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National Right to Life: The Judas Iscariot of The Preborn







By Dr. Patrick Jonston

May 1, 2011

“You and three others were in a boat in the middle of the ocean. You are healthy and fit, one is morbidly obese and out of shape, one is an elderly woman with cancer, and one is a child with Downs syndrome. You must row at least three days and nights to get to land, and there is no food and barely enough water to sustain no more than three of you. If the four of you split it four ways, all of you will die. Which one should you throw overboard to keep the others alive?”

This was my first exposure to relative morality in a classroom at the Florida State University in the 1990s. Many were thoroughly shaken by the argument, and it was horrifying to hear students argue about which person in the boat was most disposable.

Rather than shaking my faith in Christianity, these arguments strengthened my faith. It was plain to see that abandoning God’s Word would lead ordinary college students to drown an obese man or an elderly woman, or to murder and eat a Down’s syndrome child. If placed in certain circumstances in which they speculated more good could be done from their actions than harm, these college students would commit atrocities, push Jews into ovens, euthanize their loved ones, cannibalize children, or abort babies.

The pro-life movement in the United States has proven its willingness to push one person out of the boat in order to try to save another. In our compromise, we become the greatest hindrance to occupying the Promised Land of liberty and justice for all. In our capitulation to arbitrary standards that reek of godlessness, we become accomplices in the Abortion Holocaust and violators of the spirit of the sixth commandment.

“Do no murder” has no exceptions. “A murderer has no eternal life abiding in them” the Apostle John warned. Consenting to the murder of one in order to save another is never justified.

Even if all four of you die in the boat, it is never right to do wrong to do right. It is always wrong to intentionally kill or consent to the killing of one innocent child. You may be more likely to survive if you push someone off the boat, but you’ll lose the blessing of God and sacrifice your soul. That cost is just too high. God’s Word is the standard for right and wrong, for justice and injustice, and His Word is supreme over the opinions of college freshman, Supreme Court justices, Presidents, and even well-intentioned pro-life leaders.

How does Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill (House Bill 125) push some out of the boat in order to save others? How does Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill consent to the dehumanization and slaughter of the innocent preborn?

By way of its exceptions, and its inappropriate penalties, and its moral standard.

First, let us examine the bill’s exceptions. According to subsection C(1) of the bill, “no person shall perform an abortion on a pregnant woman prior to determining if the fetus the pregnant woman is carrying has a detectable fetal heartbeat.” How is “detectable” defined? According to subsection C(2) and C(3), the presence of a heartbeat is determined by “standard medical practice” and the “rules” that may be promulgated by the “director of health.”

Certainly, the pro-abortion director of health’s rules would never tend to minimize the presence of the heartbeat, right? Who’s the one responsible for detecting the fetus’ heartbeat anyway? None other than the abortionist. Certainly, the abortionist would never intentionally turn a deaf ear to a heartbeat in order to justify an abortion, right? Good grief, why do we trust murderers to be ethical? This legislation is no more trustworthy than pro-abortion physicians, and that is a very weak link indeed.

Moreover, the heartbeat exists long before we can hear it or see it on ultrasound according to “standard medical practice.” It is proven that the baby’s heartbeat begins as early as 21 days after conception, long before the heartbeat is “detectable” according to “standard medical practice.” Why are these babies ignored, dehumanized, or pushed out of the boat to save the ones with heartbeats? The basis of a heartbeat to determine the existence of life is helpful, but why the arbitrary “detectable according to standard medical practice” rule? I’ve cared for adults with heart failure who had heartbeats that were difficult to detect. Were they somehow less worthy of life?

There are more exceptions: Subsections C(1) and D(1) of the bill make exceptions for “medical emergencies” and B(6) defines medical emergency to be a condition that “in the physician’s good faith medical judgment… so endangers the life or a pregnant woman or a major bodily function… as to necessitate the immediate… abortion.”

Is the life or health of the woman a justification for an abortion? Certainly, if the mother dies, the baby certainly dies, so shouldn’t physicians be allowed to save the one that they can save?

The problem with pushing someone out of the boat to save another is that intrusive little conscience-probing commandment, “Do no murder.” Intentionally killing an innocent person is always wrong. God will judge us all according to our works, without favoritism, and so we should consult His ethical standard before pragmatically embracing moral relativism. God’s Word is a strong foundation that can withstand cross-examination, whereas moral relativism is like a deck of cards in a hurricane – useless to justify its own existence, much less any standard of morality.

Moreover, is it really necessary to kill the mother to save the baby?

