The Case Against Abortion

Death Before Life by Harold O. J. Brown (Thomas Nelson, 1977, 168 pp., $5.95). is reviewed by Haven Bradford Gow, Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Brown, who teaches theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, sharply criticizes the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion rulings and provides a theological and philosophical case for the sanctity of human life. The best feature of the book is its trenchant analysis of the basic presuppositions and implications of the Court’s abortion decisions. For example, in Roe v. Wade, the Court said it simply could not resolve the perplexing question of when human life begins. That question, contended the Court, remains an “open question” to medical authorities, legal scholars, and theologians. Yet, the question of when human life begins is not a theological or legal question but a medical or scientific one that must be answered by scientists. They generally agree that life begins at conception. (An editorial in the September, 1970, issue of California Medicine states the “scientific fact” that “human life begins at conception and is continuous, whether intra- or extra-uterine, until death.”)

In its pernicious abortion ruling of January, 1973, the Court also contended that abortion is merely a private matter, which concerns only a woman and her physician. The Court in effect accepted as true the much-used argument of many women that “we have a right to do whatever we want with our own bodies.” Brown acknowledges that, in general, we have a right to control our own bodies, but also observes that that right does not and should not mean we may use our bodies to injure others. For example, we do not have a right to ...

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