The Ethics of Abortion

Gordon H. Clark

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Parts of this paper were given in connection with a demonstration before Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Today many hospitals, institutions which are supposed to save life, permit and even encourage their doctors to kill innocent babies. They tear the babies limb from limb or sometimes the nurses have thrown the living babies into garbage cans. Abortion is legal because the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. said so. A majority of nine men, without any amending of the Constitution or any referendum of the population, but all by themselves, negated the legal right of innocent persons to live. Having rejected God, they wish to assume His prerogatives.

One argument abortionists frequently use to defend themselves against the charge of murder is the claim that the baby is not a human being. But if the baby in the womb is not human, what is it? Is it canine? Is it feline? I think that some babies born thirty or forty years ago have turned out to be asinine.

Another argument which abortionists use to defend their murder of innocent infants is that the government must not base its legislation on religious principles. Legislation should always be based on irreligious principles. No doubt you have all heard that the government should never enforce morality. This may be one reason why many abortionists oppose the death penalty for murder. This is consistent, for if murder be a capital offense, the abortionists, both doctors and mothers, are in great danger. But if a government cannot enforce morality, rape would be as legal as murder. Nor could the government prohibit theft. Note carefully that the same Ten Commandments which condemn murder condemn theft also. When irreligious bureaucrats and secular judges prohibit the display of the Ten Commandments on the walls of a public school, they erase theft as well as murder from the list of crimes. Opposition to theft is just as religious as opposition to murder. Christianity condemns both murder and theft because both are condemned by God.

If atheism is to be the law of the land, there can be no laws at all to support morality, for there is no morality apart from the laws of God. I would like to make it clear that sociology, statistics, psychology, or any empirical science can never determine moral norms. Secular science at best can discover what people do; but it cannot discover what people ought to do. From observational premises no normative conclusion follows. Any attempt to define morality by observational science is a logical fallacy. Science can invent new ways of killing people, but science can never determine who should be killed. It cannot determine who should not be killed. It can only invent more effective ways of doing what somebody for some other reason wants to do.

The controversy between those who consider life sacred and those who kill babies is not a controversy between two systems of ethics, as if we had one system and the abortionists, secularists, and atheists had a different system. The point is that they cannot have any system of ethics at all. Scientific observation - what they sometimes call reason as opposed to what they misunderstand by faith - cannot establish any values whatever. Science often produces wonders but one thing it cannot do: It cannot establish the value of anything, even the value of itself.

Repudiation of divine laws is destructive of all morality. Abortion is immoral. Rejecting God, the abortionists try to justify their cruelty to babies, while at the same time condemning burglary, by an appeal to a social consensus. To this attempt to condemn theft while justifying murder, there is a single answer with two parts.

First, no social consensus has been established. The Supreme Court alone, nine men out of two hundred million, legalized the killing of babies on its own arbitrary authority. This is the autocracy of evil dictators.

Then, second, social consensus cannot determine what is right or wrong. The social consensus of the Spartans in antiquity and of at least some Indian tribes in North America condoned theft and even praised it. Before the Belgians took over the Congo a century or so ago, social consensus approved of cannibalism. The fact that various societies have considered theft and cannibalism to be right, does not prove that theft and cannibalism are right - nor the murder of babies, either. One can perhaps with relative ease discover what groups of people think is right; but social consensus does not make anything right or wrong.

So far as I can see, the only pertinent difference between the abortionists here and the cannibals in the Congo is that the abortionists do not eat the babies. They throw them in the garbage can. What a waste of good meat in these times of famine. Of course the meat would have to be inspected by the USDA, but I can see no reason why, on abortionist principles - or lack of principles - I see no reason for prohibiting the eating of human flesh. A nice tender baby might taste better than a Cornish hen. Or if the mothers, for no good reason, do not want to eat their babies, they could at least send them to alleviate starvation in the Third World. Of course babies are a little small, like Cornish hens. But if the Supreme Court can legalize the murder of infants, it can as easily legalize the murder of adults. Indeed some groups already propose the murder of the elderly. Abortion logically justifies the murder of anyone. Hence the Supreme Court could legalize the murder of all who support the right of life and so produce a unanimous social consensus.

If anyone thinks that this proposal is extreme, be it noted that Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s International Socialism attempted just that. Hitler massacred the Jews and Stalin massacred the Ukrainians and hordes of others. And aside from historical examples, rampant murder is well within the logical range of atheistic abortionism. There is a determined effort in this nation to reduce orthodox Christians to the status of second class citizens. Their recent interest in politics and law has been severely condemned. Even Barry Goldwater, supposedly a conservative of the conservatives, showed his anti-religious bigotry in denouncing the pro-life movement. In many public schools the secularist view is sustained by government imposition and the pro-life view is denied a hearing. Smut is legal, and even required reading, but the Ten Commandments are prohibited. The end of this, unless stopped, is the same persecution now practiced under Communism.

We must try to stop this atheistic program. And one place, a good place to start, is abortions.

May/June 1982