Private Ethics Vs. Public Policy

There is a legislation for the legalization of abortion in Greece. This legislation will be the most criminal of all the legislation that has been voted by the Greek parliament. This will lead to the destruction and disappearing of the Greek Nation. But before the Greek parliament members vote for this legislation, they should view the recorded film, “The Silent Scream.” This film has been recorded with ultrasound equipment and they have recorded an abortion. What is seen and heard is tragic. If the Greek parliament members view this film, we believe that they would prefer that their hand be cut off, rather than vote for the law of abortion. If the voting of this law is not prevented, the blood of all the defenseless acts of these abortions will become the size of a lake in which Greece will drown. Then the enemies of Greece will place the sign that says, “Greece Has Died.”

Geronda Ephraim of Arizona, prior to the 1986 legalization of abortion in Greece

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Abortion should be illegal. Martin Luther King expressed the reasoning in words like these: "You cannot legislate morality, but you can regulate behavior. I can't make a man love me, but I can stop him from lynching me." That is the bottom-line purpose of law. We have in America a great many laws affecting all areas of our lives. We have leash laws and zoning laws and parking laws, and if 90 percent of those laws were erased from the books tomorrow we could still get by; we could still have a civilization. But there is an irreducible core of laws that we could not live without, laws that without which we would have barbarism. Those are the laws against violence. They are the laws against child abuse, against rape and murder, against spouse-battering. These laws are sometimes the only thing that stand between the small and weak and the strong and powerful. Abortion laws are that kind of law. Unborn children are our smallest sisters and brothers in our human family, and they deserve that protection. 

Frederica Mathewes-Green

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The Holy Apostle says that the Antichrist cannot appear until “the one who restraineth” is put aside. Saint John Chrysostom explains that the “one who restraineth” refers to a lawful, pious authority. Such a power struggles with evil. 'The Mystery' working in the world does not want this, does not want the struggle against evil by the power of a pious ruler – quite the opposite. It wants the rule of lawlessness, and when it achieves this, nothing more will stop the appearance of the Antichrist. He will not only be clever and charming, he will be merciful and he will do works of charity for the sake of bolstering his control. And when he strengthens his control to the point where the entire world recognizes him, then he will reveal his true face.

St. John Maximovitch, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco

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Public officials cannot in good conscience take the position they are "personally opposed" to abortion but support a woman's "right to choose." Likewise, unless an Orthodox Christian is willing to abstain from the political process entirely, one cannot take refuge in the position that the Church bears witness to the sanctity of life but does not become involved in the political arena. Simply voting for a candidate who holds a "pro-choice" position amounts to indirect support for the continued practice of legalized abortion.

Rev. Fr. Peter J. Pappas

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The violent end of the earthly life of an innocent human being does not deprive that person of the eternal future, but it does deprive those who cooperated in, decided for, or ignored this violent act. 

Metropolis Church of Lemesos, Cyprus 

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Gianna Jessen, Saline Abortion Survivor,
Speaks at the Parliament House in Victoria, Australia
on the eve of the debate to legalize abortion in Victoria - 2008

September 8, 2008
Queen's Hall, Melbourne

I'm adopted and my biological mother was seventeen, and so was my biological father. She was seven and a half months pregnant when she decided to go to Planned Parenthood, which is the largest abortion provider in the world, and they counseled her to have a late-term saline abortion, which is a saline salt solution that is injected into the mother's womb; the baby gulps that solution, it burns the baby inside and out, and then she is to deliver a dead baby within twenty-four hours. And to everyone's great shock and surprise, I didn't arrive dead, but alive, on April the sixth, 1977, in a Los Angeles County abortion clinic. What's fantastic about this, about the perfect timing of my arrival, is that the abortionist was not on duty yet. So he wasn't even given the opportunity to continue on with his plan for my life, which was death.

And I know that I am in a government building, and a beautiful one it is, and I love your country as well as my own. But I know in the age that we live in, it is not at all politically correct to say the name of Jesus Christ in places like this, to bring Him in to these sorts of meetings, because His name can make people so terribly uncomfortable. But I didn't survive so I could make everyone comfortable. I survived so I could stir things up a bit. And I have a great time doing it.

And so I was delivered alive as I have already said, after eighteen hours. I should be blind, I should be burned, I should be dead, and yet I'm not. You know what is fantastic vindication is the fact that the abortionist had to sign my birth certificate. So I know who he is. And it also says for any skeptic listening, on my medical records, 'Born during saline abortion'. Hah! They didn't win.

I've done some research on the man that performed the abortion on me, and his clinics are the largest chain of clinics in the United States of America, and they gross seventy-million dollars a year. I read a quote from him at some point several years ago, and he said “I have aborted over a million babies, and I consider it my passion.” I tell you these things because – listen, ladies and gentlemen - we are in an interesting battle in this world, whether we realize it or not. It is a battle between life and death. What side are you on?

So a nurse called an ambulance and had me transferred to a hospital, which is absolutely miraculous. Generally the practice at the time and up until 2002, was in my country, was to end the life of an abortion survivor by strangulation, suffocation, leaving the baby there to die, or throwing the baby away. But on August the fifth, 2002, my extraordinary President Bush, signed into law the 'Born Alive Infants Protection Act', to prevent that from occurring any more.

You see, we're playing for keeps. I mean, I'm hoping to be hated by the time that I die, so that I can feel God about me, and to understand what it was like to be hated. I mean, HE was hated; Christ was hated! And not that I look forward to being hated, but I know along my journey, I know I'm already hated, because I declare LIFE. I say: 'you didn't get me! the silent holocaust didn't win over me!' And my mission, ladies and gentlemen, among many things is this: To infuse humanity into a debate that we have just compartmentalized and set on a shelf and said it is an issue. We have removed our emotions; WE ARE BECOMING HARDER. Do you really want that? How much are you willing to take, and how much are you willing to risk to speak the truth, in love and graciousness, and stand up, and at least be willing to be hated? Or at the end of the day is it all about you? Or me?

And so after that I was placed in an emergency foster care home, where they decided they didn't like me very well, and as I'm fond of saying, 'I don't know how you could not adore me right from the start?' What is wrong with these people? But they didn't. You see, I've been hated since conception, by so many, and loved by so many more, but most especially by God. [...]

So after I was placed in the mean home, I was taken out of the mean home and placed into another home: a beautiful home, Penny's home. And she said by this time I was seventeen months old, thirty-two pounds of dead weight, and diagnosed with what I consider to be the gift of cerebral palsy, which was caused directly by the lack of oxygen to my brain, while I was trying to survive.

Now I am just compelled to say this: If abortion is merely about women's rights, ladies and gentlemen, then what were mine? There was not a radical feminist standing up and yelling about how my rights were being violated that day. In fact, my life was being snuffed out in the name of women's rights.

And ladies and gentlemen, I would not have cerebral palsy had I not survived all of this. So when I hear the appalling, disgusting argument that we should have abortions because the child just might be disabled... Oh, the horror that fills my heart! Ladies and gentlemen, there are things that you will only be able to learn by the weakest among us. And when you snuff them out, YOU are the one that loses. The Lord looks after them, but YOU are the one that will suffer forever. And what arrogance! What absolute arrogance! And it has been an argument for so long in this human place that we live, that the stronger should dominate the weaker, should determine who lives or dies. The arrogance of that! Don't you realize that you cannot make your own heart beat? Don't you realize that the power that you think you possess, you really possess none of it? It is the mercy of God that sustains you... even when you hate Him.

So they looked at my dear Penny, and they said “Gianna will never be anything”, which is always encouraging. And she decided to ignore them, and she worked with me three times a day, and I began to hold up my head. And they said “well Gianna will never this, and never that”; well, long story shorter, I was walking by the age of three and a half with a walker and leg braces, and I stand up here today with a mild little limp, and without a walker and leg braces. I fall gracefully sometimes, and very ungracefully at other times, depending on the situation, but I consider it all for the glory of God.

You see, ladies and gentlemen, I am weaker than most of you, but this is my sermon. And what a small price to pay to be able to blaze through the world as I do and offer hope. And I think in our misunderstanding of the way things work, we misunderstand how beautiful suffering can be. I don't willingly sign up for it, but when it comes we forget. We forget that GOD is in control and God has a way of making the most miserable thing beautiful.

I have met my biological mother. I have forgiven my biological mother. I am a Christian. She's a very broken woman. She came to an event I was having two years ago, showed up unannounced and said, “Hello, I am your mother.” It was a very difficult day, and yet while I was enduring all of this (you'll probably think I'm silly), but I was sitting there and I was thinking, “I don't belong to you. I belong to Christ.[...] So no matter what you say in all your anger, and brokeness, and rage, it's not mine to keep. It's not mine to carry. And I won't.” I was saying all this inside.

So ladies and gentlemen, you have an opportunity. But for just a brief moment I would like to speak directly to the men in this room, and do something that is never done. Men, you are made for greatness. You are made to stand up and be men. You are made to defend women and children; not stand by and turn you head when you know murder is occurring, and do nothing about it. You are not made to use women and leave us alone. You are made to be kind, and great, and gracious, and strong, and stand for something. Because, men, listen to me: I am too tired to do your job! Women, you are not made for abuse. You are not made to sit and not know your worth and your value. You are made to be fought for... forever.

So now is your moment. What sort of people are you going to be? I trust incredible. I trust, men, you will rise to the occasion. To the politicians listening, and particularly to the men, I would say this: You are made for greatness; set your politics aside. You are made to defend what is right and good. This fiery young girl will stand here and say: NOW is your moment. What sort of man do you want to be? A man obsessed with your own glory, or a man obsessed with the glory of God?

It is time to take a stand, Victoria. This is your hour. God will assist you. God will be with you. You have the opportunity to glorify and honor God in 2008.

