Pro-Life or Pro Death
No series of controversial topics would be complete or relevant if it did not include some discussion about the issue of abortion.
In the United States on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision ruled that a state law that banned abortion (except to save the life of the mother) was unconstitutional thus legalizing abortion nationwide. The legal reasoning behind the court's decision was that forcing women to go through an unwanted pregnancy violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution - which guarantees an individual's right to privacy.
The argument basically said that the government forcing a woman to have a baby was an unconstitutional invasion of her privacy. That decision should only be made by the woman and her doctor. That was the legal theory. The moral argument was that the baby was part of the mother's body and only she had the right to choose what could or could not be done to her body.
The medical theory was that legal abortion lowered the number of deaths caused by illegal abortions and also drove down death due to pregnancy complications by allowing more research into providing safer abortion methods.
Of course, many disagreed with this law and began to advocate and lobby for state laws that would limit or eliminate abortions altogether. From this battle arose two opposing groups (Pro-Choice/who favor unrestricted abortion and Pro-Life/who wanted abortion eliminated or severely limited to specific situations).
Each of these is an umbrella for hundreds of different organizations who raise funds, lobby politicians, provide information and work with pregnant women in trying to either facilitate their abortion or help them go through with their pregnancy and later assist them in placing their babies in foster care.
In this and the following chapter, I'd like to review what abortion is; some of the arguments for and against abortion; and what the Bible teaches us about this topic.
What is Abortion?
The English word abortion comes from the Latin word "Abortus" which means, to die. It is primarily used to describe a medical procedure where an unborn child is killed while still inside the mother.
Now, abortions and miscarriages are different. A miscarriage is when the unborn child dies of natural causes such as various diseases, improper positioning inside the mother, an accident or illness on the mother's part. An abortion, on the other hand, is the deliberate killing of the unborn baby by another person.
There are a variety of abortion procedures depending on the development of the unborn child.
1. Suction Method
This is the most common form done at about ten weeks of development. A powerful vacuum hose is inserted into the mother and the child is literally sucked out in pieces and discarded.
2. D & C Method (Dilation & Curettage)
This method is performed at about twelve weeks. This method uses a sharp loop shaped steel knife. The surgeon uses this to enter into the uterus and literally cut the baby into pieces and scrape it out. There is usually a lot of bleeding in this method. Many who say women will use coat hangers to self-abort are referring to this method of abortion. Although this is a highly emotional example and argument, very few women try to abort themselves.
3. Salt Poisoning
At four – five months the baby is too big and well formed for the suction or the D& C method. A saline solution is injected into the sac which poisons the child and then labor is induced in order to eject the dead baby.
4. Dilation & Extraction or Partial Birth Method
This is a late term abortion taking place in the 20–32-week period. The doctor, guided by ultrasound, will locate the baby's legs and pull it into the birth canal while it is alive! He will then insert scissors into the base of the baby's neck and puncture a hole in its brain. A suction tube is inserted into the brain and the brains are sucked out. Afterwards, the body is removed and discarded. This method was banned in 2003 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007.
5. R.U. 486 – Abortion Pill
This is the newest method, still being experimented with for early abortion. It causes the lining of the uterus to bleed profusely and dislodge the baby thus causing its death. These are the gruesome methods used to abort, or cause the death of the unborn.
These are not radical, pro-life, emotional ideas, they are the reality of what happens when someone has an abortion. Now, let's look at some of the reasons that people use to defend these practices and some responses to these.
As gruesome as these procedures are, millions of Americans defend and promote them under the "Pro-choice" banner. Of course, they defend their actions, with several arguments that I wish to describe and respond to at this time. There are really five main arguments used to defend abortion on demand. In this first part I want to explain some of these.
1. The Fetus is Not Human
This is why it is called a "fetus" (from the Latin word meaning offspring) rather than a child or a baby. Abortionists claim that the fetus doesn't become viable, meaning an actual living human before a certain time, until then it is just a mass of cells and tissue. Until it is human, there is no problem in eliminating it in any way that is convenient.
This argument may have held sway 100 years ago, but today modern medicine has demonstrated how early from the time of conception human characteristics are developed and obvious. For example:
- The heart begins to form on the 18th day
- Eyes form on the 19th day
- Regular pulse at the 24th day
- By the first month, the baby will have had the greatest growth spurt of its entire lifetime - it will be 10,000 times bigger than the fertilized egg at conception.
- By the 33rd day the brain is forming, and brain waves can be recorded by the 43rd day (six weeks). It is interesting to note that the lack of brain waves is what doctors use to determine if a person is legally dead but won't use to acknowledge if a person is alive or human enough to preserve.
- By the 10th week (the time of most abortions) the baby responds to touch, can move its feet, head, hands, eyes, and mouth.
- By the 13th week the unborn child has everything that will be found in a full-term baby - all that is left is the development in size and formation.
- All it needs is food and time to grow into a fully developed human being.
The idea that a fertilized egg is not a baby is true in that it doesn't look like a baby to the naked eye, however:
- Modern science has shown us that very soon after conception it does begin to look like a human being so that what is being aborted is something that looks, feels and acts like a human person.
