By Hoyt H. Houchen
Question: What do you believe about abortion? Is it murder? What about abortion for medical reasons?
Reply: The number of legal abortions in the United States each year is estimated to be between one and two million. Colorado became the first state to liberalize its abortion laws according to American Law Institute guidelines (in 1967). Very few were aware of the moral landslide that was initiated by this action. Since 1973, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide, at least 10 million unborn babies have been legally killed. By way of contrast, about 500,000 American soldiers were killed in the Civil War and about 400,000 in World War II (statistics from article by David Pratte in Gospel Anchor, July 1984, p. 15). To the thinking person, these figures are staggering and shocking.
There is no doubt about abortion on demand being sinful. If abortion on demand is right, then euthanasia can be justified. We are here considering the willful killing of the unborn infant for the purpose of population control. If the life of the unborn baby can be willfully terminated under this circumstance, then it would logically follow that the willful killing of the aged and those physically and mentally handicapped would be justified. Abortion and euthanasia are parallel in this respect. Both are nothing short of murder. President Reagan made a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in which he made the statement, “How can we survive as a free nation when some decide that others are not fit to live and should be done away with . . . ? Medical science doctors confirm that when the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain — pain that is long and agonizing.” He was challenged on this; but a group of twenty-six prominent physicians have written the President, supporting his contention. They stated that, “Observations of the fetal electrocardiogram and the increase in fetal movements in saline abortions indicate that the fetus experiences discomfort as it dies” (quoted in Stand, January 1985, No. 1).
There is much controversy as to when life actually begins, but it is my sincere conviction that it begins at conception. This is not simply the opinion of a preacher, as there are medical men who share the same conviction. Dr. Bernard Nathanson was once a strong supporter of abortion and head of New York’s first and most active clinic. Before me is a significant statement quoted from him. Now opposing what he once believed, he wrote: “To vehemently deny that life begins when conception begins is absurd . . . . I had to face the fact that in abortion, a human life of a special order is being taken” (in an article by Ernest A. Finley, The Discerner, Dec., 198 1). Dr. Heather Morris, Canadian obstetrician and gynecologist, speaking in Ontario Canada, stated: “Abortion is a situation in which life is killed. Human life starts at conception. A complete, unique human being is the result” (quoted by Clarence R. Johnson, The Preceptor, Vol. 22, P. 219). Dr. W.W. McWhirter of Rochester, Michigan, stated in the American Medical Association News. “I believe there is no question, either scientifically, or philosophically, about when life begins. A human life begins at the moment of conception, i.e., when the ovum is fertilized. There is no question but that to destroy the product of conception at any time thereafter is to take human life . . . … Also, in the St. Louis Globe Democrat (April 18, 1969), 94 physicians published a signed statement affirming the same thing as quoted (in an article by Larry R. Devore, Truth Magazine, Vol. 15, p. 808). So, my conviction that life begins at conception is not without scientific testimony. The sanctity of human life must be regarded, both before and after birth.
The Scriptures nowhere, authorize abortion on demand. Some argue that the fetus in the mother’s womb is not yet a child, and in an effort to prove their contention, they refer to Exodus 21:22-24. The incident recorded in this passage is that of two men who are fighting, and in their struggle, a pregnant woman is accidentally hurt and her fruit (the unborn) departs. This a simple case of miscarriage. The aborted fetus does not lend any support to the advocates of “legalized” abortion on demand. For what it is worth to this study, the Hebrew word yeled is also translated “child, son, youth” (Theological Wordbook of the O.T., Vol. 1, p. 378). This same word (yeled) which refers to the unborn child also describes the child after birth (see Gen. 21:8; Ex. 2:3,10). Neither can it be argued that the case referred to in Exodus 21:22-24 proves that, according to the law, the abortion of the fetus was not as serious as the death of a person already born. It should be noted, however, that the harm was done to the mother. The mother was hurt to the extent that it resulted in her having a miscarriage. We can see no justification for abortion on demand from this Scripture, nor any other.
That there is life before birth is evident from Luke 1:36-44. Verse 36 is to be particularly noted where it is written, “and this is the sixth month with her. . . .” Then in verse 41, it is recorded that “the babe leaped in my womb.” These two verses indicate that there is human life in the unborn infant. The word “babe” is translated frt)m the Greek word brephos. This word identifies both the unborn child and the baby, infant (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 146). (See also Lk. 2:12,16; 18:15; Acts 7:19; 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:2.) We see in Acts 7:19 that infants were put to death by the command of Pharaoh, “that they should cast out their babes (Gr. brephos), to the end that they might not live.” To cast out infants, unborn or born for the same reason as did Pharaoh (that their lives would not be preserved to populate the earth) is murder.
As to abortion for medical reasons, I am not competent to decide; therefore, I would not attempt to offer solutions in such cases. Circumstances in these matters vary. Rather, I have dealt with the moral issue of abortion on demand. To abort a fetus that another human life will not populate the earth, or for the convenience of the mother, or because of the poverty of the parents, or to cover up fornication, etc., is murder. The Bible states, “But for the fearful and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers (my emphasis, HH.), and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
“Legalizing” abortion does not, in and of itself, justify it in the sight of God. The law of the land is not always the law of God. Human life is precious in the sight of the Lord, whether it is an infant unborn or born.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 11, pp. 325, 333
June 6, 1985