The damning euphemism called “selective reduction”


The video above features a woman named Amy Richards telling her story about “selective reduction” (HT: @drmoore). If you are unfamiliar with the term, it’s a euphemism for killing one or more unborn babies when there are multiples in a womb. In Richards’ case, she found out that she was pregnant with triplets. In the video above, she describes her fateful decision to have two of her triplets killed. In a 2004 Op-Ed for The New York Times, she describes why she refused to allow all of her children to live:

My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ”Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?” The obstetrician wasn’t an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.

Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt ill. I didn’t want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, ”Shouldn’t we consider having triplets?” And I had this adverse reaction: ”This is why they say it’s the woman’s choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That’s easy for you to say, but I’d have to give up my life.” Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn’t be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It’s not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I’m going to have to move to Staten Island. I’ll never leave my house because I’ll have to care for these children. I’ll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don’t think that deep down I was ever considering it.

When the appointed day came, she went through with her decision to kill two of her three unborn children. She describes the procedure and its aftermath with such detachment that it’s hard to imagine that this woman is actually a mother. She writes,

When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Before the procedure, I was focused on relaxing. But Peter was staring at the sonogram screen thinking: Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can’t believe we’re about to make two disappear. The doctor came in, and then Peter was asked to leave. I said, ”Can Peter stay?” The doctor said no. I know Peter was offended by that.

Two days after the procedure, smells no longer set me off and I no longer wanted to eat nothing but sour-apple gum. I went on to have a pretty seamless pregnancy. But I had a recurring feeling that this was going to come back and haunt me. Was I going to have a stillbirth or miscarry late in my pregnancy?

I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don’t know.

I have written previously about the damning euphemism known as “selective reduction” and the great evil that the phrase seeks to conceal. In this case, the horror is so obvious that further commentary is superfluous. Wisdom cries aloud in the streets (Prov. 1:20-22). Maranatha.

44 Responses to The damning euphemism called “selective reduction”

  1. Aaron A. Smith July 14, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

    Translation: having those babies would have been bad for my career.

  2. Daryl Little July 15, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    Yes, can anything be worse than buying big jars of mayo at Costco?

    Surely not.

    Beyond the pure evil in her non-emotional reaction to the whole thing (I’m going to have to move to Staten Island…) she has no idea what this will do to the one child she decided not to murder, when he’s old enough to find out what she did.

    That right there is the face of evil. It’s pretty, it’s reasonable, it’s well spoken and it tells lies with a gentle and understanding smile.

    She is far more terrifying to me than Gosnell ever was.

  3. Paul Reed July 15, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Hold on a second. Many pro-lifers will say that allow babies to be killed to save the life of the mother. If the uterus gets too big and the fetuses too heavy, it can be difficult for the woman to breathe. The only option is early delivery, which is a defacto abortion. Triple to twins reduction has statistically shown better pregnancy outcome with premature birth before 32 weeks reduced to 10.1% from 20.3% and miscarriage before 24 weeks reduced to 5.6% from 11.5%. So, if multiple children in a womb threaten a woman’s life, and may even result in miscarriage anyway, are you sure it’s not okay to play God and just eliminate a few of them? Or should the woman be compelled to have all the babies, even if it means her life and that of all the kids?

    • Brett Cody July 15, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      Get real, Paul. Why are you diminishing her children to a percentage/statistic? They are living beings, not numbers.
      This woman doesn’t deserve to be a mother. She will always consider her son a comodity. This is absolutely horrific. It is difficult to even look at her without feeling sick.

    • buddyglass July 15, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      Even by that logic the most “pro-baby” position would be for the mother to take whatever action results in the highest expected number of surviving children from the pregnancy, with some consideration (albeit hard to quantify) for the risk of possible long-term health effects due to extreme premature birth. The tactic that maximizes the expected number of children is almost surely not going to be selective reduction.

      One of the things that struck me about the piece is how so many of her concerns could, theoretically, be allayed by govt. policies. Not policies most conservatives would accept, but there you go.

