Abortion and Life: A Christian Perspective

 

(image courtesy, Abortion and American Holocaust)

By Spencer D Gear

“Australia faces not a population explosion. . . but a copulation explosion,” with an increasing pregnancy rate, a falling birth rate and an alarming abortion rate (Fisher & Buckingham 1985, p. 1). In the financial year 1984/85 there were 55,153 abortions.  This increased to 77,551 in 1995/96.  For the year 1999/2000 there were 73,699 abortions (Queensland Right to Life 2001). I spoke with one Australian federal Member of Parliament during the year 2004 and his estimate was that the current abortion rate was approaching 100,000 unborn children, killed every year in Australia.  This figure was confirmed by De Costa (2007:13).

The rate of abortion in Australia was a national tragedy and society had too lax an attitude towards sexual promiscuity among teenagers, federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday.

Speaking at Adelaide University on the ethical role of a Christian politician, Mr Tony Abbott MP, a Catholic, said there were 100,000 abortions in Australia each year, which he labelled a measure of the nation’s moral health. . .
“Why isn’t the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy?” (‘Abortion rate a tragedy, says Abbott,’ 2004).

(photo Tony Abbott, courtesy Wikipedia)

It was not surprising that such open opposition to abortion by the former Australian Federal Minister for Health & Ageing, and former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott MP (pictured above) – and Prime Minister of Australia in 2013 – brought criticism from within the political arena, interest groups and by the general public:

Former TREASURER Peter Costello has warned his colleagues not to make abortion an “incendiary political issue” after Health Minister Tony Abbott said women were taking “the easy way out” by terminating pregnancies.

Mr Costello also insisted his cabinet colleague was making a personal statement – not signalling any change in government policy – on access and funding for abortions. “We would not want it to become one of those incendiary political issues in this country,” he told Sydney radio king John Laws. “Let’s not try and turn elections on issues like that” . . .

Federal Women’s Minister Kay Patterson distanced herself from Mr Abbott’s views yesterday. “It would never be an easy choice, but women have the right to choose,” she said.

Opposition Leader Mark Latham said women had a right to choose abortion and Mr Abbott should get off his “moral high horse”.  “I believe women have a right to make a choice in their circumstances,” he said. . .

Roberto Rojas-Morales, the director of Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia, which is yet to receive confirmation of further federal funding, challenged Mr Abbott to “put his money where his mouth is” and boost funds for comprehensive sex education.

“We agree more attention and resources should be focused on lowering the abortion rate — and the best way to do that is through quality education,” he said. Australian Women’s Health Network convenor Helen Keleher said if Mr Abbott was serious, he should insist that all schools – including the Catholic system that educated him – gave full and frank contraception advice.

“We agree the rate is too high – it is a tragedy – but blaming women is not the answer,” she said. Women’s Electoral Lobby spokeswoman Sarah Maddison slammed Mr Abbott’s comments as “deeply offensive” and called on him to apologise to women who had had abortions.

Children by Choice spokeswoman Cait Calcutt said Mr Abbott could reduce the number of abortions dramatically if he agreed to fund better quality sex education  (see Schubert 2004).

Since we have reached the situation in Australia where approximately 100,000 children are aborted every year according to the Federal Health Minister in 2004, more Australians are aborted each year than died from the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima (estimated as between 70,000 – 100,000 killed).  Based on information published in 1985, there is one abortion for every three live births in Australia.  Abortion claims more than two in five human deaths in Australia each year.  One unborn Australian child dies by abortion every seven minutes [in 2004, it is one abortion every five minutes].  For every five women having abortions, three are unmarried (Fisher & Buckingham 1985, pp. 18, 20). By comparison, in the United States in 1985 there were 1.588 million abortions and an estimate of 1.328 million in the year 2000 (National Right to Life 2004). 

Although the statistics are dated, John Jefferson Davis stated that

the United States leads the world in teenage abortions, with over 500,000 per year.  Some 150,000 abortions are performed in the second trimester of pregnancy, “the most grisly of all,” notes Dr. Matthew J. Bulfin, “the ones that some hardened abortionists refuse to do because the killing is so real and unmistakable” (Bulfin 1983:A22, in Davis 1985:130)

Davis cites statistics from a quarter century ago, that “of those obtaining abortions in 1981, 66 percent were under age 25 and 77 percent were unmarried” (1985:130).

