What is the most dangerous place on earth for humans? This is not just a play on words; the most dangerous place on earth is the womb. If you can just make it those 9 months, you have a real shot at having a full life. In the United States, 1 out of every 5 babies are killed in the womb. In African-American communities, the number is much higher. In New York, 37% of all pregnancies end in abortion. In China, the number is far higher than this. These statistics are from the two most reliable sources on abortion… the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute. What should be the safest, most secure and comfortable place on earth for a human being has literally become the most dangerous.
Let me give you one more statistic that is most eye-opening. 30% of aborting women identify themselves as Protestant Christian. The need to understand this issue and give a caring, intelligent apologetic response is vital in our church today. And why we need to do whatever we can to be Christians who make a stand and invoke change in regard to the recognition, celebration, and protection of life at all stages.
Remember, we are up against a multi-billion dollar industry. Planned Parenthood, which accounts for less than 20% of abortions in the US, has received billions of dollars in government grants and contracts, approaches a billion dollars in revenue each year, and profits around $100 million each year. This isn’t an argument against abortion; it just shows that the industry has a strong incentive for abortions to continue and increase.
Appeal to Logic: Logic should make it readily apparent that a baby in the womb is simply a person at an earlier stage of development.
“Fetus” is simply Latin for “little one.”
When a couple goes through the tragedy of having a miscarriage, their loved ones grieve along with them, recognizing that this couple lost a baby. They didn’t lose a ‘blob of tissue’, or just a ‘product of conception;’ the couple is devastated because they fully recognize that their child died. At the same time, in many cases, both the couple and their loved ones also believe that if the child was unwanted, the couple should be able to kill the child. (See, there is no physiological difference between the unborn child in each case, thus the real argument pertains to the rights of the mother, not the personhood of the unborn, which we will discuss later).
Racism and Abortion… the two most illogical issues in our society. Why would someone of a different color be of less inherent value, and why would a person at an earlier age be of less inherent value?
History (1973): Roe v. Wade (TX) and Doe v. Bolton (GA)
- Roe v. Wade legalized abortion itself (until viability), or rather, disallowed states from being able to ban abortions. Doe v. Bolton allowed it for any reason at any point in pregnancy, including partial-birth abortion.
- Since then, over 60 million children have been killed by abortion (surgical abortions). This does not include chemical abortion or abortifacient contraceptives.
- Jane Roe = Norma McCorvey. Norma dropped out of school when she was 14, and married into a very abusive relationship. After she got pregnant, she left him, and moved back in with her mother. Soon after, she admitted to her mother that she was sexually attracted to other women; her mother then disowned her and took custody of her child. In 1969, Norma discovered she was pregnant with her third child and wanted to abort the baby. She came home to Dallas, TX where she was convinced by friends to falsely claim that she had been raped so that she could legally obtain an abortion (rape and incest were only exceptions). The scheme failed because there was no police report documenting alleged rape, and later she officially admitted to lying about the rape. She tried to get an illegal abortion, but the site had been closed down by police. She was then referred to some attorneys. (The baby was born before the case was decided). The case went to Supreme Court without her permission.
- Three basic rulings… 1) A woman’s right to privacy included the right to determine the outcome of her pregnancy, 2) An unborn child is not considered a “person” within the meaning of the Constitution, 3) States could only ban abortions in cases where child had reached viability and there is no health threat to the mother.
- Norma also came out soon after about a long-term lesbian relationship with her steady partner. In 1994, she converted to Christianity, and was a pro-life activist until her death. She also stated decades before her death that she was no longer a lesbian.
From her second book, “Won by Love”:
I was sitting in O.R.’s offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. ‘Norma’, I said to myself, ‘They’re right’. I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth — that’s a baby!
I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn’t about ‘products of conception’. It wasn’t about ‘missed periods’. It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion — at any point — was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and Sandra Cano (Mary Doe) say they were lied to by attorneys and both were pro-life Christians advocating against abortion until their recent deaths. McCorvey never gave permission for the case to go to the Supreme Court, and never had an abortion. Sandra Cano claims she had no idea she was even the plaintiff in her case- having never had an abortion, never wanted an abortion, and never believed in abortion (see book Supreme Deception).
Sandra Cano- Extremely poor and uneducated woman. She was living in poverty and became pregnant with her 4th child. At the same time, she was going through a divorce, and wanted full custody of her child. She was referred to an attorney Margie Pitts Hames. Little did Cano know, Hames was fighting for the pro-choice cause, and Cano was the perfect candidate. Hames then tricked Cano, and knowing that she wouldn’t know better, got her to sign an affidavit about wanting an abortion amid a plethora of other signed documents. This is one of the most deceitful cases ever to hit our court system… Cano never stepped foot into the court room even though she was technically the plaintiff in the case. In fact, Cano never even knew she was the plaintiff in the case until much later. This case allowed abortion for basically any reason at any time:
Part of her Supreme Court decision was redefining the “health” of the mother: “Whether, in the words of the Georgia statute, “an abortion is necessary” is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”
Because of the very broad definition of “health,” abortions could now be legally performed at any point during a pregnancy.
The basic pro-life argument is clear and to the point:
Premise #1: It is wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings.
Premise #2: Abortion intentionally kills innocent humans beings.
Conclusion: Abortion is morally wrong.
It’s important to always come back to this, because most pro-choice objections and arguments do not refute the two premises and therefore are irrelevant in refuting the conclusion.
Three Pro-Life Fallacies
- Most anti-abortionists argue the wrong point. They immediately claim “Abortion is wrong because murder is wrong.” They then go on to quote contemporary and biblical law against murder. However, this argument does not help us. Many pro-choice advocates argue that the fetus is not a person, so laws against murder do not apply.
- Shock Tactics: Many pro-lifers use explicit or gruesome pictures and language to get their point across. To a certain extent, this is unavoidable, as the procedure is quite brutal no matter how it is described. This is one of my greatest internal debates, as to whether to use some of these photos in my presentation. People intentionally turn a blind eye to the horror of abortion. And it probably should be used with a woman as a last resort in order to save the life of her baby. However, if this is the primary tactic used, many will refuse to look or listen to you at all.