      One can imagine a scenario in which there is an extremely generous child tax credit, 100% subsidized well-mother exams and delivery, 100% subsidized healthcare for minor children, fully or near-fully subsidized child care for pre-school age children, and a non-insignificant period of paid maternal leave after delivery. The net effect would be to steeply reduce the cost of having and raising children, especially in the case where both parents work.

      Now, even if those policies were in place this woman might still have aborted. But, then again, maybe not.

      • Justin Esposito July 15, 2013 at 9:33 am #

        I wish your comment was an ironic criticism of all that is ill and dying in Western civilization, but I have a feeling you were serious. You propose that if we had a larger welfare state, maybe there would not be as many abortions like this.

        In other words, to help these utilitarian, cold-hearted Nazis like Amy RIchards to not murder their children, we have to expand the scope and power of the government to extort the producers in society? You think stealing one man’s property to give it to another would alleviate the evil that led to those childrens’ deaths?

        This is AmeriKa, 2013. Ripe for the slaughter.

        Maranatha, indeed.

        • buddyglass July 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

          I’m saying those who perceive their situation to be desperate tend to do bad things. We could choose to institute a set of policies that lessen the financial implications of pregnancy, delivery and child-rearing. Would it eliminate every possible motivation to abort a baby? Of course not. But it might lessen one of the big ones and, in so doing, result in fewer abortions.

        • Paul Reed July 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

          Agreed. Buddyglass’s comments were incredibly dumb, and so often pro-lifer take the bait and get defensive. Look, I’m not willing to support someone else’s kids She’s mature enough to have sex, she is mature enough take her of them. Having said that, just because I’m not willing to take care of someone else’s kids doesn’t mean it’s okay the kids should be killed. You can pass on giving money to homeless guy, and still protest if someone wants to kill him.

          • buddyglass July 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

            If I could somehow magically guarantee that a certain mix of benefits would save X babies a year at a cost of $N per year out of your pocket (where $N an affordable amount), you’d oppose them?

            In other words, do you object to the hypothetical benefits out of a belief that they wouldn’t actually reduce the number of abortions or are you just more devoted to the ideal of ‘small government’ than to the prospect of saving babies?

            My feeling is that you get more with a carrot and a stick than with the stick alone.

            • Paul Reed July 16, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

              @buddyglass “you’d oppose them?” To answer your question in a word: Yes, I would oppose them. I’ll even grant that I agree with you. Give out more government benefits for child-rearing and the abortion-rate would go down. Women have abortions because they don’t want to be pregnant or have kids. So if you make the cost of pregnancy and child-rearing less, obviously there will be less abortions. Duh. And yet I still oppose them. Why? Because there are principles even higher than saving babies, just as it is. If I stole money from you to fund kids in Africa, I could arguably save people from starvation, but would it be just? And bear in mind, kids in Africa didn’t choose to be starving, whereas women who have abortions choose to have sex (99.999% of the time). These women are generally in a bad situation of their own making. And yeah, I guess we could offer them complete government funding. But it’s the equivalent of paying off your drug-addicted son’s gambling debts. You’re funding people who choose to have sex without thinking of any of the consequences. This would be such a stupid question, but I answer it because so many pro-lifers take the bait.

              • buddyglass July 16, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

                Funding programs with taxes isn’t theft. Me? I’m willing to pay a little extra to save some babies.

              • Chris Ryan July 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

                This is why many Pro Life politicians are called hypocritical, or inauthentic. Their position isn’t so much Pro Life as its Anti Woman. For them its not abt “more abundant life” its abt making sure that women fulfill their “maternal calling”. That view is patently sexist.

                Beyond that, as you suggest, many people think that an out-of-wedlock pregnancy is a “punishment” for fornication/adultery, and that the tough times which follow is part of that punishment. I think that’s an unfortunate view, which overlooks the well being of the child (the very child anti-abortion laws are theoretically trying to save).

                Well, I’m glad that you’re honest abt your convictions. So often in these discussions ppl are hesitant to voice their true feelings… I will say this, there is actually far more Biblical support for a generous safety net than there is for anti-abortion laws. Scripture abt caring for the poor reaches past your neck; with regards to when Life begins there are at best 4.