It is difficult to obtain reliable figures for abortion worldwide, since many countries (especially Eastern Europe, the former Commonwealth of Independent States and China, where most of the world’s abortions take place) do not keep accurate statistics.  These are proposed figures:
 blue-arrow-smallIn 54 countries (61% of the world population) abortions are legal.
blue-arrow-smallIn 97 countries (39% of the world population) abortions are illegal.
blue-arrow-smallThere are approximately 46 million abortions conducted each year, 20 million of them obtained illegally.
blue-arrow-smallThere are approximately 126,000 abortions conducted each day (statistics from “Women’s Issues” 2004).

Fisher and Buckingham claimed that “the number of human lives lost by abortion each year is more than the total of all lives lost in all the wars in history put together” (1985, p. 15, emphasis in original).

Technically, abortion refers to the miscarriage of an unborn child, whether naturally or artificially caused.  However, in everyday language, “abortion means deliberately bringing about a miscarriage or bringing to an end a pregnancy and the life of the unborn child involved,” surgically or with drugs.  The latter definition is the one assumed in this paper.  Euphemistically, abortion has been called “termination of pregnancy”, “cleaning out the uterus”, “removing the products of conception”, “interception”, “the procedure” or “interruption of pregnancy” (Fisher & Buckingham 1985, p. 5)

Partial-birth abortion procedure

( image courtesy Advocates for Life)

Is John W. Montgomery over-reacting when he titles his book, Slaughter of the Innocents? (1981) Is the title, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust by John Powell (1981) an exaggerated description?

Those who promote abortion and those who oppose abortion start from opposite positions.  The pro-abortionists emphasise the rights of the mother; the right of the child is the focus of the anti abortionists.  Christians who submit to the Lordship of Christ and desire to live under Christ’s authority, justice and compassion, must ask themselves what principles are involved.  It is then that the key moral and theological issue emerges: what is the nature of the foetus?  I “reject as totally false and utterly abhorrent the notion that the foetus is merely a lump of jelly or blob of tissue, or a growth in the mother’s womb, which may therefore be extracted and destroyed like teeth, tumours or tonsils” (Stott 1984, p. 284). However, is the unborn child a human being?  Harold O.J. Brown forcefully asserts:

Of all the arguments used to support abortion, the contention that the foetus is not a human being has to be the most dishonest.  No one who studies human development can pretend to be ignorant of the facts.  Admittedly, there may be some dispute as to precisely when fetal life is “fully human,” but everyone knows it is long before birth (1977, p. 135).

What then is the evidence for the origin of human life?

When does human life begin?

This is the fiery issue that will call a storm in conversations if you dare to raise it.

Leading obstetrician gynaecologist and medical researcher, Dr Landrum B. Shettles, says the real core of the debate over when life begins is “the clash between an ethic that makes the sanctity of human life an absolute and a new ethic that renders that life relative and sometimes expendable” (Shettles with Rorvik 1983, p. 107).

Medical Aspects

In 1970, in the midst of the United States’ abortion debate (it was legalised in 1973), the editors of the journal California Medicine (the official journal of the California Medical Association), noticed “the curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death” (in Davis 1985, p. 137).

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, in 1981, held hearings on when life begins.  The following are samples of evidence submitted by the medical profession (in Shettles with Rorvik 1983, pp. 113-114):

Dr Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris:

When does life begin? . . . Life has a very long history, but each individual has a very neat beginning, the moment of its conception . . . To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion.  The human nature of the human being, conception to old age, is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence.

Dr Watson A. Bowes, Jr, of the University of Colorado Medical School: “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter — the beginning is conception.”

Dr Alfred Bongiovanni of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, after noting that standard medical texts have long taught that human life begins at conception, added:

I am no more prepared to say that these early stages represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty . . . is not a human being.

Dr Micheline Matthews-Roth, research associate of Harvard University Medical School: “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

Professor Hymie Gordon, chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota): “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

Dr McCarthy De Mere, a practising physician and a law professor at the University of Tennessee: “The exact moment of the beginning [of] personhood and of the human body is at the moment of conception.”

The medical breakthrough came in the 1960s when Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the genetic code (DNA).   

