edit: Dr Portmann has commented on this post (see below) to clarify that she not only refers women for abortions but performs them. The post has been adjusted accordingly.
The last few days have seen the airing here in Australia of “Christians Like Us“, a reality TV show that put 10 people who claim to be Christians together in a house and then get them to debate the hot topics of the day.
One of those residents was Dr. Carol Portmann, described as an “obstetrician, gynaecologist and maternal fetal medicine specialist”. She also “helps women have abortions”. She’s an abortionist, in the wider sense of the word that she supports the principle of abortion and promotes it as an option for her patients. Her attempt to portray this as a legitimate “Christian” stance is one of the most repugnant things I’ve read online in a long time.
Portmann has decided to publicly defend this position by not only appearing on the show but also writing an article for the ABC News site, “I’m a Christian doctor and I help women have abortions. Here’s how I reconcile that“. Except what Portmann doesn’t do is try to reconcile anything. Instead she propagates a decidedly non-Christian argument.
How do I reconcile my work with my Christian faith?
The way I look at it is: I have a job to do as a doctor, regardless of my personal feelings about something. It’s not my decision, because it’s not my pregnancy or my body. Ultimately, the one thing God really granted us above anything else is free will.
And it continues with all the usual arguments that you will have read before. What is apparent from Portmann’s short piece is that she has a genuine concern for women who present themselves at her practice with big complex decisions to make. She is critical of those who “judge” and “bully” them and has words of praise for those who are “trying to support women by giving them options that may provide alternatives”.
All well and good. But at the end of the day she is still going to sign a referral paper so that her patient can go to an abortion clinic and ask a “doctor” (it’s almost mendacious to use such a word for what they do) to dismember their child while it’s still in their womb and then suck out the crushed ripped and torn body parts with a vacuum. Or she will dismember the child herself. On the odd occasion the child will be born alive it may then be killed after birth or left to die.
How any of this can be spoken of as a “Christian” position is beyond me. It’s not Christian to support women in doing these things, no matter what pressures they may be facing in life. It’s even more abhorrent to participate in them.
Historically, Christians were known for the exact opposite. We were the ones who sought the welfare of “unwanted” children. So, for example, this famous extract from the late 2nd Century Octavius of Minicius Felix which describes a debate between the pagan Caecilius and Christian Octavius:
CAECILIUS: You know that it is far more merciful to let the baby die than to bring it up in a home where it is not wanted.
OCTAVIUS: We do not expose our children, and you are well aware how so many of the little ones that have been left out to die have been rescued by Christians and given a home. So it’s just the opposite of what you accuse us of, Caecilius. We don’t consume human life; we rather protect and defend it.
This, of course, stems from a key Christian belief in the sanctity of all life. It’s grounded in Bible texts such as the following:
Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Now there is a Christian position. Portmann, on the other hand, tears apart what God has knit together, vacuums out what God has fearfully and wonderfully made. She sees the unformed body and completes the necessary paperwork or the procedure itself so that it can be unwoven again. Except that it’s far more like a dog brutally ripping up a favourite item of clothing.
Most chillingly of all, Portmann advocates “free will” as the greatest gift of God of all and yet is openly supportive of totally removing it from the most vulnerable amongst us.
It’s not an argument she would accept for a moment in any other situation.
She would, I’m sure, be horrified if a slave-owner was supported by those who defended their “free will” as a rationale for continue slave ownership. It’s basically the same issue – if you think slaves are human beings then chattel slavery becomes unimaginable.
Don’t like slavery? Don’t have slaves.
My slave and land, my decision.
It doesn’t really work, does it? That’s why fighting against slavery has been the overwhelmingly consistent Christian position for 2,000 years. Abortion is a step worse; rather than stealing someone’s life we simply destroy it.
None of this weighs heavily on Portmann’s conscience:
But I believe that I am doing the appropriate and right things, and I am hoping that’s how I will be judged. I also believe that only God can judge me.
Indeed, only God is able to judge. But in the meantime there are many of us who will point to what he has already said on this topic. We will keep observing that the Scriptures call us to defend the weak and those who have nobody else to speak up for them.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
The keen-eyed reader will note that the instruction its to look after orphans, not support the decision for their destruction in the womb prior to even having the chance to be cared for. The Christian doesn’t care for one person in desperate need by allowing another to be shoved off the cliff to their doom or even pushing them over.
