Is Abortion Sinful?
On 22 January 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the Roe vs. Wade case, striking down Texas law prohibiting abortion. Since 1973, abortion has been legal in the United States. In the court ruling, "personhood" was denied to the unborn, in spite of the fact that the unborn can be heirs, have the right to sue for damages and to have a guardian appointed on their behalf, etc. In the years since the 1973 ruling, 20 million unborn babies have been slaughtered in American abortuaries. More Americans have died by abortion than in all of the wars in which our soldiers have participated.
In July 1989, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the state of Missouri to place restrictions on abortion. This has thrown the abortion issue into the hands of state legislators, making it a political "hot potato" in coming elections.
More than a political issue, abortion is a moral issue. Is it right for a Christian to have an abortion? Christianity has not given a clear-cut answer. The mainline Protestant denominations (Episcopal, United Methodist, United Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, etc.) have taken a pro-abortion stance. The Roman Catholic Church has taken, not only a stance against abortion, but also a stance against birth control. Evangelicals have generally taken a clear-cut stance against abortion. We should not be asking, "What do the churches say?" but "What does the Bible say? Is abortion sinful?"
Why Do Abortions Occur?
A person may ask, "Why do pregnant women desire abortions? " He may think that abortions are necessary because of rape, incest, birth defects, or because a mother's life is endangered. Statistically that simply is not true! Less than one percent of abortions are performed as a result of rape, incest, or possible birth defects. Abortions for these reasons have been used to shape public opinion, to create sympathy for the abortionists' cause.
Most abortions are performed as a form of birth control. 81 percent of American abortions are performed on unmarried women who have conceived out of wedlock (Parade Magazine [1 October 1989], p. 28). Sometimes abortions are performed on married women who (a) do not want a child; (b) do not want another child; (c) do not want a child who may be handicapped or retarded; (d) want a child of another sex. Abortions are not primarily performed on the poor who cannot afford to rear a child. The majority of abortions are performed on white, middle-classed women (The Tennessean [17 April 1989], p. 6-A).
Why Abortion Is Wrong
The person who is desiring to be obedient to the Lord's word, as revealed in the Bible, cannot have or perform an abortion without being guilty of sin. Here are some reasons for concluding that a person who obtains or performs an abortion is guilty of sin:
1. Abortion is murder. Murder is defined as "the unlawful and malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another." The Lord who created man commanded, "Thou shalt not kill" (Exod. 20:13). "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man" (Gen. 9:6). Abortion is a premeditated decision to destroy the life of an unborn child, usually for very selfish reasons. The fact that American law in the Twentieth Century has made it a legal act does not change the law of God.
2. Abortion shows a disregard for human life. The Bible describes man as created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27); this is the reason that killing a human being is wrong (Gen. 9:6). No violation of moral law has occurred when a person kills a chicken or eats its egg. But killing a human or destroying its unborn is a violation of moral law. (Ironically, some who work actively to protect the unborn of endangered species such as the bald eagle, can see that the unborn eagle is an eagle, but seemingly cannot identify the unborn baby as a baby!) Abortionists have a distinctly inferior view of human life.
In Bible revelation, children are considered a "heritage of the Lord" (Psa. 127:3) and a "blessing" (Psa. 128:3). A woman who was barren felt particularly unfortunate (see Sarah and Hannah). Many today have a different attitude toward children. When told that they are pregnant, many women, instead of joyfully anticipating a child, view the child as a "threat" to their lifestyle and happiness. The child within the womb is not granted equal status with the mother; the unborn child is considered as something lower than human life. To the abortionist, the unborn child is a mass of cell tissue, a glob, or fetal tissue, not to be granted any protection from harm.
The abortionists' lower view of life is manifested in the treatment given aborted children. Aborted children are sold to manufacturing companies in order to produce collagen for higher grade shampoos. Dr. Olga Fairfax wrote,
There's a triple profit to be had (from an abortion). The first is from the abortion (estimated at a half billion dollars a year by Fortune magazine). The second profit comes from the sale of aborted babies' bodies. The third profit is from unsuspecting customers buying cosmetics.
Babies' bodies are sold by the bag, $25 a batch or up to $5,500 a pound. The sale of later-term elective abortions at D.C. General Hospital brought $68,000 between 1966 and 1976. The money was used to buy a TV set and cookies and soft drinks for visiting professors (101 Uses for a Dead [or Alive] Baby).