The genotype — the inherited characteristics of a unique human being — is established in the conception process and will remain in force for the entire life of that individual.  No other event in biological life is so decisive as this one . . . The genotype that is conferred at conception does not merely start life, it defines life (in Shettles with  Rorvik 1983, pp. 36-37).

Biologically, human life begins when the sperm merges with the ovum to form the zygote, containing the full set of 46 chromosomes necessary to create new human life.  “The haploid sex cells (ova or spermatozoa) are parts of potential human life.  The zygote is human life” (Shettles with Rorvik 1983, p. 40, emphasis in original). The First International Conference on Abortion in Washington D.C., 1967, declared: “We can find no point in time between the union of sperm and egg and the birth of an infant at which point we can say that this in not a human life” (in Stott 1984, p. 286).

Bible Basics

The Bible does not specifically condemn abortion.  Nor does it specifically deal with infanticide (killing babies) or genocide (the killing of a whole race).  However, there are specific provisions against homicide (the deliberate taking of human life).  Therefore,

if the developing fetus is shown to be a human being, then we do not need a specific commandment against feticide (abortion) any more than we need something specific against uxoricide (wife-killing).  The general commandment against killing covers both (Brown 1977, p. 119).

Definition of a Human Being [2]

The most important clue is given in Genesis 1:27 where human beings are differentiated from animals in two significant ways: they are made (1) in God’s image and (2) by a direct divine act.

Another contrast is given in God’s covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:3-7) where human beings are given stewardship dominion over animals and may use them for food.  It is also evident that the wilful killing of innocent blood of human beings is an offence against the image of God.

Although the meaning of God’s image in human beings has been defined a number of ways, “most theologians agree that it is only because he was made in God’s image that man can relate to God” (Brown 1977, p. 126). While God takes an interest in animals (e.g. Jonah 4:11), He does not relate to them as He does to human beings.  “If God relates in a personal way to a human creature, this is evidence that that creature is made in God’s image” (Brown 1977, p. 126, emphasis added). How then does God relate to us before birth?

God and Us Before Birth

Psalm 139, using poetic imagery and figurative language, states three important truths about our prenatal existence on which John Stott elaborates (1984, pp. 286-288):

(1) Creation.  “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13).  “Although the Bible makes no claim to be a textbook on embryology, here is a plain affirmation that the growth of the fetus is neither haphazard nor automatic but a divine work of creative skill” (Stott 1980, p. 50).  See also Job 10:8.

(2) Continuity.  The psalmist refers to himself in the past (v. 1), present (vv. 2-3), future (v. 10) and pre-natal (v. 13).  In all four stages, he refers to himself by the same personal pronouns “I” and “me”.

He who is thinking and writing as a grown man has the same personal identity as the foetus in the womb.  He is aware of no discontinuity between his antenatal and postnatal being.  On the contrary, in and out of his mother’s womb,. before and after his birth, as embryo, baby, youth and adult, he is conscious of being the same person (Stott 1984, p. 287).

(3) Communion.  Psalm 139 gives the radical personal relationship of God to the individual.  The “I-you” relationship between God and the psalmist is expressed in almost every line.  The Creator God loved the psalmist and related to him long before he could respond in a conscious relationship with God.

What makes us a person, then, is not that we know God, but that he knows us; not that we love God but that he has set his love upon us.  So each of us was already a person in our mother’s womb, because already then God knew us and loved us (Stott 1984, p. 288).

Other biblical passages speak of the prenatal and postnatal continuity (Job 31:15; Psalm 119:73).  God chose Jeremiah before birth and sanctified him in his mother’s womb (Jer.1:5).  David recognised his identity began with conception (Psalm 51:5).

In the New Testament, when Mary and Elizabeth met, both being pregnant, Elizabeth’s baby (John the Baptist) “leaped in her womb” in salutation of Mary’s baby, Jesus.  Of special significance in Luke’s account is that he used the same word brephos (NT Greek) for an unborn child (1:41, 44), the new-born baby (2:12, 16) and the little ones brought to Jesus to bless (18:15) [Stott 1984, p. 289].

The most startling affirmation of the sanctity of prenatal life is the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  His personal history on earth began, not when he was “born of the Virgin Mary”, but when he was “conceived by the Holy Spirit” (see Matt.1:18, 20) [Davis 1985, p. 150].

