An Unimpeachable Thesis Opposing Abortion (1985)

John C. Rankin

In my early years of pro-life ministry through the New England Christian Action Council (NECAC), and as I interacted with supporters of legalized abortion on college campuses, political settings, media opportunities and personal interactions, I wrote an outline I used for several years — always inviting hard questions of my advocacy. It was introduced in the Fall, 1985 edition of Contrabortion (click here), and used for the first time at Dartmouth College the following January (click here).

I edited it slightly by adding one sentence at the end of item #5 (placed here in italics) for its actual distribution to the audience at Dartmouth:

  1. Definition of liberal arts inquiry: “The Socratic commitment to investigate every aspect of an issue with an open mind, willing always to be instructed by the facts as they emerge.” Accordingly, I embrace liberal arts inquiry, and freely profess my philosophical presuppositions as an evangelical Christian, convinced that all truth is God’s truth.
  2. Definition of conception: “Prior to it, the sperm and egg are haploid life with no future apart from fertilization, whereupon they unite to form a one-celled zygote which is genetically whole human life. This is our common biological origin. Human life is defined by essence, not achievement.”
  3. Definition of abortion debate: “The deliberate cutting off of life in the human womb” (Latin: ab- + oriri = to stop from rising).
  4. Definition of abortion as the ultimate male chauvinism: “A man often flees responsibility by leaving a woman whom he had impregnated. She is alone and often feels no choice but abortion. But in so doing, she merely passes along the chauvinism by treating her child as a piece of disposable property, much as the man treated her. She is twice traumatized: once a victim, once a victimizer. And the man trots along his merry way.”
  5. Definition of the abortion debate: “A religious war, and nothing less – the conflict between Christian and non-Christian world-views. It is not a question of when life begins, but rather what value we place on embryonic life.” No believer in Jesus Christ can allow for abortion (save the very rare case where a mother’s life is truly in jeopardy). It is not a question of when life begins, but rather the value we place on embryonic life.
  6. Definition of Christian ethics in a pluralistic society: “Our purpose is to participate in the political process as citizens who are also Christian. We will strive to inform and persuade, never to coerce or manipulate. We renounce “holier than thou” attitudes, and have no desire for theocratic rule n this society. We expect no more political freedom than we gladly affirm for citizens of all ideological persuasions who also honor the U.S. Constitution. On this basis, we labor to protect the unborn and their families, convinced it is in society’s best interest. Only on the prior sanctity of human life ethic are we able to address other issues of social justice. And only in Christ can forgiveness be found for those who have had an abortion.”

** A challenge to those who are in favor of legalized abortion: 1) embrace liberal arts inquiry; 2) profess your own philosophical presuppositions; and 3) cit any objections to the above thesis. Then we can truly dialogue and learn.