Posted by: adventlife | May 10, 2015

Adventists & Abortion: Progress Report, by Nic Samojluk

Adventist Health

Historical Background

Most Adventists are aware that our pioneers were diametrically opposed to abortion, considered it to be a flagrant violation of one of God’s commandments of the Decalogue, and labeled it as plain murder. They were definitely pro-life.

Many Adventists are also aware that this pro-life stance of the Adventist Church was seriously compromised back in 1970 when Neal Wilson, the president of the North American Division [NAD] of the church, publicly announced that our church was leaning toward abortion because there were too many people and too much hunger in the world. [1]

The Catalyst for this Unfortunate Moral Detour

Some may ask: What motivated the NAD leader to make such a drastic change in our attitude towards the killing of innocent unborn children? Politicians would say: “Follow the money.”

What happened is that the State of Hawaii decided to legalize abortion, and the non-Adventist physicians at our Castle Memorial Hospital [CMH] demanded the right to offer abortion services to their patients and made it clear that in the event their request was denied, they would take their patients elsewhere.

This unusual situation was elevated to the corporate leadership of the church, our leaders panicked for fear of loss of revenue, the fear of the Lord went out the window, and it was replaced with the fear of men.

The New Mission of the Church: Healing & Killing

The result was that killing was added to the healing mission of some of our medical institutions. At least 12 of our hospitals decided to participate in the profitable abortion business, [2] and at least five of them were reported as offering both the so-called “therapeutic” and “elective” abortions to the public. [3]

This new attitude towards the value of human life created a strong opposition by numerous pro-life Adventists who protested this deviation from moral duty, but their voices eventually died down following the approval by the General Conference Autumn Council of a document known as “Guidelines on Abortion,” [4] which enshrined the new pro-choice/pro-abortion as the normative attitude towards the taking of human life.

The Day Ministry Magazine Went Silent on Abortion

The adoption of the guidelines document was followed by the loss of interest by our Adventist media in the issue of abortion. Prior to 1992, the date our guidelines were voted, the controversy about this topic was so prevalent that the editor of our “Ministry” magazine made the following observation:

“Our articles on abortion have touched a sensitive nerve. We are receiving more email on this subject than on any other recently published article. The letters are running 10 to 1 in favor of the church adopting a stricter standard.” [5]

Then suddenly, a few years following the publication of our current Adventist Guidelines on Abortion a long silence followed on the pages of this periodical.

A New Pro-life Movement is Born

The deadly blow to the Adventist pro-life movement lasted until the end of the millennium and into the beginning of the new one; the old pro-life Adventists were disbanded with many of them leaving the church; some started new independent ministries, some joined non-SDA denominations, and others converted to the Catholic faith because of its strong stand against abortion.

The author of this report made many unsuccessful attempts to get his opposition to abortion published by the Adventist media, and he wrote many letters to Adventist leaders that fell on deaf ears. He and several others wrote to the General Conference and all they got in response was: “Read the Guidelines on Abortion.”

Two Books on Abortion and the SDA Church

In his desperation, this writer published two books dealing about this controversial topic [6] following his doctoral dissertation on the same subject, and he started the publication of his views on a couple of blogs [7] and in Facebook. This time his efforts yielded better results and both “Adventist Today” [8] and “Advindicate” [9] published some of his writings.

Some Valiant Adventist Pro-lifers

Other valiant Adventist pro-lifers sounded the alarm as well. I have a long list of individuals who participated in this effort. I will highlight only a few of them:

· George Gainer, documented the heavy involvement in abortion by our Castle Memorial Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, and at least ten additional medical facilities. [11]
· Dan Rotthoff, a retired pro-life businessman, purchased 3,000 copies of a pro-life book and mailed them to leading Adventists.
· Michael Peabody, a Los Angeles lawyer, founder of “ReligiousLiberty.TV” [12] published several articles in support of the unborn’s right to life.
· Steve Wohlberg, the director/speaker of “The White Horse Media,” author of 30 books, with an incredible experience in Adventist evangelism, began taping a 13 television series dealing with the topic of abortion. [13]
· Martin Weber, who had fought very hard in 1992 at the GC Annual Council in order to derail the adoption of the Guidelines on Abortion, continued his fight for the right to life for many decades.
· 3ABN featured two pro-life women who experienced peace and forgiveness following their abortions, and has been including Pastor Steve Wohlberg’s Television series on the abortion controversy in their regular programming.
· Shane Hilde, director and founder of “Advindicate,” published several articles critical of the Adventist position on abortion. [15]