I'll just end with this: Some of you might be slightly annoyed that all I keep doing is talking about God and Jesus. But how on earth can I walk about, limping through this world, and not give ALL my heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, to the Christ who gave me LIFE?! So if you think I'm a fool, it's just another jewel in my crown. My whole intent in living here is to make God smile. I hope some of this made sense. It just came from my heart. God bless and keep you.

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Abortion: the Ultimate Lawlessness
by Frank Schaffer

The concept of privatized religiosity on the one hand, and the loss of a sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions on the other, has had dramatic and far-reaching con- sequences. It has led to the idea that one’s behavior, one’s sin, is a purely “personal” affair. This attitude of subjectivity is at the heart of the sexual, criminal and behavioral license now prevalent in our crumbling, divided, tribalized society.

The practice of legal abortion on demand is the most startling example of the ultimate lawlessness inherent in today’s style of American individualism. The abortion of an astounding 1.6 million babies—almost one third of American children conceived each year—is the most drastic example of an external behavior that is now regarded as a mere “personal choice.” It is also evidence of the fact that America has become a thoroughly pagan nation; state-sanctioned child sacrifice has returned.

The taking of human life, for the sake of convenience, is now regarded as a mere “choice.” Sex between “consenting adults” is viewed as no one else’s business, in spite of whatever harm the “consenting adults” do to themselves, the child they conceive, the home they break apart, or their society. Abortion on demand is also a tragic example of the extreme enmity against God that our pagan country now has. It may well represent the final stage, the inevitable conclusion, of the rebellious Protestant-Enlightenment-Romantic movement’s experience in selfish individualism.

Legalized abortion on demand is the final fracturing of our social fabric. Now even the primeval community of mother and child has been torn apart. The unborn child is believed to be at war with its mother, with its interests pitted against its mother’s.

It is urgently necessary that we examine the Holy Tradition as it applies to the question of abortion since, in the question of the sanctity of life, we have the most important moral issue confronting the Orthodox Church today.

The Stand of the historical Church through the ages against the practice of the murder of the unborn serves as a good example of the Church’s changeless resolve in upholding the Law of God which, as Eusebius writes, “made the barbarous, uncivilized customs of uncivilized races give place to his own civilized and most humane laws.” Since we live in a pagan culture very like the declining Roman Empire in which the Church found itself, nothing could be more timely than a study of the Church’s attitude to abortion and child sacrifice.

The early Church taught that the practice of abortion contradicts the law of God. “You shall not murder.” It also contradicts the teaching of Christ to do to others as we would have them do to us. Since we wish to live and not to be killed, we can assume that everyone also desires life! “Love does no harm to a neighbor.”

Both before and after the tragic division of the Eastern and Western Church, abortion was denounced as the murder of innocent children. The early Church was confronted by a society like ours, in which abortion and infanticide were tolerated. From its very inception, the Church mounted a vigorous defense of the innocent life of unborn children. In the Didache (the written summary of the teaching of the Apostles, finished at the end of the first century), the faithful were told that “you shall not procure abortion. You shall not destroy a newborn child.”

Significantly, the instructions prohibiting abortion in the Epistle of Barnabas (circa 138 A.D.) were couched in terms of combating lawlessness.

“There are two ways of instruction, as there are two powers, that of light and that of darkness. And there is a great difference between the two ways. One is controlled by God’s light-bearing angels, the other by the angels of Satan. And as the latter is the ruler of the present era of lawlessness, so the former is lauded from eternity to eternity. Among the precepts of the way of light is this; do not murder a child by abortion, or commit infanticide.”

The Church from its beginning has always been a stern guardian of innocent life. For instance, Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria in A.D. 244, wrote in his letter Hermammon about the state of pagan barbarity against which the Church steadfastly stood.

“For (the Church is) able by being present and seen... and speaking boldly, to frustrate the schemes of the wicked demons... devilish rites, loathsome tricks, and unholy sacrifices, (which) cut the throats of unfortunate boys, use the children of unhappy parents as sacrificial victims, and tear out the vitals of newborn babies cutting up the mincing of God’s handiwork.”

This was the climate of perversity, resembling that of our own day, against which the Fathers of the Church, East and West, unequivocally stood. This was the social climate that included legal infanticide, human sacrifice and abortion. And it was the Church’s visible and absolute stand “by being present and seen” that gradually eliminated the public acceptance of these practices as matters of “personal choice.” It was the Church that replaced the private evil of human sacrifice, abortion and infanticide with public moral accountability.

Perhaps two things can be learned by today’s Christians regarding the Church’s stand against abortion. First, it took centuries to change the pagan climate of perversity. Second, because the Church persevered and molded the culture rather than conforming to it, eventually attitudes and laws were changed. Patience and steadfast perseverance seem to be the qualities that wrought change.

The early historic Church very evidently had not separated life into watertight compartments between state and Church, or between private and public moral choice. Indeed, the early Church took a vigorous public stand on the sanctity of life and, as a result, inspired a change in public sensibility and laws.

by Frank Schaffer, from Dancing Alone, pg. 233-236
Orthodox Heritage, October 2006, volume 4, issue 10, page 4

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Aren’t There Worse Evils than Abortion—Like War, Crime and Hunger? 

There are many evils in this world, and all who dedicate their lives to fighting these evils are to be applauded. Those who are dedicated to fighting abortion believe that abortion is a serious enough evil to deserve a full-scale effort like the pro-life movement.

It might be helpful to compare the scope of abortion with the scope of other evils. In 2005, there were 1.21 million abortions performed in the United States, or 3,315 abortions per day. (That number is now 4,000 per day.)

Since the founding of the United States in 1776, 1.6 million Americans soldiers have been killed in battle. Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, over 49 million unborn Americans have been aborted—more than 30 times the number of war deaths. As of January 2009, approximately 4,200 Americans had died fighting in Iraq since hostilities began in 2003—which is 0.06% of the number of abortions during the same period. And on September 11, 2001, more lives were taken by abortion than in the terrorist attacks of that day.

In 2006, 17,000 people were murdered and 92,000 rapes were reported to the FBI—so abortion is 71 times more common than murder and 13 times more common than rape.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, members of some 3.8 million households will go hungry at some point during the year. While hunger is a tremendous social problem, especially in a country as wealthy as the United States, it cannot compare to the injustice of being killed; few Americans die of starvation, but millions are aborted.

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Why I Abandoned “Choice”
by Frederica Mathewes-Green

I was the first feminist in my dorm. It was 1970, and there wasn’t a lot of feminism in South Carolina, not even at the state university. I was proud to be one of the pioneers.

One of our goals was to repeal the laws against abortion. I had a bumper sticker on my car: “Don’t labor under a misconception: Legalize abortion.” A couple of my friends who had unplanned pregnancies went to New York for an abortion, at the time the closest place where it was legal. I cheered them on. Abortion was to me proof of feminist commitment, evidence that you would lay your body on the line for the cause of liberation.

Fast forward to January, 1976. I was home from grad school for winter break, and picked up my Dad’s copy of Esquire magazine. I came across an essay with an arresting title: “What I Saw at the Abortion.” It was written by Richard Selzer, a surgeon and author. In the brief 2-page essay he described how he’d asked a colleague if he could come along the next time he performed an abortion. As a right-thinking progressive, Selzer supported abortion rights, but he’d never seen a procedure and wanted a better grasp of how it was done.

It was not a typical termination of pregnancy. Most abortions take place in the first 12 weeks, but this patient was 19 weeks pregnant, in the midst of the 2nd trimester. Selzer described the woman lying on her back on the table, the gentle bulge of her pregnancy evident. The doctor injected her uterus with a hormone to cause labor contractions, and left the syringe standing upright there.

Then, Selzer wrote, “I see something other than what I expected here…it is the hub of the needle that is in the woman’s belly that has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wobbles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish.”

He realized that what he was seeing was the fetus’s struggle for life. Whatever it may have lacked, it did have one thing any human can recognize: a will to live.

As Selzer continued to watch, the agitation of the syringe slowed and then stopped. It seemed he was the only person in the room aware that a death had taken place.

Selzer concluded, “Whatever else is said in abortion’s defense, the vision of that other defense will not vanish from my eyes. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?”

The “truth of what he saw” disturbed me deeply. I felt strongly about non-violence, and opposed war and capital punishment (as I still do today). Had I made an act of violence part of the very foundation of my feminism? If so, it was in ignorance; I really had believed the line that a fetus is “just a glob of tissue.” But this was incontrovertible evidence that the fetus had a life independent of its mother.

Though shocked, I could not imagine becoming openly pro-life. Everyone who was cool was pro-choice. I knew pro-lifers only as oddballs, possibly dangerous oddballs, on the evening news.

With time I found the courage to admit my opposition to abortion. I believe that it cost me professionally, that I have lost some opportunities to write because of my pro-life paper trail. But I did what I could, and have now spoken on hundreds of college campuses about the feminist, secular argument against abortion. I have written a book on alternatives to abortion, and hundreds of articles on the injustice of abortion. I don’t think I’ve had any measurable impact. It’s still not cool to be pro-life. There’s a limited number of people who will take a stand on an unpopular cause, just because they believe it’s right. But it’s hard to think of any injustice more outrageous than violence against the most helpless human beings.

Meanwhile the numbers keep growing; in 2008 it passed the 50 million mark. Even in my most ardent pro-choice days I never dreamed the numbers would grow so high. I believe that future generations will judge us on this. It will eventually be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against the helpless. The kind of hatred leveled at slave owners and Nazis will fall on us as well. The time to get on the right side of history is now.

By the way, they don’t use that injection abortion method that Dr. Selzer saw any more. The problem was that too often fetuses were born alive. Most were immediately suffocated or drowned, but it still caused a lot of problems. So that method was replaced with “dilation and evacuation”—the doctor reaches into the uterus with forceps and pulls the unborn apart, like pulling a drumstick off a turkey. But sometimes the ragged ends of the limbs would scratch the inside of the uterus, so “intact dilation and evacuation” was developed, in which the fetus is delivered alive, feet first, then the skull is punctured and drained. That method, also called “partial birth abortion,” caused a lot of controversy, so it’s back to the dismemberment method.

