January 22 is the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision of the United States Supreme Court legalizing abortions under virtually all conditions; it occasions the greatest shedding of innocent blood in American history. Although the court attempted to parse between privacy and compelling state interests in the welfare of mothers and unborn children, in actuality virtually no practice has been prohibited. Even that most gruesome procedure – partial birth abortion – is legally protected in this country. The biggest scandal has been the unmasking of Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and selling baby body parts. With this in mind, we devote January to life and its protection.
As January begins, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to a Texas law that requires abortion providers – I hesitate to call them doctors – to have admitting privileges at a local hospital before they can provide the end of a tiny human life. California has ordered pregnancy care centers to refer clients for free or low cost abortions before meeting their needs with life-affirming services; lawsuits have been filed against this violation of the First Amendment. Also in California, a lawsuit is underway against the state’s Department of Managed Health Care over its 2014 regulation forcing churches and faith-based organizations to include abortion coverage in benefits for workers. Suit was filed after the federal government rejected complaints – even though the regulation defies recent Supreme Court rulings affirming that forcing such coverage is unconstitutional.
Abortion is not the only life issue. Again in California, a new law took effect January 1 that permits so-called physician assisted suicide. This law is a sham from the get-go inasmuch as it has no provisions to safeguard patients from coercion or manipulation, and no serious effort to vet them in terms of mental competency. No lawsuit has been filed on this one – for patients to have standing in court as injured parties, they must return from the dead. However, a referendum signature-gathering drive is underway to place this measure on the November 2016 ballot. Each of these life issues will be featured in a blog during January.
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Our nation burst the bonds of colonial captivity under the banner of our Declaration of Independence. That document – for which our flag is a symbol – declares we human beings have three innate and inalienable rights received from our God. They are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our constitution was enacted to codify a level playing field for the exercise of those rights. Life is the first of these because without it, the others are mere theory.
Americans have taken more than two centuries to understand the implications of our own words. It took a bloody war in which half a million lives were lost to end slavery – the idea that life is valued in terms of the skin color that surrounds it. The loss of life in the abortion holocaust is one hundred times greater; and deaths occur on no battlefield, but rather in the mother’s womb or – God help us – on the operating table should the baby intended to die by those supposed to guard its life be born alive. But for Christians – and the practitioners of virtually any faith in this case – the stakes are higher.
The shedding of innocent blood is a fundamental sin in any case. But Christians sworn to follow Christ’s example and seek His help in following it face a shattering of covenant – another of the fundamentals. In Baptism, we enter that covenant, promising to conform our life to His and asking His Spirit to make so what we cannot. In John 5:19, Jesus declares He does only what He sees His Father doing; in Matthew 22, Mark 12, and again in Luke 20, Jesus refers to His Father as the God of the living and not of the dead. He says of Himself in John 10:10 that He came in order that all of us – all of us – might have life and that abundantly. In this light, there can be no excuse made for the taking of human life except in war or other defense of human life.
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There is good news; the Gospel is always good news. In Luke 12:32, Jesus tells His disciples it is His Father’s good pleasure to give them and us the Kingdom. That surely includes Kingdom life. He says over and over that the remedy for any sin is to simply come home and ask for a do-over. He gave that do-over to me forty-five years ago with respect to the abortions I provided for a couple of friends of mine in trouble. He always does.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.