I used to be pro-choice. That is, until a friend of mine had me really examine the logic behind the issue. I was swept up in the idea that a woman had the right to choose what to do with her body. I never asked the question, “Are there limits to what we should do with our bodies?” To reveal this limit, I’ll use a parallel example, alcohol. I can choose to drink alcohol, but I cannot choose to drink an excessive amount of alcohol and then get behind a wheel and drive. Thus, there’s a continuum of what’s allowable and what’s not, and the line in the sand is where other people are harmed.
On what side of the line does abortion fall? Abortion is the induced destruction of an embryo or fetus. An embryo is a developing human being before all major body organs are present; while a fetus is a developing human being after all major body organs are present.
When does life begin? Something has life when it has the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond to stimuli, reproduce, and adapt to the environment. Human embryos have all of these qualities – they grow, metabolize nutrients, respond to stimuli, are growing reproductive organs, and are adapting to their environment. Thus, to destroy an embryo is truly to kill it, and the deliberate killing of a living human is murder. Thus it is entirely appropriate to say that abortion – the deliberate killing of a living and developing human – is murder. When framed in this way, it became clear to me that abortion is morally evil. To state that the embryo or fetus is part of the mother’s body (and thus hers to do what she wants with) is also incorrect. With separate brainwaves, blood type, and DNA the baby is dependent on the mother’s body, not part of it. Nor is it morally acceptable to be personally against it but not want to restrict others from abortions. Think of the absurdity of this statement, “I’m personally against murder, but I don’t want to restrict other people’s right to it.”
There is, however, an important distinction to be made between the act of abortion and the woman who chooses to have one. Oftentimes the situations in which abortion is the “choice” selected are difficult and messy. No woman wants to have an abortion. However, two wrongs don’t make a right, and as with the example of drinking and driving, difficult and messy circumstances don’t justify murder. If the child is unwanted or the mother simply cannot raise the baby, adoption is a far better option. I have many friends who have either been adopted or have adopted children. 100% of them are glad the mother chose life.
Leaving secular reason for a moment, let’s enter the realm of faith. Abortion, in a unique way, both divides Christians within denominations and unites them across denominational boundaries. In that sense, it is a powerful tool for bringing Christians together. Any Christian who takes their faith seriously wants to end up on the same side as God on this matter. So where does God stand?
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul directed them to adhere to both oral and written tradition. We will follow his advice here as we briefly examine the Bible and the history of Church teaching.
While the Bible does not deal directly with Abortion, it gives us enough information to get a good idea about what God thinks of it. The creation story in Genesis teaches us that human life is special because it is made in the image and likeness of God. The Bible teaches that children are a blessing.1 In Genesis 1:28, God commands us to be fruitful and multiply, and in Psalm 127:3, the Psalmist says “Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Moreover, the Bible teaches that the child in the womb has a relationship with the Lord. “You knit me in my mother’s womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret.”2 God also helps and calls the preborn child. “You have been my guide since I was first formed . . . from my mother’s womb you are my God.”3 “God… from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace”4 So we can see that we are made in the image and likeness of God, that children are a blessing, and that God has a special relationship with us, even in the womb. Because of these things, human life is valuable. This value cannot be altered, contradicted, or superseded by human laws which stipulate that one group of human beings has less value or is property of another group of human beings to do whatever they please with. Life, even life in the womb, is valuable, and the deliberate taking of that life is contrary to God’s Will for us.
This has been the teaching of the Catholic Church since the very beginning. The Didache, written in the first century, plainly states, “…[D]o not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.” The Catholic Church explains,
“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”5
Even Protestant Christianity from its inception has been strongly against abortion. John Calvin, the 16th century Reformation leader, wrote in his commentary on Exodus 21:22:
“…the unborn, though enclosed in the womb of his mother, is already a human being, and it is an almost monstrous crime to rob it of life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his most secure place of refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy the unborn in the womb before it has come to light.”6
If you are on the fence about whether or not abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” as former President Bill Clinton put it, chew on these facts for a moment. From 1973 through 2011, nearly 53 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S., or 1.4 million Americans each and every year for the past 38 years.7 By way of comparison, that is a faster pace of killing than even the Holocaust – one of the most notorious genocides in history – during which statistically 1 million Jews died every year for 6 years between 1939-1945.
Moreover, there is a racial dimension to abortion. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a well known white supremacist, and her dreams are coming true as of the average 3,315 Americans who are killed every day by abortion, between 683-829 of those babies are Hispanic, between 1,193-1,174 are white, and between 995-1,207 are black. Hispanics who make up 20-25% of abortions but only 16% of the population, and blacks, who make up 30-35% of abortions but only 12% of the population are disproportionately being slaughtered.8 This is a racial genocide – it is contrary to reason and it is contrary to God’s Will for us. There is no other way to put it.
I invite you to take a deeper look than what I’ve provided here. Here are some websites that will get you started. Every day you wait, 3,315 American babies are slaughtered. Don’t wait. Do it now.
hopeafterabortion.com (Project Rachel)
sba-list.org (Susan B. Anthony List – a political action group)
lifemattersww.org/home.aspx (Baptists for Life)
ppl.org (Presbyterians Pro-life)
zoeforlifeonline.org (Orthodox Christian Initiative)
lifewatch.org (Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality)
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.