        • Chris Ryan July 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

          Where I’m from people believe in putting their money where their mouth is. If we talk about family values we must have policies that value families. Life does not begin at conception & end at birth.

          If people are serious about being Pro Life then they must support polices–such as pre-natal care, health insurance, food stamps, maternal leave, WIC–that Pro-mote Life. Indeed if you look at countries in Western Europe with more liberal welfare policies they also have lower abortion rates. But that’s just policy. What really matters is theology. One of Christ’s chief injunctions is to aid the sick, feed the hungry & care for the poor. So if we as Christians do not do this, then we open ourselves up–and rightly so–to being called hypocrites. Christ’s second commandment is to love others as we love ourselves. Who among us lets ourselves starve, or go without health care?

          Until Obamacare do you know how expensive–in the rare event you could even get it–health insurance for pregnant women was? Even a cheap such policy could easily run $15K. So, yeah, if you believe that Christian doctrine should inform public policy, then public policy should support a generous safety net, even–as in Social Security and Medicare–it requires a significant redistribution of wealth.

          I’ll give you one example of what I mean. A TN congressman, Steve Fincher, in voting to eliminate food stamps quoted the Bible & said, “He who does not work, shall not eat.” Not only is that a perversion of the Bible but that very same vote continued farm subsidies which have given him $3.5M in recent years. That’s the rankest hypocrisy of the highest order.

          • Paul Reed July 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

            See my response to buddyglass if you think pro-lifers need to support pre-natal care, health insurance, food stamps, and maternal leave.

      • Lynn Burgess July 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

        Buddy, et al: Do not confuse the responsibility of the church and the Christian with the responsibility of the government.

        It should actually look something like this:

        • Chris Ryan July 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

          Hi, Lynn. It would be ideal if churches today could tend to all the poor, sick, hungry and uneducated. When some people spend as much as $18K a year on health insurance I don’t think that’s realistic though. My small church means well but I know we serve just a few families out of our community pantry. When my best friend’s son was denied Medicaid and needed hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his leukemia treatments we had no money to help him. And that’s when I realized that my income taxes were too low! :-)

          I think most Christians could make a Biblical case for Social Security & Medicare. In that vein we can also make it for food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and other social welfare aid. When 80% of wages goes to 10% of ppl its hard to stretch that remaining 20% of income far enough to help the people who need it. That’s not class warfare, that’s just the math.

          I’m not saying you have to be a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, I’m just saying you can’t simultaneously vote to eliminate food stamps in their entirety & then expect me to take you seriously when you say that you’re Pro Life. In my experience, true Pro Life ppl Pro-mote Life. Heck, both Bob Dole & George W increased food stamps & they’re hardly liberal.

    • Daryl Little July 15, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      Good thing fire-fighters and soldiers, not to mention fathers and mothers who’s children are in grave danger don’t work that way…

      Yes, a woman should be compelled to have all of them. And we, as believers, ought to be compelled by the gospel, to help her in any way we can.

    • Eric Kuykendall July 15, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Paul – I understand your perspective, as I am a numbers and statistics guy too. But, even using your own way of seeing things, I think you are actually making the wrong conclusion. Killing one of the triplets increases the chances of full-term birth from 80% to 90%. So, according to your stats, 80% of triplets go to full term. That’s a huge number!

      And, the chances of a miscarriage is only increased 6%. That’s hardly a significant enough statistical number to justify abortion (if there ever was such a number!).

      And you do not relate either of those stats to the danger of the mother’s life. Is her life significantly in danger due to small increases in the odds of miscarriage or pre-term birth? Not with today’s advanced technology.

      So, the way I see it, your stats make the case for delivering all the babies.

    • Barbara July 22, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      Early delivery is NOT a defacto abortion, because its intent is NOT the death of the babies. It may be an earlier-than-natural termination of the pregnancy via induction of labor and/or C-section, but it is intentionally held off for as long as is safe and there is neonatal staff there in the delivery room ready to take over care of the babies.

      Those who argue for abortion, especially late-term abortion, don’t care about any of that. If the life of the mother were their first concern, they wouldn’t object to efforts to save the babies’ lives as well and they certainly wouldn’t fight for the right to destroy the lives of the newborns if possible at any stage of development.