If Jesus (true God and true man) was present in His mother’s womb from the first moment of His conception, then it follows that other [people] must also be alive and existing as human beings from the first moments of their conceptions; for unless they are the same as Jesus in this respect of their human nature, He would not be like them in every essential human respect except for sin (Krimmel & Foley 1985-86, pp. 12-13) [See also Heb. 2:17].

Foetus as fully human: Biblical arguments [3]

1.    Unborn babies are called “children,” the same word used of infants and young children (Luke 1:41, 44; 2:12, 16; Exodus 21:22), and sometimes even of adults (1 Kings 3:17).
2.    The unborn are created by God (Psalm 139:13) just as God created Adam and Eve in his image (Genesis 1:27).
3.    The life of the unborn is protected by the same punishment for injury or death (Ex. 21:22) as that of an adult (Gen. 9:6).
4.    Christ was human (the God-man) from the point he was conceived in Mary’s womb (Matt. 1:20-21; Luke 1:26-27).
5.    The image of God includes “male and female” (Gen. 1:27), but it is a scientific fact that maleness or femaleness (sex) is determined at the moment of conception.
6.    Unborn children possess personal characteristics such as sin (Ps. 51:5) and joy that are distinctive of human beings.
7.    Personal pronouns are used to describe unborn children (Jeremiah 1:5 LXX; Matt. 1:20-21) just as any other human being.
8.    The unborn are said to be known intimately and personally by God as he would know any other person (Ps. 139:15-16; Jer. 1:5).
9.    The unborn are even called by God before birth (Gen. 25:22-23; Judges. 13:2-7; Isaiah. 49:1, 5; Galatians 1:15).
10.    Guilt from an abortion is experienced, therefore, because a person has broken the     law of God (sinned), “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13; Matt. 5:21; 19:18; Romans 13:9).  Forgiveness can be received through confession to Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).

“Taken as a whole, these Scripture texts leave no doubt that an unborn child is just as much a person in God’s image as a little child or an adult is.  They are created in God’s image from the very moment of conception, and their prenatal life is precious in God’s eyes and protected by his prohibition against murder” (Geisler 1989:148).

Exodus 21:22-25

The English Standard Version renders these verses: “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

Some have used this passage to support a permissive view of abortion.  One interpretation of the passage is that

if a man causes a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage, but no further harm comes to the woman, then capital punishment is not required for the loss of the life of the unborn child, no matter how advanced the pregnancy.  According to this interpretation, Old Testament law does not consider the unborn child a soul or human life, thus implying a clear distinction between the value of the life of the unborn child and that of the mother (Davis 1985:150-151).

The “miscarriage” translation is rejected on linguistic grounds, since the verb yatza when used alone (as in this passage) refers to a live birth, not a miscarriage (cf. Gen.25:25, 26; 38:28-30; Jer.1:5; 20:18).  Therefore, the better translation is “premature live birth” rather than “miscarriage”.  “The text actually treats the life of the mother and that of the unborn child as equally valuable” (Davis 1985:151; see Davis for a detailed explanation).

WHAT THEN IS ABORTION?

https://i1.wp.com/clinicquotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/de.jpg?w=625

(image courtesy ClinicQuotes)

God clearly sees the unborn child as already a human being, made in His image.  Killing of such a person (abortion) is MURDER.

In this abortion debate, Harold O.J. Brown argues persuasively that the burden of proof is on the advocates of a permissive position to show that the unborn child is not human.

If a hunter were to see a movement behind a bush and shoot at it, without being sure that the movement were not caused by a human being rather than by an animal, such an action would be morally irresponsible.  Regarding abortion, any doubts concerning the humanity of the unborn child should be resolved in favor of developing human life (Brown 1977:119).

IS ABORTION EVER AN OPTION?


(image courtesy Amazing animations)

When the morality of abortion is analysed, there are three major options: abortion-on-demand, abortion on “indications”, and abortion only to preserve the life of the mother.

Abortion-On-Demand

This is a secular outlook on the value of human life, one of its most prominent representatives being situation ethicist and liberal churchman, Joseph Fletcher.  He identified personhood according to consciousness and intelligence (minimum IQ score of 20 on the Binet scale).  “Obviously a fetus cannot meet this test no matter what its stage of growth . . . The unborn child is a nonperson, and abortion would always be justifiable except in those cases where undesirable consequences for the woman would outweigh desirable ones” (Davis 1985, p. 145).

