How can a Christian doctor take the life of an unborn child? I've been asked that on television interviews and by reporters. It is not an easy question to answer, but let me tell you how I moved from "pro-choice" to "pro-life."
In my third year of medical practice, while working at a county hospital, I took a post-graduate course sponsored by Planned Parenthood.
California had just legalized abortions for early pregnancies years before the court case of Roe v Wade. Offering that service to my patients would, according to the instructors, reduce unnecessary deaths of pregnant women, cut down on the "alarming rate of population growth," and help stop the abuse of "unwanted children." Only the first of these goals proved to be true.
All of these seemed beneficial at the time. I returned to my practice with zeal to "undo an injustice to my patients." Since I was on a fixed county salary, I knew that I would not gain a dime for my efforts, but money for me was not the issue. It was fairness for my patients who had little money.
I HAD TO KNOW. WERE THE ABORTIONS I PERFORMED KILLING REAL PEOPLE?
Abortions were offered to the women to help their physical and/or mental health. They were done with the consultation of a psychiatrist and a surgeon. Patients soon learned the magic words: "If I can't have an abortion, I'll kill myself." This came to be known as "abortion on demand."
It took three years for me to realize those abortions were devastating not only to the unborn but also to their mothers and greater families.
Later, the California law was changed so that abortions became a private decision between a patient and her doctor. Pregnancies could be terminated up to six months of gestation.
For several years, I was the only doctor in our area doing abortions. I tried to talk the patients into alternatives such as adoption. My wife and I adopted our youngest daughter, so I had that experience to share. Nearly all of my patients who sought abortion wouldn't change their minds. "I want to end this pregnancy now. That's my right under the law."
I felt used but didn't know how to get out of the situation. Most of the doctors in the area were against abortions, but some secretly referred patients to me. Later, one or two additional doctors in the area began performing abortions, but most of the medical profession viewed us with contempt.
Eventually, only the head surgical nurse at the hospital would assist me in these procedures because she didn't have a choice. She hated abortions as much as I did. Shredding little babies was grotesque and nauseating.
Technology advanced and videos were taken in the mother's uterus proving very human attributes of unborn children such as fear, love, and happiness. Unborn babies react to twins, voices, and music. These unborn children even suck their thumbs.
When does a child become a real person? Is it only after he or she is born or is it from the moment of conception? Is an embryo a human being? For me, that was not just an academic question. I had to know. Were the abortions I preformed killing real people?
Only the Author of Life could give me the answer. In the Bible, three different people were treated as people by God before they were born: Job, David, and Jeremiah. Job even claims that God called him before he had bones. As a physician, I knew that bone formation begins before the mother even knows she is pregnant. In addition, it is at conception that a new being with a unique genetic pattern from anyone else in the world is created. I began to believe that destroying this unique being is indeed murder. The claim that the mother owns this new life is unjustified. Their genetic makeup is unlike the mother's, and 50 percent of the time their gender is different. The mother is only the caretaker and must adjust her lifestyle accordingly.
As I wrestled with these thoughts, two more unwanted abortion cases came to me which sealed my decision to change my practice forever.
A woman who claimed she was six months pregnant asked for the "salting out" procedure. This involved injecting a strong salt solution into the uterus to kill the baby and cause premature delivery. Instead of that happening, the mother delivered a live, nearly full-term baby.
I didn't know what to do. The baby was too badly burned to survive, but I couldn't strangle it. I just let the baby lie in bed with the mother until it died several hours later. I resolved never to do the salting out procedure again.
The second patient was less than three months pregnant. On evacuating her uterus, I found only dead placental tissue. I told her she had already had a miscarriage and sent the material to the laboratory for confirmation. Six months later she delivered a healthy full term baby which she immediately placed for adoption. The only medical explanation would have to be a bifid uterus. Even so, she sued me for malpractice and 18 years of child support. She also asked for thousands of dollars for the pain and suffering of having a normal delivery of a normal child. I appealed to my insurance lawyer to fight every claim. Instead, he offered her $2000 to drop all claims. She took the money and dropped the case.
BY HIS GRACE, I'VE CHANGED FROM A DOCTOR OF DEATH TO A DOCTOR OF LIFE.
I saw then that medically needed abortions are extremely rare. Abortions are mostly about fear, shame, and selfishness. I stopped all abortions.
Later, the enormity of what I had done hit me. There was no way I could undo the harm I had done. Only God could forgive me of those terrible crimes. By His grace, I've changed from a doctor of death to a doctor of life.
Grant C. Clark, M.D., worked in various medical facilities prior to having his own private practice for 26 years. He is also ordained as a minister and the father of three children.