White evangelicalism, 1975: Before the change (4)

White evangelicalism, 1975: Before the change (4) September 21, 2017

We’re continuing in Norman Geisler’s 1975 discussion of “When Abortion Is Justified.” Geisler, a conservative white evangelical, first wrote this in 1971. The book was so well-received by other conservative white evangelicals that it had a third printing in 1975.

Nothing at all occurred between those two dates to cause Geisler or any of his fellow conservative evangelicals to regard any of this differently. If there were, for example, any notable Supreme Court decisions involving any of this, they were not seen as significant enough to be mentioned or to require this section to be revised.

The book was updated with a then-futuristic, oh-so 1975 cover, but not with any response to Roe v. Wade.


This is from pages 222-223 of the 1975 printing:

3. Abortion in Conception Without Consent — Should a mother be forced to give birth to a child conceived by rape? Is there a moral obligation to generate a child without consent? This raises the whole question of the moral duty of motherhood. Can one be forced to be a mother against her will? Is her womb a mere tool for the tyranny of outside forces of life? This is a delicate question but it seems to involve a negative answer. Birth is not morally necessitated without consent. No woman should be forced to carry a child if she did not consent to intercourse. A violent intrusion into a woman’s womb does not bring with it a moral birthright for the embryo. The mother has a right to refuse that her body be used as an object of sexual intrusion. The violation of her honor and personhood was enough evil without compounding her plight by forcing an unwanted child on her besides.

But what about the right of the child to be born despite the evil way in which it was conceived? In this case the right of the potential life (the embryo) is overshadowed by the right of the actual life of the mother. The rights to life, health, and self-determination — i.e., the rights to personhood — of the fully human mother take precedence over that of the potentially human embryo. A potentially human person is not granted a birthright by violation of a fully human person unless her consent is subsequently given.



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