It is clear that this view rejects the biblical ideas of human beings made in the image of God and human life existing before birth.  It is a non-biblical option.

Abortion on “Indications”

Norman Geisler, an evangelical Christian apologist, theologian and ethicist, makes the distinction between the “actual” life of the mother and the “potential” life of the unborn child (1971:218ff). He concludes that abortion is justified in four distinct cases:

(1) For therapeutic reasons when the option is “taking the life of the unborn baby or letting the mother die, then abortion is called for” (p. 220);
(2) For eugenic reasons “when the clear indications are that the life will be sub-human and not simply because it may be a deformed human” (p. 222);
(3) When there is “conception without consent” through rape.  “A violent intrusion into a woman’s womb does not bring with it a moral birthright for the embryo”     (p. 222);
(4) When conception is through incest (p. 223).

This view makes the foetus less than a full “person” or “human being”, because it lacks fully developed consciousness.  I consider this to be a dangerous position to adopt, because the same argument could be used to justify infanticide after birth.  Former Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, as the Director of the Centre for Bioethics at Monash University, Melbourne, and now a professor at Princeton University advocates such a conclusion (Singer 1983:128-129) [4]. “Rather than saying that the unborn represent `potential human life,’ it is more accurate to say that the unborn represent actual human life with great potential” (Davis 1985:153, emphasis in original).

The Life-of-the-Mother Position

It is widely held by conservative Protestants and represents the official pronouncements of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox Jewish religious leaders.  This position states that only in rare cases where continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the mother’s life, would abortion be morally justified.  An example would be a tubal pregnancy.  Abortion is not performed on the assumption that the foetus is without value.  But, rather than letting two lives perish, the abortion is performed to save the mother’s life when the unborn child’s life is not salvageable (Davis 1985, p. 147).

The life-of-the-mother position seems to have the most support from Scripture (see Brown 1977, p. 118ff). However we need to note the paediatric experience of the former Surgeon-General of the United States, Dr. C. Everett Koop, when he stated,

Protection of the life of the mother as an excuse for an abortion is a smoke screen. In my thirty-six years in pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life.
    When a woman is pregnant, her obstetrician takes on the care of two patients—the mother-to-be and the unborn baby. If, toward the end of the pregnancy complications arise that threaten the mother’s health, he will take the child by inducing labor or performing a Caesarian section.
    His intention is still to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby will be premature . . .  The baby is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger (Koop 1980).

Rape, Incest and Anticipated Birth Defects

Rape is a physically and emotionally traumatic experience for the woman involved, requiring a ministry of Christian compassion and assistance.  However, should an abortion be performed if a pregnancy results?  Pregnancy from confirmed rape cases is rare, findings ranging from zero to 2.2 percent of the victims involved (Davis 1985, p. 154).

Justice requires that the rapist be punished, not the innocent child conceived as a result of the rape.  Yes, the woman has suffered an injustice, but abortion would represent a further injustice.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  By not having an abortion, the woman avoids the psychological and spiritual problems from the guilt of killing an innocent human life.  She also avoids the risk of endangering her future reproductive capacity (Davis 1985, p. 154).

Amniocentesis and other medical techniques now allow for the detection of a growing list of genetically related conditions before birth.  Should unborn children with anticipated birth defects be aborted?  Dr Glanville Williams forcefully asserts:

To allow the breeding of defectives is a horrible evil, far worse than any that may be found in abortion . . . An eugenic killing by a mother [who gives birth to “a viable monster or an idiot child”], exactly paralleled by the bitch that kills her mis-shapen puppies, cannot confidently be pronounced immoral (in Stott 1984, p. 295).

The Christian conscience should recoil from such horror.  Biblically, there is no justification for a “search and destroy” ethic.  Birth defects can be used in God’s sovereign plan (see Exodus 4:11).  Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s compassion and justice, not by destroying the sick, blind and lame, but by healing them.

