Why Pro-Life?

Guest Writer: Steve Hammond

For me the discussion of the sanctity of human life  is more than a political or philosophical debate.  It is actually the focal point of my own story of coming to faith in Christ.

Though I was raised in a Christian home and as long as I can remember, I knew that I was a sinner and that Christ died for my sins.  It was a rather shallow faith, however, because beginning in college I became more interested in pleasing myself than in pleasing God.  I thought I was “performing better” than most of my friends because I didn’t participate in the “top 2 sins” of the 60’s:  illegal drugs and premarital sex.  I was under the mistaken idea that if your performance was adequate (and I thought I was the judge of what was adequate) God would let the rest slide.

Midway through my medical school training, Roe vs. Wade was passed by the Supreme Court.  That opened the door for abortion to be discussed openly in medical school classrooms.  The collective conscience of the country was changed in a couple of years by a clever campaign spearheaded by NARAL (National Abortion Right Action League) and one of it’s co-founders Dr. Bernard Nathanson.  The idea was that you could be morally opposed to abortion but defend another’s right to CHOOSE to abort.  After all, Americans were all about freedom and freedom of choice had a winning ring to it.  More on this later.

I became convinced in medical school that abortion was simply a procedure that allowed women freedom to control their own lives; make their own decisions.  When I became a resident physician in training, I not only promoted this ideology, I put it into practice.  We were required to rotate through Planned Parenthood where I was taught how to perform abortions and I became a proficient abortionist.  During my first and most of my second year of residency, I did abortions at Planned Parenthood and at a private abortion clinic.   When I stopped, it was not because I thought abortion was morally wrong, but because I began to loathe the “reconstruction” of the dismembered aborted fetus that is required after each abortion to be sure all the parts are removed.  Does that thought cause your stomach to turn?  Curiously it took about 700 abortions for this to happen to me.

I did not come to truly understand the sanctity of life for another 10 years.  That was when I came to know God personally and began to study His word. I  learned that each of those babies whose lives I snuffed out had worth because they were created and bore the image of God.  Fortunately I also learned of His magnificent forgiveness that transcends the magnitude of our sins if we confess and seek forgiveness.  (1John 1:9).  Oh! the wonder of being given a new start!  (2 Corinthians 5:17).   I tell my story to give comfort to those who might feel that they are beyond God’s forgiveness.  If He forgave me, He will forgive you, too!

Freedom of choice has a nice ring to it.  Actually in the 1960’s and before, most Americans were opposed to abortion for any reason.  The sexual revolution had invaded our culture. Antibiotics had conquered all known sexually transmitted infections (AIDS was not known at that time).  Birth control pills were just coming on the scene and the only remaining obstacle preventing “total sexual freedom” was the unplanned pregnancy.  Dr. Bernard Nathanson in his book: “The Hand of God” chronicles this including his own contribution to the transformation of American opinion on abortion.  He championed the idea that we even if we opposed abortion, we could sit on the sidelines and allow someone else to “choose” abortion.  This so called “tolerance” of  another’s opinion was heralded as somehow even morally superior to that of  imposing a societal morality.  The rest is history and the Supreme Court gave the final stamp of approval in 1973.  I recommend this book if you are interested in reading about the history of abortion in this country as well as  the account of Dr. Nathanson’s own conversion to Catholicism and transformation to a pro life advocate. He is well known as the narrator of the famous short videos:  “The Silent Scream” and “The Absence of Reason”, videos of actual abortions from the baby’s perspective using real-time ultrasound and fetoscopy.  (Beware, these videos are not for children or the faint of heart!)

I also recommend a book by Dr. R.C. Sproul: “Abortion, A Rational Look At An Emotional Issue”.  In this book, Dr. Sproul brilliantly dissects the abortion debate in understandable terms.

Finally when you hear the voices on both sides of the abortion debate, remember my story.  It is more than a philosophical argument over who’s rights trump another’s.  Abortion  is the violent, gruesome destruction of a tiny human being, sacrificed for the convenience of another.  I am struck by how we have begun to speak of it as almost a sacred right in our society.  America, beware of what you celebrate!  God forgive us.

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28 thoughts on “Why Pro-Life?

    • Wow that is an eye opener! Thanks for having the courage to tell your story. The Bible is full of sinners that God chose to do his work. Look at Paul and all the Christians he persecuted before the Holy Spirit enetered his life.

