doug phillips poses threat to lives of homeschooling moms

I live in the Midwest, smack in the middle of what people around here like to call “tornado alley.” In my town, people often swap stories of the “big one,” the tornado that took out half of the business district and damaged countless homes one lazy July afternoon in 1975. People who survived that day will tell you that now they head for the basement or storm cellar as soon as the sirens sound. They remember the damage, know the personal loss and even the tragedy that came with that twister and they will do all they can to protect themselves and those they love should another one come this direction.

On the other hand, those who have never experienced a tornado often grab an iced tea and sit on the front porch, watching as though they were in a giant screen movie theatre, telling themselves that the destruction might come to someone else but it won’t affect them.

Today, I feel as though I am in the homeschooling version of our county’s emergency services. I have been storm spotting for a while and now see the deadly twister coming my direction. It is guaranteed to take lives. It is a an F-5 on the Fujita scale, complete with 300 mile per hour winds and damage akin to “strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate.” This is where the homes of homeschooling families are headed if Doug Phillips from Vision Forum is not held accountable for his most recent rhetoric.

On March 6, 2002, Phillips published a document entitled “A Declaration of Life” where he states the following:

“WHEREAS those theories which justify the killing of the unborn child on the basis of the circumstances of conception (as in the case of rape and incest), or even the life of the mother (ectopic pregnancies) are completely false because they are based on unbiblical and humanistic ethics, unbiblical definitions of “self defense” theory, and a rejection of the personhood of the child; and Continuing Relevance of All of Scripture.”

I am not certain if I read this when it was first published. I probably did not as I most likely assumed that his position would be one that passed genuine pro-life muster. Then, this week (June 5, 2008), Phillips, reporting on the most recent Whitherspoon Law and Public Policy conference, made this statement:

“Some Christians maintain a 100% pro-life, no abortion philosophy. Others believe that it is acceptable to abort a child in the case of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is threatened. The latter is the position of the Orthodox Jews. And there are many additional questions presented to us by our “brave new world” that raise noodle-cookers of equal emotional challenge and philosophical complexity.”

Since I have been involved with pro-life work for nearly 30 years and have considered myself 100% pro-life, I was puzzled as to what Phillips actually meant. Imagine my shock and horror to read that a woman who faces an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening situation and one I have had to face, is considered to be a “murderer” and one who practices “child sacrifice” or “infanticide.” As I read through everything I could find on his website regarding this topic, it quickly became apparent that Phillips is so far out of the mainstream of Christian thought and practice that even stalwart pro-life leaders around this country and pastors who repeatedly speak out against the evils of abortion would also be painted with his defective broad brush.

In contrast to Phillips’ position, Steve Wagner from Stand to Reason makes this statement:

““When the motherʹs life is truly in danger, we must treat both the mother and child as human beings worthy of protection, for that is what they are….In an ectopic pregnancy, the newly conceived human being implants on the wall of the fallopian tube (or some other tissue) instead of on the wall of the uterus. As the embryonic human being grows, the fallopian tube will rupture causing severe blood loss and probably death. In these cases, there is no way to save the child’s life. If we do nothing, both human beings will die. Because we believe it is better to save one life than to lose two, we remove the child (causing his death) and save the mother. The death of the child is an unintended, although foreseen, consequence. So abortion in this instance is the killing of an innocent human being WITH proper justification. Notice though, this is not because the child is not human, but rather because the child is going to die no matter what. The child’s death is unavoidable, so protecting the mother becomes our primary concern.”

After reading this, I contacted Lynn Grandon, who is the director of the Peoria Dioceses Respect Life and Human Dignity office and asked her to give me the most well-reasoned pro-life argument regarding ectopic pregnancies. In the providence of God, she had most recently attended a bio-ethics conference where the topic of ectopic pregnancies was discussed at length by some of the leading Christian bio-ethicists, medical personnel, and pastors around the country. She confirmed to me that saving the life of a mother who is in a genuine life-threatening pregnancy is always considered to be a priority, as the baby would also die in this situation and she said that ectopic pregnancies certainly are in this category. In fact, ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of death in pregnant women today. And we have to also take into consideration that there are now millions of post-abortive women and as many who have suffered from sexually transmitted diseases, both factors that increase the incidence of ectopic pregnancy.

I mentioned to her the story of the Indian mother that Phillips used as an example of an ectopic pregnancy going to full term and she stated that we should never use the oddest and most extreme cases when looking at issues such as this one. I then read to her the above quotes from Phillips and she sighed and stated that these are unreasoned, irresponsible, and dangerous. She also expressed her sadness that someone with such influence would teach such things. I heartily concurred.

