Abortion is a pretty black and white topic, right? Either you’re for it or against it. Well, maybe it’s a bit more complex. Since the landmark Roe v. Wade case in 1973, abortion has become one of the most important and hotly debated topics in American politics. There is an immense amount of nuance involved and people across the political spectrum have varying views on it.
First, let’s look at what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of life and apply that to the politics of abortion.
Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you."
This is echoed in Psalm 139:13-16 which says, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret… Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, before one of them came to be."
God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27). He is responsible for humanity’s existence, and he set up the moral law to be a standard perfectly in sync with his character. Since abortion is not specifically mentioned in the Bible as a political issue we must look to God’s character for an answer.
Proverbs 6 sheds light on this by providing a list of things God hates. Among the things listed is, “those who shed innocent blood.” The circumstances of a pregnancy have no bearing on the innocence or guilt of the child. An unborn child is blameless before the Lord because they have not even had the chance to sin yet. One should not make the argument that a woman can have an abortion in some cases but that having one is morally abhorrible in others. Either the baby is to be protected or it is not. If there are exceptions to this rule you must compromise on your morals.
Understandably, not everyone who wrestles with the question of abortion approaches it from a Judeo-Christian worldview, so let’s look at it with logical arguments and scientific data.
When a zygote (fertilized egg) is formed, all the DNA for the child is already present. Everything from the shape of their ears to the color of their eyes has already been determined. The only thing needed is time for development.
In 1999, Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D. published an article in the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy that stated, “upon fertilization, parts of human beings have been transformed into something very different from what they were before; they have been changed into a single, whole human being. During the process of fertilization, the sperm and the oocyte cease to exist as such, and a new human being is produced.”
She goes on to say it is scientific fact that each healthy person has 46 chromosomes and receives 23 from each parent at conception. This creates a new human life with unique genetic code never before seen in human history.
Although fewer than one percent of all abortions are because of rape or incest, such cases have often been cited as valid exceptions to the pro-life stance.
Aborting a baby because its conception was brought about by rape or incest unfairly punishes the child. In almost every case of pregnancy due to rape, the child’s punishment is more severe than the rapist. If a rapist shouldn’t receive a death penalty, then why should an unborn child receive the death penalty for being conceived?
This leads to another big issue. Many pro-choice and pro-life advocates cede the point that abortion would be acceptable if it would directly save the mother from dying.
Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said there are almost no instances where the woman’s life is in jeopardy due to her unborn child. She also noted there was a difference between endangering the life of and inconveniencing the life of the mother.
Cobb has done work as a lobbyist to increase legal restrictions on abortion. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the “Character Does Count” award from the Patriot Republican’s Women’s Club, the Paul Weyrich Faith Community Leader of the Year award, and was named one of Richmond’s “Top 40 under 40.” She has been President of the Family Foundation of Virginia for over 15 years and has extensive experience in abortion, foster care and adoption legislation.
Former United States Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop stated that in thirty-eight years as a pediatric surgeon, he had never been aware of any case where an unborn child had to be aborted to save the mother. While I am not claiming this has never happened, Dr. Koop referred to this as a “smoke screen” used by proponents of legalized abortion.
The goal of a doctor is supposed to be preservation of life. When one life can be saved rather than losing two that is a good thing. This, however, does not mean abortions are necessary. It is possible that the life of the baby will be terminated while attempting to save the mother, but that cannot be equated with intentionally killing the baby.
When it comes to choice, Cobb said that it should be, “her [the mother’s] choice to forgo her life.”
In the case that the mother’s life is endangered she should be given the right to sacrifice herself for her child but if she does not want to, it is the responsibility of the doctor to keep both alive. When, in extremely rare cases, this is not possible the doctor should do what is necessary to save the mother without directly trying to abort the baby.
Cobb said that we now have the technology to keep a baby alive outside of the womb at 22-23 weeks of age. Around the time of Roe v. Wade viability was only possible past 30 weeks. Delivering the baby early rather than terminating the pregnancy is a much more real possibility in many cases now.
The whole thing comes down to intent. If you try to save the mother and the baby dies as a result that is tragic but not intended. If you attempt to terminate the baby, even with the intent to save the mother, you are unjustly killing the preborn baby.
One of the most popular pro-abortion arguments is that it is for the convenience of the mother. The idea is that an unwanted pregnancy could impede their professional career or ostracize them from their friends and family. While this may sadly be true in some cases, it ignores the detriments to women who do carry out abortions.
A study conducted by Elliot Institute on rape-related pregnancies found that nearly 80% of women who had an abortion said it was the wrong solution. A U.S. study in 2001 published in Archives of Women’s Mental Health cited suicide rates in women who had abortions was 2.6 times higher than women who delivered their babies. Similar rates were found in other Western nations with suicide rates among Scandinavian women at a rate six times higher.
The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research compiled an extensive list of studies done around the world on the effects of abortion on women’s health and found that there were many physical and mental health detriments to women following an abortion.
One summary of those studies said, “a rigorously neutral study from New Zealand has uncovered a strong correlation between induced abortion and subsequent mental health problems. By every measure, whether it is major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal ideation, alcohol dependence, illicit drug dependence, or mean number of mental health problems, those who terminated their pregnancy by abortion suffered much higher rates of disorder than those who were never pregnant, and those who were pregnant but did not abort.”
Finally, a concern is what to do with a child who is born to a mother who is unable or unwilling to raise them. Two options that are available are adoption and foster care. It’s commonly claimed that children get abused and mistreated in adoptive homes. Although this certainly can and does happen, many countries have published data on adoptive homes being safer than homes with children under their biological parents.
This is an area where Christian organizations have been able to help. Christian charities and adoption centers account for many adoptions in the United States. Christians were the first group to start orphanages because in Scripture they are called to care for orphans and widows (James 1:7).
Cobb’s organization helped strike down legislation that would have forced Christian and Catholic adoption organizations to allow same-sex couples to adopt. As seen in other states like Maine, when this happens, they tend to shut down which causes a greater strain on the adoption system. Without these groups, the government could not keep up with the number of adoptions that need to take place.
It is essential to remember the sanctity of life. Regardless of how far along the pregnancy is, the circumstances of the pregnancy and even the health of the mother, it is paramount to maintain the sanctity of life and not infringe on an unborn child’s right to live.
The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
America was founded on the principle that we have rights given to us by God that should be upheld by our government. Even though our country has not upheld this perfectly in this case and in others, it is not too late to make a stand for life now.