The Abortion Crisis
The weeping prophet Jeremiah asked, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" (Lam. 1:12). The Lord's people and the Lord's cause was in a sad condition indeed when these touching words were uttered. Jerusalem was sacred to the devout Jew but when the prophet asked this question, many cared but little as to what had happened to their beloved city. The appeal of Jerusalem, not only to her neighbors, but even to the strangers passing by, is such that should excite the compassion even of .those unconnected with her. However, like our Lord's parable of the good Samaritan, many "passed by on the other side." The same attitude of indifference, apathy and lack of concern appears to be prevalent in our day relative to such moral issues as abortion.
On January 22, 1973, nine men robed in black ruled on abortion, striking down state laws against it. On that day the Supreme Court ruled that: During the first three months of pregnancy the decision to abort rests solely with the woman and her doctor; during the second three months, the State can regulate the abortion procedure to protect maternal health; during the third three months, when the fetus is viable, the State can regulate or ever prohibit abortion except when it is necessary for the mother's mental or physical health.(1)
More and more as laws are changed, Christians will have to consider principles in God's Word to determine right from wrong. This we have done in matters such as liquor, gambling, homosexuality, divorce and the use of drugs; we must now do it with abortion. Although abortion has become legal, it will never become moral. To kill before or after birth is murder.
A Roman Catholic Cardinal in pleading for the "Right to Life Amendment," said: "Every nine days, there are as many deaths by abortion as there were in the entire ten years of the Viet Nam War."(2)
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the former director of New York's first abortion clinic, is convinced that he supervised the taking of 60,000 lives.(3)
It was stated of Chicago, "One out of every three children conceived will be aborted here this year . . . . An estimated 200 abortions will be performed each day in Chicago."(4)
In 1974, about 900,000 abortions were performed in the United States. The rate in Russia is about 10 times higher or about ten million abortions per year.(5)
We could continue with statistics, but figures become obsolete about as fast as the ink dries on the paper. These should suffice, however, to show us the growing problem that we face. But how concerned are you? As one brother said: "Humans tend to turn their faces away from unpleasant scenes. It is easy to prefer to stay ignorant on such issues as this. But ignorance will not excuse us, brethren. The information is available. The very land itself cries out that something must be done."(6)
The Question of Life
The whole abortion debate comes down to one question: When does the life of separate human being begin? This question strikes at the very heart of the issue.
It was George Orwell who pointed out that it is possible to distort language so that words take on the reverse of their actual meaning. As we examine this question, we must beware of pro-abortionist terminology. To the average person, "terminate" does not mean the same as to kill and "fetus" definitely no longer falls on the listening ear as "human" but rather as "non-human glob."(7) The abortionists may refer to abortion as simply a process of limiting fertility. He may refer to it as killing the cells and tissues of conception.(8) He may even refer to the early stages of development as "potential life."(9) We must show that this is not merely "potential life," but it actually is life - human life.
"Termination of pregnancy," "interruption of pregnancy," "retroactive contraception" all verbal gymnastics behind which to hide the real message of what is happening. "Induced abortion" is more accurate. "Killing the life within the mother," "killing the fetus," or more to the point, "killing the unborn baby" directly face the issue, and are the most honest and preferable terms to use.(10) If you are convinced that this is a human life, call it such. We should speak of "he" or "she," not "it," and speak of the "unborn," "pre-born," or "developing child" or "baby." It is easy to get the world to approve killing a "fetus," but much less so to the killing of an "unborn baby.(11)
Development of the Baby
Basic to the consideration of whether this life within the mother is human or even when this life becomes human must be the presently known scientific facts of the development within the uterus. What are the facts concerning the development of the baby? What do we know?
In the October 1971 term of the Supreme Court, a distinguished group of 220 physicians, professors, and fellows of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology submitted at brief to the Court. In this brief they tried to show how modern science established that the unborn child from the moment of conception is a person and therefore, like the mother, a patient. John M. Langone has summarized this brief. I give here several quotes from this article that pertains to the development of the child from conception through three months:
From conception, when the sperm and egg unite, the child is a complex, dynamic, rapidly growing organism.