Given the number of homeschooling conferences where Phillips and his supporters speak and promote their militant fecundity message, I believe it will only be a matter of time before someone’s wife or mother dies because of this foolish position on ectopic pregnancy. Phillips, being the man of influence that he is, has irresponsibly taken a position that has now gone beyond his own “declaration of life” and has been entered into the public debate amongst attendees at his 2008 Whitherspoon conferences.

Because of his determination to further this message, I would like to call upon all those who link to his blog or the Vision Forum website to remove that link and to tell him why. I would like to ask those who sell his items to refuse to do so until he has recanted this dangerous position. I would expect those who have been published through Vision Forum to contact him and express their horror at what he is saying. And, most importantly, I would ask any pastors who have supported Phillips’ ministry, including the NCFIC churches associated with him, to publicly assure their congregations that Phillips’ teaching on ectopic pregnancy is outside the orthodox view of Biblical Christianity and the sanctity of human life.

Doug Phillips has become a threat to the very lives of homeschooling mothers and it should be known. Take cover immediately.

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  1. says

    Pastor Jack,

    Thanks for those words. Logic in this area seems to have eluded those who are trying to guilt women into carrying ectopic pregnancies. (see the podcast series on militant fecundity)

  2. says

    In addition to Pastor Jack Brooks’ description, I though I would add this private comment to me from a physician for a national, pro-life organization when I inquired about this issue. This is a physician who works for a PRO-LIFE group that focuses on crisis pregnancy center support as it central mission:

    There have been several things written on this. . .nothing that I have off the top of my head but that the idea of “double effect” applies. These people unfortunately do not understand that over 99% of the time in the ectopic pregnancy there is no baby/fetus. There is only placenta or trophoblastic tissue. There is never formed a fetus and so it is not an “abortion” to remove placenta or dead tissue. In the specific, and unfortuntate event, that you actually see a fetus in a tube with a heart beat, you still would operate to remove the fetus, who would die as a result of its removal. You would not intend to kill the fetus nor do anything to kill it. The baby dies as a result of the removal of the blood supply and its prematurity. So, your intention is not death, but your action may lead to it. The idea of “double effect”. . .an action may cause an unintended consequence. Been around this block many times. . .will not let a woman bleed to death with a ruptured ectopic to further a really insane view and even one that is seen in the vast majority of ectopics.

    The mere fact that the HCG levels in an ectopic pregnancy do not rise at healthy levels means that, based on this MD’s information, if there is a baby, it is not getting sufficient blood, oxygen and nutrients from the mother in order to grow. What happens when you don’t provide a child or an adult for that matter with sufficient nutrients and oxygen? As a nurse, I’m fully qualified to say that without nutrients and oxygen, tissues become unhealthy and die. That’s what a bedsore comes from. That’s why burn patients have to be debrided to remove dead tissue. Any tissue that does not get oxygen and nutrients becomes unhealthy and dies. Normal ADEQUATE growth requires an adequate blood supply. When the blood supply for a sustained non-ectopic pregnancy fails, that baby cannot survive (abrupteo placenta, incompetent cervix, ect.) unless the disorder is corrected. An ectopic pregnancy is not correctable, and let me note that if a woman retains placenta fragments, etc., from the pregnancy, it is very harmful and becomes deadly. In those circumstances also, it does present a serious, serious harm to the woman, though that baby (or placenta or whatever) is not an ethical “willful aggressor” as Phillips has stated. (Doug cannot separate the ethical from the physiology which is often flawed. By his own definition, that means that my own immune system which overreacts and shuts down my lungs when I get near a certain set of allergens is not a “willful aggressor” either, but my immune system will cause a sequence of events that will kill me if untreated. My own body is not “willfully” aggressive against me, but it is flawed and imperfect with the potential to threaten my life. An unborn baby is not a willful aggressor, but flawed physiology that is subject to disorder and disease is separate, and unfortunately, pregnancy is subject to our human frailty.)

  3. says

    Jean Manness wrote: Do you know if Doug Phillips-buddy RC Sproul Jr also teaches that women with ectopic pregnancies should die rather than seeking medical intervention?

    I wrote to a former member of RC Sproul, Jr’s church who stated this:

    RC Jr used to hold to the Doug Phillips’ position on ectopic pregnancies, and that was well known within St. Peter. How far that knowledge extended outside the cult I can’t say. I believe that at least once he did publish something on it (perhaps Covenant News) and he received some whithering criticism.

    He contacted me later to give me this reference, though there may be more:

  4. says

    Cindy, that is quite interesting. If you find any more things written by RC that support this notion or that indicate that he has changed his position, please update us.