- Confusing human value with human function. Some pro-lifers will argue that abortion is bad because we might abort someone who could benefit us. Surely we have aborted babies who would have been the next Einstein or Mother Teresa, or countless other intelligent and talented people who could have made the world a better place. Don’t get me wrong; this is a true statement! However, this is not the reason abortion is wrong. Humans are valuable because of what they are, not what they can do. The homeless man’s life is just as valuable in God’s eyes as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as we are all made in God’s image. This argument is also easily countered by abortion advocates who could say we may have aborted the next Hitler, terrorist, serial killer, or rapist. Defenders of abortion actively use a version of this by giving value to a child based on what they have achieved (consciousness, self-awareness, viability, etc), instead of cherishing the unborn because of the kind of thing they are- living humans! Also, when a pro-lifer uses this, it focuses on what the killing of the unborn costs us, not what it costs those who are aborted! It is wrong because it unjustly ends the life of an innocent human being. You can imagine the world systems, made clear in world history and many a movie, when people are valued only by what they can do and not who they are. There are so many GOOD arguments against abortion, we don’t want to steal this defective worldview to defend ours.
First, what is at the heart of the issue? The heart of the issue is the value of life. When God breathed life into Adam and Eve, he gave them something indescribably valuable and precious. He gave life to humans made in the image of God. Your life is inherently valuable to God. At your worst and at your best. No matter your race, your status, your size, your level of development… no matter what you do or say in your life, and no matter what anyone ever tells you, every single person’s life is priceless to God. Because we were made in the image of God.
We find this throughout Scripture. In fact, look at the first law given to Noah when he came off the ark in Genesis (Gen. 9:6):
“Whoever sheds man’s (in Hebrew- “a adam”) blood,
By man (in Hebrew- “adam”) his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God He made man.”
The Hebrew phrase, “a adam” refers to an “individual man or person”; “adam” refers to “corporate man or government.” This is God’s law regarding capital punishment for those who take a life unjustifiably.
God’s Word from beginning to end makes no distinction between the child in the womb and the child outside the womb. We’ll look at examples of this later.
On the same token, the minute mankind starts to place value on someone’s life for a reason other than the inherent value God has given every person, the greatest atrocities known to man will occur (and have occurred).
“Quality of Life” Ethic– “human beings are valued only to the extent that they experience a certain level of quality of life and are productive to the rest of society” What road does this mentality lead us down?
The greatest atrocities ever committed in human history were due to a disregard for human life. Many times, this disregard is founded in the de-humanization of another person. Racism and slavery were based on the concept that African-Americans were less evolved or “less human” than other races, thus white people could treat them as they wished. With the Holocaust, we wonder how the Nazis could have ever killed so many Jews in cold blood. But they were able to do so because it had been ingrained in their minds that Jews were less than human, calling them ‘rats’ and ‘roaches.’ Once Jews were de-humanized, the Nazis could do anything they pleased without a shred of conscious. This is what is happening with abortion…
We have de-humanized the unborn child. It’s the only reason we feel as a society that we can do anything to them that we wish. But even then, we have all kinds of contradictory laws surrounding unborn children because instinctually, we know there’s value in that life.
- Physician story- A pharmacist once told me that he could be sued for malpractice and his license revoked if he prescribed any medication that could harm a child in utero, even if the mother wanted it knowing the risks; however, if he recommends that the mother kill the child through abortion, he is suddenly a great purveyor of womens’ rights.
- Some laws condemn the killing of a fetus as murder, while other laws condone the killing of that same fetus through abortion!
- At the Federal level, the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” (known as “Laci and Conner’s Law”) recognizes that any ‘child in utero’ who is injured or killed during a federal crime of violence is considered a legal victim.
- Under the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” every infant born alive, regardless of developmental stage is considered a ‘person’ under federal law with legal rights.
- The majority of states give some degree of protection for unborn victims of violence through fetal homicide laws. Most states allow for civil penalties, state intervention, and even criminal prosecution for women who use drugs/alcohol or otherwise harm their unborn babies in utero!
This leads us to the first faulty way pro-choice advocates argue, and you’ll find this in most of their arguments. They will “assume” that unborn children are not human.
In celebrating Roe v. Wade, President Obama said we need abortion because “this is a nation where everyone has a right to pursue their own dreams.” But who is ‘everyone’? He just assumed this didn’t include the unborn. Take the ‘back-alley argument’… “We can’t outlaw abortions because women will be forced to get dangerous illegal ones.” This assumes the unborn are not humans. Otherwise they are saying, ‘because some people can be hurt or die when killing other people, the states should make it legal and safe to do so.’ Arguing that we should keep abortion legal, simply because people will do it anyway, except in less safe ways (in back alleys, etc), makes no sense! If something is wrong, then you criminalize it, just like murder or rape. Besides, the vast majority of women said they would not have had abortions if it was illegal.
They attack: Many times pro-choicers will attack you personally rather than responding to your arguments or points. Example: “Men can’t get pregnant, so they shouldn’t be able to weigh in on the issue”: Pro-life women have the same arguments; arguments aren’t gender-specific. And if that’s true, Roe v. Wade should be overturned since it was decided by nine men. Or you’ll hear that you don’t have a right to oppose abortion unless you adopt unwanted children: This is just an attempt to change the subject or make the pro-life advocate seem cold and incompassionate. But how does my alleged unwillingness to adopt a child justify an abortionist intentionally killing one?
They assert: Let’s say you lay out your pro-life position using science and philosophy, and they simply respond: “Well, women have a right to choose.” Is this an argument or an assertion? It’s an assertion because no argument and no evidence is offered to support the claim. Response: ‘Choose what? Where does that right to choose come from? Why do you believe that?’ A more intellectual example: A professor responds to your case with “The embryo is not self-aware and has no desires, so abortion should be okay.” The hidden premise here is that self-awareness and desires give us the right to life, and he presents no evidence or argument for this. Response: “Why does self-awareness or having desires matter? What would having these attributes determine who lives and who dies?”
