Listen to this letter with the actual audio clips from the April 25th meeting.
Here is the statement that I planned on reading tonight at the city council meeting:
My name is Matt Harmless. I am a pastor at Edgewood Church in Danville, IL. I am also a teacher at Danville High School.
I used to think that the abortion debate was wrapped up in whether or not that was an actual human baby in the womb. I naively assumed that if something or someone could demonstrate the personhood of an unborn child, then the debate would be over. I wasn’t personally aware of any other situations where people approved of choosing one person’s life over another’s. (At least not legally.) As far as I was aware, in any rare situation where two lives were on the line, preference would normally be given to the younger of the two lives. Specifically, mothers always tried to save their babies over and above their own lives.
But after last Tuesday’s committee meeting, I finally accepted that the argument does not hinge on personhood. The arguments presented from the other side made no attempt to avoid the personhood of the unborn by using fetus as opposed to words like baby, child, and infant.
One of the first individuals who spoke against the ordinance, near the 34-minute mark of the publicly recorded meeting, states that one million abortions would take place, why not give … and I quote … “the opportunity at that stage to have an alternative to carrying that baby…” … they said, “baby” and not “fetus.”
At the 37-minute mark, someone brought up a tragic situation of the rape of a child. This speaker went on to say that the child shouldn’t have to … quote … “...to carry a baby…” That same speaker also shared a story of a woman in Texas who had been informed … quote … “... that her child would probably only live a couple of hours…” because of a lack of development. So this speaker used the word child to refer both to the victim of the rape, but also to the unborn child in a mother’s womb.
The next speaker at the 40-minute mark mentioned a theoretical rape situation… she said, quote … “... it is wrong to make a young child or even an adult woman … [to] … be a victim of rape and then carry a child when she doesn’t want that rapist’s child.” Again, the word child was used to refer to the rape victim and also to the unborn child in that victim’s womb. I don’t seek to make light of any of these situations, but this person seemingly wanted to protect one child from the consequence of someone else’s crime, but not another child. And the child that would not be protected was the one that would not have to be seen… the one without a voice in this situation.
This particular speaker also went on to assume that someone who is pro-life is not thinking about the mothers. This is absolutely untrue. I have never met a pro-life advocate that doesn’t also seek life for a mother. We are simply elevating the life of the unborn to an equal status as the life of the mother. If anyone proposed legally killing mothers, I would stand against that as well. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to kill someone else. One person’s rights end where another person’s rights begin, and I believe that everyone, even the marginalized unborn, have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The next individual, at the 42-minute mark, makes a similar argument and states that they chose the life of the mother over the life of … quote… “the rapist’s baby.” … again identifying the child in the womb as a baby. If it is a baby in this situation, is it not a baby in every situation? Adding an additional victim to such a horrendous situation does not ultimately help the first victim, but it also completely ignores the second victim, the victim that has no opportunity to speak for himself or herself and receives a sentence of death, simply for being the offspring of a rapist. I’ve never understood how someone could be so opposed to the death penalty while sanctioning the sentencing to death of a rapist’s baby.
Besides all of this, USA Today (along with several other sources) cites that the number of abortions that are for rape and/or incest account for less than 2% of the abortions that occur. It does not make sense that such a small percentage of situations would warrant the opening of an entire clinic.
At the 56-minute mark, a speaker states that if we cared about life we would … quote… “have taken action to return OB services to OSF a long time ago.” She then states that … and again quote… “delay in transportation to another county is a real and present danger to the unborn children and their mothers.” I appreciated the fact that our Mayor responded that they are working to restore this service. But I couldn’t help but hear the phrase “unborn children” The speaker then gave some details about how quickly there could be … and again quote… “a fatal outcome for an infant that is unborn.” Nearly every time an abortion is performed, there is a fatal outcome for an unborn infant, so I wasn’t sure where this argument was headed. Especially since this person then proposed that erectile dysfunction drugs should be banned as well. Again, I didn’t follow her reasoning, but I did hear clearly that only women should decide if an … (in her words) … an infant should live.
To the council: I would like to urge you to vote to support the ordinance. I know that we cannot stop all evils in this world. We cannot stop every crime, every murder, every theft, every rape, or every abuse… but we have an opportunity to stop this from happening in a publicly approved government-sanctioned way. The higher condemnation is not on a woman who has believed the lie, but on those who have told the lie. “Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘So be it.’” (Deut. 27:19 ESV)
Finally, if there is a woman out there who is on the fence about this decision, I would like you to know that my wife and myself would open up our home to you. We have done this before and would be more than happy to do it again. And if you decide that you do not want to raise that child, for whatever reason, my wife and I, along with countless others, would be more than willing to adopt that child as our own and love that child as our own… if you would at least consider carrying that child to term.