A Florida Protestant pastor and medical doctor defended the legalized killing of unborn babies in abortions this week, arguing that society should support women who “carefully and thoughtfully” choose abortion.
In a column at The Palm Beach Post, Dr. Tim Johnson expressed sympathy for pregnant women struggling through difficult situations, but he had little sympathy for their unborn babies.
Johnson, a former emergency room doctor and Protestant minister, acknowledged that babies in the womb are “living” from conception, writing, “… the entire chain of pregnancy involves living cells – from the fertilized egg and developing fetus to the stage when life in the womb is capable of existing outside the womb.”
And while he opposes abortion being used “glibly” as birth control, he said women in difficult circumstances should be allowed to have abortions.
In his opinion, women’s lives are more valuable than their unborn babies because they more “fully exist.”
“After a lifetime of pondering this question — as a doctor and a minister – I believe that the life of the fully developed and struggling woman should take precedence over the early and undeveloped form of life in the womb,” Johnson wrote.
Later, he said he supports the “choice” of “a fully existing human being who has decided that having a baby is not the right choice for her” over “the unknown future of a developing fetus not yet capable of life outside the womb.”
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Johnson then blamed pro-life advocates for not doing more to help women in need, writing:
I do have sympathy for the woman who carefully and thoughtfully concludes that another life to support will be destructive to life already struggling to exist – hers and/or her family. An example is a mother already overwhelmed by poverty. Society has no right to force her to give birth unless there is mutual arrangement between the mother and societal resources to arrange for adoption and support after birth. If we insist on the rights of developing infants to be born, we must also insist on resources to make those lives fully human once born. All too often, “pro-lifers” are simply “pro-birthers.” If we are truly pro-life and not just pro-birth, we should support child-health resources with our taxes and philanthropy.
However, Johnson’s sympathies and criticisms are misplaced.
The pro-life movement is working hard to expand support for parents and babies through pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies, post-abortion counseling and more.
There are an estimated 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers across the United States. Research by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found these centers served about 2 million people in 2019, providing more than 730,000 pregnancy tests, nearly half a million ultrasounds, 1.3 million packs of diapers and more than 2 million baby outfits.
Since 2019, pro-life advocates have expanded these services even more. New pregnancy centers and maternity homes are being built, state lawmakers are increasing funding for pregnancy and parenting programs, and others are developing new programs to help pregnant mothers who are incarcerated and pregnant and parenting students on campus.
It is true that many pregnant mothers consider abortion because they are struggling. But, there also are women who readily admit that no amount of financial or social support would have stopped them from aborting their unborn babies. They did so for purely selfish reasons.
What Johnson did not seem to realize is that nothing justifies killing a baby in the womb – a unique and irreplaceable human being who, like its mother, already exists and already has value. True sympathy means helping all family members involved, not pitting one against another, and true assistance addresses the real problem, which is what pro-life advocates are doing every day for mothers and babies in need.