It’s something that occasionally jolts my conscience. We seem to live in a society that regards itself as peaceable, pleasant and (in the UK) avoids the death penalty and holds all life as sacred (or a “right”), even that of dangerous criminals. But the unborn seem to have no such protection. Are we as a society gradually inoculating ourselves to the horror of killing human beings, yet still perceiving ourselves as civilised? My personal position is twofold: one, the Bible’s point of view is pretty clear and should not be dismissed (by Christians) as wrong (see below), and secondly that the arguments for the current sort of abortion-on-demand are utterly feeble! There is a caveat here that I am not arguing against all abortions, as the pro-lifers are often publicly slandered and libelled as doing: when another life is at risk (e.g. the mother, or another child), there is a much more difficult dilemma at hand. Nor am I commenting on exactly where the law should stand.
What the Bible says about abortion
The word “abortion” does not appear, though “miscarriage” does in some translations. However, the scriptures do dictate that the Lord “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13), i.e. I was still myself, a person, even at that early stage. Verses like the following strongly imply life is precious, even before birth: “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:22-25). Indirect evidence abounds for the value held by children throughout the scriptures: so much of the Old Testament reads like some strange competition to have as many offspring as possible by whatever means necessary, though obviously when these competitions went outside God’s guidelines trouble inevitably followed (e.g. Solomon and his many foreign wives who led him after idols, see Nehemiah 13:26)!
Children: the wider battle
Our society’s far bigger problem is its attitude towards children. Are children consumer goods to be carted off by the state for as long as possible, discarded when we are bored of them and a bit of a burden, especially for women? Or are they a gift from God, a blessing (Psalm 127:4)? Our love for children must go beyond not killing them in the womb! Do they prevent us taking certain courses of action, restrict our freedoms? Of course they do! But we have the joy of having them! And is “freedom” (as interpreted as the ability to do anything we want, whether good or bad) really the be-all and end-all of life? Is that not what Adam and Eve first fell for: doing the one thing God had forbidden, in a place full of His abundant gifts, which as a consequence, we lost? This leads to further problems when we try to give children this false kind of “freedom” and then wonder why we experience massive discipline problems! Yes, “[f]olly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away” (Proverbs 22:15), or consider Proverbs 3:12. This is only one small foray into the world of child-raising and I will not go any further here but to make two very general observations.
- It’s not going to be easy and that Bible does not promise it will be. Even Mary who gave birth to Jesus was given a warning about her future with her son.
- Following biblical or godly principles of child-rearing will improve matters dramatically, but most effective of all is the Spirit of God within you.
One or two answers to what seem to be common arguments…
I found a few bullet points on BBC Ethics that sound fairly typical:
“Women have a moral right to decide what to do with their bodies”. Not really the issue here, and science does not help either: biologically and genetically the tiny person in the womb is different from the mother, not simply part of her body (50% of the genes have to come from the other parent, remember). They are a separate (though admittedly very dependent) person.
“The right to abortion is vital for gender equality”. If women and men are meant to be exactly the same as each other and perform exactly the same roles, then yes, it is a great travesty of justice that only women give birth. However, if in God’s design there are two complimentary roles, neither of which is “better” than the other then this is gibberish. Ephesians 5:21-27 is often mis-quoted as showing that if we believe the Bible then we must believe women are some sort of inferior subspecies. Again, nonsense! Looking at the words, there is a difference in role but never in value. Furthermore, if submission and obedience show tragic inferiority, then how “inferior” was Christ to us as He obeyed His Father and died on the cross for us? A similar role is dictated for husbands in that very passage. And why would Christ explain His position of authority while washing His disciples feet (see John 13:12-17)? Even a cursory glance at nature should be enough to convince those who argue about equality that men and women can not possibly be identical! Incidentally they here quote their hero Margaret Sanger, “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother,” so the question now becomes: can we trust this particular woman’s opinion? What about another Sanger quote they did not use, such as “The most merciful thing a large family can do to one of its infant members is to kill it,” (Woman and the New Race), which I dug up on an interesting few pages about the lady in question from the book Killer Angel whose online pages 97-99 (actual 103-105), give a rather compelling historical account of herself and her legacy. The e-version seems poorly entered in places but the book itself makes shockingly honest reading. Furthermore, as my wife pointed out, what about the rather obvious method (abstinence) for choosing not to become a mother? Is that not a “conscious choice”?
“Banning abortion puts women at risk by forcing them to use illegal abortionists”. This is simply an out and out lie. Nobody is forced to take illegal measures when something is made illegal. It is like saying I am forced to steal because the government has stupidly made taking things that belong to other people illegal. Like anything of this nature, it is a choice.
An additional argument I have heard is that the “dependence” on the mother somehow devalues the life of the unborn. So only those who are utterly independent of outside aid should be allowed to live? Really? In that case I suppose these “pro-choicers” create all of their own food, clothes and shelter and would happily survive without anything else if, for example, dumped in the Arctic tundra and asked to prove their independence by survival? And what are the consequences of the “dependence” argument for the disabled? Are they too less worthy of life?
One further argument I have heard is the “stage of development” is so early that the human being is not a human being and therefore has no rights. Apart from being patently untrue, this means that almost any child, born or not, who is obviously not fully matured (i.e. an adult) would be subject to this judgement. Should mothers have the right to murder children up until say 18 years old?
My final thought on the issue is this: if the tiny baby within the womb is aborted, and is female, how does killing this young woman support women’s rights? Statistically, around 50% of abortions are probably girls, are they not? As Horton the elephant puts it: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”.
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