  1. Thanks Steve. You did a great job in explaining how “choice” took the place of abortion. Also, I did not realize that you were required to rotate through Planned Parenthood. Is this still the case?

    • My residency was at the Medical College of Georgia 1976-1979. I was assigned to Planned Parenthood the 4th month that I was there. I didn’t know I had a choice to opt out, I really went into it knowing that I would be doing abortions (that didn’t bother me then). Today there is more awareness of “what is in the womb” because of the incredible developments in real time ultrasound. You can see unmistakably that the developing embryo looks like a baby, has purposeful movement (sucks thumb, etc), and reacts to stimuli (sound, etc). Due to this more residencies are having trouble recruiting their house staff to train in abortions!

  2. It is a shame that the facts on this issue are so hidden from the public.

    I saw a televised debate between two doctors about 35 years ago. One a practicing abortionist and spokesperson for the Pro Choice movement, the other I think it was Nathanson, after becoming Pro Life but before believing in God. It became apparent that the abortionist obviously had no way of winning the debate and became so frustrated that she said, “You keep your religion out of this (debate).” Nathanson said, “What religion? There is no god. I am an atheist. I am just arguing scientific facts!” The abortionist and the liberal moderator were so stunned they said nothing for a minute or so. The moderator called for a commercial break and that was the end of that debate and I have not seen an open debate on the issue since then. Several large organizations, such as CNN and the LA Times have openly said they will use all their power to keep abortion legal. Many others have joined the propaganda battle without announcing their intentions. Of course, our children in public schools are not told the truth.

    It is also a shame that the protestant church doesn’t do much to educate its people about abortion. David Jeremiah has a large, evangelical church in California with a worldwide radio and TV following. He has cards in the pews on which he encourages his people to write prayer requests to be put in the offering plates. Anytime he speaks against abortion his offering plates are full of “hate mail.” Other churches are afraid to discuss the issue. Churches of a more liberal persuasion go as far as to promote abortion. Besides the obvious scientific evidence, bolstered in the past 20 years by a deeper understanding of DNA, the Pro Life movement has the Bible on it side. Exodus 21:20 calls for “an eye for an eye… life for a life” for someone who causes a pregnant woman to deliver prematurely. Psalm 139:16 tells us that God saw us while still in the womb and he had our days numbered even before our birth. The NT stories of the pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth also tell us that that “thing” is not just a fetus. If you are still skeptical, look for a video called “Window to the Womb.” As with Nathanson’s videos, this comes with a warning for parents to preview before deciding to show it to children.

    God forgive us for not stopping this genocide. God forgive America for condoning it.

  3. I love your honesty and true insight into this horrific industry that has been made so “normal”. I spent 12 years as a sidewalk counselor on the sidewalks outside of clinics in Memphis (not a radical, screaming, graphic sign holder) but a peacful voice for the unborn. I was so blessed to see many make the choice for life and could be re-directed to Life Choices or Birthright. This is truly not about choice but about trying to remove the circumstances of poor decisions (in most cases).

  4. It is a shame we are not having open discussions about real things that everyone can do to prevent situations women find themselves in when they choose abortion. Instead of arguing that your view is the only right one, instead understand those of women like me who made choices because we were handicapped in the states we live in (and you practice in). Understand that the socio-economic, familial, criminal, psychological and medical reasons women choose abortion and let’s talk about doing something about the reasons. Let’s talk about families loving each other even when their children have pre-marital sex and fall pregnant. Let’s talk about reducing rape and incest. Let’s talk about reducing sexual assault on women. Let’s talk about codifying adoption laws that protect the intended parents, the mother and the infant. Let’s talk about expanding in utero research and medical treatment into conditions that are either incompatible with life or are reasons men and women choose abortion. Let’s talk about reducing pregnancy through ABC (for those not in the foreign aid world, that would be Abstinence, Be faithful, Condoms if you can’t do either). Let’s talk about the reasons why women feel abortion is a choice they can make.

    People who are against legalized abortion for their moral reasons and faith are unlikely to come to me and say…”You know what I changed my mind” and people like me who believe in legalized abortion on demand, for all women, in all countries are unlikely to decide that “You know what I changed my mind” Especially when there is a gulf in our faiths (as a Jew, we are not taught the same beliefs about souls entering the body at conception) or lack of or a gulf in our feelings on the science.

    But what we all can do, every single one of us is begin to address the reasons women decide this. There is no law or morality gulf or science separating us on this.

    Finally, Silent Scream has been debunked.

