Friday 24 June 2022 was a historic day – the day on which the controversial Roe vs Wade decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was overturned. Roe v Wade had made abortion a ‘constitutional right’ on the basis of the court’s interpretation of the fourteenth amendment back in 1973. Since that time, it has been the central linchpin on which America’s abortion industry has relied, and has therefore been instrumental in perpetuating a state sanctioned, parent-requested genocide of over 60 million unborn children. Read that again, over… 60… million. Unlike some historic moments that pass with little notice from the global community, the overturning of this particular court ruling has reverberated loudly around the world, particularly in the global west. As pro-choice advocates lament the fact that ending the life of an innocent human being due to their size, level of development, environment or level of dependence may no longer be an option in some or even many states, many anti-abortion activists are seeing this as an important victory. It’s not a decisive one that ends abortion once and for all, but it is undeniably important.
The voices of those who speak out on this issue with anything other than open slather support of abortion are rarely heard with any charity or fairness. While it would be nice to have Roe v Wade overturned and be able to celebrate and move on, I have noticed a lot of people in my social network perpetuating misinformation and lies surrounding this particular topic, and I suppose I have decided to address this for three reasons:
1. I place some credence in the saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ – it’s hard to change people’s thinking on such divisive issues, that’s true, but sometimes I feel like one of the most loving things I can do when faced with a big social issue, particularly one on which Christians and non-Christians disagree, is seek to insert truth amid the turbulence.
2. When Christians stay silent while secularists speak out, it creates a very unhealthy echo chamber. It’s not popular to speak into that echo chamber from outside, but sometimes it’s necessary to interrupt the noise.
3. I believe God when he says that he has not given His people a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). When people feel their rights are being threatened, sometimes their reason gets drowned out by rhetoric – whether their own or from others. Maybe they’re angry or hurt or upset. Maybe they’re panicked or frustrated. Maybe they’re sad or overwhelmed or worried. No doubt those who disagree with me will do so with a great fire in their belly, and possibly in their tongue, but I hope that these thoughts of mine in response to what I’ve seen will be seen for what they are – a humble request to think twice before using the share button and consider closely what is actually at stake, what is actually being said, and what is actually happening each time an unborn child’s life is taken through the act of abortion.
Lie 1: The Medical Lie
This is a big one, and it is one that I was confronted by in a new way. These are a couple of the ways I saw this lie framed. I do not want to ‘mansplain’ in great detail about medical conditions relating to women and pregnancy; however, I couldn’t help but be frustrated by both of these.
The first way is using either hyperbole or ignorance to make claims that aren’t true, but sound very severe and therefore supposedly convincing. This was best and most simply countered in another post I saw (see below) that simply concluded “There’s a difference between losing a child and murdering a child.” There is a difference, a big one.
I’ve linked in a previous post to a study from the Guttmacher Institute (a pro-choice group, by the way), that outlines the main reasons given by American women for seeking an abortion, and let’s just be clear that the main reasons are not the medical health of the mother. Rather, the primary reasons centre around financial concerns, inconvenience with relation to timing, issues relating to the person’s partner or having other children and wanting to focus on caring for them rather than adding another child into the family – you can read another study more recent than the Guttmacher one here. No doubt these considerations are weighty and very real, but they are not good reasons to pay someone to end the life of an innocent human being.
The second way this lie is presented is a two-pronged approach:
1. That banning abortion does nothing to prevent them from happening. Really? I wonder what this person thinks of the crime of homicide, or burglary, or arson, or any number of other crimes. If you make something illegal, and penalize those who continue to perpetrate it, then there will be a reduction in that thing. People naturally fear punishment, and the threat of punishment is a tool used in many spheres of life to help ensure people are motivated to obey the law. Put simply, this is a baseless claim. It too, has been helpfully refuted online previously, this time by a post from satire site The Babylon Bee, titled ‘Experts warn murders will just occur in back alleys if murder outlawed.’ The idea that because someone might still try to commit a particular act in a more hidden way if it becomes illegal, we should just allow the act to happen open slather out in the open is, frankly, illogical. Once again, banning something most certainly does restrict and limit it, and when we are talking about the premeditated killing of a human being in the womb (abortion), I think your heart has to be pretty cold to insist that it should be allowed to go on unhindered. Sadly, so many argue this way, presumably due to a misunderstanding of the concept of personhood and what makes us human, but we will get to that soon enough.
