She was 21, single, poor, and pregnant. Too poor, in fact, to afford even a back-alley butcher in her home state of Texas, where abortion was then illegal. Too poor to travel to California, where the procedure was permitted. Supposedly pregnant from a gang rape, she filed a suit challenging the Texas abortion law, then went ahead and reluctantly had her child, who was put up for adoption.
This is the history of Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” whose lawsuit led to the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand. Now, McCorvey, an abortion-rights activist, has admitted to columnist Carl Rowen that her gang rape story was a fabrication to bolster her legal claim. Like so many other young single women in her predicament, McCorvey says, she became pregnant “through what I thought was love.”
Jesse Whitlock wrote the above two paragraphs, citing as his source U.S. News and World Report (Sept. 21, 1987, page 13). This information, as well as the chart across the page, appeared in the August 24, 1989, issue of The Edifier.
As most people are probably aware, Norma McCorvey has recently (1995) changed her views: she is now thoroughly pro-life. These historical notes are of great value since an entire generation has now grown up with abortion being legal.
Historically, people have seen a need to protect life before birth. Hippocrates, in the fifth century B.C., wrote the “oath” which doctors have used for a long time: “I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius… I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly, I will not give a woman a pessary to cause abortion” (The Abortion Holocaust 142).
Christians, by 150 A.D., mentioned specifically this sin in The Didache : “… thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born…” (The Apostolic Fathers 123-24). Of course, the New Testament is our authority, but this quotation shows that brethren were consistent with the Bible.
Doctors under the rule of the Third Reich were required to destroy life, as well as conduct grotesque experiments on the living. Perhaps this fact explains the wording of the Declaration of Geneva, which was passed in 1948: “… I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient; I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity. I make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon my honor” (Abortion: Questions and Answers 184-85).
It is time once again to restore the respect for life–from the womb–that our forefathers also found necessary to protect.
When does human life begin? Many have disputed the point over the past twenty-three years, but Christians have no difficulty in determining a truthful and accurate answer to the question. Although several Biblical passages relate to the issue, the four verses cited last week (Luke 1:41, 44 and 2:12,16) are more than sufficient to know and understand that God views the babe a human being whether in or out of the womb. The Bible is the greatest proof and the final authority in the matter of abortion or any other moral issue. God reveals truth; the Bible is right.
But the medical evidence for the child being a human being is also compelling. Consider the following factual information derived from the book, The Rites of Life, by Landrum Shettles, M.D., and David Rorvik (pages 47-57).
1. Within the first 30 days, “the embryo has already developed a beating heart and put down the foundations of its nervous system, including brain, nerves, and spinal cord. The eyes have begun to develop, as have most of the major organs” (47). All of this has begun to occur even before a woman knows for sure that she is pregnant.
2. During the fifth week “leg and arm buds are becoming prominent” (52); “the jaw has begun to form” (53).
3. During the sixth week “bone begins forming”; “the heart becomes more complex as its chambers are completed” (53).
4. During the seventh week “the tongue takes shape, and the stomach assumes its final position. Muscles are strengthening, nerve fiber is rapidly growing” (53); “differentiation is occurring in the sex glands” (54).
5. During the eighth week “the digits of the hands and feet are now well-formed… The lungs and heart are now in an advanced state of development. Major blood vessels are in permanent place. Taste buds and olfactory apparatus, serving the sense of smell, are present” (54).
6. During the ninth week the face becomes quite “appealing, exhibiting large eyes, button nose, and expressive lips which often as not are sucking a tiny thumb. The internal organs are in place” (54). “Teeth, fingernails, toenails, and hair follicles are all forming. The fetal heartbeat can now be detected through the mother’s abdominal wall by listening through a stethoscope” (55).
7. During the tenth week “palms close into fists if something brushes across them… Bone growth is rapid.”
8. At the end of the twelfth week “the limbs are well-shaped,” and the “rib structure is visible through the skin. The digestive system is complete. Blood is beginning to be produced in the bone marrow” (55).
From this point onward nothing new is formed. The baby begins to grow rapidly and to mature. Is this fetus a human life? The baby has had brain waves that can be measured by an EEG since the sixth week (56).