Before abortuaries realized that the sale of aborted babies could be profitable, they were treated like trash, being burned in incendiaries or hauled away with the garbage. Today, some aborted babies are used for experimentation. The treatment given aborted babies confirms that abortion leads to a lower view of human life.
This disregard for human life spills over into euthanasia, child abuse, and disregard for the unproductive members of society. What a difference in attitude toward human life is reflected by comparing the view of life of abortionists with that revealed in the Bible.
3. Abortion is usually performed for selfish reasons. Lord condemned the kind of living which is primarily interested in self. He revealed that a Christian must "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 22:39). Christian ethics demands that a man "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4). The decision to abort a baby usually is made for very selfish reasons. Here are some of them:
a. A child will interefere with a person's chosen lifestyle. (1) Raising children costs money. The person is unwilling to change his level of living to accommodate another person in the household; instead she chooses to kill the child in order to continue living on the same economic level. (2) Raising children takes time. Raising children will take so much time that a person may not be able to pursue his educational or career goals. Consequently, a choice is made that one's educational or career goals take a higher priority than the child. The child is killed that the goals may be pursued.
b. A child will interfere with a person's mental health. "In states where abortion is now legal, mental indications account for as high as 97 percent of the total number performed. Doctors opposed to abortion strongly state that no one has ever established a cause and effect relationship between pregnancy and mental illness" (Dr. John L. Grady, Abortion: Yes or No?, p. 12). Under the pretense that a birth may damage a mother's mental health, women decide to kill their babies. If giving birth to a baby contributes to mental illness, the entire human race has been and is endangered!
c. An abortion will cover upfornication. Many abortions are performed because fornicators do not want to face the natural consequences of their sin. Fornication is a sin (Gal. 5:19; 1 Cor. 6:9-20). Sexual activity outside of marriage leads to conception of illegitimate babies. Many want to commit fornication without accepting the consequences of their actions. Hence, they kill the baby to (a) hide their fornication or (b) to avoid the responsibilities of parenthood.
4. Abortion is "unnatural affection. " The Scriptures describe the degenerate as being "without natural affection" (Rom. 1:31). Examples of being "without natural affection" may be varied, including child abuse, neglect of one's parents, etc. However, the decision to brutally destroy one's child would certainly be another example of an absence of "natural affection."
5. Abortion threatens the mental stability of the mother. Already articles are appearing from mothers who are trying to live with the guilt of having murdered their unborn. In many cases a mother is placing a psychological time-bomb within herself when she decides to abort her baby. What will usually happen to these women is this: they will later decide to get married and have a family. Sometime later when she is playing with a baby she decided to let live, the mother will think about her decision to kill her previous baby. Then she will be plagued with guilt. In cases where the conscience has been seared by the teachings of anti-Christian ethics, a mother may never experience this guilt.
6. Those who make their living by killing babies - the doctors and nurses - are guilty of being "greedy offilthy lucre" (1 Tim. 3:3). The Bible commands the Christian to make his living by "working that which is good" (Eph. 4:28). Should a person become so greedy for money that he is willing to stoop to sinful and immoral practices to obtain it, he is "greedy of filthy lucre" (1 Tim. 3:3). A Christian cannot make his living selling illegal drugs, selling liquor, running a house of prostitution, or a baby killing clinic. Those doctors and nurses who are so greedy for money that they will stoop to killing babies to make their living are guilty of sin.
When Does Life Begin?
Someone may object to the charge that abortion is murder by stating that life does not begin until birth. The proabortionists insist that life does not begin until birth. They use language designed to emphasize that the pre-birth child is not a person. They refer to the child as a fetus or fetal tissue. They refer to abortion as "terminating a pregnancy. " By these terms, abortionists try to reinforce their view that pre-birth infants are not humans.
Some anti-abortionists have argued that life begins at the moment of conception. This has been defended on the biblical grounds that the Greek word brephos is used to describe the child both before and after birth (cf. Lk. 1:41). Passages such as Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:13-15 also are cited to prove that human life begins at conception.
We may never know for sure when life begins. Norman E. Geisler emphasized how important knowing for certain when life begins is from the abortionists' point of view. He said, "If no one knows when life begins, it might begin at conception. And if it does begin at that point then abortion is murder" ("The Bible, Abortion, and Common Sense," Fundamentalists Journal [May 1985], p. 25). Until the abortionists know conclusively that life begins at birth, he should have enough reverence for human life not to act upon his uncertainties!
Abortion is a sin which separates a person from the fellowship of God. Those who receive and perform abortions are guilty of violating the Lord's revealed will.
(Conclusion in the next issue).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 2, pp. 48-51