Christian people have struggled for centuries with the issue of if and when killing a human being if justified. Christian society moved from a position of absolute refusal to even defend oneself from fatal attack to the writings of Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica in the fourteenth century, which remain the standard for Western law with regard to the use of force.
The first criteria for the use of force is:
- The force used to prohibit harm to an individual must be the least amount of force reasonably necessary to protect oneself from another. Shooting an abortionist is not the least amount of force necessary to prevent the killing of unborn children. A whole array of tactics could prevent an abortionist from getting to the business of killing children.
- Stopping an act of aggression in defense of oneself or another must be with the moral certitude that harm will be inflicted upon the individual if force is not used. Since we cannot know for certain what is in the heart and mind of the abortionist on any given day as he goes into the abortuary, we cannot prove that harm will be done to an individual. Each of the abortionists who have testified at the Pro-Life Action League’s “Meet the Abortion Providers” conferences, walked into his or her abortion clinic one day for the last time – to clear out his desk and quit.
- The person preventing the harm to an individual cannot intend to inflict mortal injury on the aggressor. Since the Christian has a scriptural mandate to love his enemies, when intervening for the life of oneself or another, the Christian cannot intend to kill even if that is the result.
All three of these conditions must be taken together as the criteria for justifying the use of lethal force. The Christian understanding on the use of force has also been predicated on the fact that the initial act of aggression is illegal according to lawful authority. This poses a problem where the abortion issue is concerned. The legal authority of the day has allowed for the killing of innocent, defenceless human beings, the most serious inequity in many generations. We therefore have the obligation to seek remedies to this grievous injustice. But we may not fight evil with evil or inflict mortal injury to attain our goals.
We in the pro-life movement are called upon to be loving examples of the peaceful, non-violent resolution of injustice. We are not the ultimate judges of the actions of abortionists. Our job is to attempt to educate them on the value of life and the grave evil of their actions, to pray for them and provide them the opportunities and incentive to quit the abortion business. We must leave to God the awesome responsibility of Judge.
The Pro-Life Action League has focused on the task of converting abortionists. We recommend sending our video, “Meet the Abortion Providers” to each abortionist. Try to establish some kind of a relationship with to him about why he is involved in abortion. Some may mistakenly believe they are providing a service for women.
Another significant factor to keep in mind is that the abortionist is not the prime threat to the baby’s life. He is the hired killer. The mother is the more imminent aggressor, and she is frequently under pressure from a boyfriend, a husband or a parent. She is still free to go to another abortionist if the first one is unavailable.
We come back to the fact that conversion is the only real solution to the assault on unborn life. The abortionists need conversion. Society in general needs to wake up to the pervasive evil of abortion. As frustrating as it may be, we will triumph only if we play by God’s rules.
Reprinted from the August 1994 Pro-Life Action News.