WITH THE COMPROMISE OF "ANSWERS IN GENESIS" - A GIANT HAS FALLEN
By Dr. Patrick Johnston
June 18, 2013
Is it ever right to intentionally kill an innocent person?
You think it would be a no-brainer for a Bible-believing Christian, right?
The Facts about “Answers in Genesis”
On February 26, 2013, as printed in AIG’s Answers magazine, Dr. Tommy Mitchell, a physician and AIG speaker, wrote an article entitled, “Is Abortion Ever Justifiable?” In this article, Dr. Mitchell justifies the killing of little babies in some circumstances. If a mother has aggressive leukemia and requires immediate chemotherapy to save her life “that is virtually certain to kill the unborn child,” and if postponing chemotherapy is too risky for the mother, then, Dr. Mitchell argues, the doctor is justified in advising “immediate abortion.”
In a face to face conversation with AIG co-founder Mark Looy, Dr. Tommy Mitchell, and his wife, obstetrician Elizabeth Mitchell, they justified abortion for other medical reasons as well. First, we will evaluate AIG’s justification for abortion in the Answers article.
Evaluating AIG’s Justification for Abortions
There are two issues at stake.
Is the abortion in the case Dr. Mitchell describes really necessary
to save the mother? And,
2. Does protecting the life of the mother justify intentionally killing an innocent baby?
The chemotherapy necessary to save the life of the leukemia patient in Dr. Mitchell’s hypothetical scenario would be just as effective whether the patient were pregnant or not. Killing the baby is not necessary to save the life of the mother at all. Many oncologists do recommend an abortion before they will prescribe chemotherapy, but it is not to save the mother’s life, but to protect themselves from litigation.
As reported in The Lancet medical journal in August 2012, the German Breast Group followed 413 pregnant cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, and found little to no evidence of negative health effects on their infants.(1)
When you examine the actual fetal health risks of maternal chemotherapy, it looks like killing babies isn’t good healthcare after all.
“But the baby’s probably going to die anyway,” the abortion advocate objects.
When I spoke with Dr. Tommy Mitchell about this in person at AIG’s Creation Museum in Kentucky, he insisted that the chemotherapy might cause a miscarriage and that miscarriage might cause hemorrhaging, and when the patient’s platelets are so low that they cannot clot, this might be fatal. Lots of “mights” in that explanation. But wouldn’t an abortion pose the same risks, if not greater risks, of bleeding and hemorrhaging to the mother on chemotherapy? Wouldn’t physicians have to postpone her cancer therapy to do an abortion and await the cessation of post-abortion vaginal bleeding? Is there any evidence that killing the baby is in any way safer for the mother in this scenario?
Let us further illustrate why this is unethical.
If a rescuer is venturing into a burning building to try to save two injured occupants, and is only able to save one of the two occupants, is it justifiable for him to then take out his gun and shoot the occupant he was unable to save?
Of course not! Intentionally killing those you were not able to save is never justified in healthcare. We can provide the entire spectrum of quality healthcare to a pregnant woman without intentionally killing her unborn baby, regardless of the severity of her disease.
Even if the risk of fetal death was 100% certain, would killing the baby be justified? Does being at high risk of an accidental death justify intentional killing? No, not if God’s Word and conscience are valid guides for morality and justice. Being on your deathbed does not constitute a justification for someone killing you. None of us would want to be treated that way. Letting you die is compatible with compassionate care, while taking forceps and violently ripping off your limbs to end your life is not.
Trading Solid Ground for Quicksand
When faced with a straightforward ethical question, the unbeliever fetches his morality from the shifting winds of his feelings or what’s convenient. The skeptic hem-haws and equivocates on circumstances he speculates might justify that which God condemns, especially if he has the luxury of being insulated from intelligent cross-examination. He sets himself up as God’s judge, God’s sovereign, and points his finger critically at God’s Word, attempting to establish alternatives to God’s reign. Rejecting divine law and conscience for relative morality makes the sinner a law unto himself – or should I say lawlessness, not law.
