11.07.2005

Lutherans For Life Bioethics Conference - The Image of God: It's Meaning and Implications

I'm headed to the Lutherans For Life Bioethics Conference toward the end of this week - well at least one day of it... I wish they would move the annual conference toward the front part of any given week instead of the tail end leading into a Sunday.

I'm particularly thrilled that they are kicking it off with a one day bioethics conference. From the main speakers to the break-out sessions I am hopeful that the content will be great.

Of particular interest to me is a break-out session in the afternoon entitled: Implications of Hormonal Birth Control in Family Life and Pastoral Care (Panel Discussion) – Rev. Dr. Paul Raabe, Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, Dr. David Menton, PH.D.

I am very curious as to where this discussion will go. I will be greatly disappointed if it ends up simply being a debate as to whether or not 'The Pill' is an abortifacient. This discussion has already taken place with no consensus being reached (a panel discussion on KFUO in May 17th of '04 between Dr. Weise, Kevin Voss, and Aaron Wolf).

The question as I see it is should be framed something like this: In the knowledge of (although rare and difficult if not impossible to detect), or even in the uncertainty over whether hormonal contraceptives cause abortions what is our response as Christ's Church, as Christ's Families? What will be our Pastoral Care for the Church and for Families?

There are several other things happening in the background that draw this discussion into an even more interesting light;

First, for those of you who don't know, Lutherans For Life have a statement about Contraceptives/Abortifacients that includes their understanding of "Birth Control" pills.
It reads:
Contraceptives/Abortifacients
WHEREAS, Scriptural and scientific witness agree that life
begins at conception; and
WHEREAS, Some abortifacients, such as the IUD, the “morning
after pill,” and RU-486, which destroy the fertilized
egg or prevent its implantation in the uterine wall
have been mislabeled as contraceptives; and
WHEREAS, “Birth control” pills, promoted as contraceptives,
thin the uterine lining as a back-up mechanism and,
therefore, can be abortifacient in nature; therefore
be it
RESOLVED That Lutherans For Life opposes the use of
abortifacients and urges its members to become
educated on the nature and effects of all
forms of contraception and abortifacients.

Interestingly, at least to me is that LFL's statement has become stronger over past years. In the past the last 'WHEREAS' statement read: many "birth control" pills...

The implication of many "birth control" pills being abortifacient in nature is that some are not! When asked, however, to produce any of the names of the some LFL freely admitted that they did not know the name of any and that they were "perplexed" at the wording themselves. Within a couple of months the wording was changed to how it reads today.

Second, in the midst of LFL's statement becoming stronger and labeling all oral hormonal contraceptives as "abortifacient in nature" you have vocal others in our synod being dismissive of the abortifacient nature of the lot all together. That company includes Dr. Kevin Voss who currently heads up the Concordia Bioethics Institute at Concordia Mequon, Dr. Richard Eyer who formerly headed up the Bioethics Institute, and finally Dr. Eyer's brief paper concerning the "rumored" abortifacient nature of chemical contraceptives - a paper that is found on the LC-MS website acting as our official unofficial statement on the matter.

Third, finally, and thankfully, we have Resolution 6-10 from the 2004 LC-MS National Convention working somewhere behind the scenes. It reads:

To Call Upon Board for Human Care
Ministries to Review
Birth-Control
Products
RESOLUTION 6-10
Overture 3-102 (CW, p. 195)
WHEREAS, God is the Creator and Giver of All Life; and
WHEREAS, Life begins at conception; and
WHEREAS, We are not to take the life of another but,
rather, to leave that in God’s hands; and
WHEREAS, Some abortifacients which destroy the embryo
or prevent its implantation in the uterine wall have been
mislabeled as contraceptives; and
WHEREAS, Some birth control pills thin the uterine wall
so that if conception does take place the embryo will not be
able to implant, resulting in an early abortion; and
WHEREAS, Contraception is commonly practiced, but its
workings are not well understood by many; therefore be it
Resolved, That the Board for Human Care Ministries review
the various birth control products, clarifying which
ones act sometimes or all the time as abortifacients; and be
it further
Resolved, That this information be made available to
pastors and laypeople of the LCMS.
Action: Adopted (10)
(The resolution was adopted as presented without debate [Yes:
955; No: 52].)

There is some clear acknowledgment here that at least some birth control pills do at times cause abortions. Further yet, there is the desire to delineate which ones do or don't. Why? So that pastors and lay people can make informed, God fearing decisions in light of The Cross of Christ.

Yes, since that resolution has been passed I have wondered who the Board of Human Care has gathered together to do the "review" and draft any literature that will be forthcoming. If Voss/Eyer are a part of this, which I would expect that they are, my fear is that what will be produced will simply be a beefed up version of Dr. Eyer's above mentioned brief paper. I am trusting, however, that the Board of Human Care also has LFL heavily involved in this, and that LFL will stand by their findings.

We will see... In the meantime, I am praying ahead of the conference that the Lord will bless it, the presenters, the discussions, the debate - to the glory of Christ and the blessing of His bride The Church. I would ask you to do the same.

1 comment:

Tina said...

I enjoyed meeting you at the conference. Thought it very interesting and thought provoking.

I was somewhat stunned that not a single panel member would touch the quesion that was asked re: whether the Pill "Did/can/might cause an abortion". That they weren't even willing to concede that it was a possibility was flabbergasting.

I'm not sure why we aren't willing to take the Pill manufacturers at their word when they say how their product works. I've never heard a pro-choice person try to explain away the 3rd mechanism. It's only pro-lifers who really, really, really want that to be a "marketing ploy".

I ask the question again I asked in the session, "Why is the Pill held in such sacred regard that we cannot even question it's use?"

For the record, my husband and I have used NFP for almost the entirety of our 15 year marriage, after trying the Pill early on and being made terribly sick by it. I then learned about it's abortifacient nature and never looked back. We have 3 beautiful children and are currently hoping God will bless us with another.