About seven to nine days after conception, when there are already several hundred cells of the new individual formed, contact with the uterus is made, and implantation and nourishment begin. Blood cells form at 17 days, and a heart as early as 18 days. The heart starts irregular pulsating at 24 days and about a week later smooths into rhythmic contractions.
At about 18 days, the development of the nervous system is under way, the baby's eyes begin to form at 19 days, and by the 20th day the foundation of the child's brain, spinal cord and entire nervous system is established.
By the 33rd day, the cerebral cortex (that part of the central nervous system that governs motor activity as well as intellect) may be seen.
By the beginning of the second month, the unborn child looks distinctly human, yet the mother is not aware that she is pregnant.
Brain waves have been noted at 43 days, the heart beats strongly, the stomach produces digestive juices, the liver manufactures blood cells and the kidneys are functioning.
After the eighth week, no further original organs will form - everything that is already present will be found in the full-term baby. From this point until adulthood, when full growth is acheived somewhere between 25 and 27 years, the changes in the body will be mainly in dimension.
In the third month, the child becomes very active and by the end of the month kicks his legs, turns his feet, moves his thumbs, bends his wrists, turns his head, frowns, squints and opens his mouth.(12)
In spite of these facts, some people act as though the unborn child is not a human being. They are willing to cut it apart and throw the pieces into the nearest garbage can.
Dr. R.F.R. Gardner, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, expressed his view that the unborn child was not a human being in these words: "When a spontaneous miscarriage occurs parents may grieve, but we do not feel that we have lost a child. From time to time obstetricians have the distress of delivering a stillborn baby. We may have felt this fetus kick under our examining hands, we may have listened to its heartbeat repeatedly over four months, yet when the tragedy occurs we do not feel, `Here is a child who died,' but rather, `Here is a fetus which so nearly made it.' Miscarriages are not buried, are not named ...."(13)
Looking At Scriptures
One can take a concordance and never find where abortion is mentioned specifically by name in either testament. Is it therefore approved by the silence of the Scriptures? Many things are determined to be right or wrong by comparing them with general principles of truth as set forth in God's Word. I am convinced that there are numerous divine principles that speak to this issue. Let us notice some of them.
In Exodus 21:22-24, we read: "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. " On these verses, some have argued, "If the baby is killed, only a fine is imposed; if the mother is killed, capital punishment is given. Therefore, unborn babies are not persons." But there is an alternative. The words, "and yet no harm follows, " may mean the child is miscarried, but does not die. The expression, "if any harm follows" means that if either the child, the mother, or both die, then the guilty party is to be capitally punished. "If men strove and thrust against a woman with child, who had come near or between them for the purpose of making peace, so that her children come out (come into the world), and no injury was done either to the woman or the child that was born, a pecuniary compensation was to be paid, such as the husband of the woman laid upon him . . . . A fine is imposed, because even if no injury had been done to the woman and the fruit of her womb, such a blow might have endangered life."(14)
Job asked, "Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?" (Job 3:11). He could not "give up" what he did not have. And yet he argues that had he so died he would have been "at rest with kings and counselors of the earth " (vs. 13-14). If he had been "as an hidden untimely birth" (miscarriage), he would have been where "the weary be at rest" (vs. 16-17). In the tenth chapter, Job continued by wishing he had "given up the ghost, and no eye had seen (him) ". But again, one cannot give up what he does not have. He would have been carried from the womb to the grave (Job 10:18-19).
While Jacob and Esau were in Rebekah's womb, they were living children. Genesis 25:22 says that "the children struggled together within her. " Notice that they were called "children" while they were still in the mother's womb. This clear language shows that the life in the body of a woman is a child; it is a human being. From the time of fertilization until death, one is always a human being.
