Christians are commanded in I Peter 3:15 to "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." Knowing the right answer is important but not sufficient. We must communicate the truth with a proper spirit of humility and compassion. Both content and presentation should matter to Christians at all times; when we lose sight of either one, we fail.
There are certain moral issues today that are often discussed without the balance called for above. I'd like us to endeavor at this time to speak the truth in love (cf. Eph. 4:15) regarding the issue of abortion. Although my position on this issue has never changed, I must give credit to Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason (www.str.org) for helping to refine my thoughts on this important ethical matter via his articles & radio program.
Let's begin here: I believe that intentional abortion unjustly takes the life of a human being--a life that is defenseless, pure, and innocent. I am certain there are rare situations where a pregnant mother's life becomes in jeopardy medically so that if nothing were done, both she and the baby would die. In that situation, I believe the proper course of action would be to purposely & carefully remove the child from the womb early (by Caesarean, for example) to save the mother. If the baby is too young to survive, no wrong has been committed. This is not an intentional abortion (and the same could be said for most miscarriages). The action taken was to help the mother live, not purposely seek the death of the baby in utero. Some are quick to bring up these rare situations to attempt to justify intentional abortion. Such cannot be done reasonably. These rare situations do not change the position I am advocating.
In conversations I have had or witnessed, most agree that intentionally killing innocent human beings today is wrong. However, many quibble over the precise status of the unborn. Are they just blobs of tissue? Are they fully human? Or, are they something in between? When a woman intentionally aborts her fetus, is an innocent human being killed? I've already told you that I believe the answer is "yes," but why do I believe this way? I intend to share evidence from science, philosophy, & the Bible to make a strong case. But first, let's consider some preliminary objections often offered by the "pro-choice" proponents, coupled with some questions of consistency that ought to be pondered.
Objection #1: "Abortion is a deeply personal & private matter between a woman and her doctor."
Is it acceptable for a parent to abuse his child if he believes it is proper & only does so privately?
Objection #2: "I'm personally opposed to abortions, but it should be up to the mother to decide."
Why are you opposed to intentional abortion? If it takes the life of an innocent human, why do you believe it is good for women to have the choice to kill their babies? If it does not take the life of an innocent human, why are you opposed at all?
Objection #3: "It's not about right & wrong, but about whether we trust women to make their own responsible choices."
Should we trust all mothers to make responsible choices when some discard their newborns in dumpsters? If we trust women intrinsically to make responsible choices, why not trust them on all issues and exempt them from all laws?
Objection #4: "You would take away a woman's right to choose? Who are you to force your morality on them?"
Would you take away a man's right to torture his toddler for fun? Would you force your morality on him and tell him he is doing wrong? The reality is that our society "forces" morality on parents all the time when the well-being of a child is at stake. Additionally, as soon as one says (explicitly or implicitly), "Don't force your morality on others!", he is contradicting himself by doing the very thing he said you had no right to do!
Objection #5: "You would force women to bring unwanted children into the world?"
Many homeless people are generally unwanted in society. Should we kill them, too? And what about old people who aren't wanted anymore--should they be put to death as well?
Objection #6: "Many poor women cannot afford to have another child."
If children become too expensive, should we kill them? If a woman cannot afford a child, giving the baby up for adoption is an option.
Objection #7: "If abortion is restricted, women will die from back-alley abortions."
If the unborn are human, should we blame the law for making it more risky for someone to intentionally take the life of a human being?
Objection #8: "A woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her own body."
This assumes the unborn is not a separate human being. Can you prove this to be the case with facts and a logical argument?
Objection #9: "If abortion is illegal, then victims of rape will suffer even more!"
Rape is a terrible evil in our world, and this must be acknowledged. However, should we kill one person just to make another person feel better? Does one violent act justify another violent act against the unborn? Should we punish a child for his father's crime? Adoption may be the best option in this case.
These nine objections do not answer the most foundational question: What is the unborn? If the unborn is not a human being, then no justification is needed for the practice of abortion. However, if the unborn is a human being, then no justification for intentional abortion is adequate. In my estimation, it is wise to keep dialogue focused on this central question as opposed to emotional arguments or ad hominem attacks. It is not productive to minimize the anguish of an unplanned pregnancy or its psychological and practical complexities. However, the topic is not morally complex. Either intentional abortion kills a pure, innocent, defenseless human being or it does not. If it does, we should not tolerate it, period.
In our next lesson we will appeal to science, philosophy, & the Bible to defend the pro-life position.