      • Barbara July 22, 2013 at 8:33 am #

        Last name Jackson, sorry, I don’t remember how to add it to my profile.

  4. Lucas Knisely July 15, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Paul’s line of reasoning doesn’t hold up for a variety of reasons (most triplets go full term according to his stats, aborting one of the triplets only increases the percentage by 10%, early term labor is not a “defacto abortion” because neonatal care continues to move back viability to earlier and earlier weeks).

    But the biggest reason his line of reasoning doesn’t hold up in this situation is because the woman lays out her reasons for doing this, none of which were to increase the safety of the babies, herself, or to increase the likelihood of a safe full-term delivery. The horror of shopping at Costco and moving to Staten Island was just too much for her to bear.

    She says she knew this decision would make others “uncomfortable”, laying the blame for any opposition to what she did at the feet of everyone else. In her mind it is clearly something wrong with those disagreeing with her decision, and not anything wrong with her actions. The way she talks about it betrays a dissociative mental break from reality. She is disconnected, emotionless, un-empathetic, liken to a serial killer talking about his victims.

    For many in this country, children exist on a continuum. On one end, many treat their children like a commodity, living vicariously through them, dressing them up like little dolls (Toddlers and Tiaras), pushing for the best schools and best performance in sports and other activities. On the other end, they are an inconvenience, a disposable piece of waste that can be removed with the press of a button, or medicated and babysat by the TV. This woman, with unapologetic psychopathological speech describes how she saw her unborn children on both ends of the spectrum.

  5. Sherrie July 15, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Not only has she missed out on the hilarious trips to Costco, most importantly, she truly has denied herself the JOY & utter blessings that these two children would have provided. Indeed, the choice of ending their lives was hers to make, which she is solely responsible for. However, ignorance is her single blessing here, make no mistake!

  6. Kathleen A. Peck (@purisomniapura) July 15, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Firstly, thank you Mr. Burk for drawing attention to this. I hadn’t heard of ‘selective reduction’ before. Selective reduction is clearly an extension of our legalization & justification of the crime of abortion because all the same arguments are being offered to justify & advance it. Inconvenience, unwanted, power of the woman to choose & finally, “nobody else can decide what’s right for me, only I have that power.” Although these arguments aren’t new, they will continue to be heard in new & broader contexts as the lies filter down into every crevice of human depravity.

  7. Paul Jacobs July 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    There are just some things that leave us speechless.

  8. Lucas Knisely July 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    If you listen carefully, blatant hypocrisy seeps out from her comments. When describing her own “discomfort” at her friend having 7 embryos implanted while continuing to have miscarriages she questions, “Don’t you think your body is trying to tell you something?”. So her friend’s body having miscarriages is communicating something, but her body wasn’t telling her anything when it had three living persons in it. All that “mattered” was that she was “in control of her decision”, but her friend should relinquish control and listen to her body. All of this while she justifies silencing the voices of two lives in the womb.

  9. Lauren Bertrand July 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    I don’t approve of what Amy Richards did and would greatly prefer that she had waited to term, then put two of the children up for adoption. She comes across as only seeing triplets in terms of her personal convenience, and how it will affect her lifestyle in one of the more fashionable neighborhoods of New York. I cannot relate to her decision at all.

    That said, I find it equally impossible ever to possess the sort of mental atmosphere that could so flippantly call her “evil”, as well as this practice. In spite of my disagreement with what she has done, I don’t know the full context behind her decision, and since I have sinned in my own terms, I would have to be very, very careful how I formulate my own words of criticism before I could ever open my mouth. And I would feel more than obligated to bring my own sins to the table in any discussion, lest I open myself up to accusations of hypocrisy. After all, this is generally a blog with strong Southern Baptist theology, and there are plenty of things that the SBC has stood for historically that many other Christians would label as “evil” (including many modern Southern Baptists).

    Amy Richard obviously lives in a moral world where her actions are acceptable. Others live in a moral world were taking money from congregations in order to continue a ministry that “cures” diseases through placing hands on the forehead is acceptable.