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Senators Sarbanes and Snowe
Betray the Moral Heritage of the Orthodox Christian Faith
by Rev. Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Recently the United States Senate voted to ban partial birth abortions. Senators Paul Sarbanes (D-MD.) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voted against the ban. President Bush promised to sign the legislation (former President Clinton twice vetoed the measure) that would end this gruesome practice.

A vote against a ban is a vote for infanticide. Consider what the procedure entails.

During a partial birth abortion, a near term baby is delivered feet first until every part of the body except the head is exposed. With the head remaining in the birth canal, the doctor inserts a pair of scissors into the soft tissue at the base of the skull and carves out a small hole. A suction tube is inserted into the hole and the brains of the child are sucked out. The dead child is then pulled completely out of the mother.

The procedure constitutes a grave offense against the sacredness of life. There is no medical reason to kill a child that would emerge alive from the womb just a minute or two later. Senators Sarbanes and Snowe disagree—enough at least to allow this barbaric practice to continue.

These Greek Orthodox Senators, like their liberal Roman Catholic counterparts, defend their position by drawing a line between private morality and public policy. They believe that moral precepts drawn from Christianity should not shape their views on public policy.

Such a privatization of faith, writes Princeton scholar Robert P. George, "would have puzzled—even shocked—men such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt." If Lincoln privatized religious faith, he would not have freed the slaves. If Martin Luther King did the same, blacks would still sit at separate lunch counters.

George writes that the privatizing of religious faith entered American political thinking during the Nixon-Kennedy campaign in 1960. Protestants were fearful that a Kennedy victory would mean that the Pope would have undue influence in American policy (the Pope had no such interest). Kennedy, seeking to quell Protestant fears, assured voters that his Catholic faith would have no bearing on his public decisions. Roman Catholic bishops, not wanting to spoil a possible Kennedy victory, remained silent. Kennedy won and the doctrine took hold. It has guided liberal legislators ever since.

It is true that the Church should not run the State, just as the State should not run the Church. Both must respect the legitimate authority of the other. However, there is a world of difference between recognizing these two arenas of authority and divorcing morality from public policy.

The support of partial birth abortion clarifies George's point. The defense of the procedure arises from the muddled reasoning that began with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that nullified all state regulation of abortion. The Court ruled that abortion was legal because the unborn child is not "viable"—a term they defined as being able to live outside the womb independent of any aid.

"Viability" is a seriously flawed concept but it shaped abortion politics for the next three decades. No person is able to live outside of his natural environment. To require the unborn child to survive outside of the womb is no different than requiring an astronaut to survive in space without a space suit, or a diver to survive underwater without air.

Further, viability does not exist on the biological continuum. Premature babies that would have died a mere decade or so ago are kept alive today as medical technology moves the line of survivability ever closer to the time of conception. The justices erroneously concluded that viability was a fixed point on that continuum—a criticism Justice O'Conner made years later.

Viability removes the legal standing of the unborn. From there it's a short jump to argue that the unborn are not human beings all—hence the assertion that the unborn child is only "potential human life."

Viability rationalizes partial birth abortions in the same way. A child that is not fully delivered before its brains are extracted remains in the abortion rather than infanticide category so killing it remains legal. Further, categorizing the procedure as an abortion maintains the fiction that a child is not killed—at least in the mind of supporters.

Defenders of abortion realize that any restriction of the procedure will shift moral awareness against them. If it is wrong to kill a partially born infant, then why should it be right to kill an infant one minute before its birth? How about two minutes? How about five? What biologists knew all along is reaffirmed: human life develops along a continuum that starts at conception.

A shift in moral awareness would also require leaders like Senators Sarbanes and Snowe to reevaluate their uncritical support of abortion rights—something they clearly refuse to do.

By privatizing religious faith, Senators Sarbanes and Snowe assume a posture of moral neutrality but in fact betray the moral teachings of the Orthodox faith. They substitute a moral vision that informs and justifies a culture of death and become the advocates for it.

Copyright © 2003 Johannes L. Jacobse. Rev. Jacobse is a priest in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Published in the "Hellenic Voice," November, 2003.
Copyright © 2001-2012

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In Protection of His Innocents
by Fr. Demetrios Carellas

August 12, 2008

The aim of this article’s inclusion within this publication (Orthodox Heritage) is neither to politicize the message nor to favor the candidate of any specific party. It is, rather, to make a plea to all Orthodox faithful to ensure that the issue of the legalized murder of innocent children via abortion is of paramount significance as they approach the polls. We are cognizant of the fact that current economic conditions and on-going wars are prevalent among today’s news media articles. We can not help but realize, that no matter how distressed our economy becomes, we are still blessed to live in one of the wealthiest nations that have existed in the history of humanity. Furthermore, a soldier (or a civilian) in any war, whether this war is righteous or not, has a chance at some level of defense and can at least run to a shelter away from falling bombs or even use a weapon for his/her defense. A child in the womb, however, has no ability to either defend himself/herself or run to any shelter as the deadly weapons of the abortionist approach him/her.

“Verily, I say unto you, insofar as ye did it to one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40 

Late in the evening yesterday, the Lord brought these words spontaneously to my sinful heart; and before I had time to ponder on what was the Lord’s purpose, I believe He immediately revealed it to me: that these holy words, from the Word, apply to all human life, from conception onwards. Then I experienced pain in my soul, as I reflected on what has happened to 50 million of His “brethren” since January 22, 1973: they have been brutally murdered within—and sometimes almost completely outside—the wombs of their mothers. What was their crime? They were conceived! And six of the U.S. Supreme Court Judges (May God have mercy on their souls.), determined that a woman’s “right to privacy” (nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution) superseded the child’s “right to life” (as stated in the Declaration of Independence).

For 35 years, we have legally slaughtered these “least” of Christ’s “brethren” and placed them on the satanic altar, before the three-headed false-god of privacy, pleasure and profit. For 35 years, many lawyers, judges and politicians—with much help and funding from such groups as Planned Parenthood, N.O.W., and N.A.R.A.L, have dehumanized the child in the womb, referring to it by such names as, “unwanted tissue, “the product of conception,” and “an undesired pregnancy.” For 35 years, physicians and other ‘help’-care personnel, hospitals and other abortion chambers, and groups like Planned Parenthood (a federally funded, non-profit organization) have shared in tens of billions of dollars in this slaughter of the innocents. Reflecting on this ungodly condition in which our nation finds itself, I turned to the Book of the Prophet Ieremias (Jeremiah). These words were given to him by God’s Holy Spirit, and are in the singular tense; because they refer to the nation of Israel as a whole: ...Thou hast done wickedly in corrupting thy ways; and in thine hands hast been found blood of innocent souls ... [Jer 2:34].

Today, I believe that the “thou” in this verse applies directly to our Nation. Can there be more “innocent blood” than the souls and bodies—the human beings—being formed in the wombs of their mothers? For those of us who may be personally against this legalized murder, if we have not done anything—not even a word in defense of the pre-born child, do we not have some of this innocent blood on our own hands? The human beings that are born can speak for themselves to refute the injustices and untruths of others; and they can hire legal defense to overcome a false charge against them. But what recourse is available to the child in the womb? Who will speak up for them? Who will defend them against this ungodly law that permits them to be slaughtered for profit? Who will demand legal action against those clinics that are buying parts of aborted babies for experimentation? It must be me and you!

One good way to start is by casting our vote on behalf of the unborn in the Presidential election. In other words we must vote only for the candidates—in all the races—that will defend the child-in-the-womb’s right to life. Therefore, at least one of the presidential candidates cannot receive our vote. His name is Barack Hussein Obama. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot imagine anyone in this nation who could be more pro-death than this man. When he was a state senator, he 3-times voted against a bill that would have required a physician to care for a child that was born alive during an abortion. In other words, Mr. Obama was saying—in plain English—that the abortion procedure has the right to a dead baby, even if it is born alive! Now there is a national law that requires such protection, and he has publicly voiced his opposition to it.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this election has only one issue that is of paramount importance: the life of the child in the womb. How can we worry about the condition of our—sometimes up, sometimes down—economy, while we ignore the fact that over one million of our pre-born babies are slaughtered for profit every year within our hospitals and abortion chambers? How can we justify spending billions of dollars protecting the environment, and various endangered species of creatures; and sit by passively, while billions of dollars are being made creating a new “endangered species,” the child in the womb? Of what importance can we place upon various multi-billion dollar heath care proposals, when none of them protect the pre-born child from being slaughtered? Why are many people so quick to condemn the war in Iraq, and the loss of nearly 4000 lives IN FOUR YEARS of battle, while—at the same time—adamantly remaining “pro-choice,” when it comes to showing concern for the murder of God’s most innocent ones who are being killed at a rate of over 4000 PER DAY, EVERY DAY in our Nation? What importance can we place upon any other issue, as long as this demonic slaughter of the innocents continues?

I give thanks to God and praise His Holy Name for raising up so many valiant defenders of the little ones in-utero—those who are directly involved with National, State and Local pro-life groups, as well as the many pregnancy centers, and all those throughout our land who give their time, talents and/or resources in support of these groups. Through their godly efforts, they may even be helping to wipe away some of the immaculate blood that especially is upon the hands of those unrepentant souls who have performed, received, or supported the deaths of these holy innocents. However, how much longer will God remain silent to this most evil crime against those whom He has created in His image and likeness?

