Bioethics and Planned Parenthood

by Tom Wacaster

The September 21st issue of The Weekly Standard had a most interesting article titled, “Our Utilitarian Medical Elite.” It is a well written editorial by Wesley J. Smith, taking not only Planned Parenthood to task over the recent revelation that they were harvesting body parts for so-called medical reasons, but focusing the reader’s attention on the present non-ethical position that now seems to be the standard for what he calls the “medical intelligentsia.” When The Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 many of the proponents thought that would be the end of the matter—it was now “law,” and all of the critics who predicted some kind of “slippery slope” would be silenced. The High Court’s decision drove a wedge between those who were determined to devalue life and those of us who are even more determined to restore a sense of right and wrong to a nation that is, indeed, on the slippery slope to her own destruction. Who would have imagined that the “elite” among doctors would or could have fallen so far? The Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors upon their entry into medical practice is as follows— pay close attention to the part I have emphasized:

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius the surgeon, likewise Hygeia and Panacea, and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment. I will reverence my master who taught me the art. Equally with my parents, will I allow him things necessary for his support, and will consider his sons as brothers. I will teach them my art without reward or agreement; and I will impart all my acquirement, instructions, and whatever I know, to my master's children, as to my own; and likewise to all my pupils, who shall bind and tie themselves by a professional oath, but to none else. With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage. Nor shall any man's entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child. Further, I will comport myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner. I will not cut for the stone, but will commit that affair entirely to the surgeons. Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood, and (in an especial manner) from acts of an amorous nature, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free. Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast. If I faithfully observe this oath, may I thrive and prosper in my fortune and profession, and live in the estimation of posterity; or on breach thereof, may the reverse be my fate! (

Compare that with the response that Planned Parenthood made when questioned with regard to the ethics of what they were doing: “We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health. We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends” (The Weekly Standard, page 19). The response is a feeble attempt to justify what is obvious: Planned Parenthood is nothing more than an instrument of death and destruction of human life, operating under the guise of health services for women. “Tissue donation” of the woman? It is not some “tissue” that is aborted! It is a living, breathing, baby! Planned Parenthood applauds every abortionist and every nurse that willingly violates that Hippocratic Oath and reaches into the womb of the child to destroy life. It is not the pro-life movement that debases women or who have “distorted facts for political purposes.” Where are the voices of those in the medical field who swore to uphold the sanctity of life? Why is it that the unethical are being allowed to define ethics as some kind of ever-changing, evolving standard? The tragedy is that most bioethicists are reluctant to define the boundaries that designate when human life becomes morally relevant, leaving the most extreme to determine what course of action we shall follow. Consequently, the field’s predominant view has come to endorse an approach that redefines when life begins, and whether or not any individual life has any value. The new call is to base the value of a person’s life on each individual’s “cognitive capacities.” Only those who can demonstrate that they are self-aware or able to value their own life are to be deemed “persons.” Those insufficiently mature—i.e. embryos, fetuses, infants, and those who have lost their mental capacities—are deemed less than “persons” and do not deserve to live! This nightmare of a journey down the slippery slope toward complete disregard for life is a reality; and it is being played out in the medical field by those who no longer abide by the Hippocratic Oath. Smith shared the following with his readers:

Princeton’s Peter Singer is the foremost proponent of this view, but he is far from alone. A few years ago, an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics caused a public furor when it advocated “after-birth abortion.” The authors inflate what is often blandly called the “right to choose” into a putative right not to be personally inconvenienced by an infant. Thus, since an abortion can be obtained for convenience purposes, and since newborns have no greater self-awareness than fetuses, babies should also be killable (and, one presumes, harvestable by Planned Parenthood), just as the unborn are abortable (Smith, The Weekly Standard, page 19).

If we think this twisted way of thinking is limited to the beginning stages of life, think again! Again, I quote from Smith:

It’s not just fetuses and babies that are viewed broadly in bioethics as killable and harvestable. There is increasing advocacy—although it is important to emphasize that this isn’t yet happening—for killing those with profound cognitive impairments for their organs. Here is one typical example, published in the New England Journal of Medicine: “Many will object that transplantation surgeons cannot legally or ethically remove vital organs from patients before death, since doing so will cause their death. Whether death occurs as the result of ventilator withdrawal or organ procurement, the ethically relevant precondition is valid consent by the patient or surrogate. With such consent, there is no harm or wrong done in retrieving vital organs before death, provided that anesthesia is administered” (Smith, page 19).

Who can believe it? Impossible? Radical? Yet the videos showing the crass attitude that Planned Parenthood has toward life not only indicate we have reached this point, but that some actually defend the practice of aborting a baby intact, still living, still breathing, so that they can harvest organs for medical science. Smith closes his article with the following observation: “It is a very short journey from considering babies—whether unborn or born—to be an inferior stage of human life to believing they have no rights that fully developed persons are bound to respect.” I would add one more observation. If we can devalue the life of an infant one minute after he is born, why not one hour? One day? One year? Oh yes, the slippery slope is upon us, and the only cure for our sin-sick society is repentance and a return to God.

