The Red Herring of Abortifacients

More thoughts on ethics and contraception... It seems to me that God's law is intended to be something the average person can discern.  Almost without exception, it is only when legalism and Pharisaim are employed that the law becomes so complicated that one needs an expert to discern right from wrong.

If contraception is a morally neutral issue except when it comes to abortifacient means, we have a very complicated situation on our hands.  There are all kinds of methods, and many new ones coming on the market all the time these days.  It takes a scientific mind to understand the processes by which these methods work and discern whether there is abortifacient potential.  Thus we have 2004 LCMS Resolution 6-10 which asked the Board for Human Care Ministries to “review the various birth control products” and clarify which act sometimes or all the time as “abortifacients”.  Their first report was terribly flawed.  Even after a great deal of effort on my part, their final report was still not without its errors.

But, more importantly, who is even going to read that report, and how many who do will even understand it or care?  There is totally conflicting information coming from all directions, even within our synod, posted on the same Human Care "Life Resources" page.  Some even say the "morning after pill" is not abortifacient.

Is God really only against abortifacient means of birth control?  The church for two millennia said no, and taking all the discussions we have had recently about being unable to say with any certainty when ensoulment occurs, I'm not sure we really can identify with accuracy any methods as purely "contraceptive."

If conception is thought of as a term with theological implications, we must use the term as it is used in Scripture.  In Scripture "conception" does not refer to "fertilization" of an egg.  It is much more broad, including begetting - "fathering" - all the way through till at least birth.  It seems to me that even the "Billings Method" of avoiding pregnancy interferes equally with the biblical understanding of "conception", since it seeks to prevent a husband and wife from begetting children.  Do you think Onan would have been spared had he only employed "natural family planning"?

So, I would like to suggest that perhaps "abortifacients" in particular are a red herring conceived by the devil himself.  We are so disturbed by the issue of abortion and abortifacients that we sometimes forget that it is the contraceptive mindset that gives birth to abortion.  The compromise which seeks to at least keep people from using abortifacient methods is like giving condoms to youth.  The thinking is very similar: "They're going to do it anyway, so lets at least give them a safe method."

Of course one will always raise the issue of "extraordinary circumstances."  What if a mother's life is in danger?  Well, obviously a non-abortifacient method would be a lesser evil than an abortifacient method.  I suppose it could be argued that for this reason it is important to identify those methods which are non-abortifacient, but as we all know, there is no method but total abstinence which has a 100% success rate.  If my wife's life was in sure and certain danger should she get pregnant, I could not engage in marital relations with her any more than I could point a gun at her with the safety on, even if I thought there were no bullets in it.


Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

The primary point I was trying to make above is this. Knowing what is right and wrong on this issue is very simple: Chastity in accordance with the Sixth Commandment and the law of love.

It doesn't take a scientist or ethicist to see that there are many situations in life that call for chastity. Just a few examples would be singleness, the death of a spouse, when a husband goes off to war for months or years, and when a wife's condition calls for restraint (illness, menses, postpartum healing, rare health conditions which contraindicate pregnancy, etc.).

All methods of "family planning" (a.k.a. NFP, contraception, birth control, and abortion) are abominations, as it is unchaste to engage in sexual relations in any manner which seeks to prevent the procreative purpose of marriage.

If there is an unavoidable or grave reason the couple should not come together in the marital bed in the procreative act, this is not "family planning" but rather godly chastity. There are many people who were not born with the gift of celibacy, but who for other valid reasons must pray for strength to live a chaste life - not the least of these are our unmarried children.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.
What does this mean?--Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.

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Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I just ran across an email exchange I had with a friend in 2008 in which he wrote, "there is something troublingly Pharisaical about subdividing the procreative process into aspects where we may permissibly interfere (inhibit sperm migration; inhibit ovulation) and those which we may not (inhibiting implantation). Such hairsplitting would require a lot of Talmudic commentary, continuously updated after each new FDA announcement." Indeed!