In St. Iakovos’ (James) epistle, he proclaims that God’s mercy triumphs over His judgment [2:13]. For the past, 35 years we have been living witnesses of this. In spite of the tens of millions of His innocents that we have legally put to death, He—in His great mercy—has not permitted us to receive any tsunamis, earthquakes, or floods, which have killed millions of people in other lands during the past 35 years. However, when will He send us the justice that we deserve? When will He put into action the words He gave to the holy God-seer Moses: Cursed is he, who shall have taken a bribe to crush the life of innocent blood. [Deut 27:25]?

It is past time for all of us to stand up and take care of the least of Christ’s brethren, for—in doing so— we are doing it to Him. However, if we choose not to stand up for His little ones in the womb, then we need to prepare to face the possibility of hearing these words of our Master on that fearful Day: Verily I say unto you, insofar as ye did it not to one of the least of these, neither did ye do it to Me. (Mt 25:40)

Therefore, I entreat all of us to do at least three things for all the pre-born babies in our land, the first one needing to be done daily, until we depart this life:

(1) Pray for God to give us the grace to be delivered from these satanic acts in which God’s children are legally killed. Let us also pray that, again through God’s grace and each day: one doctor will stop doing abortions; one mother will choose to allow her child to be born; one pro-choice politician will repent and become pro-life; and one pro-choice family member or friend will also repent and take up the banner of caring for these least of Christ’s brethren.

(2) Contact the pro-life group in your local area, and get involved in whatever we can with their efforts. At the very least, we should give them a donation to support their virtuous cause; but let us try to do even more.

(3) On November 4, 2008, vote only for the candidates—nationally, state-wide and locally, from President to the local director of parks and recreation—who are solidly pro-life. If you must vote for a pro-abortion candidate, it would be better for your soul to remain home on November 4th. Otherwise, if your pro-abortion candidate is helped to get elected through your vote, then you will become an accessory to every abortion that he/she votes to defend; and you will have to accept that you will have a share of their innocent blood on your hands as well.

I know these are very strong words, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ; but as a Greek Orthodox priest, I feel compelled from the depths of my heart to do what little God will permit this sinful unworthy priest to do, to help people stay out of the fires of Hell. Please, my beloved fellow children of the living God, I beg you: do not help elect a pro-death President! Stand up for those whose legs are still being formed in the wombs of their mothers! Speak up for those, who may never be able to utter their first words! Vote for those who may never be able to vote! Choose life! Choose life!

He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Unworthy priest,
Demetrios Carellas

Orthodox Heritage, Sept./Oct. 2008, volume 6, issue 09/10, page 6  (

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The Thoughts of my Heart
by Fr. Seraphim Majmudar

November 2008

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

I hope you and your families are well during this season of the Nativity Fast. I am writing to you simply to share the thoughts of my heart, which has been heavy of late. Please forgive these unsolicited remarks—I offer them with humility and love, trusting that you will receive them with the same.

For some years now, I have had a growing sense that our common enemy, the devil, has sharpened his attacks against us, the faithful in Christ. I have felt that he has done more than just attack each of us in the midst of our own struggles and passions; he has been trying to tear us away from the very basis of our Faith: The eternal value of human life. It seems that he and his demons have been doing this on a massive scale, attempting to encompass the entire Church, if that were possible.

This feeling became very powerful during my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was there, in an apartment overlooking the Sea of Galilee, that I watched the results of the US national elections. I am sorry to say that as I took a walk along the shore, I literally felt sick in my bones. This is not because I hate Mr. Obama (I don’t) or because I am a partisan Republican (I am not). It is because it seemed that I just watched millions of Americans say definitively— by their votes on national, state and local levels—that the legalized slaughter of four thousand Americans every day (commonly called “abortion”) was simply “one issue among many”; that there are just as many important issues such as the Iraq war, the economy, health care, foreign policy and the environment—and to vote for otherwise undesirable candidates simply because they claim to be “Pro-Life” is foolish, “single-issue” voting.

Please understand that I am not trying to be political. Indeed, there is nothing “political” whatsoever about the legalized slaughter of millions of innocent children! It has nothing to do with Democrat, Republican, Liberal or Conservative—but that is how the demons want us to think about it. They want us to think that the most serious spiritual crisis of our generation is simply “one issue among many.” It is, in my poor and inexperienced opinion, a massive deception on a scale that perhaps only saints could begin to understand.

On the Mount of Temptation, the devil offered the entire world to Christ if He would only worship him. We might ask: why didn’t He? Imagine if Christ had said “Yes, I will worship you”, then the entire world would have been (presumably) under Christ’s benevolent rule. He could have ended suffering, poverty and war. All of this in exchange for a simple act of worship? It seems that the Lord could have brought about a “greater good” and yet did not.

All simply to avoid worshiping the devil? How would that matter in comparison to ending so much misery? The Gospel’s answer is simple: that the real enemy of mankind is death, not suffering. If Christ had brought about “global hope” by worshiping Satan, what would have changed? Nothing! Man’s greatest fear is death, and that would have remained as strong as ever. How nice can an earthly paradise be if we know that death awaits each one of us? The devil, in his arrogance, thought that Christ could be deceived, so he tempted Him with the same kind of utilitarianism that he is bringing about in our time: i.e., “let’s work together to bring about the most good for the most people.” The danger with this approach is that it is abstract: “good” is an abstraction, and it is measured statistically—not personally. The utilitarian universe is cold, impersonal and “just,” because “goodness” is an idea, and not a Person.

But the root of our Gospel faith is the Life of Persons: the Life of the Father, the Life of the Son, and the Life of the Holy Spirit. Everything derives from that: The holy fathers of the Seven Councils did not argue about health care or foreign policy—they defended the truth about the Persons of the Holy Trinity. We might be tempted to think that they wasted their time, wondering why they spent so much energy on seemingly arcane theological fineries, when they should have been in their own towns, helping people and “doing good.”

But this is precisely the point: How does good come about in the world? The holy fathers wanted nothing else than the Good. They would not settle for an earthly kind of “good,” because “only One is Good: that is God.” On the Mount of Temptation, Christ knew that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” and not through shrewd government policy, or even “people getting together for good.” Goodness comes into the world when Christ God comes into the world: It is not an abstraction, it is a Person, the Beloved of the Father. This is the teaching of the holy fathers, and they were willing to suffer torture and death to preserve it.

The Lord said that the “sons of this age are more shrewd than the sons of light,” and I fear that we are being tempted to think that we can bring goodness into the world through shrewdness, and not by grace.

Again: what is our starting point? It is the Person of Jesus Christ, the source of Life and every goodness. We are Orthodox Christians because we believe that goodness is a gift, that life comes into the world through our loving relationship with Jesus Christ. He sends the Comforter to His people, the New Israel. He does not sit back in Heaven and wonder if we will somehow figure out how to do good in this world. He fills real persons with the Holy Spirit, and those real persons bring life to the world—real persons like St. Silouan, who carried the burden of the entire world’s pain in his soul, and exchanged it for life and mercy from the Holy Spirit. This is how to bring goodness into the world!

The Lord creates every child to do the same thing St. Silouan did. So every time one of them is murdered, the world is deprived of an infinite blessing from God. What if Christ had been aborted? Or Panagia? Or St. Silouan?

The devil wishes to steal our inheritance in Christ by convincing us that it is foolish or irresponsible to “reduce” things to a single issue like this. But what would St. Paul say right now? Would he say, “Beloved brethren: Abortion is a fact; you’re not going to change it simply by changing the law. Work towards changing the underlying societal factors, and hope that you can reduce the overall number of abortions through smart and realistic policy.”? Never!

Would St. John Chrysostom say, “Yes, abortion is bad, but there are lots of other problems in the world. In fact, most of those children would lead miserable lives of neglect, abuse and poverty; for them, it’s probably better to get it over with quickly anyway.” Impossible!

Thinking like this is a direct denial of God’s goodness in creating every human being—because it is a denial of hope, which can only be found in Jesus Christ. And this is what it is all about, isn’t it? It is a question about hope: in my sorrow, in the world’s misery, is there really reason to hope? We think it over: Maybe it is better not to have lived—and therefore, not suffered—than to have lived and suffered? But by professing faith in Christ, we have the audacity to hope that the answer is yes. I say it again: By our faith in Christ, we make the outrageous claim that life—no matter how “horrible”—is worth living.

As St. Paul already observed, to the unbelievers, this is foolishness! Why? Because the world in its shrewd hopelessness cannot believe this. Ultimately, the world is simply trying to make the best of what it sees as an inherently meaningless situation. But if nothing is inherently meaningful, nothing can be inherently precious. “Good”—the abstraction—becomes simply that which is agreed upon as good. That essentially means, to use Joseph Campbell’s phrase, “Follow your bliss”. The legal corollary is to make sure that your bliss doesn’t interfere in anyone else’s bliss. Hence, we cannot interfere with a woman’s right to her own bliss, because it is her body, and therefore her bliss.

But we of the household of Faith say, “No! Life is inherently precious, because Jesus Christ is Life, and the Light of men. He dwelt in the Virgin’s womb for nine months” – and therefore, we cannot deliberately take the life of a person that Jesus Christ created. He is the Lord of Life and Death, and He alone.

Some may say that we cannot attempt to “legislate morality”, even if we are personally Pro-Life. But how is protecting innocent children from murder “legislating morality”? If four thousand American schoolchildren were being abducted and murdered every day, would it be “legislating morality” to try to stop it? Moreover, if you or I had our own child murdered, would we be comforted being told “well, we are succeeding in diminishing the overall child murder trend nationwide. Statistically, the pattern is approaching positive results.” None of us would. Why? Because we know instinctively that life is not about statistics—it is about real, unique and living persons, just as our faith is not abstract, but about Real, Living Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Others may feel that trying to change the law won’t do any good. But what is the law? It is, ultimately, a set of promises to God. Laws are born of our freedom: In our freedom, we make laws, and thereby tell the Lord, “These are the ways in which we bind ourselves freely to Thy precepts, O Lord.” Remember Psalm 118: I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. (Pss 118:32).