    • Kelly,
      Thank you for your willingness to join the conversation. I am glad you stopped by to speak with us.
      Isn’t Steve’s story an example of exactly what you say is unlikely? Here is a man who not only championed abortion, but performed them. His mind was changed, surely others can too.
      As to the circumstances that your reference, I agree that more can be done. But persisting with legalized abortion isn’t the answer. Abortion was meant to minimize all of these, and it hasn’t. After millions of abortions all these social ills still afflict us. So apart from being morally bereft it has been functionally ineffectual.
      But all this is secondary to an ultimate question: “What is the value of a human life?” As Christians we see it as being priceless, after all Jesus died that we might have life. He died for me, you, and those yet to be born.

      • No, I wouldn’t say that is an example of it. I would say he already had religious beliefs that would encourage a change of heart. As Christians, you see like as being at the moment of conception. As a Jew, many of us don’t. This is well represented in our religious texts, only some of which are also Christian texts.

        I never believed abortion as being an answer to “social ills” (I do not believe a women becoming pregnant for any reason, ever to be a social ill.) Instead I support it for the reason it became legal which is the right to medical privacy. (Conneticut V. Griswold being the first case the RVW built on) I do not believe it to be morally bereft (Did you miss where I said I had one?).

        I would argue the exact opposite of you. People waste time and money on attempting to affect the legal status on abortion which minimal results. But people who believe in the fully legal abortion on demand for all women, in all countries can also work with people who believe abortion should be illegal in most or all cases to affect change on abortion. Nothing is stopping us but our own egos and refusal to be humble in reducing abortion. (Myself included in that). Do any of us want real change? Then why are we not acting together? Why are we refusing to metaphorically hold hands and work together for something that doesn’t require anyone to sacrifice their principles, religious beliefs, or personal ones?

        I believe it is because we are more focused on being right than doing right.

    • Kelly:

      I really appreciate your willingness to express your opinion.
      First I would like to respond to your point regarding my background informing my transformation.
      While I had a childhood religious background I can truthfully say that I had no basis in my heritage to sway my subsequent mind change. It was strictly on the basis of the horror I experienced examining the dismembered babies of abortions I had performed. It was only later that I became aware of the biblical principle of the sanctity of life. Nothing in my former life informed my later awakening. Similarly, Dr. Nathanson, Jewish by birth, had a similar pro life transformation based on observation prior to his spiritual transformation.
      Secondly, you state that “The Silent Scream” had been debunked. I have seen both this video and “The Absence of Reason” which is a fetoscopic view of the response of a baby in the third trimester being dismembered (D&X abortion). Having done first and second trimester abortions myself, I saw nothing to indicate that the videos were altered or depicted a non reality. Where have you heard that it had been debunked?
      Steve

      • Steve,

        You actually misunderstand my words. I am not saying that folks can’t change their minds, but rather is is far less likely and has significantly less of an impact on reducing abortion than focusing your efforts on the reasons rather than focusing your efforts on people’s views on its legality.

        Also, you were a Christian and therefore were not a Jew. Consistently, across the spectrum Jews are taught and learn themselves that our God says that the soul enters the body around quickening, which is significantly later than the 12 weeks that most abortions in the US occur. So while there are many Jews who oppose legalized abortion you are unlikely to convince someone based solely on a Christian interpretation of when the body is imbued with the soul. While Nathanson was a Jew culturally he described himself as an atheist for the majority of his adult life until he converted to Catholicism about 16 years ago. His views likely were going to be more malleable simply because in his lifetime his religious views were more malleable.

        Of course the discussion on whether or not one can effectively stop or reduce abortion simply by trying to change the minds of people on the legality of abortion belies the point I am making which is you and Eugene and myself could be far better advocates for reducing abortion by overlooking our religious and personal gulfs and work together to address the reasons women feel like it is a choice.

        Finally, as you know Silent Scream portrayed an abortion at 12 weeks, the commentary as well as if the pregnancy was actually 12 weeks is in dispute as to how factual it is. Debunked was probably too strong of a word and I apologize for that. Let me say instead the jury is out as to whether it is factual or not. You believe it to be. My OBGYN, Dr Tiller believed it not to be. The Absence of Reason is an intact DandX, which i did not respond to because as you know that was not the chosen method of abortion for the majority of third trimester abortions and is now no longer legal. It didn’t seem a prudent use of my time to give opinions on something that was not only outside of my argument, but also not what third trimester abortions are like today.