It is often claimed that abortion is a more “humane” alternative for the defective, since it will spare them the agony of “lives devoid of quality and meaning”.  I’ll let the handicapped speak for themselves, through a testimony that appeared in 1962 in the London Daily Telegraph in the midst of the thalidomide tragedy:

Sirs,
    We were disabled from causes other than Thalidomide, the first of us having two useless arms and hands; the second, two useless legs; and the third, the use of neither arms nor legs.
    We were fortunate … in having been allowed to live and we want to say with strong conviction how thankful we are that none took it upon themselves to destroy us as helpless cripples.
     Here at the Delarue school of spastics [Trowbridge, Kent], one of the schools of the National Spastic Society, we have found worthwhile and happy lives and we face our future with confidence.  Despite our disability, life still has much to offer and we are more than anxious, if only metaphorically, to reach out toward the future.
    This we hope will give comfort and hope to the parents of the Thalidomide babies, and at the same time serve to condemn those who would contemplate the destruction of even a limbless baby.  [Signed by Elane Duckett, Glynn Verdon, Caryl Hodges] (in Davis 1985:156-57).

OTHER EFFECTS & ISSUES

The Hippocratic Oath

The Hippocratic Oath, which many doctors swear by at the time of their graduation, says:

I will follow that method of treatment which, according to my ability and judgement, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion (‘The Hippocratic Oath’ 1996).

There is a modern day Hippocratic Oath that states: “I will maintain the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life” (also available from ‘The Hippocratic Oath’ 1996).

The Declaration of Geneva (1948) updated the classical Hippocratic Oath statement: “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception” (‘The Hippocratic Oath’ 1996).  Many doctors sign this oath.  It is inconsistent, in my understanding, to sign this Oath and then perform abortions!

The Abortion & Breast Cancer Link

Ductal Carcinoma in situ

(image courtesy Breast Cancer)

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer was formed in May of 1999 by a group of women in the Chicago, USA,  area concerned about the fact that women were not being told by the National Cancer Institute, by their physicians and by anti-cancer organisations that there are now 28 out of 37 worldwide studies, published since 1957, which have linked induced abortion to breast cancer. Our purpose is to educate women and to save lives.  For lots of other links showing the abortion/breast cancer association, follow this link to The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.

Dr. Joel Brind (2000), wrote: “Recently I found myself arguing with the General Counsel to the New York State Department of Health about the need to follow up on the state’s study linking abortion and breast cancer.  Published more than a decade ago, the study found that women who chose abortion were almost twice as likely to contract breast cancer by age 40, compared with the matched, healthy control group with no abortion history.”

A European study brought similar results: “The risk of breast cancer is double for women who have had an abortion. That startling statistic comes from a newly released analysis of breast cancer rates in Europe — and is consistent with a growing body of research” (Shepard 2001).

Big Bucks

In her article, “Confessions of an Abortionist,” former abortionist Carol Everett says: “Abortion is about helping women.  Wrong.  Abortion is about making money — big money.  Greed, not love, is the motivating factor behind the abortion industry” (1992, p. 5)


How do you respond to such a confession?  Everett cannot be speaking for all abortionists, but she is making a strong statement about her former role in the abortion industry.

Abortion Photographs

Some of you may find these photographs of aborted babies offensive and emotionally disturbing.  If so, please do not look further.  However, for those who want to see what happens to these children in the womb, these links are provided for your educational benefit.

A physician tells why abortion is murder‘;
Late term abortions‘;

WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO?

In the medical community, some are acknowledging that abortion is the destruction of life — murder — but proceed to advocate abortion as a necessity for “social reasons”.  Mary Anne Warren, a bioethicist (Dept. of Philosophy] at San Francisco State University, is a representative of this response.  She dismisses most of the pro-abortion arguments as specious, claiming that the foetus is clearly a human being, but it is not worthy of protection.

Warren is willing even to sanction the killing of an eight-or-nine-month-old fetus, proclaiming that the unborn even at that age is “considerably less personlike than is the average mature mammal, indeed the average fish.”  Even at this stage the fetus, in her view, has no more right to life than “a new-born guppy [fish].”  Consequently, she also sees nothing wrong with killing the unborn in order to make use of its tissues and organs in experimentation and transplantation.  Infanticide is all right, too, in her view, if the baby is defective or there is no one who wants it (in Shettles with Rorvik 1983, p. 117).

