Uniting for Life
National Pro-Life Religious Council
109 2nd St., N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
Are Pro -Life Denominations Complacent?
By Rev. Jan Kirk Van der Swaagh,
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
The NPRC press conference urging passage of S-1899, the US
Senate bill designed to ban human cloning, had just ended.
One of the NPRC board members, Rev. Paul Stallsworth of the
Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality,
told us: "This is the first time in making a statement with
the NPRC that I have been able to quote from documents of
the United Methodist Church." This comment was both heartening
and discouraging. At the press conference, Paul had quoted
from the UMC's Book of Discipline and the Book of Resolutions
which both advocate a ban on human cloning.
My colleague serves in a field with some very hard ground.
While there are those within his denomination that are pro-life,
the official stance of the UMC is decidedly pro-abortion.
As a result, Paul and his like-minded constituents can rarely
call upon the official documents of the denomination to speak
in the cause of life. But this issue was an exception, and
for that we can praise God.
I am grateful that I am not in a similar circumstance. The
constituency from which I am a delegate to the NPRC, the Conservative
Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC), has strongly articulated
views in defense of life. In fact, in the CCCC Statement on
Abortion it reads, "it the responsibility of the Church to
insist that piety not adopt a policy that would deny the sanctity
of human life and lead people to take life lightly The Church
must advocate the protection of the freedom of those who cannot
protect themselves." Consequently, I do not have the problem
of my Methodist colleague. But as I reflected further, I wondered
if denominations like mine did not face a different predicament.
Members of a denomination that is officially pro-life may
face another problem: inaction due to familiarity. Ask just
about anyone at the annual gathering of such a denomination,
"Are you prolife?" and the response would be, "Of course I'm
pro-life!" But if you would go one step further and ask, "What
have you done with those convictions?" the response might
not be so assured.
There can be a kind of contentment which takes over when
one is on the right side of the issue: a comfort in believing
the right thing and associating with others who believe as
we do. But in our current climate just being on the right
side of the issue is not enough. The creativity of the anti-life
crowd seems to know no bounds. Human cloning and its profoundly
troubling implications is just the newest front in the persistent
demonic assault on the sanctity of life. We need to be just
as vigilant and just as unrelenting as the enemy (1 Peter
There is something about being in close proximity to the
enemy which makes one more alert. Paul Stallsworth of the
UMC might benefit from such a phenomenon (if we can call such
a thing a benefit). But for those of us who operate among
a friendlier crowd I suspect we might need to be goaded out
of our complacency. To tweak a well-known idiom - familiarity
Thinking Theologically About Abortion
A collection of reflections on the spiritual crises that
abortion is for the churches. A publication of the National
Pro-Life Religious Council, edited by Paul T. Stallsworth.
To Order at discount price of 6.95 each plus $1.50
postage, call: 202-626-8800 ext. 155.
How to Build a Pro-Life
Mentality by Encouraging Family Life
By Dennis Di Mauro, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
It is my opinion that one of the societal attitudes we pro-lifers
should be willing to speak against is the idea that having
children is not a very important cornerstone of marriage.
More and more couples, even Christian couples, seem to have
the attitude that having children is not an important element
of marriage. This attitude, I believe, can only create a culture
where children are given less emphasis, and will result in
churches where abortion becomes more and more accepted.
I am not talking about couples that cannot have children
of their own, and are suffering from the pain of infertility.
Nor am I talking about a couple that chooses not to have children
because of some serious problem or for health reasons. No,
I'm talking about couples that can have children, but who
decide, for trivial reasons, that children would be only a
hindrance to their chosen lifestyles, instead of a blessed
result of the marriage covenant.
But how biblical is this "childless by choice" attitude?
Even though I made an extensive search of the scriptures,
I never found a Bible verse confirming this attitude. No,
in fact I found just the opposite, the Lord rejoices in His
children and wants His people to be "fruitful." In Genesis
1:28 (NIV) God urges Adam and Eve to have children, "God blessed
them and said to them 'Be fruitful and increase in number;
fill the earth and subdue it."' Likewise in Genesis 9:7 (NASB)
God urges Noah and his sons, "As for you, be fruitful and
multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it."
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also sees children as a blessing:
"Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place
his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked
those who brought them. Jesus said, "Let the little children
come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven
belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:13-14 NIV). Jesus did
not think these children disrupted his ministry. Rather He
shows how deep was his love for those little ones. It seems
that our current attitudes that are so different from God's
Word that they really highlight how far we've come from a
truly godly attitude towards children.
Another trend I notice more and more is the outright disdain
that many people have against large families. It is quite
common these days for people to make wise cracks about families
with 4 or more children. "They should buy a TV" or "They don't
understand what's causing that" are common jabs. A friend
of mine recently had her 6th child of whom I am a proud godparent.
I couldn't have been more pleased with this honor, but most
people don't see a 6th child as a blessing, but instead, even
in our churches today, that child is more often seen as a
curse. Is that child a curse? Does God love the first five
more than the sixth? Does God love the unplanned child we
call a "mistake"? You'd better believe it!