So we will maintain steadfastly that to kill the most vulnerable so that others may have a “better life” is an abominable crime.
Jesus said “Let the little children come to me” (Mark 10:14) but Portmann says “let them be come to me, the abortionist, to be torn limb from limb”.
No amount of language about “care” “options” and “non-judgement” can begin to “reconcile” that fact and we have to state it clearly lest there is any doubt. Falling back on the “gift” of “free will” to defend all of this would be an absurd argument to make if Portman were a philosopher. From someone who calls themselves a Christian it is positively blasphemous. It’s one thing to try and defend abortion, it’s another to co-opt Jesus as your partner in crime.
And this is what Portmann has “reconciled”. Well, almost…
How God may judge me is in the back of my mind.
It ought to be front and centre. The same scripture that condemns her advocacy of the murder of the unborn finishes with this solemn cry,
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
The wonder of the Christian message is that there is forgiveness available for even the most terrible things that we do. But it requires self-awareness of what we have done and to then cry out for mercy to our only judge.
I understand that the entire Psalm was read in the TV house after their abortion debate. Pray that it was listened to by those who most need to hear it. For their eternal sake, and the sake of all the children who’s death warrant she will sign in the name of “freedom of choice”.
You used a couple of words that I had to go scrambling to the dictionary to find the meaning of!
But what a brilliant and sobering article, David. I’m thankful to God for the way that you are able to clearly express these important truths.
A disgraceful article. Littered with inaccuracies. Typical Sydney Anglican rubbish. Christians? I think not. Judgementa tripe.l
hi Andrew. Thanks for commenting. What here is inaccurate?
Gee, there’s a substantial, insightful, evidence-filled, thought-provoking response.
Hi David – actually my name is Carol Portmann. And I perform abortions, not just refer. There are parts of the written word I could refer you to, but it has always been my viewpoint not to engage in theological arguments. Instead I say this to you. when this world becomes a place where there are no unplanned pregnancies, no sexual assault, no domestic violence, no women at risk of death due to their pregnancy, no bullying of disabled people or single mum, where there is support for the disabled and support for single mums .. well then I will very happily and gladly stop performing abortions. Until then, I will continue to do what I do. You are not anyone important to me. And I place myself before God to judge me. Not ever you.
Thank you for commenting, Dr Portmann (I note the spelling differs from that provided by SBS and have edited accordingly).
I’m not sure why you think any of the evils you mention justify the dismembering of unborn children.
I realise I’m not important to you. You’re very important to me. You rip children apart in their mothers’ wombs and that places you in eternal jeopardy, a fate I would wish on no person. I therefore urge you to repent and beg our maker for forgiveness, the same maker who knit all of us together in our own mother’s womb.
In the meantime, I implore you not to co-opt Jesus in any way into your evil activity.
Evil indeed. Well called out.
Great response David. Dr Portmann shows yet further problems in ignoring ‘theological arguments’ and in her contempt for the you.
Keep loving her and praying for her repentance, as I do.
Oh my. How might you men are. How very very mighty. Your a disgrace – you have no idea of what is done and how. Only the small minded bigotry way you have read on the internet. Shame on you
Hi Deborah. I’m a little confused – what exactly is it that I have “no idea of what is done and how”?
If you mean how an abortion is carried out, then I actually have a good idea.
And it would still be true if I was a woman. Not sure why you’re differentiating between sexes in that way.
David Ould is not important.
I always thought that but never been game enough to put it in writing.
Disabled people are sometimes bullied. So let’s solve that by …. KILLING THEM?!?!?
So the fact that single mothers are sometimes (wrongly and rudely) bullied justifies killing a child? How does that work, exactly? Or do you arrive at the decisions about what medical procedures to perform by emoting rather than thinking?
Carol, why is your viewpoint not to engage in theological discussion? I would have thought that should be a very helpful thing to those of us trying to figure out how you reconcile this with your idea of Christianity.
As one of the Christians in the house, this article angers me. How dare you judge Carol. She is a woman of God who loves and cares for others.
