California Medicine Article on abortion

Excerpts from this California Medicine article on abortion has been frequently shared by pro-lifers. The California Medicine article on abortion was written while the push to legalize abortion was first starting. It was 1970, and abortion had been legalized in several states. The article was commenting on how “semantic gymnastics” were used to hide the fact that life begins at conception, which “everyone really knows.”

“The traditional Western ethic has always placed great emphasis on the intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its age or condition. The ethic has had the blessing of the Judeo-Christian heritage and has been the basis for most of our laws and much of our social policy. The reference for each and every human life has also been a keystone of Western medicine and is the ethic which has caused physicians to try to preserve, protect, repair, prolong, and enhance every human life which comes under their surveillance. This traditional ethic is still clearly dominant, but there is much to suggest that it is being eroded at its core and may eventually even be abandoned…

What is not yet so clearly perceived is that in order to bring this about hard choices will have to be made with respect to what is to be preserved and strengthened and what is not, and that this will of necessity violate and ultimately destroy the traditional Western ethic with all that this portends. It will become necessary and acceptable to place relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives… This is quite distinctly at variance with the Judeo-Christian ethic…

The process of eroding the old ethic and substituting the new has already begun. It may be seen most clearly in changing attitudes toward human abortion. In defiance of the long-held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value for every human life regardless of its age, condition, or status, abortion is becoming accepted by society as moral, right and even necessary. It is worth noting that the shift in public attitude has affected the churches, the laws, and public policy rather than the reverse. Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra-or extra uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected.”

“A New Ethic for Medicine and Society” California Medicine 113 (September 1970): 67-68

This California Medicine article on abortion comments on the how euphemisms were used to “rationalize abortion as anything but killing.” It sums up the abortion issue very well.

California Medicine Article on abortion

Is destroying this child “killing?”

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About Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a freelance writer and journalist who works for Live Action. She is a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life.
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