Abortion is currently a topic of concern for our society. It permeates our news programs, and it is a major issue in the upcoming presidential election. Emotions are high on both sides of the argument. There are three basic positions being defended by various groups. The far left believes that women should be able to get an abortion for any reason; it is her body and free
choice after all. The far right believes that an embryo is a person from the moment of conception, and killing a person is murder. In between these are moderates who believe that there are compelling reasons for women and their doctors to choose to abort a fetus,
things like incest, rape, a malformed fetus, or the health of the mother is seriously impacted if she were to carry the baby to term. One issue with the moderate position is at what stage of development a fetus is regarded a person whose life should be protected. This impacts the legislation being promulgated to implement controls promoted by the moderates.
I am a grandfather of two wonderful girls, and I want to be able to offer them guidance on this topic, should the need arise. I also teach adults, so I feel I need to put together my thoughts on the matter. As a Christian, I personally find the issue very troublesome and difficult to decide. I will try to describe some of my views on the subject. My basic position is that the need for an abortion is the result of sin. God would not intentionally make a malformed human being. When He created humans, they were perfect individuals, free from sin and death. After Adam and Eve sinned - went against God's commands – their lives were made finite and their relationship with each other was altered. God would not allow sinful humans to live indefinitely. Subsequently, humans descended from this pair inherited their sinful tendencies, and the possibility of an imperfect fetus came to be. (This is basically what the Bible teaches. I realize that not everyone agrees with this proposition, but hear me out. Also understand that God is a God of mercy.)
Because of the sin tendency, mechanisms were established whereby the human body would eventually decay, and living would always require some type of work to maintain viability. Sin can be defined as an acronym – Self-Indulgent Nature. Humans were inclined to further their own chosen way with little regard for the welfare of others. It is a corruption of
the natural tendency toward self-preservation. This started from the very first, with the sons of Adam, when Cain killed Able. (Some people see this story as quite literal; others view it as an allegory that explains the animosity that exists among humans. However one may
view it, it is in the Bible for a reason.) Ever since, humans have fought with one another, and the relationships between men and women have become strained, in many cases, severely distorted.
The Bible teaches that marriage is between a male and a female. Their bodies were created for the purpose of reproduction, and a couple was deemed to be married for life. Their personalities and physical abilities would complement each other. Sex between them was made pleasurable to help insure the propagation of the species. The life they create under these circumstances is God-intended; it is sacred. Hence the term Sanctity of Life.
Over the centuries, humans have found ways to violate these principles in seeking their own personal self-satisfaction. It can come through self-pleasuring activities, sexual activities outside of marriage, even with individuals of the same sex, seeking power or control of other people, or even killing those who differ in some way, even those who may disagree with one's beliefs.
Rape and incest are clearly due to self-indulgence on the part of the perpetrator. It is done for pleasure or for power and control, or both. When a woman chooses to have sex for any reason other than reproduction, it is the result of self-indulgence, even though several good reason may be proffered for her choice. (I queried Chat-GPT about this, which returned 10 good reasons.) If the choice to have sex is made outside of the marriage relationship, it violates Biblical principles and usually community standards. If she then chooses to abort her fetus, she again violates Biblical teachings and may violate community standards, which may have been formulated into law.
I can understand completely why a woman would choose not to have a baby which was the result of rape. It is also understandable when the fetus was conceived due to incest, as
physical abnormalities of the child are promoted, or the woman felt compelled due to the relationship with the perpetrator. Thus, I feel that abortion should be permissible under such circumstances, even though it may result in the death of a potentially viable human being. But the latter should be avoided, if possible, by making the decision before the fetus is viable.
The decision to abort a fetus when it has been found to have a serious defect, or if the life or health of the mother is at stake, is not so straight-forward. While DNA data are now available to help predict whether a couple's child could have some serious disease, it usually is not obvious that a fetus is defective until it has reached some finite age, Since the defect, in
my opinion, is the result of inherited sin, which applies to every human, the woman should be able to choose whether to end her pregnancy. If her life is in danger, it seems improper to force her to carry her fetus to term. However, many couples who have decided to carry their defective fetus to term will tell you of the happiness that “imperfect” child has brought into their lives.
Often, a young woman feels pressured by others or by law to birth a child she does not want or feels she cannot care for properly. Sometimes a couple's birth control option fails. There are various adoption or guardianship options available to her, so an abortion due simply to an unintended pregnancy, particularly if she decided to engage in the sex, seems inappropriate to me. After all, that fetus has some value, whether she values it or not.
Now my arguments clearly have been based on Biblical teachings. I believe that these teachings have a fundamental and powerful reason behind them, stemming from the One
who created us. However, I think the basic arguments make sense from purely secular reasoning, assuming that each of us wants the best for everyone else. The problem is that each of us must decide whether to respect the views of others, and many choose not to do so, giving great weight to our own personal views, without understanding that our views are permeated with some level of ignorance and self-indulgence. It is also difficult to think of an unborn fetus having any rights. However, though the possibility of its inception was decided by at least one person, it was created by a process outside of human control, so I believe it has certain inalienable rights, including the right to life. Terminating that life is a serious decision, with profound consequences.
Have you seriously thought about this?
It is a difficult, often divisive issue. A recent article in Time magazine said this:
Attitudinal complexity leaves many Americans feeling sidelined and displaced for their abortion views: ill-fitting in the Democrat and Republican parties, imperfectly aligned within religious traditions,
unwilling to join activist movements that don’t readily invite equivocation or gradation. Many choose instead to stay quiet. Many feel like they are the only ones whose views look like this.
But they aren’t. They’re in company with a wide array of Americans who don’t quite know what to do about abortion. It’s a hard issue, both politically and personally.
In the interest of brevity and objectivity, I have elected not to provide numerous Biblical passages dealing with abortion. Below I have listed some links on various sides of the issue.
- Britannica Pro-Con.Org presents 3 groups of arguments for and against abortion.
- My Body My Voice is a PDF that presents women's views on abortion
- Why Abortion is Wrong presents the basic Christian view regarding abortion
- A look at the unique prominence the Bible affords to conception.
- What Does the Bible Say about Abortion? This is a theologically nuanced discussion.
- Pew and Gallup have published public opinion studies on the topic of abortion rights