The Impact of the Adventist Pro-life Efforts

We have no way of accurately assessing the influence of the efforts of these Adventist pro-lifers on the minds of Adventist leadership and membership; nevertheless, I was able to verify from public records, for example, a dramatic drop in the number of abortions reported for our Washington Adventist Hospital for the 2006-2010 years: [14]

2006: 47
2007: 48
2008: 36
2009: 27
2010: 29

This represents a significant reduction in the number of abortions in said Adventist medical institution when compared with the report I secured for this institution a decade earlier:

According to the “Health Services Cost Review Commission,” [HSCRC] a State of Maryland agency charged with the responsibility of acting as a repository of hospital data, the number of abortions performed at our “Washington Adventist Hospital” for the stated years was:

1992: 547
1993: 287 from January through June [half a year] which gives us an estimated 574/year

A Public Claim Made by the General Conference President

In 2011, Ted Wilson, the president of the General Conference, publicly
Claimed in the City of Redlands, that the number of elective abortions in Adventist hospitals had dropped to “almost zero.” If this claim could be independently verified, it would mean a great step towards the eradication of abortion in our Adventist medical facilities.

Unfortunately, he added that abortions now are performed inside abortion clinics. My question is: If the dramatic reduction in the number of reported abortions performed in our Adventist hospitals is due to the fact that those abortions are now done inside our clinics, then we may have made no progress towards our goal of reducing the number of deaths due to abortion.

The Shady Grove Hospital Clinic

“Adventist HealthCare also runs a primary-care clinic for the uninsured in Shady Grove Adventist Hospital’s Germantown emergency center. The clinic now has a pre- and post-natal department for uninsured patients that provides family planning, according to Washington Adventist Hospital’s spokeswoman Lydia Parris. …

Adventist HealthCare is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which has no religious policies governing health care. Adventist hospitals perform abortions and provide a full range of reproductive care, Parris said. …” [16]

Our Shady Grove Hospital in Maryland does have such a clinic, according to this newspaper report. My understanding is that other hospitals simply rent office space to abortionists

Renting Office Space to Abortionists

Elizabeth Iskander, M.D. offered the following explanation regarding a clever arrangement by one medical facility:

“My husband is OB/GYN at Glendale Adventist Medical Center X 38 years. He has seen abortions become more and more restrictive to where only about 1 is done per year.The problem is that GAMC leases physician space in the adjacent building. There is no provision in the leases restricting abortion, which can be done as an office procedure.” [17]

This type of arrangement is a very clever one: We rent out space to abortionists who do the dirty work, which allows us to say: We no longer perform abortions inside our Adventist hospitals; they are done by physicians who rent space from us over whom we have neither control nor authority.

Progress Report: Elective Abortions

What can we conclude regarding our progress report as far as elective abortions are concerned? Has the church made any progress towards a pro-life position on this issue? The answer is “yes.” As far as attitude towards the sacredness of human life is concerned, the progress is evident when we compare what Neal Wilson said in 1970—“the church is leaning towards abortion”—and what his son, Ted Wilson, stated in 2011 in the City of Redlands—“elective abortions in Adventist hospitals are almost down to zero.”

Of course, we have no way of confirming this through an independent source. The public entity that provided me with statistics related to our hospitals in the State of Maryland, does not discriminate between elective and therapeutic abortions. In addition, what Wilson said about health clinics seems to suggest that all we have accomplished is diverting abortion cases to health clinics.

Progress Report: Therapeutic Abortions

What about the so-called “therapeutic” abortions? The right answer is probably, to borrow Wilson’s phrase, the progress is “almost zero.” Most Adventist medical institutions adhere to the “Guidelines on Abortion” approved by the church’s Autumn Council in 1992—a document that was never submitted to the worldwide church in general session.

My hope was that there was one exception to this rule in the case of the “Adventist Health System” with headquarters in the State of Florida that controls the business of 48 Adventist hospitals associated with the SDA Church. This hope was dissipated when I received the following statement by email from a spokesperson of said entity:

“Adventist Health System is dedicated to the preservation of life and the welfare of every human being that is cared for in our hospitals. When a situation requires the termination of pregnancy be considered, we follow the guidelines set forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”

What is Wrong with Those Guidelines?

