As the 7th of June approaches, my wife and I prepare to celebrate the birthday of our second son. He is a beautiful, mostly happy baby who is gradually learning to interact with a world that he isn’t really able to see as a result of damage to his visual cortex from a Grade IV intra-ventricular haemorrhage… and yet he still finds joy. Over the last twelve months I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve written a lot – from the shock of discovering his medical condition through the stages of processing what it all meant and receiving updates from various doctors, through two brain surgeries and three fluid taps to the confirmation of cerebral palsy on his left side and the likelihood that his vision is very low, if it is there at all – through all of this the (active) sovereignty of God really has been, as Charles Spurgeon put it, ‘the pillow on which the Christian rests their head’. Until now though, I haven’t written about something else that happened on the day our son was born. In some ways it was small, it probably only lasted 30 seconds, and yet it is burned into my brain and still boggles my mind. It was something one of the midwives said while we were waiting to go to theatre… but more on that soon…
I don’t know about you but I can recall a few times in life where everything has slowed down as I’ve realised that I am actually witnessing history in the making; for example (in no particular order) the Australian government’s apology to Indigenous Australians, the inauguration ceremony of the first African American President (who I’d argue went on to be decisively on the wrong side of the issue discussed in this post), an Australian speed skater coming from behind to win a Winter Olympic gold medal in that sport (thanks Steven Bradbury for inspiring a nation of underdogs), and I’m sure there have been others. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that we are now in an era in human history that is disfigured by a huge and hideous scar which marks (in some ways) a new low in human depravity, a moment lasting several decades that won’t be looked back on with any reverence, but with disdain and horror, when all is said and done.
Today my fellow Australians and I will go to the polling booths and be met by people wearing different coloured t-shirts, handing out flyers for their party of choice. Beyond the surface level difference in clothing colour will run a much more serious divide which to me is the single most important issue in our current political climate; a difference in belief about humanity, the image of God and the inherent value and dignity of human life.
In recent months reports have emerged that a federal Labor government will not only require public hospitals to perform abortions in order to receive Commonwealth funding, but may also even fund abortions, including late term abortions, with tax payer dollars.
With my vote, I will be taking a stand for those who cannot yet stand for themselves, namely the unborn Australians, tiny little boys and girls, who are brutally murdered each week in what should be one of the most protective and protected environments on the planet, their mother’s womb. Some might say that as a man I have no right to comment on this issue as I will never be pregnant myself, but as a Christian, a father, and more specifically a father of a child living with various disabilities/physical impairments – abnormalities which doctors said would have led them to speak to my wife and I about abortion had they been discovered earlier – this is not an issue on which I can stay silent. The church is largely, unfortunately, too silent on this issue, and has been for a long time. It’s time that changed. It’s past time.
A Necessary Disclaimer
I want to pause and acknowledge straight up that each woman is different, just as each baby is different, and there is lots of nuance and diversity when it comes to the circumstances and situations, which are often complex, in which women seek abortions. These situations need to be worked through carefully with great love and care, and I am thankful for the work of crisis pregnancy centres and some churches who offer practical help to those in need.
Sometimes pregnancies also fail due to natural causes, and that is absolutely tragic. These are not the situations to which this post is directed.
I am concerned for the lives and health of women, absolutely, but I am also concerned for the lives of unborn girls and boys, and I am concerned that it is too easy to end those lives for the sake of convenience or to avoid pregnancy which may be unwanted for a variety of reasons. I hope, perhaps in vain, that those who disagree with me on this issue and indeed this entire post will know that my position does not come from a place of malice, but rather from a deep conviction that, scientifically speaking, human life begins at conception. I also have a deep conviction, which many of my secular friends would agree with, that ALL human life is inherently valuable. I am convinced that each human life has an undeniable right to live that life, and that the premeditated ending of a human life is called murder. I don’t say this lightly, but I do take it seriously, which is why it’s worth talking about – whether we agree at the end or not. If this topic is too raw for you, feel free to skip this post or maybe jump to the last sub-heading and read the end before continuing. I believe abortion is wrong, but I also believe in a God who loves deeply, gives grace freely and forgives completely when we turn to Him.