    Obviously I don’t occupy the Evangelical world where there exist such sharply defined moral absolutes, and I never will.

    • Justin Esposito July 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Hi Lauren,

      Since I called Mrs. Richards “evil,” I’ll respond to your comment. Does one have to have all of the information, indeed, be inside the thoughts of Mrs. Richards to know whether what she did is good, evil, or neutral? The alternative, of course, is to see the wanton murder of defenseless kids, and to call the murderer evil. I, too, have my sins – even having hated people from time to time, which Jesus says is equally guilty to murder…

      But does having sins of one’s own preclude the right to stand up for justice and righteousness in one’s society?

      Whatever your answer, I’m interested how you get your own understanding of these things, and if you are able to escape your own subjectivity?

      Thanks.

      • Lauren Bertrand July 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

        Justin,
        I would never claim to escape my own subjectivity. I know I have subjective views on things. But there are millions of Americans out there–some Evangelicals, some non-religious, and everything in between–who genuinely believe their subjective views on morality rise above any and all scrutiny. That “their” morality is objective and unquestionable. If your moral construct is closed and driven by ideology, it won’t take much at all for an opposing viewpoint to find an Achilles heel through demonstrated hypocrisy.

        I was very careful in what I wrote in the previous message, because it is that level of care by which you have to approach a situation like this if you are going to change a person’s view. The general attitude of Ms. Richard (and probably the majority of the staff of the New York Times) is that what she did was no big deal because it’s her right–that it’s legal and should be. How do you expect to persuade her by calling her evil, let along try to bring her to Christ? The only way I can possibly see effective ministry to a woman who has her wits about her, has an education, but operates in an antithetical moral universe is to find a common ground–which in my opinion is mutual acknowledgement of fallibility. Any other demonstration of justice is automatically going to put the recipient on the defensive, and he/she will do his/her utmost to fight back by turning you argument on its head and making you look self-righteous, and, therefore, less credible. When I take a strong view on something in this excellent blog, I usually have to concede my weakness–which is that I am incredibly biased in favor of X or in opposition to Y.

        • Justin Esposito July 16, 2013 at 8:23 am #

          Lauren,

          Thanks for your reply. I am being sincere, non-sarcastic, and trying to ask genuinely meaningful questions (just to be clear and forthright). Please indulge me further:

          You said

          “I would never claim to escape my own subjectivity. I know I have subjective views on things. But there are millions of Americans out there–some Evangelicals, some non-religious, and everything in between–who genuinely believe their subjective views on morality rise above any and all scrutiny.”

          Would you grant that if God has spoken an objective, reality-revealing truth about the world and the people in it, that we can then also say and believe the same thing, thus escaping our own subjectivity? Notice I am not asking if you believe that God has done so, but only if He were to do so, could He not communicate information to us such that we could know it for certain? If so, then please concede that I at least could have information from God, which when spoken i.e. “Mrs.Richards is evil” would be nothing more than a statement of fact, derived from outside of my subjective opinion?

          You said

          “That “their” morality is objective and unquestionable. If your moral construct is closed and driven by ideology, it won’t take much at all for an opposing viewpoint to find an Achilles heel through demonstrated hypocrisy.”

          Unless my moral construct is reflective of objective truth, and is unassailable in so far as I represent that objective truth accurately. When Christians act hypocritically, and when we sin and violate the moral good, we are doing the opposite of our confession of faith and morals – but you see that would not be reflective of the truth or falsity of such a confession, right?

          You said

          ” How do you expect to persuade her by calling her evil, let along try to bring her to Christ? The only way I can possibly see effective ministry to a woman who has her wits about her, has an education, but operates in an antithetical moral universe is to find a common ground–which in my opinion is mutual acknowledgement of fallibility. ”

          Christ called people evil, being Himself the embodiment of love. Love demands calling evil… “evil.” We learn from God’s word that we are to expose the works of darkness, we are to preach to all people the truth of their condition – yet you make a good point, that we ourselves are on common ground. I myself am an evil man. My heart is constantly churning out darkness, though in Christ, by His Holy Spirit in me, I am being transformed a little at a time.