The Psalm was read out. But, contrary to one housemates account, the interpretation of it was not shared by all.
This is an ignorant piece.
hi Chris. You may describe Carol as someone who loves and cares for others but I note that she also kills babies in their mother’s womb. Usually that happens by pulling their limbs from their bodies so that the torso can be more easily removed. Or abortionists just jam a blade into the spinal cord. Either way, I don’t think that the label of “love” or “care” can be applied to such an action. And I don’t think that it’s a legitimately Christian way to behave either.
As for Psalm 139, I’d be interested to see your presentation of the key verses that explains how the dismemberment of an innocent child is consistent with being created by God. Feel free to leave another comment to make your case.
Hi David. Your response to Carol highlights my discomfort with men pontificating to women on moral issues that are largely caused by other men and treating as black and white complex issues that have many shades of grey.
Like you I dislike the practice of abortion, but that applies to a number of other things in this fallen world. But here’s the thing: abortions have taken place throughout history – legally or illegally – and we may deplore it but we can’t stop it until some of our fellow males start behaving more responsibly. You can make abortion illegal again but that would just mean a return to the back streets for poorer women with a high risk of infection and fatal blood loss. And rich women would be unaffected. They would just travel abroad or pay unscrupulous doctors large sums of money. Which brings us back to the Bible. You have selectively quoted texts referring to the sanctity of human life but how about reading them in conjunction with the far larger number of texts that speak of the oppression of the poor and of God’s concern for social justice and equality?
hi John. Thanks for commenting.
The issue here is caused by a woman who chooses to kill babies.
In terms of your attempt to defend abortion, I will simply note that the presence of one injustice never justifies another. Your argument is the equivalent of claiming that since many places in Africa have a much lower standard of living than we do it’s OK to go and enslave the residents. It’s better than them living in squalor, surely?
And since there are unscrupulous slave traders and owners, let’s just legalise it to make it better regulated. That should make it acceptable.
As for the Scriptures themselves, I’ve never denied they call us to many different good acts. But I don’t see anywhere where they claim that the pursuit of one good justifies another terrible evil. Of course, feel free to comment again and show us where the Scriptures make that case.
John, what do you thik of the idea that we legally bind men to father their children rather than erasing the evidence of their irresponsible behavior? I’m in favor of ‘forced fatherhood’ (for want of a better term) in place id abortion. It would, I think quickly lead to changes in behavior between unmarried people who might otherwise have unprotected sex without being mindful of the consequences of their actions. It’s also addressing the source of the problem of unwanted pregnancy on the male side, which had been woefully overlooked.
Hoe exactly does killing children before they ever have the opportunity to experience life contribute to social justice and equality? Sounds like just the opposite.
I don’t think I can imagine anything more stupefying than the ‘Christian abortionist brigade’ rushing to defend baby killers and seething with rage at those who dare to call those dismembering infants in the name of Jesus to repent from this savagery. Their cries of ‘Judgementalism! Judgmentalism!’ are like the clanging of symbols in my ears while they strengthen their resolve to justify this thirst for unborn blood and in tragic irony pass final, irreversible judgement on their defenseless prey, “unworthy of life”. I am certain that they would be standing shoulder to shoulder with Peter when he rebuked Jesus for not following the course of this age, and that they will one day hear the same dreadful response of Jesus, “get behind me Satan, for you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of this world.” Unless the repent.
David I thin I will send you back in time to live in Franco Spain from 1939 to 1975 or their abouts. In Franco Spain gays and lesbians were put in jail or killed off and divorce was forbidden and abortions were outlawed and the only way you could have one was to go to a back yard abortionist. Likewise protestant evanglicals like you self were put in jail and also killed like LGBTI people. Also you had to worship at the catholic church. So stop slandering other people who have different christians points of view and yes I take catholic holy lord supper every thursday with people from the Cana community
Good luck extracting any sense out of this, David.
Carol, Christians believe it is an act of mercy to call out sin – especially a sin that cries to heaven – like the sin of child sacrifice. If we’re silent, then we will have to answer to God for that: to God, who has told us to evaluate our behaviour before calling out another’s sin, which you can be sure we do. Your Christian brothers and sisters who criticise your provision of abortion are trying to save your soul from hell.
