NECAC Debate/Forum Outline, Fall 1989

John C. Rankin

In my years with the New England Christian Action Council (NECAC), I grew in my biblical articulation of pro-life advocacy, and in the various NECAC debates and forum I report on here, that trajectory can be observed. Below is my outline as of the fall of 1989, and after we had begun our ministry at New England’s largest abortion center (Preterm in Brookline, Massachusetts).


Presuppositions: Protestant minister, raised agnostic; seeker of truth on its own terms — eager to be questioned.

Question #1: What are the boundaries of choice?

  • universal realities of boundaries.
  • biological: life precedes choice.
  • legal: life precedes choice — Declaration of Independence & 14th amendment.
  • theological: life precedes choice — order of creation = God, life, choice, sex.

Question #2: Is not all law based on a prior definition of human life?

  • Roe v. Wade basis of “non-consensus” relative to a central question of fact.
  • Massachusetts referendum initiative …

Question #3: Is there any known example in all American law, apart from Roe, based on such a “non-consensus” device?

Question 4: Are there any known facts to dispute the biological reality that each individual human life begins at the point of conception?

  • material on conception and fetal development …
  • 1981 U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on the Judiciary hearings …

Question #5: How can feminist ethics be reconciled with human abortion?

  • relational nurture v. competitive dominance.
  • definition of power and imago dei.
  • male chauvinism of abortion ethos.

Concluding thought: You Have the Power to Choose Life banner used at Preterm.


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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.