Such attitudes have made me search for ways we can emphasize
children and family. I recently had the opportunity to speak
at a Lutheran Pastors conference about my pro-life ministry.
After my presentation, a pastor came up to me and told me
that in his church's worship service they always pray specifically
for each pregnant mother by name and for any recent births.
This is a smart pro-life practice in which a congregation
can emphasize the importance of each child, born or unborn,
while rejoicing as a Christian community for these precious
gifts God has bestowed upon us.
One of my favorite bumper stickers is one that quotes Mother
Theresa in which she states, "How can there be too many children?
That's like saying there are too many flowers." You see, Mother
Theresa realized what a precious gift from God each of these
children are. Let's try to learn a little from this humble
servant of God. Each of us should rejoice for every child,
the first or the fifth, planned or unplanned, healthy or disabled,
because they are all loving gifts given to us by Christ.
The "Sacrament" of Abortion
By Rev. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for
The Sacrament of Abortion is the title of a book written
by Ginette Paris and published in 1992. In this short book,
the author claims that abortion is a sacred act, a sacrifice
to Artemis (known to the Romans as Diana).
Artemis is both a protector of wild animals and a hunter
who kills them with deadly aim. How can these contradictory
roles be found in the same female deity? The view proposed
in this book is that a mother properly cares for life only
if she possesses full power over life and death. Death is
sometimes preferable. The one who can provide death, in order
that one may escape an unfriendly life, is really loving the
one who is being killed.
Abortion, then, is seen as "an expression of maternal responsibility
and not a failure of maternal love" (p.8). "Artemis stands
for the refusal to give life if the gift is not pure and untainted
.... As Artemis might kill a wounded animal rather than allow
it to limp along miserably, so a mother wishes to spare the
child a painful destiny" (p. 55).
Artemis, of course, is the same goddess whose worshippers
felt so threatened by Paul's proclamation of the Gospel in
Ephesus, where a riot nearly broke out and a vast crowd shouted
for two hours, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" (Acts
19:34). The worshippers of Artemis today should likewise feel
that their beliefs are threatened, because the proclamation
of the Gospel of Christ is that He alone has authority over
life and death. Neither the mother, nor the father, nor the
state, nor the individual herself, can claim absolute dominion
over life. "Nobody lives as his own master, and nobody dies
as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the
Lord, and when we die, we die as His servants. Both in life
and death, we are the Lord's" (Rom. 14:7-8).
The fact that some defend abortion as a sacred act should
alert us to the depth of the spiritual warfare that is going
on. Abortion has never been merely or even primarily a political
issue. It is a false religion. When pro-life Christians,
for example, pray in front of an abortion mill, it is not
simply a matter of pro-life people opposing false medicine.
It is the true Church in conflict with a false
Church. One former clinic security guard, after being
converted, admitted why he was angry at pro-life sidewalk
counselors: "You were coming to protest in front of our
church. That clinic was where we conducted our worship."
May all believers, and their clergy, take renewed strength
to speak out against abortion. Not only is doing so consistent
with the proclamation of the Gospel; it is the proclamation
of the Gospel.
Women Deserve Better Than
By Georgette Forney, Executive Director, NOEL
What activities can a pastor organize to reach out to
post-abortive parents and families and to help his people
to be active in the pro-life movement?
To address this question, let me share some strategies NOEL
is using. We want to bring people who are pro-choice, or who
are apathetic, step-by-step, to the pro-life cause. We want
to win people's hearts over for life, not win a debate. But
changing people's hearts takes longer than winning an argument,
and it takes a lot of love as well as patience. Much like
working with people, it takes patience. It also means meeting
people where they are at in their stand on abortion, and bringing
them a little bit closer to being pro-life.
The example of Ann illustrates this method. Ann, a post-abortive
woman, called the NOEL office and expressed shock because
she had just been informed of the Episcopal Church's position
of acceptance of abortion. She was considering leaving her
local church out of disappointment and disillusionment. But
I suggested that she seek God's guidance and consider the
possibility of staying there to make a difference in her church
We outlined a plan where she shared her post-abortion pain
with her clergy, as well as important statistics. She pointed
out to her priest that according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute
(the research arm of Planned Parenthood) 43% of American women
will experience an abortion by age 45. Not only that, but
73% of those women identify themselves as Christians, thus
illustrating the need to address this topic in their own congregation.
Ann's priest was reluctant to permit pro-life literature
in her church, but she was willing to allow Ann to hold a
post-abortion Bible study. Through Ann's educational efforts,
her priest was able to let down her defenses and took a step
towards becoming pro-life.
Ann got the opportunity to announce the Bible study at her
church and talk about forgiveness and reconciliation available
to those who have had an abortion. That is worth celebrating!
