Blighted Thinking

(This was originally published by Christian News in 2021 and Life Issues February 2022 (

Killing the unborn isn’t new. I am not talking about ancient societies that had potions and procedures for killing the unborn. I am not talking about the word translated “sorcery” in Galatians 5:20, pharmakeia, which was the word used for abortifacients in ancient Greek-speaking lands. (The clearest link between this word and abortion, phthora, is found in the writings of Clement of Alexandria: Christians do not “take away human nature, which is generated from the providence of God, by hastening abortions [phthora] and applying abortifacient drugs [phthoriois pharmakeois].”[1])

All this shows is that chemical abortions are not new but incredibly old. What is new is the way the medical community has blighted our thinking about the unborn.

Marvin Olasky in the article, “The Bones Cry Out,” references a 1945 poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. In it the mother is painfully clear about what she has done and her pain:

“I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.”[2]

Again, what is new are the mental gymnastics the medical community is willing to adopt to deny that the life growing in a mother from the moment of conception on is a person.

This thought did not come from me. It came from an OB-GYN connected to Christian Life Resources whom I wrote to ask about what many doctors call “blighted ovum.” Here’s one scenario: A woman has a positive pregnancy test and all the signs her body is giving her indicate she is pregnant, but her doctor tells her she is not and in fact never was. She has a blighted ovum. The woman is mourning the loss of a child, but her doctor is telling her she never had a child to begin with. This is because the medical community, at least the pro-abortion part, has blighted their thinking toward the unborn. First, by agreeing that the new definition of pregnancy is implantation. It is only a “fertilized egg” till then. Second, even if it does implant and begin to grow, it’s not a baby growing there till they say so. “You silly woman, it’s just a gestational sac. We’ll let you know when it it’s a baby.” I have had three cases of blighted ova in recent years. Each time the woman has called, thinking she is crazy. I assured them they were really pregnant, but truthfully the literature online is confusing.

Dr. Donna Harrison, who serves as executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (, in an email to Rev. Michael Salemink, executive director of mission and ministry for Lutherans For Life, stated “blighted ovum” is in fact a medical term for early miscarriage. She strongly urged us to avoid the term “fertilized egg” as it does not refer to a scientific reality: at fertilization, the egg ceases to exist because an embryo begins to exist. She explains about blighted ova, “For some reason, of the thousands of things that have to happen during our lifetime to continue to live, some of those things didn’t happen. So, the body of the embryo itself only grew to a certain point, and then died. However, the placenta kept growing. So, yes, they were pregnant. Yes, they do have a child who died, and it is appropriate to grieve that death.”

“Blighted ovum” is one more example of how abortion brutalizes women even when they haven’t had one. Another is when the miscarriages are recorded in medical records as “abortions.” The pro-abortion people have succeeded in redefining terms to fit their agenda. But this new way, this “blighted ovum” way, of looking at pregnancy is contrary to the facts of biology and what a woman’s own body tells her. That is bad enough, but to let her leave a clinic confused and feeling guilty for grieving a baby her doctor has just told her was no baby is hardly good medicine, and better not be “the standard of care,” for it is most certainly devoid of caring.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NASB) says, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind, and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes everything.” Through meteorology we think we know the first. Through embryology, we think we know the second, which means we also think we do know the work of God. For some, that gives the “freedom” to say: “This is a baby; this isn’t. This baby lives; this baby dies.” That is blighted thinking.

Rev. Paul R. Harris is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas.

23 November 2021 A.D.

[1]This is the way the word was used in early Christian literature outside the New Testament. For example, The Didache says,“You shall not make magic. You shall not practice pharmakeia. You shall not slay a child by abortions [phthora]…” It is revealing that pharmakeia is mentioned right before phthora which is the technical term for abortion in Greek. The fact the ban on pharmakeia comes right after magic makes little sense if pharmakeia is sorcery. It would forbid the same thing twice. Pharmakeia and phthora are two different things. Pharmakeia refers to the act of the abortionists. And phthora refers to the decision of the woman (Sommer, Carl. We Look for a Kingdom. Ignatius Press, 2007, pp.314-15).

[2] Olasky, Marvin. “The Bones Cry Out.” WORLD, God’s World Publications, Oct. 2, 2021. Vol. 36, No. 10, p.26.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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