Abortion, Father’s Day and Infant Doe

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

First: Infant Doe

April 9 – Infant Doe is born in Bloomington (IN) Hospital. In addition to Down’s Syndrome, a congenital defect which results in mild to sever retardation, the child has a surgically correctable condition which prevents food from passing through his esophagus to his stomach. Infant Doe’s parents ask that surgery not be performed and that their son not be fed either orally or intravenously.

April 10 – Hospital requests a ruling from Special Judge John Baker on whether they may legally comply with Infant Doe’s parents’ request not to feed him. Judge Baker rules that the hospital may do so.

April 12 – County Welfare Department, acting as the child's guardian, declines to appeal Judge Baker's ruling.

April 13 – County Prosecutor Barry Brown initiates proceedings to seek a reversal of the lower court ruling by the Indiana State Supreme Court. Infant Doe’s plight becomes public and a number of parents attempt to adopt him. Eventually, the number of petitions grows to ten. All are opposed by Infant Doe’s parents. All are denied.

April 14 – The Indiana State Supreme Court votes, 3-1, not to intervene in the case.

April 15 – Special Judge John Baker refuses a request for a temporary restraining order authorizing necessary medical treatment and food for Infant Doe. County prosecutors flew to Washington to ask Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens to intervene. While they are enroute, Infant Doe dies of starvation.

April 16 – Prosecutor Barry Brown announces that his office is contemplating criminal charges against Infant Doe’s parents and hospital officials. A spokesman for Bloomington Hospital defends the hospital’s actions. “We complied with the State Supreme Court order,” he says.

April 22 – Stating that Infant Doe’s parents and physician had acted “under color of the law,” county prosecutors announce that they will not file any charges in connection with the case.

Second: Abortion

Noël and I followed the pre-natal development of our sons with Lennart Nilsson’s A Child is Born. We watched their cells multiply in a few days and their little bodies form in a matter of weeks. They grew and became whole by a divinely ordered inner life which belongs to no other creature and to no other cell unit but a fertilized egg. To have surgically taken that little body out and held it in our palm and killed it would have been a most grievous sin. The only reason that it would be harder to lose my sons now than to have lost them then is that I know them better now and have formed longer relationships. But I do not regard brevity of relationship as grounds to take life. Abortion is, in my judgment, manslaughter and a breach of the sixth commandment. It is an unwarranted compromise between justice and callous selfishness to arbitrarily set the third trimester as inviolable, while leaving the younger child prey to parents’ whim and abortionists’ utensils.

The lesson of Infant Doe is stated by George Will: we should not be surprised that “the freedom to kill inconvenient life is being extended… beyond fetal life to categories of inconvenient infants.” Josephus, the Jewish historian, writing in the time of Christ, said, “the Law orders all offerings to be brought up, forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the foetus; a woman convicted of this is regard as an infanticide” (Against Apion II, 202) The reason abortion has led to the killing of infants is because it already is the killing of infants.

Third: Father’s Day

Dad’s let’s do something! Here are five modest suggestions:

  1. Trust so fully in the all-sufficiency of Christ that you never have or encourage the attitudes of fear or self-indulgence that cause abortions. Faith casts out fear and fosters love for the helpless.
  2. Don’t even entertain the possibility of an abortion for your wife. Many women are pressured into abortions by husbands who did not want another child. Don’t ever do that!
  3. Teach your children that the pride which kills helpless life is an abomination in the eyes of God. Show them that a human being is the one creature on earth with the potential of consciously glorifying God through faith, and therefore unwarranted killing is an assault on the glory of God.
  4. Keep informed about legislation that will provide protection under law for the unborn children who cannot protect themselves. Write for the Christian Action Council Newsletter at 422 C Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002. Or: Twin Cities Christian Action Council, 14810 Lloyds Drive, Minnetonka, 55343.
  5. Support ministries to young women who make the decision to keep an unexpected pregnancy. For example, GMAE has both a Crisis Pregnancy Line & New Life Homes/Family Services. Or call Faith Jaeger, Bethlehem member. She works with young, unwed mothers. Right now she has a need for a home for 3 weeks for a young mother and new baby.

On behalf of the heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3),

Pastor John