Law is an expression of our freedom as persons, and is a direct expression of the measure with which we wish to be measured. We may not be able to stop wars, famines or disease—indeed, the Lord said these things would remain until His Second Coming—but God did give us the freedom to choose our own laws. Why? Because by freely ordering our earthly laws according to God’s Law, we freely love God. Without freedom, there is no love. If we allow laws that destroy innocent human beings, then we are freely hardening our hearts before God. We cannot serve God and mammon. And on the Day of Judgment, what will really matter? The only thing that will matter is that we have soft hearts before Christ—that He knew us because we freely put our hope in Him, and not in the sons of men.

This is why the issue of abortion is so central: It is always presented, even by those of the Pro-Death position, as a question of freedom. Cain in his freedom killed his brother Abel; but did freedom give birth to love? No! Freedom gave birth to death. So the supposed “freedom of choice” is anything but true freedom. It is slavery to death disguised as freedom.

The problem, for many, is the “hiddenness” of the child in the womb. Is it a person? Is it just a ball of tissue? When does the soul enter it? But it is precisely this hiddenness that gives us the freedom to love these children, and to love the Lord who made them. Inside the hiddenness lies the freedom. We don’t hear their silent screams, but we defend them anyway. By loving them without sensing them, we fulfill the Lord’s word to Thomas: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.

The great irony now is that we are faced with the “Freedom of Choice Act—FOCA”, which President-elect Obama has pledged, on record, to sign into law. I leave it to you to read about FOCA and its potentially devastating spiritual consequences. I beg each and every one of you to do whatever you can to stop this monstrous attempt on the lives of thousands of innocent children.

I also ask you to commit to one concrete way you can help defend His innocent ones: Whether in the effort to block FOCA or other legislative efforts; to volunteer at a local pregnancy help center and offer hands-on kindness and love to real women in crisis; to pray for and console the women who have already aborted children; to speak up in your parishes and communities (“Blessed are those who so do and so teach...”); to donate money and time in whatever way possible; to offer support to families you know who have adopted children—and recognize them to be the heroes that they are. Most of all, I ask every one of you to search your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into His Truth, and to protect you from the deception of the evil one.

If every Orthodox Christian in the United States took this approach, is it not certain that God would fill our hearts—and purses—with everything we need to accomplish it? The Lord already said yes to this: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.”

Beloved brothers and sisters, let us stand firm for the Gospel in these dangerous times! Glory to Jesus Christ, our Hope and our Life!

Forgive me a sinner,
Unworthy Priest Seraphim Majmudar, Silikou, Cyprus.

Orthodox Heritage, March/April 2009, volume 7, issue 03/04, page 24  (

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Abortion and Public Policy 
by Rev. Peter J. Pappas 

One of the challenges facing the Orthodox Christian in modern American society is discerning the relationship between personal ethical convictions and questions of public policy. If one of the responsibilities of American citizenship involves voting for state and federal officials who will create and execute the laws, decisions regarding how personal convictions will affect public policy cannot be avoided. In simply voting for a candidate for public office, one must responsibly consider the implications of one's decision and the impact it will have on public policy. The issue of abortion, without question the most divisive social issue in America today, presents special problems in the formation of the Christian conscience regarding responsible citizenship. The Orthodox Church has consistently maintained an outspoken condemnation of abortion from apostolic times to the present. While the humanity of the unborn is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments, the oldest authoritative document that specifically condemns abortion is the Didache,which dates back to the early second century. Similar teachings appear in the writings of Athenagoras of Athens, Cyprian of Carthage, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Jerome, and John Chrysostom. The scriptural, patristic, and liturgical traditions forma consistent witness recognizing the humanity of the unborn from conception and consistently identifying abortion as the killing of a human being. The loss of life of the unborn child was regretfully tolerated only in cases where the life of the mother was endangered.(1) The Church's teaching on abortion took its most developed canonical form in Canon 91 of the Councilin Trullo. This canon prescribed a penance of up to ten years excommunication, the same as that for a repentant murderer. Such penances have virtually disappeared today, the emphasis being on reconciliation with God and with the faith community. Nevertheless, the ethical teachings of the Orthodox Church regarding abortion are clear and unambiguous.

To what extent these teachings should affect society at large needs further clarification. While the various Orthodox jurisdictions in America have not been silent on the issue, the lack of adequate explanations for these positions leads clergy and laity alike to adopt positions present in the popular culture which may not be informed by the consciousness of the Church. Thus, some maintain personal opposition to abortion as an immoral act, but do not believe the state should legislate against it.

This "pro-choice" position has become pivotal in the shaping of public opinion regarding the abortion issue. It has also been influential in the policies of Orthodox and Roman Catholic politicians who maintain personal opposition to abortion but do not wish to impose this view on others.While this position holds a certain attraction, it also reveals a fundamental confusion regarding the limits of reproductive freedom. In a poll conducted in 1989, seventy-four percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, "I personally feel that abortion is morally wrong, but I also feel that whether or not to have an abortion is a decision that has to be made by every woman for herself."(2) In another poll conducted the same month, only forty-one percent agreed with the statement,"Personally I believe abortion is wrong, but I think it should be legal."(3) While this position has never been supported by any official declaration of any Orthodox body in America, it is a position which has been adopted by many of the faithful, clergy and laity alike. However,this position will be shown to be morally indefensible in light of Orthodox Christian ethical teachings regarding the sanctity of life and the responsibility of the Christian to the state. Rather, Orthodox Christians should oppose abortion both on a personal level and seek its prohibition by the government. The ethical justification for this approach can be demonstrated by an examination of the presuppositions which underlie Christian ethical teachings on abortion, the responsibilities of the state in light of Christian Tradition, and the history of the abortion controversy in the United States.

Of primary importance to Christian ethical teaching on abortion is the principle of the sanctity of human life and creation in the image and likeness of God. Both these principles underlie the historic ethical teaching on abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide. To uphold the sanctity of life means affirming that human life possesses an intrinsic sacred quality which mandates its preservation and maintenance. While a sacred category of existence requires a religious foundation, purely secular societies can also use terminology derived from religious presuppositions which may have since been abandoned. Thus, reference to the sanctity of human life in the popular culture means that it has intrinsic value or worth. A system of ethics which upholds the sanctity of life will advocate the unconditional value and equality of all human life and will seek to advance its well being even in the face of conflicting values. Frequently placed in contradistinction to the sanctity of life is a"quality of life" ethic. Such an approach seeks to evaluate the worth of a particular human life based on the quality of existence the person experiences. Thus, at its best, the quality of life ethic seeks to improve the lives of people by taking into consideration a number of factors. Ethical choices should increase their ability to participate in relationships and activities which give expression to meaningful membership in the human community. Related factors include adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, and an environment which allows for the pursuit of meaning, purpose, and happiness without fear of persecution or other circumstances which would detract from these aims. However, when this concern for quality is placed in opposition to the sanctity of life,the resulting choices ultimately cheapen the value of life and place in danger the ability to pursue such goals as those stated above. Quality of life is an ambiguous concept which frequently depends for its definition on a subjective evaluation of human life and what constitutes a meaningful existence. Christians recognize that quality of life consists in a relationship with the Holy Trinity which allows for growth toward the image and likeness of God through the saving acts of Christ in the Holy Spirit.Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."(4) In a contemporary secular society, those making decisions regarding quality of life would for the most part not share this perspective. Therefore, the affirmation of the sanctity of life is necessary as a basis for the proper treatment of human life both in personal relationships and for the maintenance of a just and well ordered society.

Human life derives its sacred character from its creation in the image and likeness of God. The Biblical account of creation affirms this belief:"God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him;male and female He created them."(5) This doctrine is foundational for the Christian faith and provides the basis for resolving ethical questions involving human life. Orthodoxy affirms that even after sin entered the world, the image of God, while distorted, remained as a characteristic of the human person and that human moral capacities were not completely obliterated. Through sin, human beings have broken communion with God and thus have in some degree become "less than human."Because all human beings share this state, full human "personhood" cannot be a criterion for determining the value of one's life. All life has intrinsic worth as being because it is created in the image and likeness of God.

The idea of sanctity of life, to varying degrees, also appears in natural law. The Orthodox Church accepts and teaches the reality of a natural moral law which may be discerned through experience and reason and through which the fundamental rules and laws of human moral and social life are acknowledged.(6) When various cultures of diverse times and places adopt similar standards of behavior, this is an indication of a common moral sense among people derived from faith, reason, and experience. For example, nearly every human culture in recorded history has been characterized by laws against murder. While some cultures condone or even enjoin murder, the condoned murder tends to be highly selective. Murder may be approved for one's enemies but not for members of the group themselves.(7) Biological science also illustrates some aspects of natural law at its most basic level. Living organisms make attempts of immense magnitude to stay alive and reproduce. Thus, a universal law of self-preservation manifests itself in nature. So strong is this instinct, in fact, that one of the goals of Christian life is to subdue this desire and channel it into acts of self sacrifice on behalf of others. In terms of human reproduction, the force of nature is even more astonishing. While a fertile female produces one egg per month, during intercourse the male releases between thirty and sixty million sperm toward the target egg to increase the chances of fertilization. The fertilized egg must then survive a myriad of crisis stages, including implantation, development, and birth, before a child can be born. The struggle to produce a healthy living baby is one of the most amazing feats of nature, which includes a system of human reproduction that promotes the survival of the species.(8) In the case of abortion, the natural process is interrupted by the willful act of one of its own kind, frustrating the cycle of nature's survival mechanisms. Thus, a number of sources of natural law testify to the sanctity of human life.

