I live in the Midwest, smack in the middle of what people around here like to call “tornado alley.” In my town, people often swap stories of the “big one,” the tornado that took out half of the business district and damaged countless homes one lazy July afternoon in 1975. People who survived that day will tell you that now they head for the basement or storm cellar as soon as the sirens sound. They remember the damage, know the personal loss and even the tragedy that came with that twister and they will do all they can to protect themselves and those they love should another one come this direction.
On the other hand, those who have never experienced a tornado often grab an iced tea and sit on the front porch, watching as though they were in a giant screen movie theatre, telling themselves that the destruction might come to someone else but it won’t affect them.
Today, I feel as though I am in the homeschooling version of our county’s emergency services. I have been storm spotting for a while and now see the deadly twister coming my direction. It is guaranteed to take lives. It is a an F-5 on the Fujita scale, complete with 300 mile per hour winds and damage akin to “strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate.” This is where the homes of homeschooling families are headed if Doug Phillips from Vision Forum is not held accountable for his most recent rhetoric.
On March 6, 2002, Phillips published a document entitled “A Declaration of Life” where he states the following:
“WHEREAS those theories which justify the killing of the unborn child on the basis of the circumstances of conception (as in the case of rape and incest), or even the life of the mother (ectopic pregnancies) are completely false because they are based on unbiblical and humanistic ethics, unbiblical definitions of “self defense” theory, and a rejection of the personhood of the child; and Continuing Relevance of All of Scripture.”
I am not certain if I read this when it was first published. I probably did not as I most likely assumed that his position would be one that passed genuine pro-life muster. Then, this week (June 5, 2008), Phillips, reporting on the most recent Whitherspoon Law and Public Policy conference, made this statement:
“Some Christians maintain a 100% pro-life, no abortion philosophy. Others believe that it is acceptable to abort a child in the case of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is threatened. The latter is the position of the Orthodox Jews. And there are many additional questions presented to us by our “brave new world” that raise noodle-cookers of equal emotional challenge and philosophical complexity.”
Since I have been involved with pro-life work for nearly 30 years and have considered myself 100% pro-life, I was puzzled as to what Phillips actually meant. Imagine my shock and horror to read that a woman who faces an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening situation and one I have had to face, is considered to be a “murderer” and one who practices “child sacrifice” or “infanticide.” As I read through everything I could find on his website regarding this topic, it quickly became apparent that Phillips is so far out of the mainstream of Christian thought and practice that even stalwart pro-life leaders around this country and pastors who repeatedly speak out against the evils of abortion would also be painted with his defective broad brush.
In contrast to Phillips’ position, Steve Wagner from Stand to Reason makes this statement:
““When the motherʹs life is truly in danger, we must treat both the mother and child as human beings worthy of protection, for that is what they are….In an ectopic pregnancy, the newly conceived human being implants on the wall of the fallopian tube (or some other tissue) instead of on the wall of the uterus. As the embryonic human being grows, the fallopian tube will rupture causing severe blood loss and probably death. In these cases, there is no way to save the child’s life. If we do nothing, both human beings will die. Because we believe it is better to save one life than to lose two, we remove the child (causing his death) and save the mother. The death of the child is an unintended, although foreseen, consequence. So abortion in this instance is the killing of an innocent human being WITH proper justification. Notice though, this is not because the child is not human, but rather because the child is going to die no matter what. The child’s death is unavoidable, so protecting the mother becomes our primary concern.”
After reading this, I contacted Lynn Grandon, who is the director of the Peoria Dioceses Respect Life and Human Dignity office and asked her to give me the most well-reasoned pro-life argument regarding ectopic pregnancies. In the providence of God, she had most recently attended a bio-ethics conference where the topic of ectopic pregnancies was discussed at length by some of the leading Christian bio-ethicists, medical personnel, and pastors around the country. She confirmed to me that saving the life of a mother who is in a genuine life-threatening pregnancy is always considered to be a priority, as the baby would also die in this situation and she said that ectopic pregnancies certainly are in this category. In fact, ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of death in pregnant women today. And we have to also take into consideration that there are now millions of post-abortive women and as many who have suffered from sexually transmitted diseases, both factors that increase the incidence of ectopic pregnancy.
I mentioned to her the story of the Indian mother that Phillips used as an example of an ectopic pregnancy going to full term and she stated that we should never use the oddest and most extreme cases when looking at issues such as this one. I then read to her the above quotes from Phillips and she sighed and stated that these are unreasoned, irresponsible, and dangerous. She also expressed her sadness that someone with such influence would teach such things. I heartily concurred.
Given the number of homeschooling conferences where Phillips and his supporters speak and promote their militant fecundity message, I believe it will only be a matter of time before someone’s wife or mother dies because of this foolish position on ectopic pregnancy. Phillips, being the man of influence that he is, has irresponsibly taken a position that has now gone beyond his own “declaration of life” and has been entered into the public debate amongst attendees at his 2008 Whitherspoon conferences.
Because of his determination to further this message, I would like to call upon all those who link to his blog or the Vision Forum website to remove that link and to tell him why. I would like to ask those who sell his items to refuse to do so until he has recanted this dangerous position. I would expect those who have been published through Vision Forum to contact him and express their horror at what he is saying. And, most importantly, I would ask any pastors who have supported Phillips’ ministry, including the NCFIC churches associated with him, to publicly assure their congregations that Phillips’ teaching on ectopic pregnancy is outside the orthodox view of Biblical Christianity and the sanctity of human life.
Doug Phillips has become a threat to the very lives of homeschooling mothers and it should be known. Take cover immediately.