If the humanity of the unborn is a foundational issue, understanding development can be helpful.
Development of the Unborn Child (not a blob of tissue)
Week 1: Conception, the embryo is smaller than a grain of sugar, but the instructions (DNA) are present for all that the person will ever become.
Week 2: The embyro attaches and burrows securely into the wall of his mother’s womb. The fastest growth happens during first 2 weeks, then slows. If he continued at that rate, the child would be born the size of 2 elephants (28,000 lbs).
Week 3: The baby’s blood vessels and sex cells form. Foundations of the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system are laid.
Week 4: The baby’s heart has begun to beat, pumping the baby’s own blood through his circulatory system. Arms, legs, eyes, ears, and lungs begin to form. (find out pregnant)
Week 5: Arms and legs are more easily visible, as well as the baby’s face. The baby’s blood is now separated from the mother’s.
Week 6: Tiny fingers and toes develop. The baby’s brain is divided into three parts for emotion and language, hearing and seeing. Brain begins functioning enough to generate EEG impulses (brain waves).
Week 7: Buds of the baby’s milk teeth appear. Ninety-nine percent of the muscles are present, and brain activity is detectable. Responds to some touch sensations.
Week 8: The baby begins spontaneous movement and is now well proportioned, about the size of a thumb. Every organ is present, but immature. The skull, elbows and knees are forming.
Week 9: If prodded, hands and eyelids close. Genitalia becomes visible, indicating whether the baby is a boy or a girl. Muscle movement begins. Thyroid and adrenal glands are functioning.
Week 10: The baby’s fingerprints begin to form. Nerve and muscle connections have tripled. Eyelids fuse together temporarily to protect the baby’s delicate developing eyes.
Week 11: The baby “practices” breathing and facial expressions, even smiling. The baby can also urinate and stomach muscles can also contract.
Week 12: The baby is now 3 inches in length and weighs 1-2 oz. with fine hair on the face. The baby is able to swallow and responds to skin stimulation. He has fingernails, and can suck his thumb. The child will often struggle for life two or three hours if removed from the mother at this point.
This all happens in just the first trimester!!
SO, “If it looks and acts like baby, it is a baby”- this may be cause enough for the average person to believe we should not kill the child, but it is not enough for the pro-choice advocate… we still need to make a scientific case based on biology.
What is abortion?
Suction Curettage: The force of suction pulls the limbs and body apart, tearing the placenta from the uterine wall, and is then vacuumed out (most common).
Dilation and Evacuation: The fetus’ skull is crushed, and then typically decapitated and dismembered before being pulled out with forceps.
Other- Manual Vacuum Aspiration, Dilation and Curettage
Partial-Birth Abortion is when a child in the 2nd or 3rd trimester is partially removed from the uterus and killed by crushing the skull or puncturing the skull in order to suck the brains out. Many are even brought to term. Official Definition: “any abortion in which the baby is delivered past the navel… outside the body of the mother or in the case of head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother… before being killed”
(President Bush banned partial-birth abortions in 2003, but there are a lot of loopholes).
[Think about this for a second: What is the most immoral and horrific act that you can possibly imagine? Probably ripping the arms and legs off of an infant baby and crushing his skull. We can’t even imagine this ever being done to a baby. Yet a week or two earlier, while that same baby was living inside his mother, it’s completely legal to do the exact same thing for any reason we see fit.]
Since abortionists stress the health risk associated with having a baby, we must also be sure not to overlook the documented effects that abortion has on a mother. Abortion harms women in so many ways- physically and emotionally.
- Just as with giving birth, there is also a great amount of physical pain accompanying an abortion.
- There are a number of potential physical complications resulting from an abortion, including: hemorrhaging, perforation of the uterus (explain), cardiac arrest, endotoxic shock, infection requiring hospitalization, convulsions, future ectopic pregnancies, cervical laceration, permanent sterility, uterine rupture and death. These are all documented complications.
- Potential damage to the uterus and reproductive organs decreases chance of being able to have children later. (i.e. vacuum suction closes Fallopian tubes)
- Multiple medical studies have shown a significant link between women who have first trimester abortions and the development of breast cancer (as high as 50% increase). The requirement of placing “increased risk of breast cancer” on abortion consent forms is still in legislation.
- PAS, or Post Abortion Syndrome, or Post-Abortion Trauma, is a well-documented clinical condition observed in women following elective abortions. It has been likened to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and symptoms most frequently are shame, heartache, and a deep regret that most women deal with the rest of their lives. Other symptoms are depression, guilt, anger, emotional numbness, sexual problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, nightmares, thoughts of suicide, panic attacks and flashbacks. The abortion industry still refuses to acknowledge the existence of PAS.
These conditions do not help us in the argument of the personhood of the fetus, but cannot go unmentioned.
There is forgiveness, cleansing, and healing for those who have had abortions. A healing that can only come through Jesus Christ. (Resources: The Women’s Clinic of John’s Creek, Abortion recovery hotline, etc)
Can the fetus/child feel the pain of abortion?
Pain receptors are one of the first developments of a fetus. The fetal pain system is fully developed at 20 weeks. This is an extremely modest timetable, as neuropeptides such as Substance P and Enkephalin (chemical pain messengers), are present many weeks prior to this. Distorted pain can be felt at 15-20 weeks as the pain system develops (like a beta-version of pain system). Microphone analogy: If you are testing a microphone, it may be too loud or too soft before it’s balanced just right. The fact is, at 20-35 weeks (5-7 months), the unborn child has more pain receptors per square inch than at any other time in their lives, before or after birth. Pain inhibitors do not start to develop until 30-32 weeks! This makes the pain experience of an unborn child far greater than any that could be experienced by an older child or adult. This is why parents cannot touch the skin of a preemie. Of course, fetuses get no anesthesia. Even livestock are protected from undue pain by the Humane Slaughter Act.
Pain-Capable Child Protection Act- Passed in Georgia but stopped by the ACLU.
