John Livingston

Always Life First

I believe the progressive wings of the Democratic and Republican parties are going to make women’s rights and specifically access to abortion, a central part of their campaign this year. The issue is not complicated but has become nuanced and conflated with issues of claimed human rights, not necessarily individual rights and responsibilities.

G. K. Chesterton famously opined that “the man who begins to think without first principles goes mad”. The “Christian right” has presented their case against abortion by meticulously documenting the moral Biblical and Natural Law Principles upon which we base our belief in the sanctity of life. We need to do a better job in expressing our own sinfulness and the need for God’s Mercy amongst all men and women. There is no sin greater than God’s love and forgiveness, and this should be our starting point.

After 16-year-old Abe Lincoln became appalled at his first site of slavery while traveling down the Mississippi River in a flat boat, he struggled for half a lifetime about how to manage manumission. He hated slavery in all its’ forms, but chattel bondage and the claim of a property right of master toward slave was beyond any moral predicate that he could construct within his own heart. In order to confront such a well ingrained evil a long-term strategy needed to be developed. Even after his inauguration in 1859 in Chicago he didn’t know what that plan should be. He was a fierce abolitionist, but about emancipation and the road forward he struggled and had no concrete plans. It took him two years into his Presidency to finally find one.

As Christians we maintain that life is both temporal and spiritual and begins at conception. There is no fundamental right to convenience. When one is confronted with the responsibility of another human being, we all have a “duty” to say yes. Mary “said yes”.

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My father was a Christian ob./gyn doctor who delivered well over 10 thousand babies. He performed 3 abortions. That should be the correct ratio of live births to abortions that we would hope to be possible in the distant future. In New York City amongst certain demographics there are more abortions performed than live births—and this has been going on for many years. To use abortion as a form of birth control should be just as hideous as a human owning a slave. Motherhood and fatherhood carry with it responsibilities and duties. Never the right to extinguish a life for convenience without a medical indication.

Several years after I came to Boise in 1988, I took over the care of a patient from a surgeon who was retiring. As I attended to this wonderful lady in my office for her last post op visit, she asked me If I had any relatives in Minot North Dakota. I was born in Minot. She asked if my father could possibly have been a physician in North Dakota and I said yes. She then told me the story of how she had developed severe headaches while on a track scholarship at Iowa State. She went to the Mayo Clinic and was told that she had a pituitary adenoma—a brain tumor, that in the late 1940s would have required surgery with significant morbidities and even mortality. She came home from College the weekend before her scheduled surgery and presented to St. Joe’s Hospital in Minot again with a severe headache. My father happened to be on call and attended to her. He asked her a question that remarkably no one else had previously asked—”Could you be pregnant?” The answer was yes. The tumor in her pituitary was a physiologic swelling of the gland that was secreting hormones to support the pregnancy. Even though it was illegal at the time and my father risked his license if any of his colleagues had found out about his performing an abortion, the procedure was completed in his office 60 miles away in Mohall the next day.

She went on to become a track star at Iowa State, then to law school and then to becoming a Justice on the North Dakota Supreme Court. Finally, after relating all this to me 50 years after the fact, she reported that she had 9 children and many grandchildren. None of this would have been possible if she had undergone complicated—in those days, pituitary surgery.

Our focus should be open to all arguments about preserving and creating opportunities for life. Some attempts by those in the “choice” communities to extrapolate unique and clinically very different situations into the abortion argument—an ectopic pregnancy is itself a medical indication to first of all preserve and protect a mother and her future ability to have children, and if a D&C is part of that process, then the Cannon Law Principle of secondary intention should be operative. I would suggest that such a principle be adopted by the medical professions and consideration for civil statutes that incorporate secondary intention into the law should be considered.

There is no sin greater than God’s love and forgiveness. Adultery, bearing false witness, if that weren’t the case there would be no politicians in heaven, covetousness—the list is actually endless. The medical indications would be difficult to list, and the judgement of clinicians should be respected—but certainly not abused.

The issue isn’t complicated. Just nuanced. Always life.

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4 replies on “Always Life First”


See blog article “America’s Road to Hell: Paved With Rights” at

Then blog article “Rights: Man’s Sacrilegious Claim to Divinity” at

That the alleged Bill of Rights has failed in protecting the most vulnerable of lives only goes to further establish that the Bill of Rights are much better depicted as a Bill of Goods:

“…In ‘Understanding the Constitution: Ten Things Every Christian Should Know About the Supreme Law of the Land,’ David Gibbs, Jr., and David Gibbs III argue for unalienable rights:

‘Our rights come from God, not from the state. Therefore, the state cannot take them away. What Uncle Sam gives, Uncle Sam can take away. But our nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence makes clear that our rights are unalienable because they come from God.’6

“This sounds wonderful, but is it true? The State has certainly taken away an unwanted infant’s right to life. The State has incrementally taken away gun owners’ Second Amendment rights. The State has taken away the right to happiness, in particular the right to own property. Because rights come from the State, the State can take them away at its pleasure. On the other hand, as pointed out in Chapter 11, Yahweh’s law does not recognize rights, God-given or otherwise, but only God-required responsibilities….

“The theory of unalienable or natural rights can be traced back to the Age of Enlightenment. The term “natural rights,” as employed by 18th-century men, is not compatible with the Bible. Deuteronomy 28 does not say we have a natural, human, or civil right to anything. Rather, we must serve Yahweh as God in order to receive His blessings:

‘And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of YHWH8 thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that YHWH thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of YHWH thy God.’ (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

“Instead of endowing us with rights, Yahweh expects righteousness from us. People who demand their rights are like children, focused only on themselves. People who pursue righteousness are focused on Yahweh and their fellow man. The former person promotes a government of, by, and for the people; the latter person promotes a government of, by, and for Yahweh….”

For more, see Chapter 18 “Amendment 9: Rights vs. Righteousness” of free online book “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective” at

See also Michael Gaddy’s interview with “Bill of Rights or Bill of Goods?” at

Then T 1307.

Our Rights come from God and not from the “State”. The State exists to secure our “Rights” and our liberties. Our Founding documents are unique in respecting this relationship.

NATURAL LAW does have a lot to say about :rights”. The Enlightenment Fathers were not the first to discuss this issue. The ancient Greek philosophers, the Stoics, The Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament accounts of the New Covenant—see Romans 2

Natural Law Principles are not unique to the Enlightenment. There is a Biblical bases for “Natural Law” that can be found in the writings of Aquinas and more recently Pope Leo X, and Pope Benedict.

“Render unto Ceasar….”

Thank you Ted for your comments


The “Old Covenant” concealed the” New Covenant”. The NEW COVENENT REVEALED THE OLD.

In my humble opinion you have it backwards.


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