Read Mary Anne Warren’s (1996) article, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” where she claims that “it remains true that according to my argument neither abortion nor the killing of neonates [i.e. newborn children] is properly considered a form of murder.”  Why?  It’s based on her definition of personhood.  She suggests that the traits which are most central to the concept of personhood, or humanity in a moral sense, are, very roughly, the following:

1.  Consciousness (of objects and events external and/or internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain:
2.  Reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems);
3.  Self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either genetic or direct external control);
4.  The capacity to communicate, by whatever means, messages of an indefinite variety of types, that is, not just with an indefinite number of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible topics;
5.  The presence of self-concepts, and self-awareness, either individual or racial, or both (Warren 1996).

Warren does admit that “there are apt to be a great many problems involved in formulating precise definitions of these criteria, let alone in developing universally valid behavioral criteria for deciding when they apply” (1996).  She’s even aware of the outrage that her position might cause:

However modest and reasonable they may seem to some people, [they may] strike other people as morally monstrous, and that some people might even prefer to abandon their previous support for women’s right to abortion rather than accept a theory which leads to such conclusions about infanticide (1996).

She’s dead right!  Morally monstrous infanticide seems like an accurate description of Warren’s view.  However, this kind of view  should not be surprising when it comes out of a finite human mind!  We need the Lord of the universe to tell us when human life begins and how we ought to treat every human being, no matter how early or late in life.  Using a human definition of personhood seems to be clutching at staws to justify abortion and infanticide.

In my view, any society which tolerates such things, even legislating for them, has ceased to be civilised.  Terminal decadence has set in.  If slaughtering innocent lives in the womb or as newborn children is the recommended solution for social problems, this society must be at the end of its social, economic, scientific, and spiritual resources.  Can we ever forget Germany’s genocide during World War II?  We must recall George Santayana’s words: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (in Shettles with Rorvik 1983, p. 133).

Will we be seduced by the pro-abortion movement’s publicity?  Dr Bernard Nathanson, a former practising abortionist, admitted to a Canadian gathering in 1981 how the abortionists misused polls and statistics:

We fed the public a line of deceit, dishonesty, a fabrication of statistics and figures.  We succeeded because the time was right and the news media cooperated.  We sensationalized the effects of illegal abortions and fabricated polls which indicated that 85 percent of the public favored unrestricted abortion, when we knew it was only 5 percent.  We unashamedly lied, and yet our statements were quoted as though they had been written in law (in Shettles with Rorvik 1983:130).

Alternatives to Abortion

For compassionate care for the prospective mother and the child, I recommend that you seek out people who promote life, support you through your pregnancy, and are there to assist following the birth of child.  There are two groups of people who do this very well: Local churches and right-to-life organisations that will help you through the pregnancy and  with decisions concerning the child.  Do you want to keep the child?  If you do, you will need lots of support, especially in the early months and years of the child’s life.  If you want to make the child available for adoption (there are loving parents waiting in droves for adoptive children), these two agencies will help.

In Australia, here are some possible contacts for pro-life groups:

Right to Life, Australia, phone: 1300 737 732.

Cherish Life, Queensland, phone: (07) 3871 2445,

NSW Right to Life, phone: (02) 9299 1057

Right to Life Association of South Australia, phone: (08) 8298 8830

Pro-Life Victoria, phone: (03) 9818 6186

Human life protection society, Tasmania, phone: (03) 6224 2632
Pregnancy Help Australia‘.

Action

John Stott’s recommendations for action are worthy of support (1984, pp 297-98):

1. We need to repent.  If Old Testament prophets were to visit us today, I am convinced they would confront us with this massive, deliberate destruction of unborn human life.

If a nation permits the slaughter of the innocent, it surely will bring God’s judgment upon itself.  For Christians to stand idly by while such killings go on, especially in a democratic society where they have a voice in government, it is not tolerance; it is complicity (Brown 1977, p. 122, emphasis in original).

Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop dedicated their book and film Whatever Happened to the Human Race? “to those who were robbed of life, the unborn, the weak, the sick, the old, during the dark ages of madness, selfishness, lust and greed for which the last decades of the twentieth century are remembered” (1979, p. 5).

2. We must accept full responsibility for the effects of a tighter abortion policy, if it can be secured.  This will mean providing practical help for the pregnant woman and her baby.

