The abortion debate rages yet again, with all of its attending terms and catchphrases – pro-life, pro-choice, women’s rights, sanctity of life, my body my choice, and the list goes on. As always, the ranks of the pro-life side are filled largely by those who claim to be Christians. For those who are not in the world of Christendom, this can be confusing.
Why does this issue matter so much to Christians? And why are we so overwhelmingly anti-abortion? I’ve written this article in hopes of offering a simple explanation of the issue from our point of view, starting with the most foundational principle of our stance.
We’re anti-abortion for a very simple reason: we believe abortion ends an innocent human life, and ending an innocent human life is an abomination in God’s sight (Proverbs 6:17).
We believe life is precious because all humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and from the womb we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). The idea of the most innocent, helpless of us being torn limb from limb horrifies us, and if we can act to prevent it from happening then we’re going to.
Truth be told, in our religion that confesses the absolute Lordship of our King, Jesus Christ, all He would have to say is “because I said so” and we would submit. But that doesn’t mean we can’t back up what we believe on other grounds, for those who are skeptical.
Our anti-abortion stance is not merely a religious view, but one that has grounds in the fields of science, ethics, and government. Scientifically, we believe every “fetus” is a human life. Ethically, we believe that each human life has his or her own rights. Governmentally, we believe the authorities have jurisdiction to penalize any who would violate another human’s right to life.
In this article, I want to use that basic framework – that abortion ends an innocent life – to work through commonly seen arguments in favor of abortion legalization.
“It’s a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body.”
Here’s the thing: nobody disagrees with that. A woman’s body is her own, and she has legal right to her own person. This is why rape is both illegal and morally condemned by 99.99% of people, because it violates a woman’s right to her own body. We agree that a woman has a right to choose what she does with her own body.
However, an abortion by definition involves two (or more) people’s bodies. To disagree with this is to assert either 1) that the baby is not a living, growing human with a right to life or 2) that even if they are, the mother has the right to kill him or her because the baby is dependent on her body.
We are well aware now that the baby is not the “clump of cells” so many want it to be, so option #1 does not hold up scientifically. It also does not hold up logically, and experience shows us that nobody actually believes #1. How can I make that claim?
Notice how, when a woman chooses not to abort, at that instant the “fetus” is recognized as a full-fledged human baby. Celebrations and congratulations are shared, names are chosen, gender reveal parties and baby showers are held, caution is taken to avoid substances that could harm the baby, vitamins are taken to encourage development, apps are consulted to track the baby’s development and count down the days to the due date… A whole new way of life that begins at that moment. Yet, had the mother chosen differently, all of that goes out the window and the baby is “just a clump of cells” and “not a human life.” How does that make sense?
As for option #2, it simply does not hold up ethically. If the baby is a precious human life, you can’t just kill it because it inconveniences you.
The woman’s choice with her body was made when she had sexual intercourse, an action that can and does have consequences. One such consequence is the creation of human life, a newly-formed and ever-growing body of another human being. There is no right to consequence-free sex.
Scientifically, somebody has to pay for the “choice” the woman already made. In the case of abortion, the consequences of the woman’s decision are always passed on to the growing human child. Not only does the child have the ultimate consequence of their life ending, there’s also good reason to believe they feel tremendous pain in the process. If you haven’t looked into what an abortion really looks like, please take 5 minutes to check it out here. Ask yourself if you really believe a woman has the right to do that to another person’s body.
(On the ever-present question regarding cases of rape and incest: in the extremely rare but always horrific case of a rape-induced pregnancy, the rights of one body have already been violated. It would be wrong to then violate the rights of another. To turn and do harm to another to try to erase the harm already done is not a valid moral option.)
“Yeah but some Christians still support the death penalty so you’re not really pro-life.”
Whether that’s a valid point or not, what does it have to do with the question of whether abortion should be legal? If you oppose the death penalty, then by all means advocate for its removal, but that has no bearing on the argument that abortion ends an innocent life.
“You’re only pro-birth, you don’t care what happens to the baby afterward.”
The problems with this argument are myriad, and I discussed the matter in greater detail here. But once again, this dodges the point and fails to refute the view proposed. If abortion ends an innocent human life, that must first be stopped at all costs. We can figure out what happens afterward, but first things first let’s prevent the baby’s death.
“I am personally against abortion but I don’t want to make that decision for anyone else” and “If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one.”
This argument trades on option #1 above, that the baby is not a living, growing human with a right to life. In other words, they’re implying abortion is a victimless act. Otherwise this argument would fail horrifically on the grounds of logical consistency: “I am personally against domestic violence but I don’t want to make that decision for anyone else.” “If you don’t like slavery, don’t buy a slave.”
Of course nobody would think like that. So this argument comes on the grounds that people are free to make their own decisions and everybody else must mind their business because only one person is involved. As we’ve seen, that’s just scientifically and ethically untrue.
“This is just about men’s desire to control women.”
It’s not, but let’s go ahead and assume that’s the case. Does that change the fact that abortion ends an innocent life?
I’m sure there are more arguments to be made. For now, suffice it to say that the Christian stance on the matter is not complicated. Innocent life must be protected, and we will do what we can to make sure it is.