The unborn are protected after 24 weeks, or second trimester in GA.
But, this does not help us in our case. The fact that the child/fetus can feel pain does not answer the necessary question…
The questions we must answer are…
What is the unborn? and
Is the unborn fetus a person with the right to life? If we can answer this ‘yes’, then the rest is easy. Again, we needn’t argue whether murder is wrong (Many abortionists will agree with this), but what makes abortion murder.
From the moment of fertilization/conception, is the fetus…
Yes, by scientific definition, it is a biological mechanism that converts nutrients and oxygen into energy that causes its cells to divide, multiply, and grow. Abortion advocates must agree with this, but state that plants and amoebas are also alive. What is the difference? Some pro-choice advocates claim that the embryo is only a “potential person,” however, all that is needed is time and nutrition for that embryo to grow into everything it will ever be.
Note: This alone allows us to be able to use the word “kill” when talking about abortion. We are causing something (or someone) to go from being ‘alive’ to ‘not alive’ which by definition is ‘killing.’
Yes, The DNA is that of a human. A full set of DNA needed to grow into an adult human person is there. It is genetically complete. It is unique and distinct from both parents. Pro-choicers agree, but state that something such as a single hair follicle also has a full set of human DNA.
Can we properly refer to the embryo from the moment of fertilization as male or female? Yes. We each get 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father. One of the chromosomes is the XX or XY pair, which dictates gender and is determined by the father.
In the very early stage after fertilization, the TDF (testes determining factor) along with associated hormones can play a role, and the gender may change, but the fertilized egg is never gender-neutral.
Law of Biogenesis- “Living things reproduce after their own kind only.” Humans can’t get together and produce anything less than a human being. When else would a fetus become a human?
Each of these facts alone do not create a case for the personhood of the unborn. Being human without being alive means nothing, and being alive without being human does not warrant the right to life. However…
The most logical explanation of when a child becomes a person with the right to life:
ALIVE + Gender-specific Human DNA
The KEY is the combination of the two.
If this does not constitute being a person, what does? At this point, the burden of proof should land squarely on the pro-choice person because this is as objective and scientific as it gets.
What does the pro-choice advocate believe the unborn needs to acquire before becoming a person whose life we value?
Before we even look at some of these attributes, remember that we are already entering dangerous territory… the notion that human beings are valued only based on their function rather than their nature. We talked about the Quality of Life ethic earlier. Giving value based on function results in gross inequality in our society. Functions, like self-awareness, desires, etc, come in degrees, so this would result in a graded system of how much worth or value each human has. Which again leads to some of the worst atrocities against mankind in our history.
Nevertheless, let’s look at some of the functional qualities that pro-choice advocates put forth…
Some will point to consciousness as being the determining factor, but this falls apart from the very beginning. What is consciousness? One definition is the ability of being self-aware and able to ‘think about themselves.’ The problem they face is that people who believe this also know that this type of consciousness doesn’t occur until months, even years, after a baby is born. Also, there are problems regarding a person who is in a coma. Is a person still a person with a right to life when the lose the ability to be self-aware while in a coma?
Another definition of consciousness: the cognitive ability to recognize and react to something or someone outside himself
There is a strong argument that unborn fetuses have this ability.
We could look to a Biblical story for an example: Luke 1:36-57
- Mary is in her 1st trimester, Elizabeth is in her 3rd
- The baby shows awareness and cognition when he recognizes and reacts to Jesus’ presence. The small miracle here is not that the baby was given the ability to recognize and react in general, but that nothing but the presence of another being was able to be recognized by John.
- But we needn’t refer to a biblical story for this. We see this all the time with pregnant women!! Pregnant women regularly report that their babies in the womb react to certain voices or music or movement or light.
This type of cognition or consciousness is certainly there.
What we do know is: Whether “consciousness” is obtained before birth or months/years after birth, certainly there is no argument that consciousness is attained at the moment the child passes through the birth canal.
If consciousness is obtained sometime after birth, this supports neither the pro-life nor pro-choice view.
If consciousness is obtained before birth, this supports the pro-life view.
Since most pro-choice advocates don’t have a response to this, they fall back onto the next point…
For many years, viability was the defining point of when a fetus had a right to life. Viability is the ability of a fetus to survive outside the uterus (see chart).
There is no definitive time at which the unborn acquires viability. There is ~50% chance of survival if the child is removed from his mother at Week 24 (Month 6). If after, the chance goes up. If before, the chance of survival goes down. It’s a moving scale! Viability is a game of percentages and certainly cannot be used as the defining factor in allowing abortion. Even if there is a 2% chance that we might be committing murder via abortion, we couldn’t do it. In fact, using viability as a means to determine whether a child can be killed means that the value of life and the determination of someone being a ‘person’ is based on our advances in technology, not in anything inherent to the fetus itself. As our technology improves, hospitals will be able to keep a fetus alive outside the womb at earlier stages of pregnancy, which means the stage at which a child can be killed will always be changing if based on viability. This makes no logical sense. This brings us to our next question…
From the moment of fertilization/conception, is the fetus…
Physically Independent? NO
Both views agree that a small child is dependent upon another for his existence both before and after birth. No one argues that it is okay to kill someone because they are completely dependent on something (i.e. medical device, pacemaker) or someone (i.e. a caretaker, spouse), thus some pro-choice advocates try to make a distinction between two types of dependence:
1) Social Dependence and 2) Physical dependence
Social Dependence– a child’s dependence on others to meet physical needs, such as feeding him, clothing him, etc
Physical Dependence– a situation where one life form depends solely on the physical body of another life form for its existence
Pro-lifers will agree that this type of “physical dependence” is true for fetuses only while inside the womb. Can the transition from physical to social dependence adequately draw the line on abortion’s morality? Why does the abortion-choice advocate think this should this be the distinction that makes abortion okay?
To support this argument, the pro-choice advocate always turns to the rights of the mother. It’s not fair. She has a right! They will argue that it’s not fair for a woman to be forced to carry a baby she does not want.