3. We need to support a positive educational and social campaign.  This will involve educating Christians about the sacredness of human life.  Almost all abortions are due to unwanted pregnancies.  Therefore, we need to become involved in working to prevent and remedy social conditions which lead to unplanned pregnancies.  This will be simultaneous with the proclamation of new life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  God is building a new community characterised by love, joy, peace, compassion, freedom and justice.  A new beginning.  A new power.  This is the gospel of Christ.

I maintain fourth and fifth points:

4. Proclaim forgiveness from the guilt of abortion through Jesus Christ.  This will require loving care and ministry towards those who have sinned through having an abortion.  We, of the church, must never reject them.

5.  Join a reputable, but pro-active, pro-life organisation in your city or State (for Australia, see contacts above).

This page is also dedicated “to those who were robbed of life, the unborn, the weak, the sick, the old, during the dark ages of madness, selfishness, lust and greed for which the last decades of the twentieth century are remembered” (Schaeffer & Koop).

Endnotes

2. This section is based on Brown (1977:120-127.
3.  This section in its entirety is based on Geisler (1989:148).
4.  Peter Singer wrote that

if we compare a severely defective human infant with a nonhuman animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication and anything else that can plausibly by considered morally significant. . .  Humans who bestow superior value on the lives of all human beings, solely because they are members of our own species, are judging along lines strikingly similar to those used by white racists who bestow superior value on the lives of other whites, merely because they are members of their own race (cited in Davis 1985:129). 

His arguments are not merely hypothetical.  He argues that infanticide would be acceptable for profoundly retarded newborn babies because they lack the intelligence of normal human beings.  His claim is that “we can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation, made in the image of God, singled out from all other animals, and alone possessing an immortal soul” (Singer 1983:129).

Works consulted

Abortion-breast cancer link.

Abortion rate a tragedy, says Abbott‘ (The Age, March 17, 2004)

Brown, H. O. J. 1977, Death Before Birth, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville.

Bulfin, M. J. 1983, letter to the editor, New York Times (July 1).

Davis, J. J. 1985, Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

De Costa, C 2007. RU-486: The Abortion Pill. Boolarong Press, Salisbury, Qld.

Everett, C. 1992, “Confessions of an abortionist,” New Life (8 October).

Fisher A. & Buckingham J. 1985, Abortion in Australia: Answers and Alternatives, Dove Communications, Blackburn, Vic.

Geisler, N. L. 1971,  Ethics: Alternative and Issues, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.

Geisler, N. L. 1989, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues, Apollos (an imprint of Inter-Varsity Press), Leicester, England.

‘The Hippocratic Oath’ 1996. Ohio Right to Life, Available from: http://www.pregnantpause.org/people/hippo.htm [22 September 2004].

Koop, C. E. 1980, ‘A physician speaks about abortion’ [Online] as told to Dick Bohrer, Moody Monthly, May 1980, Available from “Pathlights” at: http://www.pathlights.com/abortion/abort08.htm [21 September 2004].

Krimmel, H. T. & Foley, M. J. 1985-86, “Abortion and human life: A Christian perspective” The Simon Greenleaf Law Review, Vol. 5, pp. 12-13.

Montgomery, J. W. 1981, Slaughter of the Innocents, Crossway Books, Westchester, Ill.

National Right to Life (USA) 2004, ‘Over 40 Million Abortions in U.S. since 1973,’ Available from: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/aboramt.html [21 September 2004].  See HERE.

Powell, J. 1981, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, Argus Communications, Allen, TX.

Schaeffer, F. A.  and Koop, C. E. 1979, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey.

Shettles, L. B. with D. Rorvik 1983 , Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.

Singer, P. 1983, “Sanctity of Life or Quality of Life?” Pediatrics 72.1, July.

Stott, J. R. W. 1980, “Does life begin before birth?” Christianity Today (September 5).

Stott, J. 1984, Issues Facing Christians Today, Marshalls, Basingstoke, Hants.

Warren, M. A. 1996, ‘On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,’ from Biomedical Ethics. 4th ed., eds. T.A. Mappes and D. DeGrazia, McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, pp. 434-440. [notes not included], available from: http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/warren_article.html [10th October 2004]

“Women’s Issues” 2004 [Online], Available from: http://womensissues.about.com/cs/abortionstats/a/aaabortionstats.htm [21 September 2004]. This article was no longer available online on 20 May 2017.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 May 2017.
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