More importantly, the child has been a unique individual since conception, at which time 23 male chromosomes united with 23 female chromosomes to produce a unique individual with his own distinctive DNA. Medically, as well as Biblically, the “fetus” is a human being.
This year’s book will be well worth having, containing somewhere around 675 pages of excellent material on the Gospel according to Matthew.
But this week we want to highlight 579 pages of the recent Power Lectures: Major Lessons of the Major Prophets . The two previous books produced by these brethren in Southaven, Mississippi,were The Providence of God and The Minor Prophets, for which this year’s subject was designed as a companion. It fulfills its purpose well.
Before beginning the review, let me just insert a few personal remarks. The brethren at Southaven are to be commended for their outstanding hospitality. Each morning coffee, orange juice, and donuts were awaiting all who wanted to avail themselves of such “necessities” (and most did). After the morning session, lunch was also provided for those who could stay. The lines always moved swiftly, having been organized quite efficiently. Housing was also provided. Brethren went out of their way to provide not only a spiritual feast but to make the week as painless as possible on visitors’ wallets.
The lectureship book, as well as various displays, were available, as were tapes of the lectures for the unheard of price of $1. [Videos are also available.] B. J. Clarke, who edited the book and directed the lectureship, did an outstanding job and is to be highly commended, as are the elders and deacons, who labored diligently prior to and during the week of the program. These commendations are not intended to demean any other of a number of fine lectureships throughout the brotherhood; they are merely intended to demonstrate that in resuming the Power Lectures (after a five year hiatus), these brethren were fully prepared in their efforts.
The first portion of the book contains nine chapters–two each on Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; one on Lamentations. The first of these introduces the prophet, as well as the book he wrote; the second presents major lessons that can be gleaned from each prophet. The material in this section is worth the cost of the entire book ($15). The introduction to Daniel, for example, considers and answers fifteen assaults of the critics on this glorious and accurate book of crucial, Biblical prophecies. Yet this and more is covered in only twelve pagesand in a way that does not burden the reader with a bunch of technical, “scholarly” lingo. The lessons from these prophets occasionally overlap (as one might expect), but the analyses are rich and meaningful.
The second section is entitled “A Prophetic Look At Christ In The Major Prophets”; chapter titles include: “The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ,” “Christ, The Light of the World,” “Christ, The Branch,” “Christ, The King and Cornerstone of His Church,” “Christ, The Revelation of God’s Glory,” “Christ, The Chosen Servant For The Gentiles,” “Christ, The Comforter of All Who Mourn,” “Christ, The Bearer of Iniquities,” and “Christ, The Mediator of a Better Covenant.” Much of this material is from a perspective different from the usual method of presentation. Some interesting charts are also included.
The next portion of the book contains a variety of topics, all stemming from the major prophets. One chapter deals with the former prophets; one centers on the false prophets of the Old Testament period; another sets forth the courage of God’s men. Two complimentary chapters define the angerand the mercy of God; another discusses the righteous remnant. Others include: “Woe Unto Them That Are Wise In Their Own Eyes”; “Women in the Major Prophets”; “O Earth, Earth, Earth, Hear The Word Of The Lord”; and “Woe Unto Him That Striveth With His Maker.” The major prophets provide an abundance of exhortations for both elders and preachers today.
“Woe Unto Them That Follow Strong Drink” should cause anyone to examine closely any kind of fellowship with alcoholic beverages. Some of the material herein was cited in the series of articles on this subject published in Spiritual Perspectives just a few weeks ago (numbers 10, 11, & 12). This article contains valuable definitions, easy-to-understand statistics, the value of grape juice, and a tragic story from a newspaper column which shows the wisdom of God’s teaching on this subject (447-48). There are 38 “endnotes” to point the reader to more information.
Three “special studies” close out this volume: “A Study of the Captivity in the Major Prophets,” “The Major Prophets Versus Premillenialism,” and “The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel: Fact or Fiction?” Even if one possesses commentaries on the major prophets, the treatment of this subject matter(throughout the book) is well worth having as a valuable tool of study. Copies may be ordered from the Southaven Church of Christ, P.O. Box 128, Southaven, MS 38671.