I think a Christian response to these mind-boggling ethical problems must be built upon two critical—and biblical—points of view. The first is basic and, thereby, most important. It is that we are obligated to the right of people to live, and out of love for them to promote, support, heal, and preserve their lives whenever possible. We should always be on the side of healing and preserving human life, whether prenatal or neonatal. And we should be relentlessly opposed to any trend that makes our selfish desire for a comfortable life more important than the challenge of caring for handicapped lives.

The second point of view is subordinate to the first. It grows out of the profoundness of moral decision making in a world of tragedy. There are anomalies that stagger our imagination. A fetus that is either missing a brain or has a brain too small to give any promise of genuinely human life is a case in point. To absolutize in these situations is not to rise to the defense of life but to sink to unusual and unwarranted cruelty. I believe that in our decision making we must have a passion for life, but a compassion for the living. There is a need for line drawing, but life does not allow us to draw permanent lines for every situation. We must allow for the exercise of what Saint Paul called “spiritual understanding and wisdom” in those cases where sad and tragic decisions must be made.

As for Dr. Elkins, his medical ethics are born of both conviction and compassion. His conviction leads him to support handicapped human life, and his compassion allows him to discern very exceptional cases. He is a convincing witness against all egotistic choices that fail to preserve prenatal and neonatal life. His own family experience supports ...

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