Recently I received a friendly Facebook message from my niece, who lives in the United States. A 24 year old millennial, she is an intelligent thinker, thoroughly postmodern, has a soft, sweet, and compassionate side. She loves US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders - she ‘feels the Bern.’ Though she had been exposed to the gospel, she chose to embrace an alternative lifestyle. She knows and respects that I am an ordained Christian minister with a conservative, high-view of Scripture.
Imagine my surprise when she asked me the following question:
What is your view on abortion, and why do you feel that way? Your professional and personal qualms with the issue would be appreciated. Please feel free to get as deep as you would like. The more information the better. Thank you uncle.
So, as a blogger, I decided to share my answer to my niece with the world.
What would you say to your niece if she asked you about abortion?
Here is what I said to mine:
Terminology: First, let’s define terms. Abortion means the deliberate termination of a pregnancy. Miscarriages are actually called ‘spontaneous abortions,’ meaning they come from nature at any time, usually in the early weeks or months of a pregnancy. ‘Therapeutic abortion’ is caused by direct human intervention, normally by a medical professional. It is the latter type to which I will address.
Why abortion was outlawed in the past: If the foetus in the womb is truly a human-person from conception, then abortion is clearly murder. This was the consensus for centuries and the laws treated it as a criminal offence. The Judeo-Christian heritage of the western world, and the Ten Commandments as the foundation of the legal system, made it so. The sixth of the ten commandments clearly states ‘Thou shalt not murder’ (Exodus 20:13).
Even so, abortions have happened throughout history, despite the physical risks and the legal and Scriptural prohibitions.
Why did things change? We have had 200 years of The Enlightenment, where human reason became king. Then we had the advent of liberal theology, higher criticism that has a lower view of Scripture, and the rise of evolution. Add to this a cultural civil war that has lasted over half a century. In this war we’ve had a sexual revolution, the feminist movement, and postmodernism with its ‘truth is relative’ and ‘tolerance is a must.’
Roe vs. Wade 1973: The watershed happened on January 22, 1973. On this date, the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision called ‘Roe vs. Wade,’ which gave American woman a constitutional right to have an abortion. Thirty-one states had their abortion laws overturned in an instant. Though ‘Roe’ was considered a ‘compromise’ and not a ‘blank cheque’ for abortion on demand, the fact is that over 55 million abortions have been performed in the US since 1973. That is about as many people who perished in World War II.
Roe vs. Wade cited the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (ratified in 1865, just after the Civil War), which guarantees Americans the right to ‘life, liberty, and property.’ Then the court applied ‘substantive due process’ to the 14th Amendment, and somehow created a ‘woman’s right to privacy,’ though this is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Thus, the amendment that was meant to protect life was now used as justification to terminate the life of a future American citizen. As one person put it, the US Supreme Court created a constitutional right to privacy ‘out of thin air.’
Abortion Justified: If you can successfully deny that the foetus is a ‘person’ and worthy of legal protection, or at least, be ambiguous about its personhood, then abortion goes from being ‘murder’ to merely a ‘constitutional right’ and ‘medical procedure.’
Today’s Scene: Apparently, many millennials are more pro-life than their baby-boomer parents. The annual rate of abortion in the United States is declining (e.g. from 1.6 million to 1.2) and clinics are closing across the country. Being an abortion doctor can be hazardous to your health: a string of high-profile assassinations of abortionists have clearly encouraged some to close their doors (pro-lifers condemn these assassinations; of course, the ‘right to life’ extends to abortion doctors, too). Even Norma McCorvey, the ‘Jane Roe’ in Roe vs. Wade, apparently defected from the ‘pro-choice’ camp to ‘pro-life.’ The 2015 revelation from surreptitious videos that Planned Parenthood medical staff were selling aborted baby body parts (clearly an illegal act) keeps this divisive issue on the ‘front page.’
On high-profile retired US politician, with universal name recognition and says he is a evangelical Christian, claimed to search the Scriptures on this issue. His conclusion: The Bible does not say when the human spirit enters the body. Once the spirit enters the foetus, it is a person, he reasons. Needless to say, this politician is ‘pro-choice.’
Is the Bible really silent on the personhood of the foetus?
My position: as a born-again Christian and ordained minister, I take an predictably pro-life position. I have no other choice: my understanding of Scripture compels me.
• God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah: Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’ - Jeremiah 1:5.
• Psalm 139:13-16: there are some incredible statements in this passage. Apparently, the detailed mapping of our very being (perhaps right down to the molecular level) was written in God’s book, even before we were conceived.
• Ephesians 2:10: God knew us from before the foundation of the world (eternity past) and ordained us for good works.
• Matthew 10:30: The hairs of our head are numbered.
• Matthew 19:14: Jesus commanded that the little children be brought to Him and no one was to forbid them. They are what constitute the kingdom of heaven.
• Genesis 1:27: This affirms that humankind is made in the image of God.
• Genesis 9:6 says simply: Whoever shed man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.
Could it be any clearer?
With such meticulous care, there is no question that in God’s mind the foetus is a person, even before they are in the womb. Therefore, deliberately terminating that pregnancy is destroying a life.
Don Feder says speaks of abortion as part of a larger culture of death. When it was legalised in 1973, prophetic voices warned that euthanasia would be next. People scoffed at them and said it would never happen - yet, it is happening before our eyes. The most vulnerable people - the very young and very old - are being targeted for destruction, often for economic or expedient reasons.
Simple, true justice means we should do our best to defend those who cannot defend themselves. This includes the very young and very old.
Are we a better country because of Roe versus Wade?
Does 55 million abortions improve our quality of life, instil compassion for the needy, or improve our ability to care?
Does it help strengthen the family?
If a child cannot be safe in its mother’s womb, is there any safe place on this planet?
I am unashamedly pro-life and, where possible, and to the best of my ability, I would encourage and support any courageous woman to refuse abortion and carry the child to term.
Dear niece, thank you for allowing me to answer your question on abortion.
I conclude with a simple challenge given by God to all of us. It is found in Deuteronomy 30:19:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;