SEEK 8 – Abortion
Question: As abortion is regarded as a sin and the murder of the unborn by people such as yourself, why do evangelical preachers like you not push for widespread effective contraception to be made freely available? Is abortion a sin if the mother would die because of the pregnancy?
Bible Reading: Psalm 139
Text: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Ps 139:14-16)
We need to unpack this question a little, before answering it. By ‘people such as myself’ I assume you mean Christians? I.e., those who follow the teachings of Jesus as given to us in his word. In that regard your question ends up with three parts.
Firstly, is abortion sin? Is it wrong in the eyes of God? Abortion is the unnecessary taking of a human life. Therefore, it is clearly a terrible sin. (Bear in mind that abortion is not the unforgiveable sin – there is mercy at the cross of Christ for all sins). But what about all the arguments that are used to defend abortion? It’s the mother’s body. That might be a valid argument if there was only one body involved. But there are at least two others – the father (it takes two to make a baby) and most importantly that of the baby. There is no doubt that scientifically and biblically (see the above passage) the baby in the womb is a human baby. We should no more give any one the right to take the life of their child in the womb, than we would give it to them when the child is out of the womb. That is the most basic position.
But what about when the mother’s life is in danger? In theory it could be argued that if it was a clear choice between the life of the mother and the life of the baby – a choice has to be made. But how often does that choice have to be made? In 2011 a UK government minister told the House of Lords that “Between 1968 and 2011 (the latest year for which figures are available) there have been 6.4 million abortions performed on residents of England and Wales. Of these, 143 (0.006%) were performed under Section 1(4), i.e., where the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.”
There are those who have argued that the ‘saving the mother’s life’ argument is hypothetical and that “there are no circumstances in which the life of the mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her child” (letter to the Irish Times in 1992 from five of Ireland’s top gynaecologists). Dr C Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General of the US declared: “In my thirty-six years in paediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life.”
Another argument that is often used is that of the dangers of illegal abortions. It is asserted that if abortion is not legal then millions of women will die because of badly carried out abortions. But is this true? Dr Calum Miller of the University of Oxford has done a great deal of work in this area, largely debunking this myth. Read this article in Christian Today – https://www.christiantoday.com/article/abortion.myths.and.realities.a.case.study.from.africa/137772.htm
What about contraception? Should ‘people like me’ be arguing for widespread effective contraception to be made free? Again, it all depends on what you mean. One of the most effective ways of avoiding unwanted pregnancies is to avoid sexual relations altogether. Christians argue that sex is so special it should be confined to marriage. But what about situations within a marriage where a couple do not want any more children?
There are different Christian views. The Roman Catholic Church for example is totally opposed to contraception. Some evangelicals share that view – arguing that children are a blessing from the Lord, and we should not view them as otherwise. But some hold to the view of conditional permission – that is that contraception is permitted if it does not destroy human life and is not done for selfish reasons.
The Christian approach to all of this is vastly different from that of much of contemporary society. We value all life as sacred. That is our foundational premise. Which means that we do not have the right to take life at any stage. It is desperately sad and wicked that what should be the safest place in the world for a baby (the womb) has become one of the most dangerous.
Consider: Why do you think people want abortions? What can be done to help those who are scared of bringing a child into the world? How can we offer support and help to those who have had abortions and now come to regret it?
Further Reading: There are so many resources I can only point to a view. For more information on this subject look at the websites of organisations like the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC); Evangelicals for Life; Right to Life etc. Two books I would recommend are:
Right to Choose – The Effects of Post Abortion Trauma – Maureen Long
Counter Culture – David Platt
Prayer: O Lord, we read that in the days of Noah you were deeply troubled that you had made human beings on the earth – because ‘every inclination of the human heart was only evil all the time’ (Genesis 6:6). What must you think of today? When we justify evil of killing the unborn as a ‘human right’! Lord, have mercy on us. Forgive us our sins. Heal those who have been wounded by the deceit of abortion. And grant that we may defend the unborn, and look after the born, in Jesus’s name. Amen.