Sunday, November 04, 2007

Gary Wills distorts history, biology in LA article.

The pro-abortion crowd will do anything but examine the facts. Indeed in order to confuse the average person who must focus his or her daily life on the mundane things such a taking care of the family to getting through the rush hour traffic, the pro-abortion propagandist will dig up well-worn canards in an effort to cloud the issue.

Such were the old discredited arguments propounded by Gary Wills in his November 4, 2007 piece published by the Los Angeles Times. Wills, a dissident Catholic liberal, has made a living attacking the Church of his parents. In his article he attempts to sound intellectual, all the while presenting false, misleading bits of history along with half-truths designed to give the reader both an intellectual as well as religious reason not to care about the abortion debate.

He starts by setting up the premise by which Evangelicals are supposed to oppose abortion – religion. It is true that many Evangelicals oppose abortion because of their religious faith. But it could be argued that many oppose abortion because abortion kills a human being.

So Wills interjects the word ‘murder’ as a way to sidestep what every abortion does. He then equates the nascent human being with the fact that cells are “living” and yet are neither protected by law nor the cause of grave moral concern.

He mistakenly interprets the absence of any mention of abortion in the Old and New Testaments as implying that abortion was not an issue., He conveniently forgets that for the Hebrews and later the Jews, childlessness was considered a curse and that children were a “gift from the Lord.” ( Psalm 127) He ignores the multiple references in Holy Scripture to the child in the womb as being formed by God, alive and leaping the womb for joy (a reference to John the Baptist (Luke 1:41-43). The truth is that there are so many references to the child in the womb as a living person that Wills should be called to task for a blatant misrepresentation of the Scriptures.

Then he ignores early Patristic Christian literature:

"You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated." (Epistle of Barnabas 19.5; second century)

"Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant." (The Didache 2.2; second century catechism for young Christian converts)

"The fetus in the womb is a living being and therefore the object of God's care" (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, 35.6; 177 A.D.)

"It does not matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. In both instances, the destruction is murder." (Tertullian, Apology, 9.4; second century)

"Those who give abortifacients for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers themselves, along with those receiving the poisons." (Basil the Great, Canons, 188.2; fourth century)

Jerome called abortion "the murder of an unborn child" (Letter to Eustochium, 22.13; fourth century). Augustine used the same phrase, warning against the terrible crime of "the murder of an unborn child" (On Marriage, 1.17.15; fourth century).

The early church fathers Origen, Cyprian and Chrysostom likewise condemned abortion as the killing of a child.

Aquinas condemned abortion as well as contraception. Wills, however makes the effort to focus on the limited science of the time. This tactic is akin to arguing that the earth is flat or that the sun circles the earth because it rises in the east. Modern scientific knowledge has put the limited ideas of previous ancient and medieval scholars to rest. That Wills brings up these dusty concepts can be explained by his fear of the current scientific information of the day.

Even the Protestant reformers in the 16th Century knew that abortion was wrong.

"The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a most monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light." John Calvin (sixteenth century reformer)

But Wills is right on one point. Opposition to abortion need not be based on ones religion or ones beliefs.. Medical and scientific evidence describing the details of the origin of every human person is not controverted. Medical texts remind the physician that he treats two patients during a pregnancy. So opposition to abortion can and is based upon reason and the natural law.

For those who have not had to respond to such deliberate misrepresentations, allow me to explain the pro-life position without using any reference to God or religion.

The result of the union of the human sperm ( from the human male) and the human egg ( from the human female is the human zygote. The genus and species of the human zygote is Homo Sapiens. Allowed to grow and develop in its proper environment, after nine months, this entity will be born . during those nine months the while the size, shape and physiology of the entity may change, the genetic make-up remains the same. The same DNA information in that single cell at the moment of fertilization is the same as the being during the nine months of gestation and throughout the being's life. There is only definition that will adequately describe this entity - human being. All human beings are persons. Indeed the definition of person begins with human being. there is a simple question that will stump all the Gary wills in the world. If the unborn child is not a human being, then what is it? If not human, then what? And if Mr. Wills claims not to know, well then, ask Mr. Wills, are you willing to risk being wrong?

Now Wills raises all sorts of red herrings in his article, things like why the Catholic Church does not baptize miscarried babies or have funerals for these children. Well I hate to burst his bubble, but the Church will hold a memorial mass for a stillborn child and there are many Catholic cemeteries with a special section for children who dies in the womb.

As for the "murder" herring, Anglo-American law has always held that in order to prosecute one for murder, the re must be a body. In any criminal abortion case, there was always the difficulty or impossibility of producing a body. There may have been the evidence of an abortion procedure, but how could one prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the woman was pregnant. So the state defined down the penalty for abortion so that the need for showing a body was eliminated. However let us be clear. Abortion was always a crime and remained a crime in Western Culture until the 1960s. One may recall that it was the Communists in the former USSR who first legalized abortion as a way of denigrating the bond between the mother and the child. After all the child was to benefit the state not the family.

The Declaration of Independence recognizes that each of us was created with certain unalienable rights and that among these rights are the right to life. Without the right to life, no other rights have any real meaning. This right to life is protected in the 5th and 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Supporting the right to life is supporting the founding documents of this great nation.

Wills makes arguments that are so old and worn that i have not had to respond to them since the 1970s. In those days the abortion proponents told their audiences that the unborn child was just a mass of cells ( aren't we all) and lied about how many women died from illegal back alley abortion. I remember Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood, debating with me at Arizona State University in 1984, using these same tired and threadbare arguments. She even claimed that the Church only condemned abortion for the first time in 1869 citing Vatican I documents.

The extent that the abortion apologists will go to defend their deadly assault on our little brothers and sisters boggles the mind. How otherwise supposedly intelligent people can spout such stupidity with a straight face is beyond me.

I suppose in their zeal to support the concept of control and power as a way to manipulate the society, they will do anything. After all if we as a nation ever determined that there were forces who were systematically killing entire generations of people, we might decide to hold them to account.

One final note. In my 32 years of pro-life work, I have only met a handful of women who bragged about their abortion. Almost every woman told me it was something she HAD to do, not something she WANTED to do. So where was her so-called CHOICE? It was non-existent. AS for punishing women for having had abortions, they are punished by their memory of their action, the regret, the sadness. We as a society should offer a better way to the mother with an unexpected pregnancy. We as individuals should be more responsible for what we do and the consequences of our actions. Each of us carries the burden of being in a nation that has killed its posterity. Perhaps someday Gary Wills will come to understand this reality and realize that every human being has an inherent right to life.


At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


As I e-mailed you at the time of this column, all of your criticisms of Wills' asinine claims are incontrovertibly valid, as are many additional ones. But as a matter of the reality of approx. 4000 children continuing to be legally exterminated before birth every day in America, and many, many thousands more throughout the rest of the "civilized" world, until an unequivocal moral stand is made by those in positions of moral authority, such as the US Catholic Bishops Conference, this slaughter will continue unabated. And their recently restated, nauseatingly mealy-mouthed position as to not even withholding the sacraments from openly pro-abort "Catholics" tragically guarantees that the Garry Wills of the world (and the Andrew Sullivans, Mario Cuomos, Ted Kennedys, etc.) will continue to spread these sorts of lies with impunity.

The issue of legal abortion-on-demand is neither a game nor a polite debate between two well-meaning sides, each simply expressing its point-of-view (though the effort must always be conducted civilly and respectfully). I just wish that people with influence on the right-to-life side would recognize this unavoidable reality....

John K. Walker


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