By Steve Wolfgang
The Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader for Saturday, 10-6-84 (p. C-8), contains a story which is triply tragic. The article reports the death at birth of an infant whose parents’ “religious beliefs dictated that they not seek a doctor’s help” during delivery. The parents, Shelbyville (KY) residents, are members of a religious group “with ties to Faith Assembly (which) shuns doctors and relies on divine intervention for medical assistance.” According to the AP news release, the couple’s “first child also suffocated during delivery in 1981.”
This incident is tragic not only for the most obvious reason (the death of an innocent child), but also for the fact that so many people allow themselves to be deluded by some charismatic preacher into gullibly believing things in the name of religion and the Bible which the Bible actually does not teach. Such cases as this not only give a false impression of biblical religion to the uninformed, but also provide grist for the mill of those who would increasingly involve the state in religious matters. (Parenthetically and ironically we note that some of these same crusaders for repression of religion breathe smoke and fire when religious people dare to express themselves politically.)
Surely people have a “right” to believe and practice whatever they please-within limits. Obviously, if one’s religious scruples dictate cannibalism, the public good is surely served by government restraint on the expression and practice of such activities. And so it is here should a parent’s right to believe take precedence over the right to life of an unborn child?
Before someone gets-too bent out of shape over the free-expression-of-religion dimensions of the case, we should think further about what seems to me the most ironic portion of this episode. The judge in this case reportedly said that “it was against his better judgment to dismiss the (reckless homicide) charges, but that he had no choice based on a (1983) Kentucky Supreme Court decision (which) – found that a child must be separated from its mother before it can be considered a victim of homicide.”
But think: If the mother had decided to abort the child (even a matter of weeks or days before birth), would this judge have said the first word about the deliberate slaughter of this innocent being? Certainly not if he is like so many others who profess righteous moral indignation over incidents such as this one, but who then hypocritically defend the “rights” of individuals to massacre a million and a half fetuses every year.
This is not written as a defense of false religion; nor is it meant to increase the anguish and pain of anyone facing such far reaching moral dilemmas as are bound up in these kinds of situations. But surely our nation’s values are distorted when a rare incident such as this makes headlines while virtually nothing is said of millions of abortions which are now occurring at the rate of one every thirty seconds (Bernard Nathanson, M.D., Aborting America, p. 187).
Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 5, p. 138
March 7, 1985