Catching Up

by Tom Wacaster

Three weeks out of the office has left me so far behind that I doubt I shall ever catch up. Actually, it is very seldom that I feel as if I have caught up with the demands on my time, seeing I have this bad habit of biting off more than I can chew. I have sermons I want, and need, to preach. I have a backlog of books waiting to be read; and just about the time I start whittling down the stack of unread books, I buy some more that I think might be useful “someday.” I have people I need to go see, chores around the house that need to be finished, and books and articles I want to write.

In the early years of my mission work in Russia I was often astonished at the lack of efficiency of various aspects of life in that former Communist nation. On one occasion I was informed by my contact that the local post office had a solution to the large backlog of mail that frequently overwhelmed them. They were understaffed, poorly trained to do the job, and with the economy the way it was during the transition from a communist to a free-market system, the workers were putting in a lot of overtime without a fair compensation in wages. In order to handle the backlog, they would simply take several bags of mail out to the incinerator and toss what they deemed unimportant mail into the fire. One might ask, “How did they know if the mail was ‘unimportant’ if they didn’t take the time to open the mail?” Good question, but one that did not seem to slow down the process of ‘catching up.’ I don’t recommend using the Russian post office as an example of how to get caught up with what lags behind in your life; though at times I have been tempted.

When I read of Paul’s heavy schedule that was filled with mission travels, defense of the faith, and then add to this the time it took to pen (by inspiration) the largest portion of the New Testament, I sometimes wonder if he, too, ever played catch up. He made at least three mission trips, four if he ever made it to Spain like he intended. When I read of his activities on those various trips I wonder where he ever found the time to “make tents.” He wrote of his busy schedule with these words: “For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves: but they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding. But we will not glory beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves overmuch, as though we reached not unto you: for we came even as far as unto you in the gospel of Christ: not glorying beyond our measure, that is, in other men's labors; but having hope that, as your faith groweth, we shall be magnified in you according to our province unto further abundance, so as to preach the gospel even unto the parts beyond you, and not to glory in another's province in regard of things ready to our hand” (2 Cor. 10:12-16). Paul was so determined to preach the gospel to all who would listen that he would “most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15). The literal rendering of that verse has Paul saying he would be willing to be “spent and spent out” for their souls. When I compare my life with the life of Christ, and my labors with those of Paul, I come to the realization that I fall far short of doing all that can be done for the cause of Christ. Perhaps my frantic rush to “catch up” is only an allusion, and what I really need to do is slow down and prioritize those things in my life that demand my attention. Think about it!

Taking The Whole Of Scripture

by Tom Wacaster

“Hermeneutics” is the science of interpretation. The word is derived from the Greek mythological character, “Hermes,” the messenger of the ‘gods’ and the interpreter of Jupiter. Through the years there have been a number of Bible scholars who have taken the time and effort to set forth, in writing, a systematic approach to the study and interpretation of the scriptures.  The most notable works are D.R. Dungan's Hermeneutics, and Clinton Lockhart's Principles of Interpretation. Both of these books are still in print, and I recommend them for your consideration. Also, brother Terry Hightower has edited and published an excellent two volume set of lectures entitled, Rightly Dividing the Word, in which the various speakers deal with the principals involved in proper hermeneutical approach to the scriptures. If men would put aside their bias and human opinions, and make an honest effort to study and apply some of the fundamental principles of interpretation, much of the division could be resolved. Unfortunately, false teaching will always exist, and error will continue to take its toll upon the religious world. Peter has warned us, “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). Jesus warned us to “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Such errorists will always exist. Hence the ever increasing need to not only study, but to “handle aright” the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). The American Standard Version of 1901 has this interesting foot note on this passage.  It reads, “holding a straight course in the word of truth.”

The Psalmist wrote, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!  How great is the sum of them” (Psalms 139:18). A fundamental principle involved in the interpretation of the Scriptures is the need to take the whole of God's word into consideration in our search for truth. It is the “sum” of God's word which must be obeyed, not just a portion thereof. Call it what you will, whether a “balance” of scripture, or as Paul put it, the “whole council of God” (Acts 20:27), the end result is that we cannot pick and choose from scripture as we would food from a cafeteria line. A couple of illustrations might help us here. Look at Philippians 2:12, where it is recorded, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  A great number of my brethren have labored over this passage and have suffered frustration in their efforts to live up to God's expectations in their attempt to “work out” their salvation. But look at the very next verse in this passage. “For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” Again, Paul warned us, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The danger of apostasy is real. Pride could easily get even the best of us. But look at the next verse in that passage: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it” (verse 13).  Though we must make the effort to escape sin, we are assured that God will provide the way. Too often we simply fail to look for, and then take, the route of escape to safety.

God's plan for man's salvation is not to be found in any single passage of Scripture, but rather the “sum” of all of those passages which address the matter of man's obligation to the Almighty. To take any single passage to the neglect of others will certainly spell doom for the sincere but misled soul. The late William Cline once wrote, “The Bible does not lend itself to false doctrine for it is balanced in its content, complete in its message, and perfect in every way.”  I could not have said it any better.

While in India I would encourage the preachers with whom we work to put aside a sufficient amount of time to study the word of God. Study goes beyond the simple reading of a passage from time to time. It even goes beyond the completion of some annual Bible Reading Schedule. Study is hard work; but it is necessary work if we are to take the “whole” of Scripture and benefit thereby. Think about it.