Notice they have changed the question! No longer is the question, ‘What is the unborn?’ or ‘When does the fetus become a person?’ The question of personhood is swept under the rug and it now becomes, “Is a woman morally obligated to keep the fetus alive? Does she have the right to terminate him or her?”
This is so important! This is the primary factor and issue when it comes to the abortion debate now, politically or otherwise. As medical knowledge increases, fighting for abortion rights from a biological perspective (i.e. the unborn is simply a ‘blob of tissue’ or less than a person) has become more futile. As this is a battle they cannot win, the pro-choice advocate will begin to argue on behalf of female rights as opposed to the nature of the unborn, and they simply ‘assume’ the non-humanity of the unborn in the process.
Remember, this is not so much a pro-choice argument concerning the personhood of the baby in the womb, but rather the moral obligation to keep the baby alive.
Side Issue: If the primary argument is that a woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body (“my body, my choice”), why is prostitution illegal? Prostitution doesn’t even inherently involve the potential killing of an innocent child.
Before addressing the “rights” issue, we must see if it applies by seeing how pregnancies/abortions come about:
Reason for Having an Abortion (These are undisputed stats given by both leading secular and faith-based organizations alike, such as the Guttmacher Institute):
93%- Convenience (unwanted child, financial hardship, etc)
3%- Mother’s Physical Health
3%- Child’s Health (potential deformities, etc)
<1%- Rape or Incest (0.5%)
Here we see that over 99% of abortions (and about the same for pregnancies in general) are the result of a choice:
Conception is either a direct choice (someone who wants to get pregnant) or an indirect choice (someone who has sex knowing that there is always a possibility that conception could result).
Quote from Melissa Brunner’s Abortion essay:
“The choice of the mother begins and ends with the choice to have sexual intercourse. If a woman is in control of her own body, she has the “choice” to choose abstinence if she is so opposed to carrying a separate human being to term. For every cause there is an effect, and if a woman engages in sexual intercourse and becomes pregnant with life, she has made her “choice” willingly, knowing the effect. A woman’s body may be her own, but the body of the child that grows within her is not her own body.”
I teach sex ed and the benefit of waiting to have sex until marriage to middle/high school students through the SWAT Program (Speaking Words of Absolute Truth). I always ask if they know where babies come from, and almost everyone is aware by this age. One thing I tell them is that there is no safe sex. 1 in 3 sexually active people will get pregnant or get a girl pregnant by the time they are 20. And almost every single one of those people are shocked and surprised when it happens. However, if you have sexual intercourse and get pregnant, no one has a right to be shocked or surprised, regardless of whatever preventative methods you tried to take, because that’s where babies come from.
Ultimately, the argument about a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body is an argument for sexual freedom. This quote by David Kupelian is one of the best I’ve ever read regarding this.
“The deception-based world of abortion is rooted in our devotion to what has become a near-sacred belief – total sexual freedom. We have determined as a modern, secular, post-Christian society that we have the absolute right to engage in sexual relations with whomever we want and whenever and wherever we want, and we repudiate the notion that we have to take responsibility for the natural result of sex – which is children. Having committed so deeply to this proposition, it matters not how barbaric and inhuman abortion is, how many gorgeous children we see with their throats cut, heads cut off, chemically burned alive, brains sucked [out], or spinal cord “snipped” with scissors. We must allow for abortion on demand or our sacred right to sexual freedom ceases to exist.” -David Kupelian
When someone says a woman shouldn’t be forced to carry an unwanted child and that she is not being allowed her choice, in actuality, a woman can guarantee prevention of pregnancy by not having sex.
What about when conception is not the result of the mother’s choice? The fact that she is ‘forced’ to carry the child does apply to the 0.5% who get pregnant due to rape… so let’s look at this. Even though it accounts for less than 0.5% of abortions, it is the argument used 90% of the time by the pro-choice advocate.
- Understand the Playing Field (Who is asking?): Two types of people bring up rape: the inquirer and the crusader. The former can be a person who has experienced rape or knows someone who has, or they could be an honest inquirer who is trying to think through the emotional and philosophical difficulty of the issue. But more often the rape question is used by ‘crusaders’ to make pro-lifers look insensitive by pitting them against rape victims. Remember, if we grant the rape exception, we undercut the foundational principle of our position, that all human beings matter and should be valued. If we deny the rape exception, we appear calloused toward women. This alone has single-handedly neutralized countless pro-life advocates, including pro-life politicians who don’t know how to handle the issue. I’ll handle the ‘crusader’ more in a moment.
- Respond with Sensitivity and Compassion: We cannot underestimate the emotional turmoil and physical pain of a pregnancy caused by rape. We need to acknowledge this. If you are talking to someone with whom the rape issue is very personal, it requires we respond with love, not just a sound argument. The assumption made by most is that the child will be a persistent and hurtful reminder to the woman who has been raped, and this may be true in many circumstances. The brutality of rape is one of the greatest evils imaginable. Women understand this better than men, but as a man, we still can’t imagine the horror of our wife or daughter being victimized in this way. Compassion for women in these circumstances should and does come naturally for us. Express that.
- Clarify the Moral Issue: We then need to refocus the discussion on the nature of the unborn. When a woman is raped and conceives a child, the question is not “How was one conceived?”, but “What was conceived?” The circumstance under which any human comes into being does not alter his or her nature or intrinsic value; it has no bearing on their worth. Pro-lifers are perceived as insensitive for recognizing the humanity of her child, but by allowing the mother to kill her child perpetuates the idea that hardship justifies violence. The tragic violence of rape does not justify the tragic violence of abortion. Abortion is wrong for the same reason rape is wrong: both are unjust acts of brutality against innocent human beings. Both rape and abortion take something that is not theirs to take: the woman’s body and the child’s life. Should an innocent child die because of the sins of the father? If an unborn child has a right to life, can we justify killing him because of the horrific circumstance under which he was conceived? How is that fair to the child? Should we be able to kill a 6-month-old baby who was conceived due to rape because of the hurtful memories that he represents? If not, the question remains… what is the difference between killing in the womb and after birth? According to countless affidavits collected by the Justice Foundation, many women even report that their abortion was more traumatic than the rape itself.