Let’s (briefly) talk science
We’ve all heard the faux scientific arguments that seek to minimise the issue of abortion: ‘it’s just a clump of cells’, ‘it isn’t sentient and therefore it has no real value as a life while in such early stages of development’, and the one that would be laughable if it was not such a serious error ‘a baby doesn’t become truly a human person (with rights) until it passes through the birth canal’. You don’t need to look very far to discover the scientific facts on the origins of human life. The American Society of Pediatricians says,
At fertilization, the human being emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop. The difference between the individual in its adult stage and in its zygotic stage is one of form, not nature.
Calling it a zygote doesn’t make it non-human. Calling it a foetus doesn’t make it unworthy of life, especially since foetus is essentially Latin for ‘unborn baby [mammal], particularly human’. These terms employ the art of obfuscation via euphemism. They replace the reality with words that deaden the severity of what is really at stake.
So, what did the midwife say?
Back to the story about the hospital. While my wife and I were waiting to go to theatre for the caesarian, the midwife fitted the funny compression socks and ran through all the paperwork before delivering the following request to my wife (paraphrased), “Thursday is termination day here at the hospital, so I’d ask you to not leave this room without me because we wouldn’t want you (by being pregnant) to upset or offend anyone who is here to end their pregnancy.”
I couldn’t believe it. We were essentially being told that the sight of my wife’s pregnant belly might upset someone who was there to willingly kill the life inside their own pregnant belly. Therefore we supposedly needed to conceal this most happy and joyful thing, the state of preparing to bring a new life into the outside world, so as not to trouble someone whose preference was to end that life before it had a chance to experience the outside world.
Wow. Not only does our society allow people to kill their children, we apparently suppress the good and beautiful reality of pregnancy to try to make sure their feelings don’t get hurt in the process.
Situations involving rape and incest are often cited as cases when abortion might be considered a reasonable option, but while these are indeed horrific incidents, there are problems with using this as a reason to make/keep abortion legal. South Australia records reasons for abortions, and in 2009 0 abortions were recorded due to rape or incest. In the US the figure is less than 2%. By contrast, the top three reasons abortions are sought can be summarised as follows (see study by pro-abortion group The Guttmacher Institute for details):
1. Concerned about how having a baby would affect the rest of life.
2. Can’t afford a baby right now.
3. Unready / instability present in relationship between parents / fear.
These three reasons are things to be worked through, for sure, but none of them are valid reasons to end the life of another human being.
It’s time we stopped hiding behind extreme examples as a society – using the exception to try to make the rule – and faced the fact that the vast majority of abortions occur for the sake of convenience and comfort, not as a result of tragic events like rape or incest. In those most extreme cases, the Christian worldview provides a basis for valuing the lives of women and of the children involved, both of whom did nothing wrong. The Old Testament instructs the death penalty to be given to the perpetrator in cases of rape, since there is no restitution that can be made for such a heinous crime against another image bearer of God. The death penalty should obviously not be given to the innocent victims though, including the unborn baby.
Inconsistency is the Sign of a failed argument
A biblical scholar and Christian apologist whom I admire often says that inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument. Another Christian pastor I admire, who has a wealth of knowledge in the area of bringing the gospel face to face with the issue of abortion, does a great job pointing out the inconsistency of the pro-abortion perspective using the acronym SLED, which I will summarise below.
One reason people give to justify abortion is that a newly fertilised egg is tiny, or that a ‘bunch of cells’ hasn’t really formed into anything visible yet and therefore because it is small it is necessarily insignificant. The trouble is, size is relative. A baby is small, much smaller than a fully grown adult, but we would never advocate murdering a baby outside of the womb due to its size. It’s ridiculous! To think that because the unborn child (at whatever stage) is small enough to fit in a woman’s womb that must mean it is small enough to discard as if it has no value is also ridiculous. People don’t become more valuable as human beings outside the womb just because they get taller. A 6ft man and a 4ft child both have inherent dignity and worth regardless of their size. Put simply, size does not determine value and is not a valid reason for abortion.
Level of Development
The same is true for level of development. A fertilised egg is a human life in the earliest stage of development. It already has its own unique DNA and is already growing and developing. It is life. It is early life, but it is human life nonetheless. All of us start somewhere, and this is where. My baby son, due to the trauma suffered internally in his brain while in the womb, is significantly behind in his developmental milestones. If someone ended his life because of it, they’d be a murderer and you’d better believe justice would be sought! All children develop at different rates. In fact, teenagers and adults all grow and develop and change at different rates too! The age and stage of our growth and development might impact our ability to interact with other people and the world around us, but it doesn’t remove our value and dignity as human beings. To claim it does is true bigotry in its ugliest form.