Most so-called “therapeutic abortions” are prescribed to protect the physician, not the patient. For example, I had a pregnant patient who was diagnosed with cancer and was urged to get a “therapeutic abortion” so the physician could save her life. The physician wanted to get her on chemotherapy right away, but he refused to prescribe the therapy unless the patient aborted her baby. The doctor’s real concern was not the mother’s life at all; the mother’s life would have been saved by the chemotherapy even if she was pregnant. The physician was concerned that the baby would survive and be born deformed and he would be found liable in civil litigation, and so to protect him in his recommendations that the patient undergo chemotherapy, he recommended an abortion.

It would certainly be ethical to prescribe the chemotherapy if it were necessary in order to save the mother’s life. If the baby were to inadvertently die from chemotherapy, the death would be unfortunate and unintentional and would not be a crime any more than if one of the people in the boat in the middle of the ocean were to die of thirst on the journey. But to intentionally kill the baby to save the mother is not any more necessary than it is lawful.

If you witness a car with two passengers crash over the guardrail of a bridge and plunge into the river, and if you were to dive into the water but could only save one, would it then be justifiable for you to take out your pistol and slay the one you couldn’t save? No – that would be murder. It is never right to intentionally kill one innocent person, even if you do so in order to save the life of another. Even in war, collateral damage is an unintentional consequence, but if soldiers intentionally target innocent civilians, they are guilty of war crimes and worthy of prosecution.


The bill’s penalties are also intrinsically unjust because they treat the preborn as sub-human, and prescribe a penalty that is insufficient to protect them.

According to subsection C(4), if the physician commits an abortion before determining whether the preborn baby has a heartbeat, he is susceptible to “disciplinary action” before the Ohio State Medical Board. Whoa! Murder a baby, and the state medical board might sanction you, but only if at least six of their twelve members vote against you. Behold the high price of murder! Kill a baby, and your medical license might be suspended. No worries, doctors, getting half of the Ohio State Medical Board to vote to criminalize abortion is about as implausible as getting half of National Right to Life to try to criminalize abortion.

According to subsection E, if a physician commits an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been identified, he may be convicted of a fifth degree felony. So the penalty for committing an abortion before a heartbeat has been detected results in the physician being sent to the Ohio State Medical Board who will vote on whether to sanction your medical license, but if you commit an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected, you may be charged with a fifth degree felony. Why, pray tell, would a physician who intends to commit an abortion ever check the fetal heartbeat? The penalty for committing an abortion is worse if you do! If anything, this bill assures that abortionists will never check for a fetal heartbeat, or if they do, they will certainly not document its presence in the medical record.

Convicting the murderer of a preborn baby for a fifth degree felony dehumanizes the child [subsection E(5)]. If we lived in a slave state of the colonial era, would a just law criminalize the killing of slaves by fining their slavemasters? Even if it did decrease the murder of slaves, the law itself is lawless, for it dehumanizes the African American slave in prescribing a penalty that is insufficient for the crime. If they are people, a just law would treat them like people, and prescribe the same penalty for murdering a slave as for murdering a white man.

Furthermore, this bill specifically exempts the mother from prosecution: “A pregnant woman on whom an abortion is performed… is not guilty of violating [this law] nor “of attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or complicity in committing a violation of [this law]… and is not subject to civil penalty” [subsection F]. Even if she does attempt to commit, conspire to commit, or is complicit with the killing of her preborn baby, this law forbids her from being prosecuted for it. What good would it be to ban slavery if we exempted slave-traders? What good would it do to criminalize the persecution and murder of Jews in Nazi Germany if we were to exempt soldiers who put Jews in ovens? If ever the preborn are protected in American law, it will be in spite of laws like this, not because of them, for this bill would inscribe into the law the very dehumanization of preborn babies that brought about abortion-on-demand in the first place.

Why not treat the preborn like people? Why prescribe a penalty for killing them that differs from the penalty for killing any other person outside the womb? Why exempt the accomplices from prosecution? We’ve assassinated our own moral authority when we make exceptions and treat the preborn as if they are not recipients of the God-given, inalienable right to life. We show that we really don’t believe that the preborn have the right to life guaranteed in the Constitution. When pro-lifers capitulate to the dehumanization of the preborn in their proposed legislation, we become accomplices in the Abortion Holocaust. “Let us do evil that good may come” is not an argument that is addressed favorably in Scripture (Romans 3:8).