2. There is much internet rhetoric from pro-choice advocates about women needing to have access to ‘safe abortions’, but this term is simply an oxymoron. Abortion is never safe for at least one of the parties involved. Not only can there be medical complications and huge emotional regret or trauma associated with abortion on the part of the mother, affecting her ongoing physical and mental health thereafter, but abortion is never safe for the baby.
An additional strategy built into the medical lie is using exceptions to try to make a rule. People will point to cases of rape and incest as reasons why abortion must be allowed. The reality is, these cases are indeed horrific, abhorrent and the perpetrators are evil. Having said that, they represent a very tiny percentage of overall abortions (less than 2% in the US). Two wrongs don’t make a right. Adding the trauma and guilt of ending the life of an innocent victim to the already traumatic experience of rape or incest can’t be the best answer we have. The woman in these situations is a victim, but the baby is also an innocent party. Punishing the baby for the sins of the perpetrator is simply unjust. It seems bizarre that our society has got itself into a position where we think we are too civilized to heighten the penalties for crimes like rape and incest so that the deterrents fit the pain and trauma of the crimes, and instead society treats killing the unborn innocent victims of these crimes as the preferred option. This cannot be the way forward.
Lie 2: The ‘It’s All About Control’ Lie
The next lie is an us versus them scenario, it’s about making you feel restricted and like you need to push back to maintain your freedom. The question is, is the freedom you are desiring one that is actually a type of freedom you should have – is it inherently moral and ethical?
There are certain freedoms that, if granted, would be incredibly destructive and not beneficial to society at all. Imagine being free to drink and drive. Imagine being free to steal your neighbor’s television. Imagine your neighbor being free to steal your car. These things do not promote human flourishing! Simply because something has been allowed in the past, like abortion in the US following the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, that doesn’t mean that it should be allowed in the future. There was a time before abortion was legal and widespread, and I pray there will be a time when it is ended.
There are a number of variations of the lie that removing the so-called constitutional right to abortion is not about saving the lives of unborn children but about controlling women. Below is one of the longer winded iterations I came across in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade.
Where shall we start? Apparently being pregnant destroys your life. That is what this says. Tell that to the millions and millions of women and their families each year that are overjoyed to discover they are pregnant. Some people may, for a range of reasons, think of pregnancy with a distinctly negative outlook, but that doesn’t make pregnancy in and of itself life-destroying. I agree we should protect children after birth (as well as before). I agree the US should be doing more to stop mass shootings. Globally and locally, we should be doing more to address poverty and to care for and steward the environment well for future generations. What I don’t agree with is using other emotive issues relating to the wellbeing of children to advocate for the state-sanctioned killing of unborn children and then claiming an ulterior motive for anyone who disagrees and fights for the lives of the unborn. This is a red herring, a logical fallacy that tries to distract from the main issue (the premeditated killing of unborn human children at various stages of development), by appealing to other issues, many of which are important such as child safety and socioeconomics, but are not necessarily related to abortion. At the same time, the argument that overturning Roe v Wade is about control commits the ad hominem fallacy, attacking without any solid evidence the motives of those on the side of life.
Women are free to use contraception. Women are free to abstain from sex. Women are free to family plan. They are free to decide if/when they would like to try to have a baby. These are personal freedoms that enable each person/couple to make decisions that are right for them. When decisions involve not just effecting but ending the life of another person, they cross out of the category of personal freedoms and into a different category altogether. This obviously brings to mind the commonly used pro-choice catchphrase ‘my body, my choice’, but of course, the human baby growing inside a pregnant woman’s body is not the pregnant woman’s body. It is a distinct human body, albeit one that is still developing, with its own unique DNA and, as a human, its own human rights. Part of the problem here is that many people think a baby isn’t a human until it is born. Babies are born at varying stages of development, but it makes them no less of what they are – babies. It is odd that in an era where inclusion is being pushed like never before, people who advocate for abortion are very keen to exclude the most vulnerable humans from even having the title of ‘human’, though that is what they are, scientifically speaking. WebMD.com is honest about the fact that fertilisation is the point at which the new “baby’s genetic makeup is complete”. Meanwhile, Princeton University has compiled this list of quotes showing human life begins at conception. The American College of Pediatricians also states it without any shadow of a doubt,
It is clear that from the time of cell fusion, the embryo consists of elements (from both maternal and paternal origin) which function interdependently in a coordinated manner to carry on the function of the development of the human organism. From this definition, the single-celled embryo is not just a cell, but an organism, a living being, a human being.