The sanctity of life created in the image and likeness of God has historically provided the Church's basis for the proscription of abortion, which previously was accepted in some ancient societies. The practice of abortion was widespread in ancient Greece and was usually allowed by the law, which even prescribed it in certain cases. The medical community opposed the practice, and so the Hippocratic Oath required physicians to bind themselves not to give women poisonous drinks which would abort the fetus they were carrying. In ancient Rome the father had power of life and death over his family. The fetus was not regarded as a person, and abortion was widely practiced in Roman society.An exception to the frequent practice of abortion in antiquity was found among the Jews. Despite the absence of a specific prohibition of abortion in their scriptures, research has discovered no mention of a nontherapeutic Jewish abortion in any text of Jewish literature through A.D. 500.(9) The early Roman Empire continued the ancient Roman policy and prescribed no punishment for abortion with the consent of the father, unless the mother died.

This was the context in which the early Church formulated its teaching.The Didache as well as the Epistle of Barnabas give absolute strictures against abortion and refer to the fetus simply as a "child." In the second century, Athenagoras outlines the common, accepted Christian position that abortion is murder, that the guilty must give account to God, and that the fetus is a living being.(10) The late second and early third centuries give evidence of an increasing Christian effect on Roman law concerning abortion. Through the witness of Christians, many pagans were acquainted with their ethical perspective, which was similar to that of some pagan moralists. Christian apologists such as Athenagoras and Tertullian had addressed Roman emperors and governors concerning the standard Christian view.(11) When the empire enacted laws restricting abortion in the third century, including the prescript of Septimus Severus and Antonios Caracalla and the application of the Lex Cornelia to abortifacient drugs and drug dealers, it was quite likely due to the growing Christian population's influence on public
opinion toward punishing abortion and promoting life. For Clement of Alexandria, an abortion of one child is a contribution to the destruction of the entire human race.(12)Likewise, both Basil the Great and John Chrysostom equate abortion with murder. It is true, as Vigen Guroian points out, that these statements have a unique context and purpose:

In point of fact, the statements about abortion in the letters of St.Basil or the homilies of St. John Chrysostom were not intended to be metaphysical pronouncements about the beginnings of human life. Nor are they statements about basic human rights in the profoundest sense, leave aside the shallow nominalistic and voluntaristic way in which our society has come to define human rights. They are primarily exhortations directed to a specific community about what kind of a people it is and what behavior is or is not fitting with its identity as the bride of Christ and the sacrament of the Kingdom of trinitarian love open to all life.(13)

However, their statements are nonetheless applicable to the present discussion because the issue of abortion in the social context calls into question what kind of community is or is not to be promoted by the civil authorities and what behaviors are or are not appropriate for ANY civilized people. The danger Guroian points out is that regarding many issues of public policy, the Orthodox Church runs the risk of accommodating itself to the "common faith" of American civil religion. The basic doctrine of this perspective asserts that there exist individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which are of absolute public concern while other transcendent questions regarding human relationships with God and with each other are only of relative legitimacy and have no place in public discourse. Thus, the faithful must view their position in terms of a prophetic call to adherence to basic truths of which the Church is the guardian.

Issues of church and state were not absent even from the ministry of Christ. He spent much of His time dispelling the notion of the zealots that the messiah was to be an earthly ruler who would end Roman occupation of Palestine and establish a theocratic state. Thus it was a supreme irony that Jesus was crucified by the Romans precisely because he viewed Himself as a King and was seen as a threat to the civil authorities. Because the Gospel presents itself as the 'politeuma', the community of the coming age, it must accordingly see as its most intrinsic concern its disposition toward the present 'polis', the secular state.(14) St. Paul provides a clear summary of the character and purpose of the state:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."(15)

At the same time, Paul does not advocate an uncritical participation in the institutions of the state. Thus, in another passage, he asks the believers in Corinth, "Dare any of you, having a matter against another,go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?"(16) While St. Paul recognizes the legitimate authority of the state and instructs the believers in Rome to do the same, he exhorts the Corinthians not to avail themselves of this authority, even though it is within the sphere of competence of the state to make judgments. A unique set of methods and attitudes based on values such as love and mercy should differentiate the Christian community from secular institutions. Furthermore, in the end God's people will stand in judgment of the principalities and powers which stand behind the institutions and authorities of this world.

The Gospel does not confuse the kingdom of God with the state according to any theocratic ideal, and given the eschatological nature of the kingdom, it sees a certain tension between the earthly state and the heavenly kingdom. However, it does not reflect an ontological dualism between the Church and the world. The relationship found in the New Testament is a chronological tension between now and the future which affects the Christian's attitude toward the state. While the state is not divine in essence, it is willed by God as an instrument for the present age. The earthly state is God's servant so long as it remains in the order which is willed by God.(17) This order entails the ability to discern good and evil and the use of methods appropriate to its function to restrain evil. Hence the Christian must be obedient to the state while maintaining a critical stance toward it to see that it remains in the divine order. When its laws become unjust, the Christian must seek revision of these laws. When it commands what God has forbidden or forbids what God has commanded, then the Christian must disobey.Therefore, a Christian can remain obedient to any state up to the point where it becomes totalitarian.

While Orthodox Christians throughout history have sometimes confused the 'politeuma' with the earthly state, such as in the Byzantine empire or in Czarist Russia, the Church has never endorsed any particular form of government. However, the Byzantine concept of the 'symphonia' has often been a guiding principle in the relationship between church and state.The theory of 'symphonia' envisions a system of harmony and mutuality between church and state which is based on the sufficiency and independence of the two cooperating principles within one common society, without the subjugation of one to the other. This harmony is based on the belief that both church and state are instituted by one Lord: the Church "to initiate the Kingdom of God and to prepare for its eschatological realization" and the state "to serve the worldly needs of humanity,providing order, peace, justice and external harmony."(18) This concept provides a historical perspective which can inform contemporary reflection on the relationship of church and state. Given contemporary social realities this idea can never be realized in its fullness, nor would it be desirable. As John Meyendorff has pointed out, the Constantinian period out of which it emerged was characterized by two fundamental theological flaws: "in thinking that the authority of Christ could be identified with the political power of the state, and in considering that the universality of the Gospel is defineable in political terms."(19) At the same time,Christians must also avoid the doctrine of strict separation which seeks to silence the voice of the Church on matters of public policy. This doctrine implies an ontological dualism between the Church and the world,while the Gospel reflects a chronological and ethical tension. The separation doctrine perpetrates the secular notion that the world really does not need the Church or God.(20) Thus the Church must act in a spirit of obedience but must also maintain a critical posture toward the state.

At the same time, in a pluralistic setting such as the United States, it is impossible to resolve public policy issues solely on religious grounds. A precedent of translating purely religious doctrine into public policy would allow this to occur in a number of different areas where the dominant religious groups may want a particular version of scientific creationism taught in the public schools which would be sectarian in nature. Another example would be the unconditional support for the state of Israel advocated by many Christians based on a dispensationalist interpretation of Scripture. Consequently, something other than a religious definition of when human life begins is needed as the basis for legislation.

Human life is defined spiritually and philosophically in a multitude of different ways. Therefore, a biological definition of human life provides the only basis for enacting legislation. Any organism would clearly have to meet three criteria to determine whether human life is present: Is this being alive? Is this being human? And is this being complete? At no time during the entire period of gestation are any of these requirement slacking in the prenatal human life. This being has the characteristics of life. That is, the prenatal human life can reproduce his or her own cells and develop them into a specific pattern of maturity and function.(21)This is a unique being, distinguishable totally from any other organism,completely human in all of his or her characteristics, including a genetically unique set of 46 human chromosomes. Life is clearly present in the fertilized ovum and at subsequent stages of development.

Once it has completed the process of implantation, at the end of the second week, the embryo can only develop into a human being. Before this time, it can become a hydatidiform mole, a product of an abnormal fertilization which is formed of placental tissue.(22) However, the fact that an abnormal fertilization may occur which is only evident after the fact does not reduce the humanity of the normal zygote which is present from fertilization. Similarly, a large percentage of zygotes die before implantation and a significant number are lost afterwards through miscarriage due to severe chromosomal abnormalities. This does not reduce their humanity, but simply reveals a high mortality rate for this stage of life. Therefore, the prenatal life is distinctly human.

This being is also complete. Nothing new will be added from the time of fertilization except growth and development of what is already there at the beginning.(23) The zygote does require genetic information from the maternal mitochondria, and the maternal or paternal genetic messages in the form of messenger RNA or proteins.(24) However, this information is conveyed through interaction with the molecules already present in the zygote. Therefore, this fact does not reduce the humanity of the zygote from the completion of conception. A critical finding of modern biology is that conception is a process beginning with the penetration of the outer layer of the egg by a sperm and concluding with the formation of the diploid set of chromosomes, a process that takes about a day. Thus one cannot properly speak of a "moment of conception."(25) However, both fertilization and conception have traditionally been identified with the union of the sperm and ovum. Consequently, even though it refers to a process that takes several hours, conception is recognized as the beginning of a new human life because the three above stated criteria are present beginning at this point. Viability, that is, the ability to survive outside the mother's body, is of no value in determining the beginning of human life. Improvements in medical technology are continually moving backward the point at which the fetus can survive outside the womb. Thus,at best, viability is an imprecise measure of current technological capabilities, not a measure of the human capacities of the fetus. In 1981 the United States Senate conducted extensive hearings (8 days,57 witnesses) on the proposed "Human Life Bill." The official Senate report states:

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception [they defined fertilization and conception to be the same] marks the beginning of the life of a human being - a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.(26)

The report lists a limited sample of 13 medical textbooks, all of which state categorically that the life of an individual human begins at conception. The report then quotes several authorities who testified personally:

Professor J. Lejeune, Paris, discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down's Syndrome: "Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."Professor W. Bowes, University of Colorado: Beginning of human life? -"at conception."Professor H. Gordon, Mayo Clinic: "It is an established fact that human life begins at conception."Professor M. Matthews-Roth, Harvard University: "It is scientifically correct to say that individual human life begins at conception."