There’s no doubt about it, human children are created to live the first nine months of their lives in a perfectly conditioned incubator called their mother’s womb. We’ve all heard the argument ‘my body, my choice’ – except when you’re pregnant, the life inside you has its own body, it is reliant on your body, but it is not your body. The idea that women should have control of their bodies is often referred to as reproductive rights. The thing that people often forget is, if you’re pregnant and seeking an abortion, it’s too late to argue for reproductive rights. Reproduction has already occurred. The pro-abort at this point is actually arguing for the right to murder someone based on their location. My children live in my house. If they didn’t live in my house and were put out on the street to fend for themselves, they would not survive. Their location does not change their need, nor does it disqualify them from the most basic right of all, to live and to feel safe and protected. The Bible says in Psalm 139,
For you formed my inward parts;
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
How dare we, with forceps and scalpel and saline injections, rip apart what God is knitting together in this specially designed space. How dare abortion doctors get blood on their hands dismantling tiny bodies and collecting all the pieces on a tray to make sure it is all accounted for. How dare our society advocate and celebrate the shedding of innocent blood and the paying of medical hit men (and women) to carry out premeditated murder and call it ‘healthcare’.
Babies are dependent, 100%. They can’t feed themselves, wash themselves, change themselves, move themselves from A to B, get a job, earn money, buy food or build a house. They are reliant on others for these things, and more, but again – we should never assess value of an individual’s life based on their need for contact with another individual. None of us are entirely self sufficient. All workers need employers or clients to help them earn a living. All of us as young people were dependent on our parents, first in the womb and then outside of it. All of us, if we live long enough, will age and are likely to need assistance with some seemingly menial tasks as we approach our final years of life. In a way we were all created to live in community, to depend on other people, to serve one another and be served by others, and so depriving someone of life based on their level of dependence is outrageous. We would not kill a 2 year old for being dependent, and we would not kill an 80-something year old who can no longer drive and needs help getting to their doctor’s appointments. To do so would be consistent with pro-abortion thinking, but it quickly becomes clear that this is untenable and therefore we need to be reminded that inconsistency is indeed the sign of a failed argument.
It’s important to note that using an argument to kill a life inside the womb which we would not apply to life outside the womb is inconsistent, and therefore those arguments fail when pressed. Their foundation is sand, not rock. The other major argument is that if abortion is actually treated as murder from a legal perspective, then it will still happen, albeit in a less safe manner. This was recently shot down by a brilliant piece of satire from the Babylon Bee. Abortion is never safe for the baby, so let’s not pretend it is safe.
Put the Culture of Death to Death //
Choose Life for the Unborn and Find Life in Jesus
The incredible thing about the message of God’s love for his people is that if we repent and turn from our sin, God’s grace cleanses us from the depravity that naturally invades our hearts. 1 John 1:9 says,
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Murder is a sinful act, but God’s grace is so powerful that it can penetrate even the darkest places. For those who have been involved in abortion, there is forgiveness, hope and peace in Jesus. I don’t write on this topic to stir controversy. I don’t write to be overtly political for the sake of it. I write to ask what sort of world do you want to live in? What sort of Australia do you want to be a citizen of… a country where the taxes we pay go towards murdering children in the wombs of women at public hospitals around the country, hospitals which are forced to provide terminations in exchange for funding as per the Federal Labor party’s push at this election (see reports from the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC for more info); a culture of death marked by terribly inconsistent arguments in which Christians stay largely silent for fear of rocking the boat or being persecuted for taking a stand for innocent children, including young women, who would otherwise be killed in the womb? By no means!
We need Christians, churches and denominations who are willing to stand on the front lines and call a spade a spade, call abortion murder, share the good news of the forgiveness and hope that is found in Jesus Christ, and offer practical help to mothers and fathers who choose life. This is not a simple issue in some ways, because it involves human experience with all its complexity and variance, and yet it is simple because all lives matter – all human beings are made in the image of God and have inherent dignity and worth from the moment life begins (at conception).
As I write this, I pray that God will give me wisdom as I go to the polling booth, but one thing I know, my vote will seek to take seriously the command found in Proverbs 24:11-12,
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,