Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (38). February 25, 1986

Personal Response to February 19 Letter to the Editor

Marjorie Howard, 15 Tuna Wharf, Rockport, MA 01966

Dear Marjorie:

I am thankful for your comments recently in the editorial page, in that it provides opportunity to discuss various concerns you have raised. Now your husband (I assume) and I write him a personal letter in reply, but the Post Office returned it to me. I have enclosed it.

Specifically, allow me to summarize my perspective on some of the issues you raised. If you were to review my opinions articulated in the Times, you should note my full interaction with the complexity of the issue, and my compassion for women. I do not oversimplify. But regardless of one’s philosophical or religious position, it cannot be denied that abortion kills unborn human life. If it is ever to be justified, it must be based on that prior recognition. By the way, I have only quoted one biblical passage the whole time. My concentration has been on setting ethical for freedom of expression. I am an M.Div. graduate from seminary, and I can articulate for you a full biblical treatment of the subject if you wish. Abortion and redemption are categorical opposites. I have enclosed a copy of an outline used in a seminar I teach (it is not fully self-explanatory though). Of particular interest, I would refer you to page 3, “Abortion and Redemption: A Statement,” and to appendix 1 on page 9, where assorted biblical passages are listed.  In terms of your reference to Exodus 21:22-25, I have enclosed Dr. Meredith Kline’s exegesis of this passage (which has been regarded as the most authoritative monograph on this passage. His  conclusion is exactly the opposite of your own, as he argues it is the most powerful pro-life passage in the Bible.

In terms of overpopulation, experts agree the problem is in food distribution, and true justice in social systems, and not in the number of months to feed. I would refer you to Dr. Arthur J. Dyck, professor of Population Genetics at the Harvard School of Public Health [and my adviser at Harvard Divinity School. Check out.] Check out chapter two of his book, On Human Care (Nashville: Abingdon, 1977), for starters.

In terms of coerced abortion in China, I have enclosed photocopies from the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Also, just recently, Congressman Mark Siljander (R-MI), noted that China, in the past two decades, has performed over 54 million coerced abortions.

In conclusion, let me emphasize that I am nobody’s judge. Only God is, and I commend both is us into his care. But I will articulate what the Gospel teaches. If you are genuinely concerned about it, then I’d be glad to sit down with you and soberly discuss it — graciously. In the final analysis, as a Christian, in order to justify it, you must define it as redemptive. If you cannot define it accordingly, then perhaps there are angles to this subject that need to be discussed. And on April 25, I will be conducting a public forum at Fuller School, and you are most welcome to attend and ask questions.


John C. Rankin