I heard the argument in college: “You and three people are on a boat – you are strong and healthy, one is an elderly grandmother who is without her life-saving medicine, another is obese and cannot row, and the fourth is a Downs Syndrome child. There’s only enough water to nourish three of you till you make landfall. What do you do?” It was horrifying to hear ordinary college freshmen justify pushing grandmother overboard or cannibalizing a Downs Syndrome child, but such atrocities are viable options to a mind undirected by God’s absolute standards.
In a society governed by situational ethics, Christians have the trump card. We have the coup d’grace in the battle of worldviews. “Thus saith the Lord.”
With their abortion justifications, Answers in Genesis leaders have abandoned the solid rock of God’s Word for the quicksand of relative morality. They have surrendered their trump card to the father of lies. Having sheathed the sword of the Spirit in the spiritual battle for souls and for freedom, they’ve handicapped themselves. They may have always been true to God’s Word in the past, but like a faithful husband who makes an exception on a business trip with his secretary, they’ve made one fatal exception to the Sixth Commandment forbidding murder.
Does protecting the life of the mother ever justify intentionally killing her baby? If Dr. Mitchell was simply giving a bad example in his article, are there genuine examples where a baby must be lovingly killed to save the mother’s life?
More Medical Illnesses Used to Justify Child-Killing
When I spoke with Dr. Mitchell in person, his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, was also present. She is an obstretrician/gynecologist who writes for AIG. She brought up two other medical conditions that are commonly used to justify abortion: HELLP Syndrome and chorioamnionitis.
She said, “If you have someone sick enough with chorioamnionitis that you need to get this over with quickly, then, yes, you do a D & E, and – would I do it with a good conscience? – yes, in a heartbeat… What we’re talking about is getting the pregnancy out of the womb, is ending the pregnancy in whatever way is going to be safest for the mother… Certainly I would not enjoy pulling a baby out piece by piece – who would enjoy that?”
She claims to be pro-life, but is willing to rip a baby out of the womb piece by piece. “Would I do it with a good conscience? – yes, in a heartbeat.”
The medical literature says in chorioamnionitis and HELLP Syndrome, “facilitating delivery” may be necessary to save the life of the mother. Can you facilitate delivery and not dismember the baby? Of course.
Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell and Dr. Tommy Mitchell insisted that the outcome was the same: whether an abortion was done, or delivery was facilitated of a baby too premature to survive outside the womb, the baby dies in both instances. Therefore, they argued, we should do what is best for the mother, even if that is an abortion that dismembers her baby. Mark Looy, who co-founded AIG with Ken Ham, concurred with the Mitchells: since the outcome was the same, then the abortion was justified.
First of all, the outcome is not necessarily the same. If a baby was delivered prematurely, the baby may survive. The dates could have been wrong, and the baby may be further along than we thought. The record of the earliest surviving baby is 18 weeks, little Kenya King born in Orlando, Florida, in 1985, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. However, if a “Dilation and Extraction abortion” is done on a mid-trimester baby, what are the child’s chances of survival then? “Dilation” refers to dilating the opening to the womb; “Extraction” refers to extracting the baby out piece by piece with forceps. What do you think the baby’s chances are for survival then? The outcomes are not always identical.
I appealed to their consciences, begging them to acknowledge that intentionally killing a baby by ripping him or her out piece by piece is quite a different thing than a prematurely delivered baby (delivered to save the life of the mother) dying peacefully in the arms of his parents in spite of physician’s attempts to save the baby. If the mother dies, two people die; thus, facilitating delivery is attempting to save the baby’s life, not just the mother’s life. I think that it is both biblical and self-evident, that trying to save a baby’s life is not morally equivalent to trying to kill a baby. An abortion violates God’s law because it intends to kill an innocent person, whereas prematurely delivering a baby and trying to save the life of the mother and the baby does not intend to kill and does not violate God’s law. One is violent and cruel, the other heroic and compassionate.
Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell just received “Guilty” verdicts for snipping the cervical spines of babies who survived his late-term abortion procedures.
A friend of mine last year saw their preborn baby miscarry; in spite of the physician’s efforts, the baby died peacefully in her parents’ arms.
Just because the outcome is the same, that doesn’t make the acts morally equivalent.