- Be Confident in the Pro-life Position: When one accepts the consensus of human embryology… that a distinct, living, and whole human being comes into existence at conception, it becomes clear that pro-lifers are not the insensitive ones. The insensitive people are those who propose the death penalty for an innocent human being because of the sin of a rapist. The pro-life position is rooted in love. It recognizes the unimaginable pain of rape, but is also rooted in truth, insisting that an innocent little girl or boy should not be killed because they are hurtful reminders of a tragic crime.
Also, be aware that many people who believe in abortion on demand choose to argue the rape situation because it’s easier. They hide behind the hard cases, and want to paint the pro-lifer as an extremist. You can ask them… “If I granted abortion in the case of rape, would you join me in opposing all other abortions?” They won’t, because they want abortion to be legal for any reason. Thus, that is the position that they need to defend, rather than using rape victims. Unless they are arguing that abortion is only okay in the situation of rape, then they haven’t defended their position.
Francis Beckwith says, “Arguing for the abolition of all abortion [restriction] laws because of rape is like arguing we should get rid of all traffic laws because you might need to run a red light rushing a loved one to the hospital.”
What about when the pregnancy causes a health risk to the mother? Some abortionists claim that physical dependence always presents a risk to the health or life of the mother. However, if you delve more deeply into this statement, one can see that in order to say this is true in 100% of cases, they must be referring to pain associated with pregnancy and childbirth. But this was part of the curse put on the woman in Genesis (Gen. 3:16) and certainly not cause to kill the child in the womb. Giving birth is a natural function of a woman. Abortion is an unnatural procedure done within a woman’s womb and generally has far higher physical complications and risks than does giving birth.
Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible in most cases to know whether a woman will live or die if she gives birth, regardless of the potential risk. In the rare case where the mother will die if the baby is brought to term, both mother and child can usually be saved through surgery (i.e. C-Section). In the extremely rare circumstance in which having an abortion truly is the only way to save the life of the mother, abortion may be a legitimate and moral option, seeing as a valuable life is lost either way.
What about the notion that some put forth that abortion is “safer” than giving birth? It is completely debunked here.
Remember, all these cases account for only 3% of abortions.
What about the 3% that are done due to potential deformities or the baby’s health?
To abort a deformed child in the womb rather than to allow him to live is an affront to the thousands of people born with severe handicaps who live happy and productive lives, and the families that care for them. There are numerous examples that could be given of people who made a huge difference in the world despite handicaps. There are plenty of mentally and physically handicapped children who bring great joy to others’ lives despite their dependency, and have a part to play in this world. Nevertheless, these are not the reasons they are valuable. A human life holds value because of his or her very nature, and not what he or she can offer us. The key here is: In the majority of cases, deformities and handicaps are possibilities, or probabilities, but almost never definite. Countless parents are told their child will have some sort of physical or mental handicap, but the child is completely normal upon birth. Is it right to abort a child because of a possibility, or even a probability?
Some argue that abortion would be better for some children than living the life they would live if born. But how can we know? How is it our prerogative to decide that? How is it our right to kill a child because of our determination of the life we think he will live? What about all the people who made so much of their lives coming out of a poor or broken home? Again, we could kill the toddler or homeless man using this same argument. (And once again, the “Quality of Life” Ethic is a very dangerous precedent for determining whether someone has a right to continue living.)
Most pro-choice advocates believe that the fetus has rights of some sort based on the fact that he is (1) Alive and (2) Human, but that his rights are trumped by the rights of the mother. What are these basic rights? The rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The basic pro-choice argument is as follows: Two entities with equal rights cannot occupy one body, therefore one has veto power over the other. In other words, a baby in the womb has no rights to ‘life’ before birth because they would interfere with, and thus are trumped by, the mother’s rights to ‘liberty’ and ‘happiness.’ Here’s the major flaw in the argument: For them, priority of rights is based on who is more developed, whereas priority should be placed on which right is more important. Consider a scenario where I am a single dad, and my 6-month-old son cries uncontrollably every single night. Let’s say that suffocating my baby would make me happy by giving me a good night’s sleep. No matter who is older or more developed, that baby’s ‘right to life’ trumps my ‘right to the pursuit of happiness.’ Clearly the child’s right to life is foremost.
Many pro-choice advocates claim that the “right to life” of the child automatically cancels out the mother’s right to Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. To the contrary, in the majority of cases, the act of having a child brings incredible happiness to most mothers, thus this blanket statement is false.
IMPORTANT: Again, the issue of “rights vs. rights” tells us nothing of the physiological question of when a fetus has rights. I am simply arguing that it is a logical fallacy to say that a fetus only has a ‘right to life’ outside the womb solely because those rights are trumped by the mother’s while inside the womb.
Certainly the most logical and objective point at which to bestow human rights upon someone is when they are…
- Alive (by scientific definition)
- Human (having a complete and unique set of gender-specific human DNA)
And these characteristics are all present at the moment of conception (defined as fertilization).
A living human being exists at conception, and EVERY life has inherent value.
Think about this: What if the general public recognized the personhood of the pre-born? I mean, truly saw the baby in the womb as no different from the infant or toddler. How utterly horrified would we be that we allowed over 60 million of these innocent be brutally killed for any reason we saw fit over the last 45 years? Can you imagine the shame we would feel as a nation? A civilized, developed nation! Our view of the Holocaust would pale in comparison… we can’t imagine how we used to think slavery and racism were okay, but can you imagine looking back on a time when we thought there was no moral problem with the murder of tens of millions in their mother’s womb? This is the reality we live in, and it’s up to our generation to stand up for the unborn who have no voice. As Christians, or even just human beings, we should be up in arms over this! And I do want you to know, if you are in a tough situation with a pregnancy, there are resources that you can use that will guide you every step of the way. I work with the Women’s Clinic of John’s Creek, among other crisis pregnancy centers. We talk to countless women who had considered abortion, but decided to carry the baby to term. They look back and can’t imagine if they’d made a different decision. A lifetime of experiences and joys that were almost not made possible. At the same time, countless girls who decide to abort their babies live with that decision the rest of the lives, with all its physical and emotional consequences. Even though there is healing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I don’t want this to be you, or any of your friends.