You are mistaken that it is a Christian duty to call out sin. The only sin you need to concentrate on is your own. Jesus said he came to save the world not condemn it. It is neither loving nor merciful to condemn others- it puts you in danger of Gods judgment.
hi Karen, thanks for commenting.
You’re mistaken. First, on Jesus’ words. His point was that he does not bring a new condemnation but to confirm that which already exists. So if you take the words that you quote and see them in their context…
And, of course, he regularly spoke out strongly against sin. He described it and was often very harsh about those who claimed to be godly and yet behaved in terrible ways. As an example:
I wonder what Jesus would say to people trying to justify abortion on the basis of an appeal to other goods. I think it would be “which is lawful … to save life or to kill?”
And I think he would be angry.
You will notice that Jesus was in the synagogue when he spoke. That is also the context for his taking a whip to some people. No example yet of Jesus condemning anyone….
What shines through in all your writing is arrogance. You really should review the Biblical teaching on pride.
And? Do his words not count when spoken within those walls? Or something else? Either way, what difference does it make?
In John 3.17 Jesus clearly states that the world already stands condemned for rejection of him. He affirms the condemnation.
It’s almost as if you didn’t read the full quotation that you first misquoted to us.
Bless you. It’s always a telling moment when someone gives up on trying to argue the case and just reverts to name-calling.
I didn’t misquote, I did you the courtesy of believing that you knew the quotation and the context. A courtesy you did not extend to me. My whole point is that the world is already condemned. All have sinned, so what point do you think there is in picking a particular sin, deciding it is worse than all the rest and going around shouting at people you think are guilty of it. Jesus says even he, who has all authority over earth, does not judge anyone – why do you think you are entitled to do so?
As you should know, it is orthodox Christian teaching that we are only entitled to judge those within the church – and only in the context of church discipline and to avoid having unbelievers solve our disputes.
This is why it is important that Jesus was in the synagogue when he was angry with his stubborn audience. He was speaking to those who claimed to be the chosen people of God. Your campaign against abortion is not directed to those within the church using abortion, so what biblical authority do you claim for it?
Jesus gave us a strong warning that the measure we use to judge others is the one God will use to judge us. I hope you are content for your own standards to be used against you. I literally go cold with fear thinking about my own being used against me.
Jesus lived under the dominion of Rome. Society was affluent, idolatrous, oppressive and deeply immoral. Did Jesus preach against the Roman rulers? Did he incite rebellion? Did he campaign against their cruelty, gluttony and sexual immorality? Did he seek out tax collectors and confront their greed? (Jesus did not confront or condemn Zaccheus or the prostitution who washed his feet with her hair.)
We could consider the example of Paul’s preaching in Ephesus. Ephesus was a hotbed of idol worship and temple prostitution. But Paul did not start a campaign to wipe it out or urge the church to do so. The only sin he asks the church to deal with is blatant sin within the church itself.
Given that I am speaking, I assume, to a brother, it is entirely appropriate that I warn you that are acting outside scriptural authority when you condemn anyone’s sin. The actions of others are not for you to judge. We have to live in the world. We cannot avoid those who sin and we are not told to try.
Nothing you do or say will stop other people sinning. In fact, your campaign is counterproductive because it causes such a backlash.
By all means vote your conscience and lobby government, but stop this pointless arguing with non-believers and encouraging disobedience against the government. The moral choices of unbelievers who are not personally connected to you are simply none of your business.
What is your end game David? I hope it is not just stirring controversy and racking up page visits.
Will Australia be any closer to salvation if abortion is made illegal? Will the number of babies aborted even be reduced? Murder has always been illegal and it still occurs with disappointing regularity.
I didn’t “pick a particular sin” nor have I stated anywhere that it’s worse than all the rest.
I responded to an online piece published by our national broadcaster where a doctor who calls herself a Christian chose to publicly defend getting paid to rip babies apart as a position compatible with Christianity.
If you want to defend her and the ripping apart of babies then so be it. That your anger is vented at me for pointing out that she kills children and calls it “Christian” is fascinating.
Well exactly. What do you call it when someone within the church says that killing babies in the womb is a legitimate Christian activity? I call it sin at its most blatant.
