Faith and Planned Parenthood
In 2015 The Center for Medical Progress secretly video recorded conversations with executives from Planned Parenthood. The topic was the gruesome practice of selling fetal body parts to researchers. The expose made national headlines.
Numerous states and the Trump administration immediately took action to restrict public funding of Planned Parenthood.
Watching the videos and listening to the conversation between Planned Parenthood personnel and the undercover researchers is tough. It is gruesome and uncomfortable. It is easy to conclude that the evidence is clear: Planned Parenthood is killing children, and abortion should come to an end.
I recently read the June-August 2017 issue of the MCCL News where Scott Fischbach reported that in Minnesota abortions performed by Planned Parenthood increased in 2016 over the previous year from 9,861 to 9,953 abortion. Again, logic suggests those numbers should be dropping, but the evidence tells a different story.
We have seen this incongruity before. Over 20 years ago advocates for abortion began acknowledging that in an abortion a life is lost. Today leading feminists are calling abortion, murder, and yet defend its legalization. The apparent illogic is worn almost as a badge of honorto support abortion rights while still recognizing it is the taking of life.
In addition to the academic, biological, and legal debates about abortion we now have unprecedented access to visual evidence of life as it matures in the womb. So compelling is all of this proof that even advocates of abortion now admit that in each abortion a life ends.
So why did Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers go up in Minnesota? Why did the most recent statistical report for Planned Parenthood show that for its 2015-2016 fiscal year the organization performed “more” abortions than the previous year? People have the evidence. Abortion-rights advocates acknowledge that in abortion the unborn life ends. Why did the number increase?
For decades pro-life protesters have lined the streets displaying the obvious visual evidence of life in the womb. Well-intentioned pregnancy resource centers have installed ultrasound machines to demonstrate that what is in the womb is alive and human. Despite this abundance of evidence, Planned Parenthood performed more abortions.
Part of the problem is that the pro-life community presumes the abortion-minded audience thinks as they do. In the early years following abortion legalization, the pro-life community talked a lot about brain waves and fetal heartbeats. We wore lapel pins depicting the fully-formed feet of a 10-week-old fetus. Activists went dumpster-diving to retrieve disposed fetal parts and took pictures. The evidence was clear.
The pro-life side of the debate has stuck to its guns. The evidence is undeniable. So we open centers to help women see the humanity of what is residing within them. We install ultrasound machines presuming the evidence that compels us will compel others minded for an abortion.
What we have overlooked is that most of us in the pro-life community filter reality through the sieve of faith. Faith is that frustrating illogical element in life that compels us to be sure of what we hope for and certain of things we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Our path of logic begins with faith. Our faith guides our reasoning. Passages like Psalm 51:5, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1:5, and others speak of things we accept by faith. Our theology is rooted in the elements of faith that believe things which otherwise challenge our reason.
Culpability for sin from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5) seems both unreasonable and unimaginable. It is equally challenging to accept guilt for sin at birth. Lacking any display of intelligence or intent, life at fertilization and delivery both challenge us to believe that life at its youngest stage could be accountable for sin.
It is no wonder that at baptism the mystery continues. The idea that through this washing of rebirth (Titus 3:5) the most intellectually immature among us would have faith is unimaginable. Our logic rejects it. As Scripture tells us, servants of God baptized entire households (Acts 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:16), which undoubtedly included children. Christ venerated children for having the ideal of faith (Matthew 18:3; 19:14).
You see, faith is not a slave to logic. Faith enslaves logic. The pro-life community, the vast majority of which profess the Christian faith, approaches the issue from a different starting point than those who seek an abortion.
But some may say that Christians are having abortions as well. They certainly are. It is hardly the first time Christians have denied their faith in their pursuits. We all do it.
Practicing Christians, however, make their decisions with a logic stream that begins with faith. Abortion advocates, in contrast, acknowledge the logic of biology that in abortion a child dies. They refuse, however, to acknowledge it is a life of equal value to the mother’s life or any mature life.
Supporters of abortion rights look at life in the womb and on the one hand, say it is life, but on the other hand, say it is primitive or primordial and parasitic. As such, it is subordinate.
The pro-life community recognizes the argument to be comparable to that used to justify the practice of human slavery. Those attuned to history see the eugenic overtone in classifying life as being more or less valuable based on subjective standards. But again, we look at things through the sieve of faith, meaning we see things differently.
For example, I interviewed a director of a pregnancy resource center that had an ultrasound machine. I asked her how she can get an abortion-minded woman to both come into a pro-life center and to then climb up on a table to see images of her developing unborn son or daughter. She replied that many come in because they want to know how far along the pregnancy is to get an idea of how much the abortion would cost.
Most of us gasp at such callousness. How can someone see the ultrasound image and still proceed with abortion? For the center director, that kind of client still gives her one more opportunity to talk about the value of that unborn life. In reality, the abortion culture is a culture that denies the faith and its dominant influence on decision-making.
Faith is not a logical conclusion nor is it a medicinal inoculation conferred upon others. It is wholly and entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3; Ephesians 2:8-9). We cannot talk people into believing Jesus is their Savior. We cannot convince people to surrender their lives to the will of God. Our role is simply to be messengers of the truth (2 Corinthians 4:6-7). We remind Christians what it means to be a child of God (Ezekiel 3:20-21). To unbelievers, we are ambassadors of truth (Ezekiel 3:18-19) by sharing God’s Word with them.
That is the solution. Consider the evidence: Despite the biological facts about the beginning of life; despite the public acknowledgment that in abortion a child dies; and despite a video exposé, Planned Parenthood can wrap up a year of activity with more abortions.
The compelling case of protecting unborn children is rooted in the Christian faith. There is, therefore, common ground for us in that we can both look at “life” at its earliest stage and acknowledge that it appears like an unrecognizable blob of tissue. Worldly logic, therefore, considers it disposable at will. Our faith insists it is life, created by God and redeemed by Christ. Perhaps we ought to spend less time trying to win this argument in their domain and stick with the clear testimony of Scripture, which is the truth that ultimately sets them free.
Visual evidence is compelling for those who act in ignorance when making an abortion decision. We see, however, that the humanity of the unborn child no longer is the real question. The real issue is its absolute or intrinsic value. A utilitarian society sees no value in granting that status to an unborn child. We see that mentality bleeding over into attitudes about the aging and disabled as well – but that is a topic for another day.
It is our faith that compels us to venerate life from its moment of conception. It is by faith that we treat life not as an entitlement or possession but as a steward for the Creator who gives life. Only by faith do we accept that life at its earliest possible moment has culpability for sin before the Divine Judge and benefits from the sacrifice of our Savior.
We are not engaged in a battle for lives but souls. We fight for the souls that drift from the faith in their pursuit of abortion, and we battle for souls who do not yet know Christ as their Savior. It is our primary vocation because the evidence is clear. Society as a whole has no trouble ending human life it no longer values. We restore the value to human life when we venerate the place of its Creator.
~ Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director of Christian Life Resources