No matter how small, no matter how developed, no matter how dependent, no matter what age, no matter what race, no matter what status, ALL humans have inherent value given to them by God Himself having been made in his image, and should be protected and defended. We should treat others with this mentality, and we should see the unborn the same way.
Though I believe the argument against abortion can stand on its own without any reference to faith or Christianity, let’s look at what the Bible has to say…
Sometimes Christians are criticized for being “one-sided” on the issue of abortion. However, with the exception of one or two potentially difficult verses, Christians are typically one-sided because the Bible is one-sided. The personhood of the unborn is assumed throughout Scripture.
First, let’s look at a couple of verses that I personally choose not to focus on, but are popular among pro-lifers:
Ex. 20:13, and similar verses- As explained earlier, these verses against murder are not very helpful in a debate concerning abortion because most pro-choice advocates don’t believe abortion is murder, for one reason or another.
Ps. 139:13-16, These beautiful verses describe how God formed us in the womb and played the largest role in our creation. However, these verses do not necessarily prove our personhood during that development, and thus aren’t especially helpful when making a case for the unborn. We can glean some evidence here when we read how King David refers to his earlier stage in the womb as “I,” making no distinction between his identity in the womb and his current adulthood.
Jeremiah 1:5- This refers to a time before Jeremiah was conceived, so this is not helpful.
Let’s look at verses that are helpful:
[Many references can be made to verses that talk about the sanctity of life given by God, and God hating the shed of innocent blood.]
Overarching Point: The Bible makes no distinction between the born and unborn.
- We’ve already shown cognition of the fetus in this passage
- Compare Luke 1:36 (“conceived a son”) vs. 1:57 (“gave birth to a son”). The same Greek word is used in both passages for ‘son.’
- Compare Luke 1:41 (“the baby leaped in the womb”) vs. 2:12,16; 18:15 (other references to ‘baby’). The same Greek word (brephos) is used in all passages
- In Luke 1:43, Mary is addressed as ‘mother’ before Jesus was born.
Numbers 12:12- Even if a baby dies before birth, the woman who conceived is still considered a “mother.” The word “mother” (in Hebrew- EM; in Greek- METER), in context, refers to physical human reproduction, or one who has procreated a separate and distinct individual from the mother.
Luke 1:15– John the Baptist will be “filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”
Throughout Luke 1, an angel speaks to Mary about her unborn child, and to Elizabeth about the child in her womb.
Ruth 1:11- Refers to “sons in the womb”
Gen. 25:21-22, Refers to Esau and Jacob interacting in the womb
2 Kings 19:3- Refers to “children in the womb”
Romans 9:11- Refers to “the twins” or “children” not yet born
In reference to pregnant women, “with child” occurs 26 times in the Bible (not ‘what will become a child’)
Throughout Scripture, the same word is used for a child inside and outside the womb, also referencing the unborn as “man, woman, child, son, daughter, or baby.”
Gen. 5:3-4, 28-30; Acts 7:29, Refers to parents who “begat sons and daughters;” the Hebrew and Greek words for “begat” refers to conception.
Job 3:3- Refers to a “man-child” being conceived (Heb. GEBER). This word always strongly denotes a person, usually a fully mature man. Compare with Job 10:5, Ps. 127:5, 128:4, where the same word is used for an adult. It is used 66 times in OT.
Job 10:8-12, The child in the womb was not something that might become Job, but someone who was Job already.
According to Scripture, the baby is not just a part of a woman’s body, but a separate human individual. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 says our body is not our own; it is a temple.
Some Christians make an argument that, biblically, “Blood = Life.” They argue that a fetus is a person once it has its own bloodstream, which occurs approximately 17 days after conception. They base this on verses such as Lev. 17:11 and Deut. 12:23.
Let us now deal with a few potentially difficult passages that some pro-choice advocates attempt to use in justifying abortion.
“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she [‘gives birth prematurely’ or ‘has a miscarriage’], yet there is no [further] injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23But if there is [any further] injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life.”
The pro-choice argument here is that if only the unborn child is injured or killed, there is a lesser penalty, but if there is further injury to the mother, then the death penalty is mandated. This argument reflects a serious misunderstanding of this passage on several levels. In the first verse, most translations say either one phrase or the other, referring to the bold phrases above. For instance, older NASB translations say the latter, whereas newer editions of the NASB say the former. The Hebrew word used here is “yalad,” which means literally “her children have come out” or “cause her offspring to be brought forth.” This Hebrew word refers to a live birth 11 other times in the OT. It never refers to a miscarriage, although it is once referred to as a stillborn. The bracketed word “further” was added by later translators. There’s a few possible answers to the pro-choice argument regarding this passage:
- The most simple way to understand this is that the baby was ‘brought forth’ prematurely. If there is no injury, the punishment is a fine, but if there is injury, either to the mother or if the baby dies, then the death penalty is mandated.
- Some pro-choice advocates will claim that the reference to ‘further injury’ only applies to the mother. Though their argument is faulty that the phrase should definitely refer to a miscarriage, it is true that the vast majority of preemies would die as they did not have the modern technology to keep them alive. So, for the sake of the pro-choice argument, let’s assume that this passage refers to the death of the child. Look at the case at hand. This is a struggle between two men, and implies that the striking of the woman was an accident. Accident or not, if the woman dies as a result, the death penalty is required. However, the death of the baby would be considered “involuntary manslaughter,” which deserves a lesser punishment than “pre-meditated murder.” In both cases, a human life was lost. The man who accidentally struck the woman may or may not have known that she was with child, and in this case, certainly didn’t have the pre-meditated intention of killing the unborn child. The whole conflict was between two grown men in the first place.
- No matter how you understand this passage, certainly abortion is the intentional killing of a living human child whereas this situation describes at most, involuntary manslaughter, making this passage nearly impossible to use as evidence in the defense of abortion.