When I appealed to Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell’s conscience to the intrinsic violence and cruelty of a “Dilation & Extraction abortion”, she objected, saying that we should get our opinions from Scripture. I agree. What Scripture could be brought forth to justify intentionally dismembering a baby? And where is this evidence that killing the baby was more beneficial to the mother’s health than simply facilitating delivery and trying to save the baby?
Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell also brought up tubal ectopic pregnancies as an example of a justifiable abortion. It is true that there are no cases of tubal ectopic pregnancies surviving. However, I pointed out that abdominal and pelvic ectopic pregnancies can and do survive, and that tubal ectopic pregnancies have been documented dislodging and reattaching in the uterus, resulting in a safe pregnancy. There have also been successful cases of transplanting tubal ectopic pregnancies into the uterus.(2)
I also informed them that “watchful waiting” was the standard of care in early ectopic pregnancies, because the vast majority of tubal ectopic pregnancies will die and resorb on their own without chemical or surgical abortion. If the tubal ectopic does not resolve, by the time that the mother’s life is at significant risk, the baby has outgrown its blood supply and is likely dead already. This position is defended in the position statement of the American Assn. of Pro-Life Ob/Gyns. Intentionally killing the baby is contrary to God’s law, and is never medically necessary to save the life of the mother.
When cross-examined, AIG’s position crumbles like a deck of cards in a tornado.
Pro-Life Organizations that Disagree with AIG
After our meeting, in communications through letter, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell tried to paint this position condemning all abortion as the “extreme” position. This is simply false. Many Christian and pro-life groups concur that an abortion is not necessary to save the mother’s life: the American Assn. of Pro-Life Ob/Gyns, the Christian Medical Association, Personhood USA, the Catholic Medical Association, American Right to Life, both Georgia and Colorado Right to Life, and the Dublin Declaration, just to name a few.
The Dublin Declaration is a statement from physicians opposing the legalization of abortion in Ireland; they state, “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman. We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of her unborn child.”
Congressman and obstetrician Ron Paul (in spite of his faults) said that he never saw an abortion that was medically necessary. Former Surgeon General Everett Koop said that abortion was “not needed to save the life of the mother." He wrote, "In my thirty-six years in pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother's life."
Even Planned Parenthood's Dr. Alan Guttmacher acknowledged, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.” (The Case for Legalized Abortion Now, 1967)
Cutting a baby to death is always the extreme position. It’s always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent person.
Putting a Face on the Babies that AIG Justifies Killing
Let’s put a face on this argument, and get it out of the realm of impersonal rhetoric. The lives of real people are at stake, people created in the image of God, people God obligates us to love as we love ourselves.
Look at the face of a little baby who has been killed by the kind of procedure that AIG justifies: www.AbortionNo.org.
If you find it too horrifying to witness, perhaps it is too horrifying to justify.
Is it ever justified to intentionally kill an innocent baby? Answers in Genesis answers it wrong.
The answer’s in Genesis: “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6). Abortion is not just a procedure. Abortion sheds innocent blood. Even accidentally killing a person required that person to flee to a designated “city of refuge”, or a family member of the slain may kill them and be found guiltless (Numbers 35). Killing somebody through carelessness or negligence merited the same civil penalty as killing someone on purpose: it was a capital offense (Exodus 21:29; Deuteronomy 22:8). In Exodus 21:22-23, if a man, through carelessness, causes a pregnant woman to miscarry and the child dies, then “life for life.” If God is the standard for morality and justice, and if the Bible is His revelation to man, then His Word settles the issue.
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There are no occasions in which the intentional killing of the pre-born child is justified. We must stand true to these divine principles through every emotional appeal and in every tragic scenario if we are to have any principles at all for which to stand.
What Can You do?
If you care about Answers in Genesis as much as I do, please write them, call them, or Email them, and urge them to publicly recant their position justifying abortion for medical reasons. Be kind, courteous, and spend at least as much time praying for AIG as you do in writing the letter.
Contact information can be found here.
To see study
documenting the relative safety of maternal chemotherapy for preborn
2. “The Life of the Mother Exception” by American Right to Life,
And, “Are There Rare Cases When an Abortion Is Justified?” by the Assn. of Pro-Life Physicians.