Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (76), November 12, 1986

Personal Response to November 10, 1986 Letter to the Editor

Ms. Candice K. Garrett, 282 Thatcher Road, Rockport, MA 01966

Dear Ms. Garrett:

I appreciate the time you took to express your views vis-a-vis abortion in your recent letter to the editor. And especially fo I affirm your moral commitment to openness as explicitly stated in the final paragraph.

I would like to take you up on such openness. In that light, I have enclosed two articles I have written for theological audiences, which seem appropriate in light of your use of Exodus 21. I have also enclosed a copy of Dr. Meredith Kiline’s exegesis of that passage, which shows the opposite of your interpretation (and indeed, Dr. Kline’s article has been established as the definitive interpretation of this passage since it was published nearly a decade ago).

My good friend Gordon Hungenberger (pastor of Lanesville Congregational Church and orofessor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in So. Hamilton) called me last night, and indicated that he will write the Times a response to your letter, clarifying the true nature of Exodus 21:22-24. I will let him do it, for though I am trained in Hebrew, Gordon is a first-class scholar and a fine pastor.

Beyond that, I would like to make a few observations for your consideration. When you use the term “anti-choice,” you fall prey to rhetoric, I never call a pro-choice advocate “anti-life” or “pro-death” or even murderer. The simple reason is that although I know abortion kills, I am seeking to win the protection of the unborn by positive appeal, by lifting up the esteem of women to choose life. I know women choose (or feel cornered into) abortion out of pain in most instances. But to kill their unborn only deepens the pain. And as Jesus said, anyone who calls someone else a “fool” in their heart is morally guilty of murder. I have qualified many times! (Who hasn’t?). The real question for all of us is whether we can honestly look at our sin, repent of it, and accept the forgiveness in Christ that is therefore offered. That is my single goal — to celebrate forgiveness and its power to transform despair into hope.

One other point. I hope you are not arguing for abortion as less expensive to the taxpayers than live birth. That puts fiscal priorities over life. Also, the specific goal of Question #1 was to outlaw tax-funded abortions. In order to accomplish that, it had to address the whole constitutional language of abortion, and thus for some it seemed far more complex than it was in essence. Given that, I do wish more pro-lifers had been honest enough to say that their opposition to tax-funded abortions stemmed from the deeper opposition to abortion. Either we are going to argue the issue on its merits, or there is some disintegrity afoot.

I would love to glean your response to the enclosed articles, and I am always glad to talk, to listen to your input and questions.

Sincerely yours,

John C. Rankin