24 July 2007

"Aggravated Murder" or "Abortion"? Depends on the Woman's Location

Recently in Cincinnati, a young man was charged with aggravated murder and felonious assault for beating his ex-girlfriend with the intent to kill her unborn baby. You can read the full article here. Apart from the horrific nature of the crime and the trauma being experienced by the young woman, this raises some interesting discussion regarding abortion.

The authorities have rightly charged Price with murder, just as the California courts were right to charge Scott Peterson with two counts of murder for killing his pregnant wife. I know that there are differences between these cases and abortion: Anderson (the mother) did not want to end her pregnancy, and she was in her eighth month of pregnancy, in which cases abortions can be performed only if the mother's life or some significant bodily function of the mother is threatened by continuation of the pregnancy.

According to Ohio law, a physician cannot abort an unborn human (their term) after 23 weeks unless "the physician determines, in good faith and in the exercise of reasonable medical judgment, that the unborn human is not viable," which means that after determining gestational age, lung development, etc., the physician can decide whether or not he/she can go ahead with the abortion (I wonder how often physicians, especially at abortion clinics, refuse to abort at this point). So if a physician thought that Anderson's life or some significant bodily function (whatever that means) were threatened by this pregnancy, he could have performed a legal abortion, assuming for argument's sake that she wanted an abortion.

[[It should be pointed out that some of the greatest minds ever born were prematurely delivered or were "high risk" pregnancies: Johannes Kepler (born 1571, 2 months early); Isaac Newton (born 1642, born at three pounds); French philosopher Voltaire (born 1694, was not expected to live one hour, but lived 84 years); Winston Churchill (born 1874, at least 4 weeks early); Pablo Picasso (born 1881, thought to be stillborn); Franklin Delano Roosevelt (born 1882, nearly killed by the chloroform given to his mother). You can read about them here.

What frightens me is that if these people's mothers lived in America in the 20th-21st centuries, many of their children would have been deemed "not viable." How many great minds and heroes have been killed before they even had a chance to live! Nearly 49 million abortions (officially) have occurred since Roe v. Wade in 1973; could there have been another Newton? Churchill? Picasso?]]

My two thoughts are these: what determines viability, anyway? 20 years ago, technology could not help an extremely premature newborn survive the way it can now; the UK charity Bliss reports that about 80% of newborns weighing less than 2.2 lbs survive, compared to a 20% survival rate 20 years ago. So an unborn baby weighing 2.2 lbs could be aborted 20 years ago, but not today? What about 20 years from now? Scientists are already creating artificial wombs that can develop fetuses completely outside of a human body. This proves that viability is a bad guideline for determining who lives and who dies.

Second thought: using similar terminology, the case in point looks like this: the young woman's fetus was aborted. What if she wanted her boyfriend to beat her abdomen until her baby died? Then there would have been consent. The only difference would be (please forgive me for the detached tone here) that an amateur, not a professional, performed the abortion, and the location was a bus stop, not a Planned Parenthood office.

This has been a long post about an emotionally-charged topic. I know some of you disagree with me, possibly intensely. That's okay; I understand that we all don't come from the same worldview. That's why you can leave comments. I only ask that you attack my arguments, not my worth as a human, my faith (which, by the way, is intentionally absent in this argument - you can be pro-life apart from being an evangelical Christian), or the fact that I am a man and "don't understand." Any violent or ad hominem arguments will be deleted.

15 July 2007

Today's Miscellaneous Thoughts

Thing #1 Today was a good day at church. It is the first Sunday since returning from a mission trip to Albania (which was a profound trip, by the way), so I was anxious to be there. The sermon (remember, preaching is good, preaching is good) was about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of you know that story well, and even if you don't, you know what a "good Samaritan" is. Actually, if someone called your good deed an act of a "Samaritan," and you understood the historical relationship between Jews and Samaritans, then you might not be so humbled by their "compliment." To be a Samaritan in Jesus' day was not a good thing. The Jews perceived them similarly to how we today might perceive, let's say, a homeless, hillbilly half breed from the other side of the tracks (my apologies if you live on the other side of the tracks). The point of Jesus' story was that the person who got it right, the one who cared for the needs of the beaten and robbed man, was the hillbilly half breed, not the priest/minister/pastor, and not the pious, perpetually-volunteering churchgoer.

One strong point Andy, the preacher at my church, made was that our society is becoming more like the priest and the Levite: not that we don't care, but that our lives are so busy that the needs of our neighbors become invisible. We're so busy in our compartmentalized lives that we probably don't know our neighbors' names, let alone their concerns and needs. This is a problem for America, not just for Christians.

Thing #2 I was reading the July 22 issue of Christian Standard today at McDonald's (I took it from the church; Cincy's conservative, but not that conservative) because the title intrigued me: "Preaching: Like Everything Else, It's Changing!" The writer of the cover story, Chuck Sackett, is someone I respect a lot, so the article carried more weight for me (plus I knew I'd agree with his concerns about modern preaching). After expressing concerns about the long-term effects of using video and other media in sermons ("Might it be possible that too much video puts the mind to sleep and then the challenge arises to 'wake it up again' with 'mere' words?"), he asks this brilliant question: "Have preachers given up on words? Or have they merely lost the ability to use the right ones?"

Sure, compared to many other countries, most Americans have more of a "sprint" attention span than a "marathon" attention span. I think part of the reason is that we just don't try hard enough to engage people with wordsmithing. Yes, this blog is guilty of posting rough drafts and often ill-thought-out sentences. Lynne Truss wouldn't always be proud of me. But I try. I must try, because as a teacher (though presently without a classroom), I am a mechanic of the mind, and words are my tools. Our lives revolve around words. A person cannot "change their mind" without words. Without words, there is no persuasion, understanding of experience, conversion, debriefing, mutual understanding, apology, story, organization, or progress. So we might as well use words shrewdly.

14 July 2007

New Name, Same Stuff

As is obvious by now, "Preaching to the Choir" is now "Have Another Think." I always get irritated at bands that constantly change their names, especially when they are relatively new and growing in popularity (Tried By Fire, anyone?). But I'm not worried about people hating me for changing the title here, because 1) It's just a blog, people, and 2) No one reads it, anyway (except for a few sympathetic souls out there, God bless you!).

Here's why I changed the title: Where I'm at in life, "preaching" means something different to me than to someone who does not go to (or enjoy) church. To me, it's a good thing: the proclamation of what God has to say to mankind (at least as understood by the preacher!). To many others, though, it conveys an arrogant or belligerent, guilt-trippy diatribe forced upon generally nice people by some sweaty, overweight, red-faced guy who pronounces "Jesus" with three syllables: Jeeeeezusssss-ah! Gawd-ah sayeth unto thee, "Jeeeezussss-ah...is a-comin' back, so git right with the Lawrd-ah!" That's not me.

I like "Have Another Think" because it is more descriptive of the intent of this blog: to get people thinking and talking about various issues regarding religion (mainly Christianity), philosophy, culture, ethics and morality. Too often, we accept or reject things based on whether we "like" them or not, not by whether they are true or good. I want to challenge us to pause and think about the things we do and say as Americans and (for some of us) as American Christians. We say and do a lot of things; do we ever wonder why?

So I'll be serving up thoughts for a while. Think up; no designated driver needed!

(PS - thanks to Kerri for the helpful comment on "Considering a Blog Name Change." Welcome aboard!)