What is the moral standard that is invoked in this legislation? Is it the Constitution, which says that the government shall not deprive another of life or liberty without a trial by jury? No. Is it the law of God, which says “Do no murder” in Exodus 20, and in chapter 21, verses 22-23, says that those who kill preborn children should be executed? No, of course not. In subsections H, I, and J, this bill specifically cites the federal judiciary as the standard of morality and justice. This bill prescribes into law the supremacy of the Supreme Court over both the law of God and the Constitution. This bill forces its signers and supporters to bow the knee to judicial tyranny. Thus, this bill is rotten to its very foundation. Its design is not to protect the preborn, not to give them justice, and certainly not to please “the Father of the fatherless.”

According to the Constitution, whatever rights and duties are not explicitly granted to the federal government belong to the states or the people. Does the federal judiciary have any obligation to be involved in criminal justice? Only for the crimes of treason and invasion. Criminal justice is a local matter according to the law of the land.

Criminal justice is also a local matter according to the law of God. In Deuteronomy 21 and Numbers 35, the community nearest the crime is responsible for prosecuting murderers, and if they failed to execute the murderer, the curse of innocent blood came upon their land. Romans 13 says that civil authorities are obligated to wield the sword of vengeance to execute wrath against evil-doers and to protect the innocent. God, who gives us our right to life and liberty in the first place, delegates to local authorities the responsibility to protect those rights through the administration of justice. The federal judiciary cannot overrule Creator. The Word of God reigns supreme over every word of man that contradicts it. States should defy the immoral and unconstitutional opinions of federal leaders and prosecute those who assault any innocent people within their jurisdiction – this, God obligates them to do, and He will hold them accountable for it. This Heartbeat Bill excuses repeated violations of our Constitution, egregious violations of God’s law, and spurns the authority of the King of Kings to bow the knee to judicial tyranny.

Lastly, the undermining of our moral authority in laws such as this may be a factor that causes the law to be undermined by the judiciary. In Justice Blackmun’s Roe v. Wade decision, he criticizes the hypocrisy of Texas’ anti-abortion law in order to show that the defenders of Texas’ anti-abortion law do not really believe that the preborn child is a recipient of the constitutionally protected right to life. He cited the fact that there were justifications for abortion in the law - “the life of the mother.” He cited the fact that the mothers were immune from prosecution and that the penalty for committing an abortion was less than the penalty for killing a born person. Let’s hear it straight from Blackmun’s mouth: “It has already been pointed out… that in Texas the woman is not a principal or an accomplice with respect to an abortion upon her. If the fetus is a person, why is the woman not a principal or an accomplice? Further, the penalty for criminal abortion specified… is significantly less than the maximum penalty for murder prescribed by… the Texas Penal Code. If the fetus is a person, may the penalties be different?”

Good questions, Justice Blackmun! The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court may be blind to justice, but they certainly weren’t blind to hypocrisy.

If this Heartbeat Bill ever did make it to the Supreme Court, its exceptions and its dehumanization of the preborn may be the Achilles heel that fells it. It certainly ruins the bill in the sight of a holy God and those that favor His system of law and justice over that of hypocrites and humanists.

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Well, isn’t the Heartbeat Bill the best chance we have to save most of the babies slated to be slain through abortion? No, it’s not. Personhood Ohio has been established to work for an amendment to the Constitution that declares that for the purposes of Ohio law, life begins at conception (or fertilization.) The standard is not arbitrary, but is biblical and is supported by science. Its sword cuts straight – it declares the preborn to be full persons under the law; therefore, any penalty for assaulting a born person would apply to those who assaulted the preborn. That law does not go so far as to give the preborn justice; no, we’ll still need good leadership to do that. But it at least it is compatible with God’s law and is a necessary prerequisite to justice for the preborn.

Pick a battle that God can bless, and one whose victory would abate the wrath of God against us for the shedding of innocent blood.

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Contact Dr. Johnston at

� 2011 Patrick Johnston - All Rights Reserved

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Patrick Johnston and his wife Elizabeth reside in Zanesville, Ohio, with their six young home-schooled children. Patrick is a family practice physician and founder of the Association of Pro-life Physicians, which is dedicated to restoring a remnant of physicians in our communities who are convinced that life begins at conception and who will not commit nor refer for abortions (

He founded the Alliance to Reform Education Funding to fight public school levies and promote Christian home-schooling ( Dr. Johnston is committed to revival in the church, and the restoration of Biblical law and constitutional government in America. Dr. Johnston is currently campaigning for State Representative for District 94 in Ohio. Their family ministry -













“Do no murder” has no exceptions. “A murderer has no eternal life abiding in them” the Apostle John warned. Consenting to the murder of one in order to save another is never justified.