        Which brings me to my story. I had a just barely third trimester abortion after discovering i was carrying a child that had a severe arthrogryposis (googlers, please understand this is a spectrum and I did not abort a child who would have grown up…or lived beyond a few days or lived minutes or survived until 40 weeks. Just because wikipedia says it is minor doesn’t mean it always is). It was a daughter who was deeply wanted and loved. And yet upon my 4th set of ultrasounds and more questions and more answers I didn’t want to hear or think about it began to occur to me that my God, the Jewish God, believed in preventing suffering and compassion. I was well passed the point of legal viability (although I carried a child who did not have viable options to breathe as the muscle contractures around he rib cage were fierce and terrible). I did as I felt like every moment I delayed was cruel to persist given the disorder. So my husband and myself traveled to Kansas were Dr. Tiller was the doctor who performed my abortion. I have read a lot of things about him from lots of folks but all I can say is he held my hand, he brushed the hair off my face as I held my daughter after her birth, his staff sent me a sympathy card. He as very much a kind and wonderful doctor to me as the doctor who delivered my son (now 12) several years later.

        I don’t tell you this story to convince you of my opinion. I don’t even desire to. You and I know my story is the exception when it comes to abortions. I am comfortable with what people will feel and think about what I did. But after that day I decided no woman would be alone..and that we could do something about the reasons women choose abortions. And although my ego gets in the way sometimes, the truth is safe, legal and rare means something to me. It means everything to me in many ways. And rare is something you and I can work on together without needing to convince the other one of anything. Making it rare makes a difference, and one that matters to both of us. For you it matters because of your feelings on life and its sacredness. For me it means women being alone. It means that I can also be important to the sanctity of life and the sacredness of it all.

        The rhetoric and opinions and videos and the tragic stories on all sides don’t need to stop us from moving forward together…that saying our differences are not so great that we can’t work together in reducing abortion.

    • Kelly: Your story is touching and I am sorry that you had to endure such a tragedy. We may have different opinions about whether or not abortion is necessary. I respect you as a person who made a difficult decision and I don’t condemn you or any other woman who chose abortion. I, too, don’t feel the object is to win you over to my point of view, I’d far rather win you over to my savior, Jesus Christ. If that is not possible, let us part ways agreeing that we (our Churches and our society) need to work on changing the root causes that lead a woman to consider abortion in the first place. Crisis pregnancy centers give another option: adoption. That is certainly a hard choice for a woman who feels alone and abandoned, but I can think of no greater gift to give an infertile
      couple. At least until abortions are rare, can we agree that our focus can be providing support for women trapped in this circumstance? My daughter, unable to have children of her own, had to wait four and a half years for a baby through adoption. I am filled with wonder watching my grandchild now 5 months old, grow , develop, and be loved on. I also wonder: what might have been?

  5. Dr Hammond, I so appreciate your story and transparency in giving your testimony. I have heard this story twice now, once at connections lunch and now, and it still brings tears to my eyes. I’m so thankful to serve a loving and forgivig God who loves us in spite of ourselves. A little over thirty one years ago a young mother was giving birth to her second child and you helped her bring her miracle into the world. My mother and I thank you for that! :) thanks again for sharing your story!!

  6. Dr. Hammond,
    Thanks for sharing your story. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court placed its imprimatur on the use of choice-and-right language with its 1973 decision. Of course the Constitution contains neither a “right to abortion” or a generalized right of privacy. The illegitimacy of the 1973 decision is only highlighted by the fact a majority of the Court has never been able to agree as to where one can find this right. And for good reason: this “right,” like unicorns, doesn’t exist.

    • The right to privacy and medical privacy is derived from both the due process clause of the 14th amendment and also the ninth amendment. Both the majority and dissenting opinions in many cases before and after RVW have pointed to these. While you may disagree whether these amendments provide for it you are factually incorrect as to whether the Court has agreed to where they come from.

  7. Thankful for you Dr. Hammond and your humility in the way you share these life giving, hopeful words from your story. I would love to know how many sweet babies you have delivered!

    • Thanks, Jen. I estimate around 5,000. Also I did not mention this but we often hear the argument about health and life of the mother as “reasons” for the need for abortion. Let’s not forget that 99+% of the abortions in this country are for convenience. In my career I participated in the care of over 25,000 pregnancies and in only one case, a young woman who had a congenital heart condition that made carrying the pregnancy to term riskier than abortion, did I believe abortion indicated because of the risk to the mother’s life. This courageous young woman chose to carry her child to term. She later had a heart transplant and she had her child are alive and well.