The American College of Pediatricians concurs with the body of scientific evidence that corroborates that a unique human life starts when the sperm and egg bind to each other in a process of fusion of their respective membranes and a single hybrid cell called a zygote, or one-cell embryo, is created.When Human Life Begins
American College of Pediatricians – March 2017
So, removing a ‘right’ to abortion is not about control for the sake of control, it is about preserving human life in its most vulnerable form. When a baby is born, we do not kill it if it is developmentally delayed or has some other developmental defect, nor should we kill babies in the earlier stages of development. They are, after all, human beings, and therefore should be afforded human rights, including the most basic human right, the right to life.
Lie 3: Women’s ‘reproductive rights’ trump babies’ human rights
Reproductive rights. The right to choose. The right to ‘bodily autonomy’. These are the sorts of rights frequently discussed by those on the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. In unpacking the previous lie it was mentioned that women have a number of reproductive rights. Where it gets hazy, as was also mentioned, is when they see their rights as automatically trumping the rights of the human being growing inside of them. On the subject of rights, the United Nations is surely a key authority. Their Declaration of Human Rights includes the following components relevant to this discussion:
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, …
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women…
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, …
The General Assembly,
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations …
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. …
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
So, let’s talk about rights. What can be plainly seen in the excerpts above are explicit references to:
- inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family – as has been pointed out, human life begins at conception, so unborn babies are naturally, logically and scientifically part of the ‘human family’
- the trampling of human rights leading to barbarous acts outraging the conscience of mankind (of which abortion, with 60 million victims in the US alone since 1973, is surely one)
- everyone is entitled to these rights, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status
- the fact that human rights are not limited to location or jurisdiction – presumably in the case of unborn children this should extend to their rights needing to be protected while in the womb as well… if we don’t discriminate based on the physical location of people that have been born, we shouldn’t remove human rights based on the location of people who are unborn, since both are human
- everyone (that means everyone, every human) has the right to life, liberty and the security of person, i.e. not to have their right to life taken away as a result of someone else’s claim to the right to liberty)
- no one should be subjected to inhuman treatment – surely this includes the killing of babies with various drugs and burning them with saline injections while in the womb, or the physical violence of surgical abortion, which involves dismemberment
- everyone, no matter their location, has a right to be recognised as a person before the law – it follows then that the location of a baby within the womb should not mean it ceases to be protected by law
- no articles within the list of human rights can be interpreted in a way that gives one person (for example the person seeking abortion) the right to destroy the rights of another human (the unborn human in the womb).
By contrast, there is nothing in the list of human rights that remotely suggests that any person in exercising their basic human rights has the right to willingly, and in a premeditated way, take the life of another human being. Outside of the womb, this is called murder. The problem is our culture has so deceived itself that people actually attempt to argue that humans in the womb are not yet humans until they pass through the (seemingly magical) birth canal which somehow imbues them with personhood. This is scientifically inaccurate, but nonetheless it is a view that is widespread.
Some people try to steer away from the reality of what being pro-abortion means by saying they’re pro-choice in that they respect a woman’s right to choose, but this is futile, because the meaning is the same.
It is humane, decent, respectful and loving, and in keeping with the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, to respect the rights of women to choose many things; however, it is clearly a violation of the most basic right (the right to life) to allow a mother’s choice to choose not to carry a baby to crush the foundational rights of the unborn human baby.
Lie 4: An unborn baby is just a clump of cells
We’ve already dealt with the fact that human life begins with two cells, a sperm and an egg coming together in fertilisation. From that point on, the cells are not an inhuman clump, but a human in the early stages of development. We’ve also covered the fact that developmental stage is not a valid basis on which to take someone’s life. So, to summarise:
- All humans are made up of cells, that includes babies at all stages and the mothers who carry them. Pointing out this fact does not remove personhood or human rights of the baby. On one hand, you could consider us all clumps of cells, but we are so much more than that! I believe this because of what God says about humans being made in His image, therefore with inherent dignity and worth. That said, from a secular perspective the UN Declaration of Human Rights also points out that all of us have value and worth and dignity no matter our birth or status or any other factor, so whichever way you look at it, the argument that an unborn child is just a clump of cells that has no rights or dignity is simply a baseless claim.
- Often people use scientific terms like zygote, embryo or fetus to dehumanise unborn babies. These terms are scientific terms, but they refer to a baby during its development in the womb, they do not take away from the fact that the developing child is a human child. Whether it is fully developed or not is not what makes it human.