Perhaps you might wonder: “What is Wrong with Those Guidelines?” The answer is: They justify the killing of totally innocent human beings prior to birth under a variety of circumstances such as rape, incest, and when the unwanted pregnancy affects the mental health of the woman.

This means that while we let, for example, the rapist enjoy life, we condemn the unborn to death. We assign a higher moral value to the temporal effect of the mental health of the pregnant woman than the permanent deprivation of life of the unborn baby.

A woman says to her doctor: “I am mentally depressed, I cannot concentrate on my studies or work, I cannot sleep,” and bingo, another innocent human being is sacrificed on the altar of convenience.

My Humble Suggestion to this Moral Dilemma

Given the current moral dilemma, what should our church do? I strongly believe that our church would do well to disconnect itself from the abortion business, except when both the life of the unborn and the pregnant woman are doomed to a certain death. Saving one life, instead of loosing two, is still pro-life. Our president has been calling church members for a revival and reformation. A true reformation must include the protection of the unborn.

Not long ago I had the opportunity of dialoguing with a leading Adventist professor who said: “Do not forget that therapeutic abortions represent only two percent of abortion cases.” My answer was: “If I am guilty of the murder of only two percent of the human beings in my city, I still go to jail.”

Does the Church have the Power to Implement my Proposal?

Can the church divorce itself from the abortion business? I believe that it can! But this will be the topic of my next article. The secret lies in the ownership of the “Adventist” trade name. This is why I started a petition that is currently circulating among Adventists. If you agree with me on this controversial topic, please sign it! [18]

References

[1] . George Gainer, “The Wisdom of Solomon?” Spectrum 19/4 (May 1989): 38-46); “Abortion: history of Adventist guidelines,” https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1991/08/abortion-history-of-adventist-guidelines

[2] Ibid

[3] Gerald R. Winslow, “Abortion Policies in Adventist Hospitals” Spectrum 19/4 (May 1989): 47-50.

[4] http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/guidelines/main-guide1.html

[5] https://adventlife.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/hello-world/

[6] Nic Samojluk, “From Pro-life to Pro-choice,” and “Murder in Paradise” http://www.lulu.com/shop/nic-samojluk/murder-in-paradise/paperback/product-21623695.html

[7] https://adventlife.wordpress.com, and http://adventlifenews.wordpress.com

[8] Nic Samojluk. Adventist Today, “The Puzzling SDA Apathy Towards the Plight of the Unborn” (Jan/Feb 2007).

[9] Nic Samojluk “The ultimate form of child abuse” http://advindicate.com/articles/3008

[10] Nic Samojluk, “The Ultimate Form of Child Abuse”
https://atoday.org/ultimate-form-child-abuse.html

[11] George Gainer, “Abortion: history of Adventist guidelines” https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1991/08/abortion-history-of-adventist-guidelines

[12] http://religiousliberty.tv

[13] http://whitehorsemedia.com/

[14] https://adventlife.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/the-long-journey-towards-the-eradication-of-abortion-in-adventism-by-nic-samojluk/

[15] “The ultimate form of child abuse” http://advindicate.com/articles/3008, “La Sierra University’s Edward C. Allred Center honors notorious abortionist,” http://advindicate.com/articles/2560, and “Adventists confused about church’s position on abortion,”
http://advindicate.com/articles/2013/12/6/adventists-confused-about-churchs-position-on-abortion?utm_source=ADvindicate+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3759032199-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_1e02e3be82-3759032199-69438737

[16] “Women’s groups: Holy Cross falls short with health services,”
http://ww2.gazette.net/stories/10142009/damanew221347_32524.shtml

[17] “Adventists confused about church’s position on abortion,”
http://advindicate.com/articles/2013/12/6/adventists-confused-about-churchs-position-on-abortion?utm_source=ADvindicate+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3759032199-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_1e02e3be82-3759032199-69438737

[18] “Convince the SDA Church to get out of the abortion business,”
https://www.causes.com/campaigns/90465-convince-the-sda-church-to-get-out-of-the-abortion-business

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Responses

  1. Thanks for more good research. God bless your efforts.


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