…Then I say, “better the miscarriage than he…”
This verse is sometimes used as a pro-choice argument to show that abortion should be allowable in light of a potentially futile or poor quality of life. First of all, a miscarriage is not intentional. There is certainly no argument that killing a baby is morally acceptable because upon retrospect it would have been better for him to have died in the womb. Secondly, this is the author’s soliloquy on the futility of life if he did not know anything about God and his purpose in life. This is not God speaking, which is made even more clear by the words “then I say.” So in actuality, the author knows that what he is saying is not true.
“So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.”
This passage has nothing to do with abortion. It refers to “never having existed” whereas fetuses do exist. Also, as mentioned earlier, these are the author’s words of how he would feel if he knew nothing about God.
Job 3:2-4, 11-19; 10:18-19
These verses talk about the hopelessness Job felt when he had everything taken away from him.
- Job cries “why did I not die?” not “why was I not killed?” There’s a big difference. A miscarriage is unavoidable death, very different from someone making the arbitrary decision to kill the baby/fetus.
- Job has a right to regret his own life, but this does not imply a right for someone to have killed him before his birth.
- If Job’s wish had come true, we would not have the powerful story of Job’s faith. Job said this in the depths of despair, not knowing that in the near future God would restore everything and more to him. In fact, he could only appreciate this newfound joy and blessing because of the season of despair he had to endure. This is Job talking out of depression, and is not to be taken literally, whether for him personally or especially as a practice on the whole.
- Is these passages, there is a reference to a “boy” being conceived.
Lev. 27:6, Numbers 3:15
These verses refer to the fact that a child did not have a monetary value placed upon him until they reach the age of one month. Unless a person is arguing that killing any child under the age of one month is acceptable, these verses are useless for the pro-choice advocate.
Gen. 2:7, Ezekiel 37:8-10
These verses refer to God creating Adam from inanimate dirt, which was a once-in-history event. A fetus is not an inanimate thing. Adam was never a fetus, so of course, he came alive when God made him and breathed life into him. In Ezekiel, God is doing the same thing out of inanimate bones, not to mention this is only a vision. If one wants to argue that “breathing” is what gives life, then we know that the process of respiration (i.e. transfer of oxygen) begins at conception.
This verse refers to a woman being condemned to death despite being pregnant; however, this was not a law of any sort and certainly does not refer to God’s approval of such a decision.
This text says that the judgment upon the Samaritans will include ‘their little ones being dashed to pieces’ and ‘their pregnant women ripped open.’ Somehow, some pro-choice advocates believe it follows that this condones or even mandates abortion to correct errors of an undesirable conception. How does this possibly follow? Some questions may arise regarding God’s willingness to allow these unborn to die, but certainly it doesn’t follow that this gives us the mandate or right to allow abortions. Keep in mind that God alone has a right to give and take life as He sees fit. One person’s sin has unfairly affected the innocent throughout history.
SO…if biologically and biblically, we can show that the fetus is a separate, distinct individual person with the right to life from the moment of conception (fertilization), then the laws and commands in Scripture against murder should apply. Thus we can say that abortion is indeed murder.
APPENDICES: ADDITIONAL SUBJECTS CONCERNING THE ABORTION ISSUE
Abortifacients or Chemical Abortions
RU-486 (Mifepristone) or “The Abortion Pill”: This is used 4-7 weeks after last menstrual period. The pill is given to block the hormone progesterone, preventing the embryo from staying implanted and growing. Two days later, misprostol is given to contract the uterus and expel the embryo.
Methotrexate: Approved by the FDA for cancer treatment, it is also used to end pregnancies by attacking the growing cells of the newly formed human and stops embryonic cell division.
Emergency Contraceptive or “Morning-After Pill”: Taken within 72 hours of having sexual intercourse, this prevents the implantation of an already-fertilized egg.
[Abortifacients have come to the forefront with ObamaCare which mandates that businesses must offer these in their health coverage, such as with Hobby Lobby who refuse to include abortifacients as part of their coverage.]
RESPONDING TO OBJECTIONS:
“Abortion is legal, so it must be morally acceptable”
- What is legal does not equal what is morally correct. If that were true, then there can and could have never been reformation, such as the outlawing of slavery. And it was certainly legal to kill Jews during the Holocaust, so under that thinking, it was also right.
- Even our own laws are not consistent… (see beginning of notes)
“If re-criminalized, how should women be punished if they have an abortion?”
Pro-choice advocates always think they can stump pro-life advocates by asking how women should be punished if they obtain the procedure after abortion is re-criminalized. This is worth examining.
First we must frame the question correctly. What penalty should be prescribed by law if a mother deliberately murders her 2-year-old child? What if her child is 7 years old? What if she pays someone else to murder her children? We know that this would be considered, at the very least in our liberal society, as manslaughter, which is punishable by a jail sentence. If we know that the child in the womb at the time of conception is just as much a child as the child of 2 years old, we must not allow mis-directed compassion for the mother to suggest that she and the person she hires to kill her baby be above the law and receive no jail time.
Once it’s illegal, women could no longer claim that they were un-informed and did not know it was wrong. Without permission based on the mother’s health, doctors would be sued for medical malpractice for performing abortions and serve jail time.
“Penalties in law are designed to discourage criminals from carrying out actions that are illegal. Laws do not change hearts, but they control the heartless. The desire for justice demands that severe penalties be given for crimes against the lives of defenseless people. Our society has denied justice for unborn children who are killed daily in their mothers’ wombs at the request of the mother. We need to correct this and return that protection to the unborn. It then follows that jail time for those who commit the crime of abortion is not only just, but absolutely necessary.”
One of the greatest saints of our time, Mother Teresa, who is known for her kindness and compassion to everyone she met, was asked the question regarding jail time for women who sought abortions and she answered unequivocally that a jail term would be necessary, because the life of a human being had been deliberately taken.
Note: Of course, punishment should not be retroactive. A woman/doctor could not be punished for having/performing an abortion while it was legal.