Do you think John the Baptist was wrong for calling Herod to repent of taking his brother Philip’s wife?
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
John the Baptist was the last of the ‘Old Testament’ prophets. Herod (who was not a Jew and not entitled to throne of David) claimed quite literally to be King of the Jews. John is delivering a direct word from God against him.
Jesus ends and fulfills this period of prophetic messages because he is the very Word of God embodied. His ascension makes the Holy Spirit available to us and we no longer need to ‘teach one another’ in the way the prophets revealed God purposes.
So John, like the OT prophets, is a special case.
Gal 6:1 is directed to ‘brothers and sisters’ and is referring church discipline. Christians have a role dealing with sin in the church and helping believers. We have no role in dealing with the sin of unbelievers. We can only explain the faith that we have.
Try to find an example of Jesus directly condemning someone who is not claiming to be righteous (eg the Pharisees, the Jews who think they achieve salvation by descent, the rich young ruler who thought he had not sinned and could gain salvation by his own effort.)
It also urges that the correction be done ‘gently’. Not a lot of ‘gentle’ in David’s inflammatory language of ripping up babies.
Karen if you think the mentioning of ripping babies apart, which is exactly what happens in abortions, is inflammatory then perhaps it’s because the act of abortion is what is inflammatory.
Out of interest, do you think that killing babies in the womb is a legitimate Christian activity? I’d love an answer to that question.
I reject your tenuous explanation that John was only entitled to rebuke Herod because a) he was an OT prophet, b) Herod claimed to be king of the Jews (which he didn’t anyway), and c) lived prior to the democratisarion of the Holy Spirit who it would appear has somehow changed His mind about sin between John (who was filled with the Spirit from before birth) and His coming upon NT believers. John’s primary ministry was to prepare the way for Jesus, a ministry which he fulfilled by calling everyone in Judea to repent. And Jesus own ministry was launched by none other than Jesus with the words, “The kingdom of God is near. REPENT and believe the gospel”. If you think that John and Jesus deliberately restricted that message to Jews and were intentional about not calling Gentiles to repent then that’s just an argument from silence.
In any case, as David has been careful to remind you, his post is directed at a professing Christian attempting to justify the killing of infants as a form of ‘service’ to women.
By the same logic I could defend prostitution, assasination, drug dealing and all manner of evils as ‘providing a service’ to those who require it. And call myself a Christian.
Those that publicly claim allegiance to Him who said, ‘let the little children come to me and do not hinder them’, and ‘it would be better to tie a millstone around your neck and hurl yourself into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to fall’, ought to expect the most strenuous opposition from His followers if they imagine that they can get away with dismembering babies in the name of Jesus.
Curious to ask? Wondering David if you’ve ever looked after a child who was born into a home of abuse and neglect, a child who’s mother and father are also most likely the victims of abuse and neglect before them and their parents before them and so on? I work with children and young people and parents who have experienced these things and they live with the scars everyday. These scars come out in ways that are very, very hard for people to love – yet that is what they need – to be able to trust that the adults in their lives are able to see beyond their behaviours (like extreme physical aggression, self harm, substance use, absolute defiance, the list goes on – all because they are so incredibly frightened of this world and just trying to protect themselves). More often than not, their experience of the church and christians has been that, once they are saved, they are required to ‘fit’ the ‘Christian, middle class mold’. They often fall short unless they have the experience of christians who are able to love them just as they are, for all their flawed behaviours and decisions. To me the debate is – how do christians reconcile on one hand condemning abortion, but on the other hand Doing the bare minimum when it comes to caring for the orphan, the widow, the slave and the most vulnerable in our society? We can hold our fundraisers, give money to the poor, only buy fair trade, go on mission trips to Africa to build a hall etc but how many of us are willing to take a child and/or their parent, into their home, for the greater part of their life, and provide practical, daily care, love, protection, structure etc even when these children and their parents are very, very hard to care for – they’ll most likely hurt us physically and emotionally, take our things, trash our homes, threaten us – but if we don’t take them in the cycle will keep on going. If every Christian in Australia was to take in a child who has been the victim of abuse and trauma, love them as their own, with all the horrible stuff they bring, and also do what they can to support the child’s parents, and also not turn them away when they don’t ‘show their greatfullness by never stuffing up’ then I think we will be closer to being able to practically demonstrate love for the widow, orphan, slave
, most vulnerable etc. it’s easy to defend a baby in the womb by criticising someone who is doing their job – it’s not easy to welcome a child and/or their parent on a daily basis who bring a whole lot of baggage with them and who’s lives will not fit neatly into our own. So, I ask again – have you ever looked after, taken into your home, to live with you until they’re 22, a child who has experienced trauma, abuse, neglect? If you have then I thank God for you and I plead with you and God to make that your calling – to use your voice to encourage others in the church to do the same – to live and support the children who have already come out of the womb, who are faced with unbelievable struggles every day of their lives.