Dr. Leon Rosenberg, from Yale University, stated that he knew no scientific evidence showing when actual human life begins. But, he then defined human life in a philosophic way, and spoke to a value judgment. To quote the Senate report:

Those witnesses who testified that science cannot say whether unborn children are human beings were speaking in every instance to the value question rather than the scientific question. No witness raised any evidence to refute the biological fact that from the moment of human conception there exists a distinct individual being who is alive and is of the human species.(27)

Abortion advocates decry the "biological reductionism" in this argument because, as one writer states, "the beginning of human life is not the issue, for it can be argued that fetuses, even if they are `human life,' are still not human persons."(28) The same writer states, "The doctrine of fetal personhood is morally offensive from a feminist, socialist, and humanist standpoint because what makes human life distinct is its capacity for consciousness and sociability."(29) Since "personhood" is frequently defined by subjective criteria, legal definitions must be based on the biological evidence and previous legal precedent. Thus, as former President Ronald Reagan correctly stated, "The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life?"(30)

A synthesis of these Biblical, patristic, historical, and canonical formulations in light of contemporary social and political realities and scientific evidence will yield a number of principles which are readily applicable to sanctity of life issues. The state is instituted by God to promote good and to restrain evil. The church and the state not only have different ends, but employ different means to achieve those ends. The church employs public witness to proclaim the Gospel to the world and invites all people to respond to this call. As a charismatic body, the Church seeks to demonstrate God's love for the world through obedient service to the kingdom and offer it to God through eucharistic celebration. The state employs the rule of law and the use of force to enjoin compliance with that law. The church, in its capacity of prophetic witness, can seek to influence the state in its promotion of good, most notably when it has lost touch with the content of good and evil. In the past, the Church has not always exercised this capacity wisely and has sometimes employed it in a manner contrary to her own principles, such as using the powers of the state to confront heresy. However, the church must confront the state when unjust laws do not restrain evil or prohibit that which is good. In a republic such as the United States, the ability of the church to influence the state is expressed in the form of voting by the church's members in elections to choose the representatives who will create, interpret, and enforce the laws. In addition, this influence takes the form of voting for public referenda, lobbying elected officials,drafting legislation, and holding public office.

While Christians are called to address the state in certain instances and in the United States are able to do so in a variety of different ways,there remains the question of what responsibilities the state should assume and when Christians should address the affairs of state with a united voice. As has been clearly stated, the natural moral law indicates the necessity for a society to protect human life. Prohibitions against murder have been a part of nearly every society in recorded history. On the whole, the patristic tradition identifies in large part the content of the natural law with the Ten Commandments.(31) The commandment, "You shall not murder"(32) is a basic moral and legal precept without which no society could long endure. Since the state is the institution authorized to use force to enact compliance with the laws, the state is the only institution that can effectively prohibit a particular action. All theories of the state accept the thought that the political system,whatever else it does, must protect its members from physical harm caused directly by others. This responsibility is the minimum requirement for any state, whatever its form or ideology. A state that does not fulfill this responsibility is no state at all.(33)

The Church can affirm the sanctity of life, but it must look to science to answer the question, "When does life begin?" Therefore, the fact that abortion has consistently been viewed as a form of murder and that opposition to abortion was consistently due to concern for the life of the fetus, along with the state's responsibility to protect human life,provide a clear mandate for the state to take a role in prohibiting the practice of abortion. Consequently, to be personally opposed to abortion yet support its legalization (i.e. that it is a decision to be left to the woman and her doctor) is a morally untenable position. Christians and other citizens of good will must stand opposed to all efforts to make legalized abortion and euthanasia the practice of the nation. At the very least, the incarnational dimensions of the Orthodox Christian perspective do not allow for a withdrawal from engagement with the moral issues of the nation and state.(34) When the issue at hand involves the taking of human life, it becomes imperative that Christians respond.

If in fact the protection of human life has been a universally recognized function of government and abortion has long been recognized as taking a life, it becomes necessary to examine the causes of the breakdown of this consensus in the United States and other modern societies. The central issue of the regulation of abortion practices is whether abortion is, or can be assimilated to, homicide.(35) The historical evidence reveals a legal tradition that has consistently equated the two in the past. As was the case with the Roman Empire after the third century, the rise of the Western societies influenced by Judeo-Christian values was accompanied by laws prohibiting abortion. The earliest compilations of English common law reflect the fact that abortion was regarded as homicide. Bracton, who administered the King's law in the thirteenth century, includes in his list of provisions concerning homicide:

If there be someone, who has struck a pregnant woman, or has given her poison, whereby he has caused abortion, if the fetus be already formed or animated, he commits homicide. Abortion is homicide, but a dividing line is fixed at the formation or animation of the fetus.(36)

Punishments were not as severe in the early stages of pregnancy, before quickening because, medically speaking, people did not recognize the humanity of the unborn before this point.

American law, which developed in close relationship to British law,delegated to the states the responsibility for legislation on abortion.Generally, the old provisions of common law applied in the United States until the situation was clarified by the passing of statutes in each state. The earliest statutes were usually severe with abortion after quickening, but lenient or silent concerning abortion before that event.Amendments gradually eliminated the silence and even removed the distinction from the law of all but ten states. The reason for the development of the statutes is not to be found in any religious doctrine,but in the progress of scientific knowledge.(37) The campaign for enactment of stringent abortion laws in the United States between the 1860s and 1880 produced what historian James C. Mohr characterized as"the most important burst of anti-abortion legislation in the nation's history." At least forty anti-abortion statutes of various kinds were placed upon state and territorial law books during that period.(38)

As a result of this legislation, for over one hundred years abortion was prohibited throughout the United States except when the mother's life was threatened. The first permissive law was passed in Colorado in 1967, which by 1970 was followed by fifteen other states. After that, only one more state legalized abortion (because of a court order), while thirty-three states debated the issue in their legislatures. All of them voted against permitting abortion for any reason except to save the mother's life.(39)However, in 1973 the laws in these states were struck down by the Supreme Court. The Roe v. Wade decision, together with the companion case Doe v.Bolton legalized abortion in all 50 states for the full nine months of pregnancy. Specifically, the court allowed no legal restrictions for the first trimester, some restrictions in the second trimester until the point of viability, and only in the third trimester to protect the "life or health" of the mother. In defining "health" the court said that abortion could be performed "in the light of all factors - physical,emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the well being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health."(40)

Thus abortion-on-demand until birth became the national policy.

While this policy was not voted on by the citizens or enacted by legislators, there developed enough of a consensus in certain sectors of society to allow for the acceptance and maintenance of this policy. In the statements and writings of those involved in efforts to repeal abortion laws a number of themes were emphasized. One theme sounded in the statements is simply that abortion laws were outmoded and that a new thinking must be allowed to shape the laws. A second theme which had a great effect was that the laws were "cruel" and "uncompassionate."(41)Coupled with an emphasis on "quality of life" and a situational approach to morality, the major theme became that the abortion decision should be left entirely to the woman, in accordance with her own conscience. It is not made clear if there are norms that the conscience is to be shaped by. A final theme is the attempt, particularly by the press and some religious groups, to paint the anti-abortion position as a Catholic position, and to view the controversy as a sectarian struggle.(42) Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founding member of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL, today known as the National Abortion Rights Action League), documents how the organization portrayed the Catholic hierarchy as the force behind opposition to abortion and used latent anti-Catholicism in American society, with the help of the media, to win support for their cause.(43) Dr. Nathanson subsequently became an outspoken opponent of abortion based on his study of the science of fetology.

These approaches appear in much of the public discourse surrounding the abortion issue. Typical is the reaction of the New York Times to the Roe v. Wade decision: "Nothing in the Court's approach ought to give affront to persons who oppose all abortion for reasons of religion or individual conviction. They can stand firmly as ever for those principles, provided they do not seek to impede the freedom of those with an opposite view."(44) The Richmond News Leader responded in this way:

Catholic Church leaders may call the high court's position an `unspeakable tragedy' but the Catholic injunction against abortion is of rather recent origin in a religion two thousand years old. While Catholic spokesmen's horror at the decision can be understood, a majority of the high court properly recognized that no religion has a constitutional license to force its beliefs upon others.(45)

The religious, legal, and medical data previously stated clearly demonstrate the inconsistency of these positions. The only way to make abortion an issue of private morality is to make murder an issue of private morality, an unconscionable position for anyone who believes in the sanctity of life.

Two objections to this position should be noted at this point. While the equation of abortion and homicide has been well established, and with it the need for legislative action, could abortion be considered the lesser of evils given circumstances that may result if were not available? While many examples are cited to support the availability of abortion most concern social or economic factors which have a lesser significance than the value of a human life. Therefore, factors such as unwanted children, overpopulation, or pregnancy due to rape or incest cannot be used to justify the availability of abortion. However, one example that concerns protection of human life is the consideration of maternal deaths due to illegal abortions.

One of the arguments for legalized abortion prior to the Roe v. Wade decision was that thousands of women were dying from illegal "back-alley"abortions. One figure often quoted during this period was "5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year" due to illegal abortion. This figure was consciously fabricated by NARAL to gain public support for their position. Dr. Nathanson states, "I confess that I knew the figures were totally false,and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the `morality' of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?"(46) In 1972, the last year before Roe vs. Wade, the death toll from illegal abortion was 39 women. The death rate due to illegal abortion had been consistently declining each year due to improved surgical techniques and better antibiotics. Furthermore, the abortion technique itself was revolutionized at this time through the widespread introduction of suction curettage in 1970. Though safer if done by a licensed physician, one can expect that if abortion is ever driven underground again, even non-physicians will be able to perform this procedure with remarkable safety.(47) Therefore, while legal proscription of abortion would drastically reduce the number of abortions,some would occur, but these would certainly not cause widespread maternal deaths, a high of number of which could still not justify the 1.5 million fetal deaths each year due to legal abortion.

