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10/21/97 Midwestern trustees reiterate partial-birth abortion stance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–For the third time in recent years, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees expressed their objection to abortion, dealing specifically with the need for an honest portrayal of partial-birth abortion by government leaders.
Consideration of a resolution on the subject prompted an extended discussion Oct. 21 during the regular board meeting in Kansas City, Mo.
Basing their interest on “the sacredness of human life and the command of the church to defend the defenseless,” the resolution offered by trustee Bob Lilly of Maryland appealed to federal and Missouri state government leaders to stop “the deceit and denial of truth” and the “barbaric and inhumane killing of innocent babies” through partial-birth abortion.
Trustees cited in the resolution the sacredness of human life as a creation of God, as well the American Medical Association’s concurrence with the medical testimony from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Tennessee’s U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, a medical doctor, of “this grisly procedure” as “never medically indicated or necessary for the health of the mother.”
During discussion, trustees Steve Simpko of Indiana and Reagan Bradford of Oklahoma appealed for slight changes in the wording to avoid pejorative characterizations of Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan and President Clinton, while agreeing with the focus of the resolution.
The resolution decried the vetoing of partial-birth abortion ban bills at both the national and state levels on the grounds of medical necessity. It also called on all Southern Baptists and Christians to call and write their elected officials until the practice is banned.
Trustee Robert Mowrey of Tennessee expressed his support for the resolution and decision to vote for it but questioned the need of repeated statements, asking, “Do you believe there’s anybody left in the United States that doesn’t know what we believe?”
Lilly spoke of the value of publicly stated positions which are publicized through the news media. “The public does not know what we believe unless we tell them.”
Trustee chairman Ronnie Rogers of Arkansas clarified the purpose of a resolution as expressing “the heart of that body.” He also pointed to the value a resolution has to encourage “those on the front lines who look around and say, ‘They’re still standing for it.'”
“We have to keep affirming our position to edify and encourage our own hearts to continue the battle,” added trustee Alan Bartlett of Missouri.
Trustee Ron Fullerton of California expressed concern over Southern Baptists being known more for their protests than their soul-winning. “We have to be careful we don’t go over the line,” he said, while clearly stating his objection to abortion and later voting for the resolution.
“The issue is if it’s true, we say it,” responded Robert Collins of Missouri. “When Noah came home at night, I think his wife said, ‘For 110 years you’ve been saying this and nobody’s listening,’ and he just said, ‘God told me to do it.'”
Trustee David McAlpin of Missouri added, “From a pragmatic standpoint, I would say every little nudge helps in the political realm. Our Baptist deacon governor just vetoed the partial-birth abortion bill,” adding that legislators came close to overriding the decision. “There is intense pressure and people are changing on this issue and I think this helps, especially in Missouri.”
Trustee Buster Brown of South Carolina referred to the extended struggle over slavery which eventually led to its end. “Do what’s right in spite of public opinion,” he said.
Prior to the board’s unanimous approval of the resolution, Bradford further encouraged trustees to be aware of other related issues which demand a response.
“The focus has been on the beginning of life, but there is a battle that is occurring that is tied up in health insurance dollars that is on the other side,” Bradford said, referring to discrimination based on age which ultimately leads to the practice of euthanasia.

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  • Tammi Ledbetter