Recently it has been reported that the number one cause of death world wide is abortion, with more than 42 million babies slaughtered in 2018. “There were more deaths from abortion in 2018 than all deaths from cancer, malaria, HIV/AIDS, smoking, alcohol, and traffic accidents combined” (Breitbart News, January 3rd, 2018. Thomas D. Williams, PhD).
While the trends seem to indicate that the number of abortions may be falling off in the US, there still exists in the US strong support for the right of a mother to murder her own pre-born child. There are even some, such as the Journal Of Medical Ethics, that argue that a baby can be killed just after birth if the mother wishes it. This is known as after-birth abortion. How is this not reprobate?
When discussing the issue of abortion, it is helpful to understand the arguments for abortion so that they can be refuted. In general, there are four categories of argument for abortion: the biological, the legal, the moral, and the spiritual. I’d like to attack each of these arguments from within their own categories and equip you with counter-arguments why saving these lives is so important. But, ultimately, all arguments against abortion are primarily moral and spiritual.
Arguments for abortion generally fall into one or more of the following four categories (with examples):
* It’s not a baby, it’s just a clump of cells
* It’s not viable, therefore, it can be terminated
* The child may be deformed or mentally handicapped. Killing it would be merciful so that it doesn’t have to live an abnormal life
* A woman should be allowed to do with her body what she wills
* Abortion is a legal right, therefore, it’s okay to kill the baby
* The pre-born do not have rights (human rights)
* It will be just another unloved and unwanted child. It would be merciful to kill it
* It is the product of incest or rape, therefore, the woman should not be forced to carry it
* Motherhood should not be forced upon a woman.
* The world can be/is a terrible place. It would be immoral to bring a child into such a world.
* Abortion is an acceptable act because of overpopulation
* The baby isn’t a full person, but a potential person, therefore, it’s okay to kill it
* Christians believe that when a baby dies it goes to heaven. Therefore, killing it guarantees its future with God. But if the child lives it may not be one that goes to heaven when it dies as a adult. Therefore, abortion is a spiritual mercy
Now, let’s deal with each statement under their categories:
Biological Argument: It’s just a clump of cells.
Certainly in the first few days of gestation the baby is “Just a clump of cells.” But we must not define personhood based on biological formation alone. How many cells would a baby have to have in order to be considered human? Everything that the child needs to survive and grow in the womb and in life, is already contained in his or her DNA. The baby is, therefore, human. It is not a potential human, but fully human. As it grows, it will express that humanness, that personhood, in a variety of ways from growth in the womb to full adulthood.
Biological Argument: It’s not viable, therefore, we can terminate it.
If you take this argument to its logical conclusion, then it would be acceptable to kill any child, after birth, for months or even years after its birth. Why? Because a baby cannot survive on its own without an adult human to care for it. In this sense, the baby is not viable even after birth, and left alone, it would die. Are you prepared to allow a baby to be starved to death because it’s not “viable?”
Biological Argument: The child may be deformed or mentally handicapped. Killing it would be merciful so that it doesn’t have to live an abnormal life
Ultimately, this last argument is one about human value and worth. The person who believes in the ultimate worth of a person regardless of their capabilities sees disadvantaged people as equal in value and personhood. The person who regards the disabled as less than ideal is actually expressing a form of discrimination. Does a mentally handicapped child have the same worth as you? If so, why not afford it the same rights and value as you do yourself? If you do not think the child has the same value as you, then consider that compared to some others, you may not be as valuable as they are and you would be up for a killing too. Certain people in history did this many times. We call them Nazis.
Legal Argument: A woman should be allowed to do with her body what she wills
This is a very poor argument. First, a child is not a part of the woman’s body in the sense of her other organs and parts. The child is dependent upon its mother’s body, but itself is actually a separate entity. It has its own DNA, brain, and blood type, amongst other parts, that clearly show it is a separate being from its mother. Follow this argument, also to its conclusion. If a child needed to be hooked up to machines in order to live during medical treatment, we wouldn’t say that the child is a machine and we can turn it on and off whenever we would like. This would be absurd.
We have many laws on the books that restrict what a person can do with their body. You cannot legally abuse yourself with drugs. You cannot use your body to bring harm to another person (assault, murder). Some might argument that in such a case the one assaulted is a victim. In fact, we are arguing for just that. The pre-born child is a victim of another person if aborted.
Legal Argument: Abortion is a legal right, therefore, it’s okay to kill the baby
Initially, laws were written to forbid what was immoral. Now, there are laws on the books that have little to do with morality. But in the case of human relationships, it is important to draw distinctions between what is morally acceptable and what is immoral. We all tend to agree that murder is wrong. But why do we legally permit children in the womb to be killed? Slavery was once a legal right, but precious few would argue that it was moral. Something doesn’t become morally right just because there is a law or court ruling in the books that makes it legally permissible. Abortion is the pre-mediated murder of a human being. Legal right or no, it is morally unacceptable.
Legal Argument: The pre-born do not have rights (human rights)
Perhaps you’ve heard this statement before. It was a well-known position taken by former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. According to Clinton, “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights” (Bradford Richardson – The Washington Times – Sunday, April 3, 2016).
One thing the constitution does is present the rights that people have that are natural, not bestowed. We have rights to free speech and assembly because these rights are innate. They are not granted by the government, but recognized and defended.
If the unborn have no rights, then no one has rights. Being human, the unborn have rights bestowed upon them by God. It is the role of the government to protect those rights. Sadly, this is not what is happening now.