          But the point is this: the Bible nowhere forbids Christians from speaking truth about moral wickedness because of their own intrinsic guilt. We are broken people, guilty in Adam and guilty in our own sins. Yet in the redemption of Jesus, we are made to be ambassadors for Christ, calling people to be reconciled to Him, because He laid His life down for the worst murderers, like Mrs. Richards.

          Her problem is not a lack of evidence and persuasion that murdering her own children is objective evil – she knows that, as the Scripture makes clear (Romans 1:18-32). She has no excuse, no post-modern alibi that she was just caught up in a new morality and wasn’t aware of things – no, sadly, she knows very well that what she has done is pure selfishness and evil, and worse, she knows that God created her, that she is under His domain, and that she must give an account. The evil of such a person is to see how far down she has suppressed this knowledge, and flaunts her bloodguilt as if she went to Nathan’s and ate a hot dog.

          Thanks for bearing with my long response.

          • Lauren Bertrand July 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

            Justin–
            No worries about response length. I’ll keep it short this time. I’d say Ms. Richards doesn’t believe in Romans 1, or whatever other parts of the Bible she doesn’t feel are au courant. She is, to some degree, a moral relativist just as many of us are–and I deliberately include myself in that category. So, from that standpoint, she does not feel that what she did is evil because she is not driven by a Biblical mandate.

            I’m a morally relativistic atheist too, but one who certainly sympathizes with a great deal of Christian outreach, because (unlike most atheists) I don’t think a secular world is any purer or better than a religious one. That said, the real test is being an effective “ambassador for Christ”–and I’m not sure condemning this woman is effective, since it always has the effect of placing the condemner in a morally elevated position that it is unclear he/she has earned.

            • Daryl Little July 17, 2013 at 8:20 am #

              “So, from that standpoint, she does not feel that what she did is evil because she is not driven by a Biblical mandate.”

              And yet, she remains answerable to that same Biblical mandate. Just as any person is answerable to laws of which they are unaware.

              Evil is not to harsh a word. What she did, and the way she rationalized it are pure evil.
              But she’s pretty and well-spoken and we know that we all rationalize other sins as well, and so we’re afraid to call it what it is.

              Evil doesn’t always arrive with a machine-gun or a hash pipe. Sometimes it arrives with a white picket fence, a gym membership and an invitation to dinner.

      • Chris Ryan July 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

        Your “evil” comment really struck me as well Julian, and a number of things come to mind. The first is that Christians should be wary of calling anyone evil; Christ teaches us not to condemn others (John 8:10-11).

        Moreover (and touching on your points below abt objectivity vs subjectivity) its not Biblically obvious that what she did was evil, or even wrong. The Bible doesn’t say when Life begins. Moreover, according to OT law it is certainly not murder (Exodus 21:22).

        She had the procedure at less than 15 weeks, what Biblical basis is there to believe that those 2 fetuses had a soul? Those who argue that life begins at conception, must point out where in Scripture it says that. The idea that life begins at conception is certainly a poetic belief, but it is not a Bible-centered belief. I grant that its a romantic view but God’s ways are not man’s ways, and we are not to lean unto our own understanding but unto His.

        • Lynn Burgess July 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

          Chris: I would suggest that the redeemed heart should grieve for this woman and not find her contemptible. That may or may not be the heart of some of our fellow commenters; I have no way to know. The fact is that her actions are consistent with an unregenerate heart and the redeemed have escaped such a fate only by grace and not of themselves.

          However, I would also suggest that you are misunderstanding the scriptures you cite.

          John 8:10-11 speaks to hypocrites who were killing a woman for her sin. That does not equate to “do not call evil what God has called evil and/or sin.” Jesus saying he does not condemn her would speak to her having a repentant heart, and only He has the power to forgive sin.

          Exodus 21:22 speaks to a situation where the unborn child is not harmed, and certainly cannot be equated to taking the life of an unborn child, but still there is a monetary penalty for causing the premature birth. What does vs. 23 say? “But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” So the penalty for taking the life of an unborn child was death even when it was unintentional (referring back to vs. 21 which speaks of two men struggling).