Another proviso frequently cited is that abortion must be considered within the framework of a number of issues which involve the sanctity of human life. For example, the abortion issue is frequently connected with the question of capital punishment. Thus, many adopt the position that it is inconsistent to support capital punishment and oppose abortion. The basic question concerns whether capital punishment violates the sanctity of human life. The book of Genesis indicates that capital punishment was instituted for a specific reason: "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man."(48) The moral basis for capital punishment in this account is the sanctity of life. Because man is endowed with the image of God, his life is so sacred that any malicious destruction of it must be punished by execution.(49) While Jesus consciously and explicitly reversed this practice of retributive justice for the Christian community, the state frequently and legitimately uses methods contrary to what the Christian is called to do personally. This viewpoint was probably why Ephraem the Syrian (ca. 306-373) recommended capital punishment for abortion.(50) There are a number of reasons why Orthodox Christians should oppose capital punishment today. It is at best an unfortunate necessary evil, precludes the possibility of rehabilitation, and is inconsistently applied. However, it is fundamentally a question of social justice and not a sanctity of life issue. Likewise, other issues cannot be considered to be of equal significance to sanctity of life issues such as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

When considered in light of the responsibilities of the state,decisions regarding such priorities involve the question of single issue politics. Is the abortion issue alone a sufficient criterion by which to evaluate the qualifications of a candidate for public office? While an affirmative answer to this question could be taken to extreme lengths, a commitment to the sanctity of all human life, born and unborn, clearly should be the most important consideration. American society in the nineteenth century faced a similar problem regarding the issue of slavery. The Supreme Court, in its Dred Scott decision of 1857, declared that black Americans could not hold citizenship according to the Constitution. As a result, the abolitionists began a movement which sought equal treatment under the law for all races. A number of significant problems confronted the nation at that time and many abolitionists went to extreme lengths to advance their position.However, they recognized the most important issue at that time was whether a court of law could declare a person of a certain race to be anything less than a person. In the same way, those who recognize the humanity of the fetus must do no less than to share this truth with others, and to call on the civil authorities to fulfill their responsibility in upholding the sanctity of life for all human beings.

The implications of the preceding arguments are clear. First of all,public officials cannot in good conscience take the position they are"personally opposed" to abortion but support a woman's "right to choose."Likewise, unless an Orthodox Christian is willing to abstain from the political process entirely, one cannot take refuge in the position that the Church bears witness to the sanctity of life but does not become involved in the political arena. Simply voting for a candidate who holds a "pro-choice" position amounts to indirect support for the continued practice of legalized abortion. The Church bears a significant responsibility to inform and educate the faithful. As one Orthodox pro-life activist has written, "it is essential that the Church make clear to those people involved in abortion including the woman, those who have given her counsel, those who have actually performed the abortion and even those whose support of abortion is limited to intellectual acceptance,that to continue to be considered part of the Orthodox Church, they must repent, turn away from their sinful ways and undergo a reconciliation into the Body of Christ."(51) Likewise, those involved in the struggle against abortion must make available viable options for women and families in crisis pregnancy situations. St. Basil states concerning abortion, "there is involved the question of providing justice for the infant to be born."(52)

The various Orthodox jurisdictions have taken a hopeful step in speaking out on the issue. The Twenty-Third Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America in 1976 issued the following statement:

The Orthodox Church brands abortion as murder; that is, as a premeditated termination of the life of a human being... Decisions of the Supreme Court and State Legislatures by which abortion, with or without restrictions, is allowed should be viewed by practicing Christians as an affront to their beliefs in the sanctity of life.(53)

In 1986, Rev. Ed Pehanich, a priest of the American Carpatho-Russian jurisdiction and John Protopapas, a member of the Orthodox Church in America founded a pan-Orthodox Pro-Life organization, Orthodox Christians for Life to serve as a resource for sanctity of life issues and to coordinate activities.(54) In 1989 both the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America issued resolutions opposing abortion on demand.(55)

The same year forty-five bishops and other spokesmen from every Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court's Webster decision. The brief points out that the issue of abortion has a moral and a legal dimension that have historically been intertwined and that laws have traditionally been positive expressions of moral norms.(56) It carefully situates the specific Orthodox position on abortion in the mainstream of the Judeo-Christian tradition of western civilization while emphasizing Orthodoxy's unique role as a witness to the teachings of the early Church. It also asserts that modern science has vindicated the ancient insight that a fetus is a human being with rights equal to those who have been born. Thus, it is appropriate for the court to make a statement on the constitutional value of human life,at whatever point it begins. This document provides a cogent legal argument which can serve as the basis for Orthodox Christians to proclaim their views at every level of government.

The position of the Orthodox Church regarding abortion is informed by a firm commitment to the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception. The scriptural, patristic, and liturgical sources of the Orthodox Tradition consistently reflect this position, which is found in the canonical formulations of the conciliar process. The modern science of fetology has affirmed the presence of human life throughout the entire period of gestation, thereby confirming the historical Christian position. Because of the state's responsibility to protect life, Christians must unite with one prophetic voice to call for the restoration of this protection which has been taken away in the United States. However,the secular forces in American society which deny the sanctity of life have influenced the thinking of many of the faithful on this important issue. Therefore, by promoting dialogue and reflection on this issue,the Church can encourage participation in appropriate and effective actions based on firm personal convictions. Orthodox Christians will thus be able to defend the rights of every human person so that they may have life,and to proclaim the new life in Christ so that they may have it more abundantly.


(1) John Protopapas, "An Eastern Orthodox Christian Perspective on the Sanctity of Human Life," p. 1.
(2) George Skelton, "Most Americans Think Abortion is Immoral," Part 1, Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1989, p. 1.
(3) Ethan Brommer, "Most in US favor ban on majority of abortions, poll finds," The Boston Globe, March 31, 1989, p. 12.
(4) John 10:10, Holy Bible: The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984).
(5) Genesis 1:27
(6) Stanley S. Harakas, Toward Transfigured Life (Minneapolis: Light and Life Publishing Company, 1983), p. 120.
(7) R.C. Sproul, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1990), p. 41.
(8) Sproul, pp. 43, 44.
(9) Michael J. Gorman, Abortion and the Early Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1982), p. 33.
(10) Gorman, p. 54.
(11) Gorman, p. 61.
(12) John Kowalczyk, An Orthodox View of Abortion (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1979), p. 14.
(13) Vigen Guroian, Incarnate Love (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987), p. 126.
(14) Oscar Cullmann, The State in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956), p. 4.
(15) Romans 13:1-4
(16) 1 Corinthians 6:1.
(17) Cullmann, p. 89.
(18) Stanley S. Harakas, "Orthodox Church-State Theory and American Democracy," Greek Orthodox Theological Review 21 (1976), p. 401. (19) John Meyendorff, Living Tradition (Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1978), p. 143.
(20) Guroian, p. 159
(21) John C. Willke, Abortion Questions and Answers (Cincinnati: Hayes Publishing Co., 1985), p. 52.
(22) Thomas A. Shannon and Allan B. Wolter, "Reflections on the Moral Status of the Pre-embryo" Theological Studies 51 (1990), p. 608.
(23) Willke, p. 53.
(24) Shannon and Wolter, p. 608.
(25) Shannon and Wolter, p. 610.
(26) Willke, p. 40.
(27) Willke, p. 42.
(28) Rosalind Pollack Petchesky, Abortion and Woman's Choice (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1990), p. 341.
(29) Petchesky, p. 345.
(30) Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), p. 22.
(31) Harakas, Toward Transfigured Life, p. 133.
(32) Exodus 20:13
(33) Fred M. Frohock, Abortion: A Case Study in Law and Morals (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1983), p. 168.
(34) Stanley S. Harakas, Living the Faith: The Praxis of Eastern Orthodox Ethics (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1992), p. 260.
(35) Frohock, p. 169.
(36) Grisez, Abortion, pp. 186-8 in CAC Abortion Debaters' Handbook (Washington, DC: Christian Action Council, 1984), p. 41.
(37) Grisez, p. 191.
(38) William Brennan, The Abortion Holocaust: Today's Final Solution (St. Louis: Landmark Press, 1983), p. 8.
(39) Willke, p. 19.
(40) Willke, p. 21.
(41) Stephen M. Krason, Abortion: Politics, Morality, and the Constitution (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984), p. 49.
(42) Krason, p. 51.
(43) Bernard Nathanson, Aborting America (Toronto: Life Cycle Books, 1979), and The Abortion Papers (New York: Frederick Fell, 1983).
(44) The New York Times, New York, NY, January 24, 1973.
(45) The Richmond News Leader, Richmond, Virginia, January 24, 1973.
(46) Nathanson, Aborting America, p. 193.
(47) Nathanson, Aborting America, p. 194.
(48) Genesis 9:6.
(49) Sproul, p. 33.
(50) Gorman, p. 65.
(51) Valerie Protopapas, "Orthodox Action Plan Against Abortion," p. 1.
(52) D. Cummings, trans., The Rudder (Chicago: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957), St. Basil the Great, Canon 2, p. 789.
(53) Stanley S. Harakas, Let Mercy Abound: Social Concern in the Greek Orthodox Church (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1983), p. 145.
(54) For more information, write to:
Valerie Protopapas, Executive Secretary
Orthodox Christians for Life
P.O. Box 805
Melville, NY 11747
(516) 271-4408
(55) Rachel's Children, Fall 1989, Vol. 3, No. 2, p. 1.
(56) James George Jatras and Paul Farley, in the Supreme Court of the United States, October Term. 1988, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, Brief Amicus Curiae of the Holy Orthodox Church, p. 2.

Rev. Peter J. Pappas is a priest in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.originally published in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, Volume 39 - No. 3, 1995
reprinted by Orthodoxy Today

Rev. Peter J. Pappas is a priest in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.