Moral Argument: It will be just another unloved and unwanted child. It would be merciful to kill it
If it is acceptable to kill a baby because it is unwanted or unloved, then why not do the same to adults or the handicapped for the same reason?
Moral Argument: It is the product of incest or rape, therefore, the woman should not be forced to carry it
This is a hard issue to answer because in this case the mother is a victim of a heinous act. Strong emotions are involved. Many people see the pre-born child as an extension of the original assault on the mother. Why should a woman be forced to carry the child of the person who assaulted her?
Many conservatives argue in favor of abortion in such cases. However, though this position may seem acceptable, it still advocates for the killing of an innocent child. In reality, the child in the womb is not an attack. It is also an innocent party, a victim. Killing the child would make it twice the victim, the victim of its mother’s rape, and the victim of its killer. The child is still human, with value and worth, and can live a life that would bring pride to its mother, regardless of its victim status.
Moral Argument: Motherhood should not be forced upon a woman.
Then keep your legs closed. Motherhood is caused by one thing: sex. The entire argument for supporting abortion is really about this one issue, consequence-free sex. Where there is no sex there is no pregnancy. Therefore, motherhood is not “forced” upon a woman. It becomes the consequence of two people’s behavior. In this case, the only thing being forced upon anyone is the death of the child. The child has no choice in the matter. It will either be allowed to live or it will be killed.
Moral Argument: The world can be/is a terrible place. It would be immoral to bring a child into such a world
Actually, the world is a beautiful place, filled with the wonders of natural beauty and diverse cultures. Yes, there are terrible things that happen in the world. None of which is more evil than killing a baby. This argument is simply a way around not taking responsibility for the world around us.
Human beings are God’s agents, tasked with caring for the world and for one another. Abortion does not fulfill this calling, it denies it. It is also ironic that those who make such an argument don’t commit suicide. If the world is as bad as they say, why subject yourself to it and just end it? Because no one who argues this way actually wants to die. Why then, if you make this argument, do you want to kill a child but keep living yourself?
Moral Argument: Abortion is an acceptable act because of overpopulation
This is more of a political argument than a moral one, but I place it here because of the belief that the world cannot sustain the number of people on it. Isn’t it immoral to bring a baby into the world and make things worse by using up resources to sustain its life? My answer to this is the same as I just wrote above. If this is something you really care about, then why don’t you kill yourself as a possible solution? Yet, no one does this.
Overpopulation is a science issue and political issue. We do not get morality from science. Thus, making the case from a scientific perspective does nothing to advance the morality of the situation. And regarding politics, do you want to make a decision to kill a child because of political considerations? This would be astonishing.
Spiritual Argument: The baby isn’t a full person, but a potential person, therefore, it’s okay to kill it
It is here that I want to turn things toward a spiritual context because it is the spiritual that provides the philosophical values upon which we base human life. Science and law provide answers to the “whats” of life. But, they do not provide meaning, the “Whys” of life. The objection above is a critically important one. What is personhood? I believe the spiritual is the best approach to answer this question.
One may argue that a pre-born baby isn’t a person until they reach a certain stage of development. Some even argue that personhood isn’t applicable to babies, or even young children, until they grow closer to maturity. This is a heinous view. It is also utilitarian. In reality, there is no such thing as a “Potential person.” We might say this about the first few cells in a pregnancy, but when does a child become a person? From my perspective, the child is a person from the first cell. This is because all that is needed for the child to grow is in that first strand of DNA. From the first cell forward the child begins the process of growth, coming into their own. In this case, the potential person and the actualized person are the same.
Spiritually, the Bible recognizes life in the woman as personhood. Through the prophet Jeremiah God stated, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5). In this view, the Lord expresses that he has a plan for the unborn. Though, from our perspective, the baby is not yet knowable, from God’s eternal perspective, he views the unborn child with value and worth. He has a plan for that person that will be actualized through his or her life. Killing that child is, therefore, an assault on God, and his plan for the child’s life. Though the context of Jesus’ words are different than abortion, the principle in Matthew 25 still applies: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
Spiritual Argument: Christians believe that when a baby dies it goes to heaven. Therefore, killing it guarantees its future with God. But if the child lives it may not be one that goes to heaven when it dies as a adult. Therefore, abortion is a spiritual mercy
This is actually a very difficult argument to defeat. If you are a Christian, then you want everyone to experience life in Christ. The murdered unborn, the argument goes, will experience that. But if the child is allowed to live, who knows what kind of evil it might perpetrate?
Yet, from the beginning of humanity there has always been the possibility that some who are born will commit terrible acts of evil. God knew this well in advance and yet he finds killing the unborn an evil act in itself. It’s not like these things are hidden from God.
Spiritually, there are two separate things going on. Once is the murder of baby. The other is the evil that baby might grow up to commit. The Bible is pretty clear. The baby has a right to live. And God has the right to give that baby life, even if it may grow up to become evil.
The reality is that we are all evil. We all have a sin nature, even a baby. God has provided for a way for people to be forgiven of their sin, if they will only take hold of Jesus. So, God, having an eternal view of the future, knows what a child might become. He is willing to allow that child to either embrace him or reject him and suffer the consequences.
This argument may not be satisfying, but it is true nonetheless. We can also argue from the opposite perspective. That child may grow up an lead a remarkable life. Abortion robs that child of such a life. Would you kill a child because he “might” do evil when he also “might” be remarkable? We cannot see into the future. But God does. We must, therefore, advocate for life.
I hope these answers to abortion help you in advocating for life, or in making your own decision about what you might do with the life inside of you.