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ISSUE 118 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/22/2005

Patrick counters Weddington

By Julie Gunderson
Executive Editor

Friday, April 22, 2005

In the spirit of fair and balanced discussion, the Political Awareness Committee (PAC) and the L’Abri lecture series co-sponsored a speech by Dr. John Patrick, an author and retired Ottawa medical professor who spoke on the ethics of abortion April 14 in Viking Theater. Patrick’s speech, billed as "Roe v. Wade: The Other Side of the Coin," was given in response to last month’s PAC sponsored speech by Sarah Weddington, lead counsel for Roe in the landmark Supreme Court case.

Patrick, who received his medical training in London, England, before going on to teach in Ottawa’s Department of Biochemistry and Pediatrics for 20 years, said that speaking on the pro-life side of abortion on college campuses today is not an easy job. When he was first asked by a group of American students to come to their campus, he refused the invitation.

"I told them that I had no desire to be lynched in public," Patrick said.

Eventually, Patrick agreed to lecture on why abortion is unethical.

"I realized you don’t solve anything by agreeing not to talk about it," Patrick said.

Patrick now lectures throughout the world, working for the Christian Medical and Dental Society in Canada and the United States. He speaks frequently to both Christian and secular groups about the integration of faith and science, specifically the ethical debate on abortion that is going on in the medical community today.

Patrick told the audience that he had been pro-choice for 20 years and, at the beginning of his medical career, had actually approved women to have abortions.

"I felt that a woman had the right to make whatever choice she wanted to make about her body," Patrick said. "The debate for me, however, has changed."

Patrick credits advancements in technology, particularly the improvement of ultrasound images, for changing his stance on abortion.

"It used to be difficult to rationalize it [a fetus] as a bunch of cells," Patrick said. "It’s not anymore."

Patrick talked extensively about the ethical debate on abortion that is happening within medical schools across the Western world. He claimed that the distinction between faith and science is clear-cut.

"We act as if there is or is not a God," Patrick said. "Moral neutrality is a figment of the liberal imagination," Patrick said.

Patrick said that abortionists today take the stance that life is “ultimately absurd” and therefore show little hesitance in “snuffing out a life.”

They justify their actions by engaging in the ethics of utilitarianism, – seeking the greatest good for the greatest number. Since forcing a woman to have an unwanted baby would ultimately cause the suffering of multiple individuals, performing the abortion is deemed ethical in the eyes of the utilitarian.

Patrick pointed out that most of the audience in the room were born out of choice, referring to the fact that the students were born after the 1972 decision that made abortion legal in the United States.

Patrick criticized the law, calling it incoherent and saying that, for those who support the Court’s decision on abortion, they are viewing the law not as justice but as a form of power.

Concluding his lecture, Patrick warned the audience that legalized abortion places society on a slippery slope.

"Failing to recognize sanctity of life in our area affects others as well," Patrick said.

The L’Abri lecture series continues today. Dr. Gregg Jesson of the University of Iowa will be speaking on "Reason, Rationalism, and Evidence: Is believing in God like believing in Santa Claus?"

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