These words were spoken by President Obama during his presidential news conference on April 29th.
Torture is defined as: (a) the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish or coerce, (b) to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain.
Torture, therefore, includes the infliction of intense physical pain in order to accomplish a purpose, i.e. either to punish or coerce. The coercion factor usually deals with extracting information.
There is much disagreement whether the practice of water boarding fits that definition. At this point, let’s assume that it does fit the definition of torture and President Obama’s position on water boarding is reasonable and objective.
The discussion of torture brings to mind another procedure commonly practiced on many small unborn children called “dilation and extraction.” The purpose of this procedure is to remove a child from its mother prior to the natural birth process.
This procedure is commonly performed in a series of six steps.
1) A medical professional induces a breech (feet first) delivery with forceps
2) Legs, arms and torso of the child emerge with his/her head still in the womb
3) The back of the child’s skull is punctured with a scissors-like instrument
4) A suction device is inserted into the skull
5) The device suctions out the contents of the child’s skull, causing the skull to collapse
6) A lifeless child is delivered
Inasmuch as it is not unusual to perform this procedure during the third trimester of pregnancy, the child suffers intense pain. That satisfies part of the definition of torture. However, one would be hard pressed to find any reason to punish or coerce the victim. To perform this torturous “dilation and extraction” procedure is usually an elective choice made by the child’s mother.
Now when comparing the “dilation and extraction” procedure with water boarding it is clear that dilation and extraction will cause intense agonizing pain and death to the child, while water boarding produces only frightening anticipation of death to a terror suspect. With water boarding the terror suspect is tortured for a specific purpose, i.e. to extract information. With the dilation and extraction procedure such a purpose doesn’t exist. With water boarding the terror suspect doesn’t die. With the “dilation and extraction” procedure the helpless child always dies.
The “dilation and extraction” issue (aka partial birth abortion) has been a political hot potato for several years. Former President Clinton supported it while former President Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Act in 2003 which banned the procedure. It has never been enforced, however, because federal appeals courts have ruled that the federal ban on the procedure was unconstitutional.
President Obama’s position has been very clear. He supports the procedure and opposes any such ban to eliminate it.
Does the Bible address the issue?
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel… “And they have built the high places of Tophet…to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.” Jeremiah 7:31
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying… “And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination…” Jeremiah 32:35
God condemned the practice of sacrificing new born children. In fact He explicitly states that such a thing never entered His mind.
Some would offer the argument that new born children are not the same as unborn children. According to God there is no difference.
“…when Rebecca also had conceived by…Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger’… Romans 9:10-13
In this passage God stated His purpose for the two brothers, Jacob and Esau, while they were both still in their mother’s womb. They were just in their earlier stages of life.
According to polls Mr. President, a large majority of Americans takes exception to your torture policy where you state that you will “ban all torture without exception.” So if you really are serious about banning all torture, and if you really are serious about adhering to your Bible’s teaching, then you would most likely support a ban on partial-birth abortions. Your upcoming Supreme Court nominee will be very revealing.
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