This notion that in abortion you're simply removing a mass of cells, like a tumor or growth, and not a person is also illogical.
- A tumor or growth, if left alone will simply become a larger tumor or growth. Destroying it at any stage of growth is destroying what it eventually is - a tumor or growth.
- A fertilized egg is destined to be a person and destroying it at any stage of its development destroys what it eventually will become - a person, not a tumor or growth.
Biologically speaking, a tumor is a tumor the moment it begins to form and will grow and develop into malignancy if left alone - but it will always be a tumor, it will not grow into a child. In the same way, a child is a child the moment it begins to form and develop into human form if left alone - but it will always be a child, it will never grow into a tumor. When you remove a fetus at any stage of development, you are removing a child because that's what it is from the moment it was conceived (women don't conceive cell masses or tumors - they conceive children every time).
The abortion lobby gave itself the name "Pro-Choice" to cover the real issue of its movement and that was the killing of the unborn. This term also describes one of its most sacred arguments - the right of every woman to choose what will happen with her body.
- This idea grew out of a legitimate complaint that women have been traditionally discriminated against and abused by society in general and men specifically.
- Women wanted greater respect and fair treatment. They also wanted more protection by abusive males, which are all legitimate and proper goals.
- To this cause the abortionists added the right to choose to have a baby or not because a woman's body was her own and no one, especially a man should force her to have a baby if she didn't want to.
The problem with this argument is that it is partly true - a woman's body is her own and no one should force her to use it or abuse it in any way.
- The false part is thinking that a baby is part of her body. Once the child is conceived it has its own body completely different from her body.
- The baby depends on the mother for food, etc., but is another human being living within her.
- This is just like an aged parent living with her child depending on them for care but still an independent person.
A woman can choose for her own body but does not have the right to choose life or death for another person, even if that person is living within her. Again, the abortionists are so contradictory. They fight for a female's right to rule over her own body even if it means killing a female child in order to guarantee that right.
Western civilization rejects the ancient law of Roman Paterfamilias where the father had the right of life or death over their children. However, with the pro-choice movement, we've substituted the equally abhorrent law of Materfamilias where women now have the sole right of life or death over their unborn children.
3. The Well Being of the Mother or the Child
This is the most sensitive part of the debate because there are terrible instances that make abortion seem like a viable option. Sometimes a child is conceived through rape, incest or by a very young girl. Sometimes a child is destined to be born into poverty, war or an abusive home. Sometimes the unborn child itself is ill or deformed or mentally challenged. At times there are legitimate concerns that the mother's life or her long-term health will be at risk. Abortionists solve these issues by terminating the life of the child, the most defenseless and innocent of the ones concerned.
Again, the mistake here is the idea that the unborn child will somehow contribute negatively to the well-being of the mother (we know it doesn't contribute to the child who dies). On the contrary the majority of the abortions are performed out of convenience, not concern. The clause in the abortion law that says that abortion is permitted for the health and well-being of the mother can be interpreted (and has been) as too much stress or weight gain or a new baby would interfere with career or an existing family.
There are, of course other times when there is a legitimate concern for the mother or child. There are the situations where difficult decisions need to be made:
- In the case of rape or incest (which are rare) abortion doesn't remove the original violation, it merely adds another terrible violation to the list, the killing of an innocent child and more suffering for the mother.
- In the case of poverty, inconvenience or a dysfunctional home or society - since when has killing the innocent ever reduced or solved the causes of these problems?
- In the case of a deformed or ill child the abortionists can easily destroy because they measure the value of life by outward things, forgetting that every human is created in God's image and therefore equally valuable and worthy of respect, protection and life regardless of how they look, how healthy they are or how smart they will be.
- In the case where the mother's life is in danger (which is equally rare) we have a classic "no win" situation, the mother or the child.
- Doctors will usually try to save the one that has the best chance at survival, which is in accordance with their training and ethics as physicians.
- In such cases we can only throw ourselves on God's mercy because whatever we choose falls short of our goal to preserve life.
One argument made is that if we don't allow abortion, women will self-abort or go back room abortionists and die.
- Before the Supreme Court ruled abortion legal in 1973 in the U.S.A, only 36 such cases were reported, not the thousands claimed by abortionists in order to gain publicity and influence in Washington.
- Actually, there have been more injury, infertility and death from abortion since then because more women have felt free to go ahead and have this dangerous procedure done to them.
The well-being of a woman is not served through abortion except in very rare situations. On the contrary, abortion is unnatural, violent and psychologically, as well as spiritually, damaging to the woman but they are rarely told this by Pro-Choice advocates.
On June 24, 2022 the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade eliminating the constitutional protection of abortion across the United States and allowing individual states to set their own laws regulating this procedure. This decision means that the struggle between the Pro Choice and Pro Life advocates will now be played out at the state level across the country. The Supreme Court ruling does not eliminate abortion, it simply changes the place where the battle over this procedure will be fought in the future.