James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Last month, a highly significant event took place in Washington, D.C., although it was hardly mentioned in either the secular or Christian media. On June 10, President Bill Clinton signed into law the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993. Part Two of this legislation authorized, for the first time in U.S. history, government funded research using tissue from aborted fetuses. With this stroke of a pen, it became legal to cannibalize and commercialize the tiny bodies of murdered babies.
The President said at a bill-signing ceremony in the White House, “I can’t tell you how many people I met all over this country in 1992 from both political parties who came to my campaign and supported me simply because I wanted to put a scientific basis back in our equations on fetal research.” More recently, Mr. Clinton claimed this legislation as one of the major successes of his presidency so far.
Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., said, “It feels so good to see it here.”
Dr. Gary Hodgen, a researcher at Eastern Virginia Medical College, said this about President Clinton’s January 23 announcement supporting fetal tissue investigations: “It’s the greatest day for science since the Scopes monkey trial” (Newsweek, Feb. 22,1993, p. 4-9).”
Various women’s advocacy groups were on hand in the White House Roosevelt Room to celebrate the passage.
Newsweek, in anticipation of the legislation, dedicated its February 22, 1993, issue to fetal research. The cover story was entitled, “Cures from the Womb.” (Inside we learned that there have been no cures to date from fetal tissue transplantation-not one documented case.)
Yes, fetal tissue research has many supporters -from the abortionists whose unsavory work suddenly picks up a redeeming component, to the medical researchers who can tap into millions of federal dollars allocated for clinical studies. No wonder candidate Clinton was lobbied so heavily during his presidential campaign.
But if the harvesting of aborted babies is such a boon for mankind, we must ask why Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan refused to authorize it. Both men steadfastly opposed the use of fetal tissue, despite continual goading by the press and intense pressure from the research community. No reasonable critic would claim that the Reagan and Bush administrations were antagonistic to legitimate medical research. Why, then, did they ban these particular investigations?
The answer is not difficult to comprehend. There is something deeply troubling about cannibalizing tiny bodies of living babies-even for humanitarian purposes. More unsettling is the method by which their tissue is taken from them. That process is not widely understood because the fetal researchers apparently don’t want the public to know what they are doing. There have been only a few descriptions of methodology in medical journals, which gives us a clue that sensitive information is being withheld. What follows, however, are the unaltered facts. Read-and weep with us.
First, it is important to remember that a child born alive presents a major problem to an abortionist. It is the ultimate “complication,” because legally, every effort must be made to keep a breathing newborn alive. That’s why the physician usually crushes the fetus’ head while still in the uterus. However, a baby who is born dead is of less value to researchers because brain tissue and other organs quickly deteriorate when deprived of oxygen. Thus, the abortionist must employ a means of extracting the body parts and brain matter from a living baby who is not yet expelled from the birth canal.
The method is called dilatation and extraction, or D & X. Over two days the cervix is dilated. Then an ultrasound device and forceps are used to reach in and grab the baby’s feet. The little body is pulled downward until just the head remains in the cervix. Next the abortionist grasps the nape of the neck and cuts open the back of the skull with blunt scissors. A device called a cannula is then inserted into the wound and the brain material is sucked out. If kidneys or other organs are desired, they are removed while the child is still partially in the vagina. Initially at least, these surgical procedures are performed on a live baby who has not specifically been anesthetized (although the mother’s medication may reduce some of the pain). If puppies or kittens were subjected to such cruel treatment, the protests of the animal rights people would be heard around the world-and I would be one of the most vocal.
At what gestational age does this ghastly procedure occur? Most fetuses are aborted during the first or second trimester, although many states do not prohibit an abortionist from waiting until a few weeks (or even hours) before the normal due-date. Does this happen routinely? No, because there is no reason for a woman to carry a baby to term if she does not intend to let it live. But the advent of tissue harvesting changes the equation. A medical researcher might pay a pregnant woman to provide him with the mature organs he needs. Or a mother might be motivated to conceive and carry a child specifically to provide “spare parts” for a family member with Parkinson’s disease or failing kidneys. Growing babies only to be dismembered for the use of their organs appears to be on the horizon.”
Admittedly, the new federal legislation prohibits tissue donation linkages between mothers and relatives or mothers and researchers, but there is no enforcement provision in the law. Nothing prevents collaboration between women and their physicians. Officials at the National Institutes of Health have no power to police free-standing abortion clinics, and no other agency of government is authorized to nose around in the doctor patient relationship. Abuses will occur, just as millions of abortions took place before the Supreme Court legalized them in 1973. And when the public has been sufficiently desensitized, who can say where this practice is headed?
There is much more I could say about the evils of fetal tissue harvesting and the potential it holds for human degradation. But there is a related matter that I need to share with you. Perhaps not by coincidence, Shirley and I were in Israel when word came of the new legislation. Just one week earlier, we had visited the archeological ruins of the ancient city of Megiddo, described nine times in the Old Testament.” This 6,000-year-old city is thought to be one of the “high places” where King Ahab and Queen Jezebel led the Israelites in Baal worship and the wholesale sacrifice of children. Still standing in what was the courtyard of the city is a large circular altar on which scholars believe untold numbers of babies were murdered.
One of many pagan gods, Baal was worshiped on altars similar to this one throughout the Middle East. (By the way, in the background of the top photo is the Valley of Megiddo, where the final battle of Armageddon will apparently be fought.) It was believed that Baal held the key to fertility and prosperity. To entice him to bless the land, each mother was required to bring firstborn child to the high priest in the spring. Various scholarly sources indicate that a stone structure sat atop the altar, carved in the image of a bull with the head and upper body of a man. The arms were extended, and fire belched from a hollow area in the vicinity of the chest.