  5. Kathy says

    My husband and I attended a counseling conference this weekend, and I asked one of the instructors his opinion of Doug Phillips’ stance on ectopic pregnancy. This instructor is a practicing ob/gyn, a deacon in a Regular Baptist church, a certified Biblical counselor, and a frequent speaker on medical issues.

    He said ectopic pregnancies are not viable, and questioned whether the “miraculous” cases were true ectopics. He asked what would the doctor “wait and see” for, and said that doing this would cause the death of thousands of women.

    The look on his face when he asked if Phillips was a physician and I said “No, an attorney,” said it all.

  6. says

    Kathy, thank you so much for sharing this information with us. I have received the same response repeatedly when I have asked pro-life leaders the same questions. In fact, I have been nearly dismissed as a nut for asking those questions, the Phillips (and Samaritan Ministries) position is so ridiculous.

    You have brought up an aspect of all of this that needs to be addressed and not dismissed. What about the counseling perspective? I am certain that there will come a time when some mom who is either a Samaritan subscriber or a reader of Doug’s blog will have an ectopic pregnancy and will contact a crisis pregnancy center or some other counselor for their input and those counselors had better be prepared with an informed answer.

  7. says

    Last year at ICHE (this is Illiniois Christian Home Educators Conference) Norm Wakefield was a key note speaker. He spoke harshly and profoundly against what he coined ” Standard Bearing” and “Standard Bearers”.. and Issues of utter Idolatry with in the home school Christian Community, Issues of LEADERS playing the part of Pharisees, adding to scripture, rules and standards of unbearable weight.
    Jesus said his yoke was easy … His burden light…
    These standards are EVER changing, all together too difficult to even follow…
    Thank you for your post. It really just brought that VERY powerful message, back to memory… Norm was so firm, his heart so desperate, so earnest to see THIS stop! Funny this was the first time in I think… 15 years he is not even coming to ICHE….

  8. Daniel says

    So there is a child playing as most children do, completely oblivious to their surroundings. the only problem is that the child is in the middle of the road. To make matters worse, their is a truck driving down the road, unaware of the child in the street. To leave the child alone will bring certain death. What loving mother would not risk her life to save the life of the child? Even if the odds were stacked against her. What would be our opinion of her if she simply remained where she was leaving the child to certain death?

    What is so different about an ectopic pregnancy? To remove the featus will brin certain death, but their is a chance that mother and child could both survive if carried to term. Yes, the mother may die, but is this life all that there is? As Christians, we of all people should consider dying for the sake of others an honor. To follow in the footsteps of our Savior.

    What will you say to God when you see him face to face? How will you explain your decision to willing take the life of your child … His gift to you. By your actions, whose life do you consider more sacred? Is this what Christ would do? Is this what he did?

    I realize that this is a serious topic and should not be taken lightly. But where are the radicals who believe in a God who can perform miracles in ectopic pregnancies? Who wouldn’t want to have that testimony to tell others about the glory of God. But what if mother and child do die? THIS IS GAIN! For now mother and child stand before God in heavenly bliss where they will NEVER DIE again.

    “Lord make me like Paul who saw death as gain because it meant union with Christ. I realize this will be foolishness to those who have no hope in Christ. And will be greatly misunderstood among those who do hope in you. But may we honor you and be considered worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ. Lord give us the strength to believe that you are still the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who said, ‘Our God will deliver us! But even if he doesn’t we won’t bow to your system of thinking!”

  9. Granddad says

    Are you kidding me? Your argument borders on the absurd. Following your line of reasoning I might say that abortion is a good thing because these babies are now in heaven and won’t have to face the sin of the world. (We’ll leave the actual question of whether or not all babies go to heaven to another day.)

  10. Mary says

    Would you stand by and let your wife die from an ectopic pregnancy? You would let your children grow up motherless? The majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy) and if they are not taken care of as the baby grows the tube bursts often resulting in loss of mother and always resulting in the loss of the pregnancy. The ectopic pregnancies where the baby survives are pregnancies where the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus but someplace other than in the fallopian tubes. Google ectopic pregnancies.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Note that Daniel is male, and thus in no danger of ever having an ectopic pregnancy.


  1. […] Yes, you heard him correctly: mothers who abort a non-viable ectopic fetus are apparently murderers and, in Phillips’ “perfect” world governed by Old Testament law, would be executed. Thus, we should, when faced with a decision between two innocent lives, one of which is unable to be saved, apparently choose to lose both lives even though it is completely unnecessary to do so. We should also not consider the fact that, since Phillips advocates for large families, those mothers who might be inclined to follow his advice will probably already have at least one or two children – children who would be left without their primary caregiver and likely distraught after their mother’s completely preventable death. Needless to say, mainstream pro-life activists are horrified by Phillips’ position.[5][6] […]

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