Lie 5: Only women have the right to speak
It takes a sperm and an egg to begin the process of a baby forming in the womb. The idea that because women are the only ones who can carry babies they are the only ones who can speak into the issue of abortion is, frankly, arrogant and obnoxious. If you’ve ever seen footage of a father standing outside an abortion clinic pleading with his partner inside not to go through with the abortion, you will have a taste of why this lie is so cruel.
The UN Declaration of Human Rights sees males and females as having equal rights, including equal rights to free speech. Abortion is a societal issue, it affects fathers of unborn children as well as mothers. When you restrict the ability to speak on a topic, especially one relating to fundamental rights such as the right to life, to a particular group of people based on a characteristic people can’t change (their biological sex), you are introducing an inequality and a lack of freedom of speech that shouldn’t exist.
Here is another way I’ve seen this lie come up on social media.
There’s no denying pregnancy can result in very serious health complications, but to jump straight to death and physical disability is really more of an appeal to emotion (another example of a red herring fallacy) than a strong argument. Yes, women should have choice in terms of who they have sex with and when and what precautions they take, but these choices are in a different category (as pointed out in the response to lie 2) to the choice of ending another person’s life.
What seems to be at the heart of the issue, both with the Instagram post above and the general argument that men should stay out of the abortion debate, is the idea that men have no inherent, expected and enforced level of responsibility when a woman falls pregnant, and that all responsibility lies with the woman. This, of course, is completely untrue.
It’s true our society has a huge fatherlessness crisis, and in many ways men do need to step up and take responsibility for their actions and for their children, born or unborn. It’s not entirely hard to see where this has all come from, though. One of the major problems that has flowed like a poisonous river out from the sexual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s is the notion running rampant in our society that the family unit is largely an outdated social paradigm and that sex should not be restricted to marriage. More than ever before, people are following their desires wherever they lead, often engaging in sex without any sense of permanency at all. This lack of stability and support and the security of proper family structures isn’t the only reason people seek abortions, but it seems it has made a very significant contribution. People want to have their cake and eat it too. They often just don’t want to accept what follows.
God has designed sex for intimacy within the bounds and bonds of marriage and has designed families to be the context for raising children. One of the things I lament about the current situation in Australia is that the church has generally failed to, on a large scale, assist women who are considering abortion due to fatherlessness of their unborn child or other circumstances that seem dire. Our society has tricked itself into thinking that to be civilised is to allow women the choice to kill their children in the womb, but nothing could be more uncivilised. As Gandhi said,
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.– Mahatma Gandhi
So the answer cannot be killing unborn children in the womb, a perfect example of the ‘most vulnerable’. Rather, we need better support for women, not just through government welfare schemes, but through crisis pregnancy centres and through local churches who are willing to be the villages that help practically care for women and help raise children who do not have all the family support they need, often through no fault of their own.
I say all of this, of course, not as a perfect husband or church member, but as one that is trying to support my family and raise my kids as best as I can, and who wants to see the church rise up and shoulder more of the load so that abortion is no longer seen as the primary way forward for those in desperate situations. I also say this as a father of a child who, in other parts of the world, including other parts of Australia at the time he was born, would have been considered a primary candidate for abortion due to his disabilities discovered in the womb. My wife and I have been in a desperate situation with a pregnancy and have seen how beauty can come from brokenness.
So, I will continue to speak about this issue because the unborn cannot speak for themselves. I will encourage others to speak about it too. I just ask that all who enter the conversation do so with their minds engaged with what is really happening when abortions are performed, what is really at stake, what it really looks like to care for women (and their children) both during pregnancy and beyond and what it means to fight for human rights for all.
I’m encouraged by the fact Roe v Wade has been overturned. I’m also tremendously encouraged and inspired by the way the church in the US has been taking a more gospel-centered stand in this issue, supporting women spiritually, materially and legally (e.g. through adoption) while saving the lives of babies through End Abortion Now. If you’ve never heard of this movement, please click the link to find out more, praise God for the faithful Christians serving and the countless babies saved, and consider joining my wife and I in supporting this important work.
Some people would say “keep your Christian views to yourself”, but I’m afraid that can’t be done, nor should it be. Whether the pro-choice camp likes it or not, God creates life, He sovereignly gives and takes away in His timing. He creates us in His image with dignity and value and he calls us to care for (and speak out for) the most vulnerable, including those being led away to death.
“If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light…”– John Calvin
13 For you formed my inward parts;Psalm 139:13-14
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
11 Rescue those being led away to death;Proverbs 24:11-12
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
May this decision be one of many tools in his hand used to bring the horror of state-sanctioned abortion to an end.