As a follow-up to yesterday’s post concerning human attempts to determine legally when life begins, or when it matters, I call to our remembrance this quote from the “Ethics” of the sainted Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Marriage involves acknowledgement of the right to life that is to come into being, a right which is not subject to the disposal of the married couple. Unless this right is acknowledged as a matter of principle, marriage ceases to be marriage and becomes a mere liaison. Acknowledgement of this right means making way for the free creative power of God which can cause new life to proceed from this marriage according to His will. Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder. A great many different motives may lead to an action of this kind; indeed in cases where it is an act of despair, performed in circumstances of extreme human or economic destitution and misery, the guilt may often lie rather with the community than with the individual. Precisely in this connection money may conceal many a wanton deed, while the poor man’s more reluctant lapse may far more easily be disclosed. All these considerations must no doubt have a quite decisive influence on our personal and pastoral attitude toward the person concern, but they cannot in any way alter the fact of murder.

Quoted from Bonhoeffer, Ethics, Macmillan Publishing Co., 1955.

Abstract and merely philosophical questions about the beginning of human life are beside the point. The palpable intention of the Creator to create a new life renders such discussions moot, as that new life is before us. If that is true, then further deliberations of when that life is legally worth preserving are beyond pointless as totally arbitrary.

Bonhoeffer’s pastoral words serve to mute his critics as to their harshness and dated obsolescence. Affecting circumstances are to be recognized and taken into account whenever a human life is at issue, including and especially the life of the mother. But none of the affecting circumstances nullify the taking of a human life in the act of abortion in the same manner as viability or ability to feel pain. The life of the innocent, unborn child is taken by another.

As one retired from the correctional side of law enforcement, even accused and convicted murderers have aggravating and mitigating circumstances taken into account before appropriate sentencing is determined by means of a pre-sentence investigation.

But the unborn child is not allowed a ‘pre-sentence investigation’ and neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances. Think about that, then draw your lines…

Father David+

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