People in that church will experience God's healing, and this
will lead more members of the congregation one step away from
abortion and one step closer to life. She has done all this
without having her clergy completely change her opinion of
Ann's example is great because no one can deny the pain she
has gone through. But not everyone has a testimony like hers.
We can still present abortion in a persuasive manner to others
by pointing out how abortion hurts women. We now have physical
as well as emotional documentation about abortion and women's
health. There is a great new book out called Women's Health
After Abortion: the Medical and Psychological Evidence by
Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles. It is an excellent
resource, compiling a vast amount of data into one book, and
you don't need a scientific background to understand it all.
Since abortions in the U.S. total about 1.3 million a year,
the immediate complication rate in abortions is approximately
11%. That means 144,000 women have complications from abortion
every year. This does not even account for long-term complications
such as infertility, which may not be discovered until years
later. The most common immediate complication from abortion
is infection, but other complications may occur such as uterine
perforation, hemorrhaging, cervical trauma, and even possibly
Abortion also increases a woman's risk for breast cancer
and cancer of the reproductive organs. It can lead to infertility
or complications in future pregnancies--and it is minorities
who seem to suffer with the most serious complications.
Women need to have this information in order to make informed
decisions and parents need to seriously consider this when
abortion seems like the solution to an unplanned pregnancy.
Not only does abortion threaten women's physical health,
but it devastates her emotional health as well. Women who
elect to have an abortion experience a loss of self-esteem,
intense feelings of loneliness and anger, have difficulty
in their relationships, often resort to drugs and/or alcohol
to deaden the pain, may develop eating disorders, suffer from
insomnia and nightmares, and may seriously contemplate suicide.
Whether it is clergy getting people involved or people getting
clergy involved, the studies confirm what we have known all
along. Abortion is lethal for the baby, and devastating for
women. Women deserve better.
NOEL offers a tract that summarizes these health risks.
To order a copy, you can call 800-707-NOEL or go on-line at
Does Jeremiah Have Anything To Say
to our Abortion Culture?
By Rev. Ben Sheldon, Presbyterians Pro-Life
Pro-life people have always found that the Bible has a great
deal to say regarding our belief that all life is sacred,
including unborn life. Many citations from the Scriptures
have filled the pages of Pro-life publications and articles.
Recently, a study of the ancient prophecy of Jeremiah has
brought again to my mind the truth that the shedding of innocent
blood is an offense against a holy God and will surely earn
his wrathful judgment.
Chapter 19 of Jeremiah relates how God directed the
prophet to take a clay pot and use it as an object lesson
to the people of Jerusalem. With the fragile clay vessel in
his hand, Jeremiah solemnly proclaimed the Word of the Lord,
reminding them of their sin of shedding innocent blood by
"sacrificing their sons in the fire." This was a reference
to the Israelites' offering their children in sacrifice to
Baal and other Canaanite deities, something that God called
the detestable practices of the nations he had driven out
of the land. Then Jeremiah smashed the clay pot and warned
the Israelites that God would smash them and destroy them
because of their sin.
The parallel to our present abortion culture, where unborn
children are routinely being sacrificed on the altars of "convenience,"
fear, prejudice, and selfishness, is painfully clear. The
abortion mentality sadly, is worshipping at the altars of
materialism and sexual promiscuity, and it is the innocent
blood of unborn babies that is being offered. Will God not
wield his rod of punishment and judgment on our culture, too,
as he did on ancient Judah? In His mercy, may he turn us to
repentance and contrition for this enormous sin!
God is Good--In All Circumstances
By Rev. Jim Lamb, Executive Director of Lutherans for
The second verse of Amazing Grace begins, "The Lord
has promised good to me." Do you believe that? We know what
the answer should be, but there are times when we may really
wonder if God is being good to us. Bad circumstances can cause
us to doubt that God is good. That is why it is not circumstances
that we use to gauge the goodness of God toward us. The hymn
writer knew the source of the true measure of God's goodness
for he continues, "His Word my hope secures. " The certainty
of our hope lies securely in the certainty of the promises
of His Word. "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him
up for us all -- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously
give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)
Now let's get practical with this. The pregnant teenager
whose whole life has just come crashing down around her can
expect good from God! She does not have to turn to death.
The 47 year old wife who is pregnant and is told her pre-born
child probably has Down Syndrome can expect good from God!
She does not have to turn to death. The family whose doctor
wants to remove grandma's feeding tube because her quality
of life is not very good can expect good from God! They do
not have to turn to death.
One of the things Lutherans For Life tries to stress, especially
with pastors and seminarians, is that pro-life preaching is
more than just standing in the pulpit warning people not to
turn to the idols of death because they are bad. Pro-life
preaching is also proclaiming to people that they do not have
to turn to death because God is good. They can expect good
from Him in any and every situation. He who brought the greatest
of all good -- forgiveness and eternal life -- from the greatest
of all suffering -- the cross of Jesus -- is able to bring
good from any of life's difficult circumstances.
Therefore, we can conclude as the hymn writer concludes in
verse 2, "He will my shield and portion be as long as life