The priests of Baal carried the babies, one by one, up the steps to the great stone image. They were laid on its outstretched arms and inevitably rolled into the blazing fire. Then the priest and priestess
engaged in sexual intercourse on the altar in full view of the people, while an orgy occurred among prostitutes and the men of the city.
Dr. John Currid, associate professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, describes an area in ancient Phoenicia, now Lebanon, where this practice occurred for several hundred years. (Jezebel came from that region and brought Baal worship to Israel when she married Ahab.) Dr. Currid says archaeologists have unearthed one sacrificial cemetery measuring 60,000 square feet and containing the remains of 20,000 burned children.
The practice of sacrificing infants was described by the Greek author Kleitarchos 300 years before Christ:
Out of reverence for Kronos (Baal), the Phoenicians, and especially the Carthaginians, whenever they seek to obtain some great favor, vow one of their children, burning it as a sacrifice to the deity, if they are especially eager to gain success. There stands in their midst a bronze statue of Kronos, its hands extended over a bronze brazier, the flames of which engulf the child. When the flames fall on the body, the limbs contract and the open mouth seems almost to be laughing, until the contracted body slips quietly into the brazier.
According to Dr. Currid, this ritual burning of children was called “the act of laughing.” One can only imagine the terrors it held for boys and girls being sacrificed, especially those who were old enough to understand what was happening. Incredibly, God’s chosen people fell into this abominable practice and the idolatry that accompanied it.
As I stood among the ruins of Megiddo and contemplated the horrors that occurred in that tragic place, I found it difficult to fight back the tears. Among the rocks surrounding the altar we found numerous bone fragments, which a physician in our party believed to be from very young children. I could almost hear the screams of babies echoing across more than 27 centuries and attesting to the depravity of mankind.
What struck me in the ruins of that sad city was how little has really changed. As the lsraelites killed their children for personal convenience and success, we in our day have slaughtered nearly 30 million of ours for similar reasons.” And our sexual behavior has been no less reprehensible. Fifty-six million Americans (one in five) now have an incurable sexually transmitted virus, and we’re still teaching promiscuity to our teenagers. We, like our spiritual ancestors, are a wicked and perverse generation that has violated the most basic standards of decency and morality. How can a holy God ignore our transgressions when He spoke with such indignation about those who went before?
Some of the harshest language in the entire Bible was directed at those ancient killers of children. This is what we read in Jeremiah:
Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the Lord has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath. The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. They have built the high places of Topheth [a place of child sacrifice] in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire-something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away (Jeremiah 7:29-33).
This frightening prophecy was fulfilled tragically just a few years later. First, terrible judgment was executed on the house of Ahab, about whom the Lord said, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). Seventy-one of his sons (including Joram, who succeeded Ahab) were subsequently killed by Jehu, along with “all of Ahab’s great men, and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he [Jehu] left none of them remaining” (2 Kings 10:11 ). As for Jezebel, she was thrown to her death from an upper window and her body was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30-37).
But what about the people who followed the leadership of these wicked despots? We learn of their fate in 2 Kings 17.
All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced (2 Kings 17:7-8).
They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger. So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left (2 Kings 17:17-18).
Since that day of destruction in the nation of Israel, 2,700 years have come and gone. Now this question burns in my mind: How can we in the United States and other nations with a Christian heritage hope to escape the wrath of God when we are guilty of similar abominations? Sixty million Americans call themselves committed Christians, yet we have permitted these horrible public policies in a country whose government is an expression of the people, for the people and by the people. It could not have happened without our acquiescence. Do we deserve to fare better than the Israelites? I fear not. Nor does judgment, when it falls on a nation, afflict only the wicked. Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
What the righteous can do is get on their knees and pray for their nation. Often in my personal prayers I feel led to apologize for the evil I see around us and for the ungodly policies of our government. I bow my head in shame when Jesus’ name is mocked on television and dragged through the gutter. I am embarrassed before the Lord when my generation disdains His Lordship and the principles of morality in His Word. There is no greater evidence of our spiritual poverty than the way we treat our children-killing and dismembering the unborn, physically and sexually abusing the young, and neglecting their needs for parental love and guidance. God, forgive us!
That wonderful blessing of forgiveness is offered generously in 2 Chronicles 7:14, but it is conditional:
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
I am hereby asking you to join Shirley and me in prayer for our nation and its leaders. Let’s ask the Lord to bring a moral and spiritual awakening that will return us to our biblical roots and create in us a Spirit of repentance. There is no other answer to the evil that has befallen us.
Beyond our obligations in prayer, I urge you not to forget to speak out for the unborn child. He or she has no voice but ours-no vote but the one we are given. This battle to protect the most defenseless little people among us is not over, despite the propaganda we hear routinely. Granted, a pro-abortionist is in the White House, and the majority in Congress has wimped out on this issue, but millions of citizens disagree with their policies. Deep in their hearts they know it is wrong to kill babies!
Whether we ultimately win or lose the contest is not our responsibility. The outcome of the battle belongs to the Lord. Our obligation is to fight for the downtrodden, the outcast and the oppressed. We will not bow to the prophets of Baal, even if they hold every source of power and influence. And I am convinced that someday our cause will be justified. At some future time, if the Lord does not return sooner, generations yet to be born will look back on today’s slaughter with the same tearful regret that I felt in the city of Megiddo. They will shake their heads and say, “How could it ever have happened?!”
Among the primary objectives of Focus on the Family is a commitment to the disadvantaged, wherever they may be found. In a sense, the family itself is in that position today. It has been ridiculed and written off as an anachronism. But with your continued help, we will stand our ground in defense of every good and perfect gift that comes from the Father. Families, and children, are at the top of the list.
God bless you all.
James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
(The above material was published by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, July 1993)
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