). This would wash away the fetus' "original sin" and ensure it goes straight to heaven after being aborted - thereby returning us to our first cheery option! (This practice was actually employed by Christians who lived in Medieval and Reformation days when the survival of a fetus was in doubt.)
It seems to me that the theological options are so varied and confusing as to make any pro-lifer (who considers them all) too dizzy to confidently wave signs outside an abortion clinic.
CONVERSATION OVERHEARD ON THE FRONT LINES AT AN ABORTION CLINIC
Pro-lifer: What if your mother had decided not to have you?
Clinic Defender: I'd be in clover, I'd be in heaven experiencing ecstasy that I never earned or deserved.
- John E. Seery, Los Angeles Times
THE REAL "ABORTION" BATTLE HAS ALREADY BEEN WON
The death rate of children under the age of 15 has fallen by 95 percent since 1900 in the United States. Parents should reflect long and hard on that statistic whenever they think life isn't treating them well these days. The child death rates in just the past 20 years have incredibly been halved in India, Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, Israel, and scores of other nations. Almost all of the major killer diseases before 1900 - tuberculosis, typhoid, smallpox, whooping cough, to name a few - have been all but eradicated.
- Stephen Moore & Julian Simon, It's Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years
A FINAL THEOLOGICAL QUESTION
At fertilization clinics human sperm and eggs are mixed to produce human zygotes that are stored in a freezer, sometimes for years, before they are implanted in a woman's uterus. So if you believe that the life of our eternal souls begins at conception what does that make a frozen zygote, a "soul on ice?"