  8. Speaking from first-hand experience, the “answer” of abortion affects more than the baby aborted. Being a defender of life includes many things, like teaching abstinence, helping teens find their identity in Christ, helping single moms, adoption, caring for pregnant women… and the woman who aborted her baby.
    I am one if those women.

    Let me be clear – I am talking about the vast majority of abortions – not the “hard cases,” and not rapes, etc. Abortion makes false promises. Its rhetoric says, “You can go on with your life just like nothing ever happened.” Wrong. If a young woman finds herself pregnant in the circumstances which would lead her to consider abortion, she’s already made a series of wrong choices, with few exceptions. She’s already hurting; she’s already in need of help. Adding the intentional sacrifice of her unborn child to the pile of her perceived failures isn’t an eraser. It only increases her damning perception of her lack of worth. Now she has the guilt of murder to add to her cover-up of the fornication or adultery she already committed. I don’t care who you are, or if you were raised in church or not: there is a mother who lives inside you, no matter how young you are, who knows that what you’re doing could not possibly be more wrong.

    Having lived through the aftermath of those devastating decisions myself, I have become fervently pro-life. One, because, like Steve, I had my eyes opened by the God of grace to the truth that we are made in the image of God, and therefore, of infinite worth, and two, because of the torment I endured at the hands of the enemy as a result of having made that choice myself. It affected every area of my life. I went through intense feelings of guilt and shame, for years afterwards. I felt unworthy of motherhood and of my husband’s affection. I couldn’t draw near to God, because I was sure that He was mad at me! Praise God, that in His mercy He led me to a place where I could be healed and set free – ten years later. Since then, I have been free to help other women who are suffering the same way.

    I am so thankful for the many doctors who have turned away from practicing abortion to follow their convictions. I find these to be some of the most compassionate when it comes to dealing with post-abortive women. I love Dr. Hammond’s boldness in speaking out without condemnation. I feel sorry for doctors who have participate din abortions. It has to be a heavy burden to bear. I have heard one in particular talk about that weight of responsibility. I pray God’s grace for them.

    As far as laws go, I am against unrestricted access to abortion, which is pretty much what we live with now. I’d vote for any law that further restricts abortion. But I know the “answer” is not legal reform, but, as it is with every other issue, it is truly revival that we need. When people’s hearts get right with God, so may social ills dissolve. We must stop pointing fingers, judging, and casting a net of damnation over “those people.” We need to be people of prayer – interceding for those caught up in sin and backsliding. We need to get right ourselves, and show compassion to those who are hurting from the sting of sin. Let me go first.

  9. Thank you for sharing. Great, thought provoking article. Have you considered taking it a step further? I was sharing with Brenda Stanley (most amazing person on the planet) my new venture to help save a life when she mentioned this article. I am thinking locally (San Antonio), but why not think further than my small scope? Please read my thoughts at: yellowbrickidentity.wordpress.com, titled, ‘I Think I Can’t’, and if you have any ideas that will help, I would love to hear them.

    • hahahahaha…. I’m a runner, too, and I actually entertained the thought of training for my first marathon over the next year. This has never been something I desired to do before now. I’m 48, and started running at 39 – after my fourth son was born! Taking care of this “temple” I inhabit has become another manifestation of being pro-life. The body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (ref. 1 Cor. 6:13) Therefore, I am “for” my body being a fit and healthy dwelling place for Him. Distance running is a mind-over-pain endeavor. I use Mandisa’s song, “Stronger” on my iPod to get me through the rough spots sometimes. Doing extraordinary things sometimes gains an audience who is willing to listen to your ideas. I think your idea is truly inspired.

    • Josie: I think you are on to something. Don’t wind up in the hospital this time, OK? I recommend the book “Faster, Better, Stronger” by Dr. Eric Heiden. He was a 5 time gold medal winner as a skater in the Olympics in the 80’s and became an orthopedic surgeon. He is a fitness consultant and has excellent advice for getting in shape for your marathon. You can download on Kendall or buy at Amazon. Best advise for those considering starting an exercise/fitness program or setting a new goal, like you are, that I have come across. Getting folks to pray and support a crisis pregnancy center would be a win win. Good luck.

  10. Taking it further…I think it not a coincidence that the incidents of child abuse have grown exponentially since the passing of Roe v Wade which in my opinion devalued the lives of children.

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