Whether in the womb or in the crib, the child is dependent. Before delivery and after delivery, he is an innocent, dependent human being.(15)
The Bible does not distinguish between prenatal and postnatal life. God spoke to Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5). The Psalmist considered the Lord watched over his development in his mother's womb (Psa. 139:13-16). Already there was a plan for his life.
Unborn John the Baptist leaped in his mother's womb when the expecting mother of our Lord greeted Elizabeth (Lk. 1:41, 44). The term used to describe the baby in the womb (Greek, brephos) is used interchangeably for "babes" before and after birth (see Lk. 2:12, 16; 18:15; Acts 7:19). The word "denotes an unborn child, . . . a newborn child, or an infant still older."(16) Elizabeth was inspired by the Spirit to correctly interpret this fetal movement.
God's Word has always taught "Thou shalt not kill" (Rom. 13:9). The literal translation is "Thou shalt do no murder." Murder is the deliberate taking of innocent human life without just cause. Abortion is planned intentional killing of a human life. So far as I can determine, abortion is nothing more that licensed murder!
Since abortions are now available to all minor daughters without parental advice or consent (Supreme Court decision, July 1, 1976) much of the "fear of pregnancy" that used to prevent a significant amount of teenage sexual immorality has been removed. The result has been an alarming increase in teenage pregnancies. Many areas are already experiencing more abortions than live births. According to a recent report, 3 out of 10 babies born in the U.S. are illegitimate.(17)
What Can We Do?
The most constructive thing we can do is continue to instruct our young people in true moral values and Christian principles, including wholesome sex education. Many abortions are the result of conception due to fornication or adultery. Paul simply states, "Flee fornication" (1 Cor. 6:18). This will avoid many abortions.
Let us be ready, however, to lend a helping hand to scared girls who find themselves pregnant out of wedlock. Other alternatives besides abortion are open to them. Certainly, adoption should be preferred over abortion. I would be one of the first on the list willing to adopt the child.
Yes, abortion is the killing of human life. It is wrong; it is immoral. Those guilty of murder are included in the list of those who "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21:8). Let us, as God's children, rise up in holy indignation and drive this evil and sin from our midst. Let us take up the Sword of the Lord and dare to dream the impossible dream that some way, some how, some day we might win our noble fight to save the innocent babes whose lives are today in jeopardy.
1. U.S. News and World Report, March 4, 1974, p. 44.
2. CBS T.V. News, March 7, 1974.
3. Charles and Bonnie Remsberg, "Second Thoughts On Abortion From The Doctor Who Led The Crusade For It," Good Housekeeping, March, 1976, p. 132.
4. The Daily News, Feb. 28, 1973.
5. "Abortion Routine For Women In Soviet Union," The Houston Chronicle, October 21, 1976.
6. John Waddey, "Abortion In The Light Of God's Law," Living Soberly, Righteously And Godly (Lectureship of the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Mission, Knoxville, 1977), p. 28.
7. Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willke, Handbook On Abortion (Cincinnati, 1975), p. 197.
8. C. Everett Koop, The Right To Live; The Right To Die (Wheaton, 1976), p. 31.
9. Kenneth A. Lee, "Does The Fetus Have Any Rights?" Christianity Applied, November, 1974, p. 15.
10. Willke, op. cit., p. 198.
12. "Abortion: The Medical Evidence Against," As quoted by Clifford Bajema, Abortion And The Meaning of Personhood (Baker, Grand Rapids), pp. 25-27.
13. R.F.R. Gardner, Abortion: The Personal Dilemma (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1972), p. 126.
14. C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary On The Old Testament, The Pentateuch, Vol. ll (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1971), pp. 134-135.
15. Bob Felker, "Abortion Is Murder," Gospel Anchor, Vol. 3, p. 282. 16.
17. The Montgomery Advertiser, September 24, 1978, as quoted by Ray Dutton, "The Abortion Crisis," Christian Family, December 1978, p. 7.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 24, pp. 389-392