          Psalms 139 speaks of all our days being written in God’s book even before conception, so certainly, each unborn child has a soul.

          “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. YOUR EYES SAW MY UNFORMED SUBSTANCE; IN YOUR BOOK WERE WRITTEN, EVERY ONE OF THEM, THE DAYS THAT WERE FORMED FOR ME, WHEN AS YET THERE WAS NONE OF THEM” (Psalm 139:13-16).

          • Chris Ryan July 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

            Hi, Lynn, yes I agree with you that sorrow, rather than condemnation, is how we should greet sinfulness…And that’s a more helpful way to win more witnesses to Christ…and, btw, I admire your consistent principles & your comments abt the 11yo girl below.

            Re: Psalms 139. If God knows the hairs on our head and the sparrows in the air (Luke 12:6-7) how can He not know us? But do sparrows have souls because He knows them? Do we not cut our hair because He knows them? God is both omniscient and omnipotent. He makes all, knows all. Everything that has life–from blades of grass to bull elephants–was made by Him and known by Him even before He formed the Earth itself. God made a donkey talk, but did that give it a soul? So simply knowing and creating something does not give it a soul.

            Re: Exodus 21:22. Most translations of the Bible, including the KJV, translate this as “causing a miscarriage”: “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.” Verse 23 reflects death to the mother, not death of the fetus. So, if miscarriage was not treated as murder, how then can abortion be murder? As part of the Law this, of course, is also part of the Torah which is why Judaism has not traditionally regarded abortion as sinful.

            Re: John 8:10-11. Note that Christ says that He does not condemn her, even before He says, “Go forth and sin no more.” He chose not to condemn her even though she had not yet repented & He had not yet forgiven. I can only think of one occasion where Christ (arguably) condemned specific individuals, and that’s when he threw the money changers out of the Temple. So while there might be very rare circumstances where we condemn individuals (eg, Hitler comes to mind) Christ constantly enjoins us to “judge not lest we be judged”. Christ condemned sinfulness generally, but He did not condemn individuals–just witness his treatment of Judas, Peter, and Pilate. If killing Christ doesn’t engender condemnation, Christians have reason to be very wary in condemning individual people.

            • Lynn Burgess July 18, 2013 at 12:00 am #

              Regarding Exodus 21:22-23

              The Reformation Study Bible says, “There is no reason to limit the harm spoken of to the mother. If there is lasting harm either to the mother or the child.…”

              MacArthur’s Study Bible says, “Compensation was mandatory for causing a premature birth, even if no injury resulted to mother or child… the principle of retaliation applied if injury did occur to either mother or child… the fetus was considered a person, thus, someone was held accountable for its death or injury.”

              The ESV Study Bible states, “interpreters disagree about the exact meaning of the Hebrew traditionally rendered there is no harm… there is harm… according to the traditional view harm is suffered by either the woman or her baby…One implication, however, is that the death of the baby seems to be judged according to the same principles that apply to the taking of other human life… by either interpretation, the OT attributes human personhood to the developing baby in the womb… this law demonstrates the Bible’s concern to protect life, including life in the womb.”

            • Lynn Burgess July 18, 2013 at 12:49 am #

              Chris: Regarding your comments on Psalm 139:

              David is not saying only that God knows, but that all our days are written in God’s book. You are correct that God knows the state of the sparrow and all of His creation, but nowhere is there any suggestion that the life of the sparrow or the donkey are recorded in His books.

              “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).”

              Those who embrace Reformed theology believe that their life, their conversation, and their works were all preordained.

              Regarding John 8, I would say that repentance is sometimes implied and not stated in the encounters Jesus has with people. I probably don’t entirely agree with your interpretation of “judge not,” but I don’t have time to fully develop that just now. Matthew 7:6 requires judgment, “do not cast your pearls with swine,” and John 7:24 says, “do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

              This is the thing, when I was a prideful self-righteous “Baptist” (a term I have come to loathe) I judged and I judged harshly. When I came to understand that my salvation really is all of grace and not at all of myself, it ratcheted down the pride and self-righteousness a notch or two and without any effort I found myself having compassion on the sinner.