Thanks for commenting.
I’m curious to ask, but have you ever provided a home for an escaped slave or an escaped sexual worker who was trafficked? Have you made sure that they can find suitable employment and taken them to all their necessary therapies etc? I ask because I’m sure (like me) you’re utterly opposed to chattel slavery or to the enforced prostitution that many people today still find themselves in.
But if you’ve never actually put yourself out to help them then I want to caution you about ever speaking out against the evil of it. You just don’t have the right to do so, do you?
Or have you ever looked after the family of someone who has been murdered? If you’ve not then don’t you dare ever say that murder is wrong – you’re clearly not prepared to actually do anything positive about it.
The argument, of course, would be nonsense. But it’s exactly what you’ve presented me with.
So I’m not going to answer your question. Those who know me and my family well can tell you about the sacrifices that we may or may not have made to help mothers in crisis pregnancies and beyond. They can tell you about organisations that I’ve fundraised for and even run (or not) or politicians and businesses that I’ve lobbied for the necessary monies to continue to look after the most vulnerable.
Or maybe I haven’t.
Because it doesn’t actually matter. In abortion someone rips apart a baby in their mother’s womb. They tear limbs out of sockets and heads off shoulders. They mash blades into spinal cords or whatever they need to do to destroy the lives of the most vulnerable.
That is a moral outrage, even more so when defended as a “Christian” position. Whether or not I have given my life to the things that you call me to is irrelevant to the moral argument.
All peace to you David. My intentions wasn’t to judge. Just hoping the world can love not hate…. and by the way, I never said I thought abortion was ok. But the other sin that is not ok is to not help those out in need. Sounds like you’ve helped a lot of people out in your life which is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. Just feel like the argument against abortion also needs to be heavily scaffolded with the reality of what life is like for some. We are called to love and what is love without doing things in practice to care for people in need, including the people that are put in the situations where they feel they have only one choice because they don’t have anyone to turn to for support. Love peace and grace to you.
hi Pheona (got the spelling right this time).
Yes, it would be great if we all could help out (and I didn’t say that I have done so, just that if I had or hadn’t it doesn’t change the moral argument).
But there will be many who are unable to help. Does that make their voice invalid? Surely not. If abortion is wrong, it’s wrong – whether or not we have the capacity to care for a mother with a crisis pregnancy.
Appreciate your gracious tone.
Hi David. I have only looked back on this blog today. I believe in being open and honest about who I am. I am a doctor, and I provide medical care for women. I have overseen the care of hundreds of women giving birth and done my best to provide them medical care. I have provided medical care that has saved the lives of hundreds of babies and their mothers. Another part of the medical care I provide is pregnancy options and yes this does include abortion. I don’t deny this. I also consider myself a Christian.
I acknowledge and respect that many people including Christians do not feel abortion can be supported, I am not denying any of your arguments.
However termination of pregnancy is a real and necessary medical option. It exists as a legitimate form of medical care. You may not see this, you may not acknowledge this, but it is real.
You also seem to be under the impression that abortion is only ever a destructive procedure. This is not true, abortion is often promoting a natural process.
I have to ask – what offends you more – that I am a Christian, a doctor or the work I do.?
As you pray for me, I pray for you.
hi Carol, thanks for coming and commenting again and for your very similar email sent directly. I’ll respond to you on the blog given that your comment here invites a public response.
Your email notes that we do not know each other and that
You seek to give the impression that I have publicised your work in an unfair way. But that is a disingenuous charge. You are the one who has chosen to make your work public and to defend it as something entirely compatible with a follower of Jesus. You did that by choosing (nobody forced you) to appear on a television show where the basis of your appearance was that you are a Christian and an abortionist. You also chose (again, nobody forced you) to write a piece for the ABC (which this blog post refers to) where you defended exactly the same position – that you are a Christian who performs abortions. The publishing of the ABC piece alongside the screening of the TV show was entirely deliberate.
So you have already made your name and your profession and your religion a public matter. You chose to do so. You set the very controversial question of whether claiming to be a Christian and also performing abortions was compatible into the public arena and entered the debate arguing for one side. I assume you didn’t do that because you are simply an egomaniac but because you wanted to enter an argument into the wider public debate. It was no accident. It was a deliberate action on your part.
So you cannot now be outraged that others might seek to respond to that choice of yours, nor should be surprised that there are many many Christians out there who find your argument not just unconvincing but deeply offensive. You cannot complain that your critics “do not know enough about you” when you have carefully chosen how you present yourself in public, not just in an edited show but in a published essay. I do not need to know you personally to interact with the arguments that you make in those media anymore than you need to know every viewer and reader personally before you make your arguments. Again, you are the one who chose to open up the debate and enter into it, you don’t get to complain that others are responding to the words you input into that debate.
As for the mechanics of abortion, yes – not every abortion is “destructive” in that it includes the ripping apart of the child’s body (although I do note that you do not deny that you carry out such procedures). But every abortion IS destructive in that it destroys a life. You may claim that it is “necessary” or “legitimate” but that is the very question debated.
So yes, you consider yourself a Christian but you kill children and you persuade mothers that this is a viable option. What more about you do I need to know? Would the fact that you are (for example – I don’t know either way) a mother or grandmother make those things any less true? If you call a number of witnesses to testify that you are a good friend does it negate the fact that you participate in bringing about the death of babies?
You sought to present yourself on the show to the other housemates as the mother figure and in the piece that you wrote you sought to persuade your readers that you were full of compassion. Yet you actively kill children and you defend that practice in public.
And then you claim that Jesus would approve.
You ask me what offends me about this? The answer is already clear in the post.
I haven’t stop praying for you, not least that you would repent of thinking that killing children is a legitimate thing to do, let alone something that you would attach Jesus’ name to.
While I am pro-life and on-board with your original post and subsequent discussion, I ponder whether you have chosen language that will potentially distract some readers.
I refer to use of the phrase “you kill children” (also “killing children”). It is a phrase which may be read in a way that significantly differs the discourse away from “child-in-womb” or traditionally: “embryo” – to eight week after conception and then “fetus”.
Carol has not once suggested – in comments, on the SBS program or in the ABC News article – that she kills children.
You may respond that a reader could understand your comment contextually (that is, that I am nitpicking). However, precision of language is merited in parallel to the precision of language that would be evident in pertinent technical literature and/or in common usage.
I’ve chosen language quite deliberately in order to repeatedly remind us all of the reality of the situation.
Language is very important in this debate. Those who seek to defend abortion will very often use their words carefully to disguise the reality of the situation.
So we could talk about the embryo but the embryo is still a child. My children were my children from conception. The parents who miscarry at 8 weeks don’t just shrug their shoulders and say “oh well, there goes an embryo”. They mourn the loss of their child.
The word “fetus” is simply latin for child. So it’s a child.
And as for “killing”. Well abortion takes the life of the child. It kills it. It’s an entirely apt word to use. To use others is to disguise the reality of the situation and the reality is what we all need to be really clear on.
So of course Dr Portmann doesn’t state that she kills children. To say it that clearly would be to acknowledge the reality of the situation and give the game away. She will use any other language she can.
Because she needs to disguise the reality to everyone listening and watching. And probably even to herself.
But it doesn’t change what that reality is. She carries out abortions. She kills babies.
Karen, this is I think a fair reading of the New Testament position, and well put. But in this case surely David is doing exactly what you suggest in addressing an issue supposedly among ‘Christians.’
This comment (above) doesn’t make much sense on its own – I Thought it would appear in the ‘flow’ of the discussion. Feel free to just delete it.