              I still judge, but I judge that the sinner has great need and I know the Great Physician and they are in danger of eternal damnation and I know the Savior. My pastor taught us in light of Matthew 7 that when we confront someone about their sin we should preface our words with testimony of how we have sinned in the same way. Let me tell you that quells one’s pride in a hurry and makes it so very much more palatable for the hearer to consider their spiritual need Regarding your comments on Psalm 139:

              David is not saying only that God knows, but that all our days are written in God’s book. You are correct that God knows the state of the sparrow and all of His creation, but nowhere is there any suggestion that the life of the sparrow or the donkey are recorded in His books.

              “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).”

              Those who embrace Reformed theology believe that their life, their conversation, and their works were all preordained.

              Regarding John 8, I would say that repentance is sometimes implied and not stated in the encounters Jesus has with people. I probably don’t entirely agree with your interpretation of “judge not,” but I don’t have time to fully develop that just now. Matthew 7:6 requires judgment, “do not cast your pearls with swine,” and John 7:24 says, “do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

              This is the thing, when I was a prideful self-righteous “Baptist” (a term I have come to loathe) I judged and I judged harshly. When I came to understand that my salvation really is all of grace and not at all of myself, it ratcheted down the pride and self-righteousness a notch or two and without any effort I found myself having compassion on the sinner.

              I still judge, but I judge that the sinner has great need and I know the Great Physician and they are in danger of eternal damnation and I know the Savior. My pastor taught us in light of Matthew 7 that when we confront someone about their sin we should preface our words with testimony of how we have sinned in the same way. Let me tell you that quells one’s pride in a hurry and makes it so very much more palatable for the hearer to consider their spiritual need and to feel that they are loved.

              I remember years ago Cal Thomas saying that he sometimes has occasion to speak to someone in D.C. about their need of the Savior and most often they will not hear him because of how they have been “bashed” by Christians. That is not righteous judgment.
              .

              • Chris Ryan July 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

                Good points, Lynn, we all should be so humble as you describe.

                Question. How is it that pre-ordination suggests that Life begins at conception?

                Going back to the talking donkey, if it was pre-ordained that the donkey would talk to Balaam, and pre-ordained that the donkey would see the angel, does that imply that the donkey had a soul?

                • Barbara July 22, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

                  The donkey is only a beast of the field. It is not created in the image of God. Mankind is (Genesis 1:26-27). When you lose the Imago Dei, then all you have is an intelligent beast. Mankind is more than that.

                  As God’s image-bearers, have an enemy who hates God and, by extension, hates His image. He wants to distort and destroy it and if he can convince those who bear that image to take part in that, and even to call it good, then that’s all the more for him. For a time.

                  If evil is defined as anything that is opposed to the full display of the glory of God (as John Piper discusses in a wonderful little book on God’s sovereignty), then the casual destruction of God’s image-bearers, a sacrifice of children on the altar of lifestyle (in this case), most certainly qualifies as an evil act.

                  Jesus said, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have LIFE and have it more abundantly.” God’s image in us is sullied by our sinfulness, but part of the great hope in the Gospel of Christ is that those who are united to Him are being recreated into His image.

                  -Barbara Jackson

  10. Tim Elliott July 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    So what’s your point?

  11. Michael Lynch July 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Contrast this cowardly woman with this brave little girl: http://liveactionnews.org/courage-from-the-mouths-of-babes-raped-11-yr-old-wants-life-for-her-unborn-child/

    • Paul Reed July 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      Very true. If only society saw it that way. It probably makes for bad publicity to compel an 11-year old girl to have a baby, but at the same time the pro-life movement needs to be consistent. And we need godly women almost as much as we need godly men.

    • Lynn Burgess July 17, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      While I would not advocate abortion for any reason including incest, I would not call this young girl brave. She is too young and immature to understand the magnitude of her situation or of having the responsibility of a baby, a toddler, and a growing child.

      This story is a tragedy; thankfully, it is not being made more even more tragic by abortion. If ever there was a case that cried out for giving a baby up for adoption this situation does.

  12. Jess Smeader July 16, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    This is a result of our hideous culture placing more value on material wealth and success than family. Tragic.

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