Abortion and Politics
Is abortion a political issue? Is abortion a moral issue? Is it both a political and moral issue? Should it even be a debate? Who gets to decide?
From 1973 through 2011, nearly 53 million legal abortions occurred in the U.S, according to the AGI (Abort73.com). In 2014 alone, it is estimated that 19% of pregnancies in America ended in abortion. Abortion has and continues to present an ethical dilemma that significantly impacts our society as well as the Church. We are faced with this reality on a regular basis. This topic continues to push buttons and raise the emotions of millions of people throughout our nation as well as the world. From political agendas to personal life experiences, the issue of abortion touches the lives of most of us, in one way or another.
The abortion dilemma is essentially represented by two groups. These groups are known as: Pro-Choice; which argues that a woman has the right to choose if she will terminate her pregnancy or not; and Pro-Life, which argues that the life inside the womb of the pregnant woman has value and should be given the same rights as all human persons. This dilemma has caused a great deal of friction in the political and religious arenas throughout our nation. In 1973 the infamous, or famous depending on how you look at it, court case of “Roe v. Wade” resulted with a verdict that would allow pregnant women to legally terminate their pregnancies. This original victory for the Pro-Choice movement emboldened political parties to utilize the issue of abortion as an agenda item for elections and caused churches throughout our nation to deal with the ramifications of this legal, yet immoral, option for women and men to wrestle with. Therefore, we have this ethical dilemma that has caused divisiveness in our nation, our churches and even in our homes. Still, the battle rages on while the collateral damage continues to grow. The countless innocent lives terminated as well as the spiritual, emotional and physical wounds and scars that remain with those who caved to the pressure, is simply overwhelming.
In recent news the issue of abortion has claimed the political spotlight as Brett Kavanaugh was nominated and eventually confirmed as a supreme court justice. The Democratic party put up a substantial fight as they attempted to keep him from being approved. One of the major fears of the Democratic party is that Kavanaugh will represent a fifth judge out of nine on the country’s highest court, that is Pro-Life. This means that the court ruling of “Roe V. Wade” is in jeopardy of being over turned by a majority vote in the Supreme Court if it comes to a vote. (fivethirtyeight.com)
Republicans see this as a major victory while Democrats view it as a defeat. My question is… why does the political arena even get a say in the matter? Our legal system is very clear on issues of taking the life of another person and this is clearly a life or death issue. This is a moral dilemma. Our lawmakers have fallen asleep at the wheel for years. We, as a country, have traded the sanctity of life for the comfort of selective choice at the expense of innocent and defenseless human babies.
The issue at hand, regarding the government’s involvement, has to do with rights. The rights of the pregnant mother versus the rights of the unborn child. Unfortunately, our political system has entertained this issue and have almost vilified the stance of those who choose to fight to protect the unborn. For years, our culture has dealt with the mistreatment of women and minorities. We have seen the rise of women’s rights take a portion of the spotlight that within the construct of our government should be taken seriously. It is imperative that women be given respect and equality in our country. Yet, we cannot raise the rights of pregnant women, who choose to terminate their pregnancies, over the rights of the human lives that are in jeopardy of termination. These human beings should have equal rights too! More times than not the first argument, for Pro-Choice supporters, appeals to the right of a woman to do what she wants with her own body. That is true, however what about the rights of the person that temporarily resides within her body?
Margaret Sanger, a well-known Pro-Choice feminist, said, “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother” (goodreads.com). This egoistic approach is common when arguing for the right of a pregnant woman to decide to either give birth or terminate the pregnancy. One can see this as a categorical syllogism (All A is B, C is A, therefore C is B). For example: All those who have freedom (A) are women (B). All who maintain bodily integrity © have freedom (A). Therefore, to have bodily integrity © is to be a women (B). Of course, seen this way, the essential property of womanhood is freedom pertaining to bodily integrity (those who do not maintain bodily integrity by her definition are not ‘true women’ presumably). This thought process liberates the pregnant woman from any responsibility to the newly developing human life inside of their womb. However, Pro-Choice advocates also choose to believe that the human fetus is not to be considered a functional human person. Thus, the argument becomes about the origin of personhood. In other words, when does personhood begin in the process of human life?
Scientifically it is proven, even by Pro-Choice advocates, that human life begins at conception. In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Gregg Henriques admits that although he is Pro-Choice, there should be no debate about this issue. He says that the facts are clear and with the appropriate definition of terms we can conclude that human life begins at conception. However, he and other secular scholars and scientists argue that personhood does not begin at conception. They say that, the starting point (for human personhood) that is far more consistent with the facts of biology is not conception but the emergence of the human brain (secularhumanism.org). In other words, a human life cannot be acknowledged as a person until he/she has a functioning brain. Yet, we must recognize that this is only a theory. It has not been proven.
Conversely, the Bible give us plenty of proof from the very beginning that it reflects an ethic that advocates a Pro-life stance in this dilemma. The first argument for Pro-life from a Biblical ethic begins with the natural law that all human life is sacred and created in the image of God. “So, God created man in his own image… male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, we understand that human life is from God and it is created in His image thus human life is sacred and set apart for holiness. Galatians 1:15–16 refers to this when Paul wrote, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace… in order that I might preach…” Additionally, the Old and New Testaments continually reveal that conception and life in the womb of the mother is when personhood begins (Job 3:3; 31:15; Psalm 22: 10; 51:5; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 1:20–21; Galatians 1:15). This is very clear in Psalm 139: 13–16 when David wrote that we have been “knitted together in the womb” and that all the days of our lives were written in His book when there was yet none of them. We also see the announcement of Immanuel in Matthew 1:20 when the angel reveals to Joseph that conception by the Holy Spirit had taken place in Mary’s womb. This is the most important manifestation of human life that the world has ever known. The next Pro-choice argument from a Biblical ethic is God’s command. “Thou shall not murder/kill,” and “do not shed innocent blood” (Exodus 20:13; 23:7–8; Deuteronomy 30:19–20; Matthew 19:8; Romans 13:9–10). His command also beckons the Christian believer to protect the innocent. Finally, Biblical ethics cause us to contemplate the command to love God and love neighbor (Mark 12:29–31), when arguing against abortion. Some may say it is a stretch, but I believe that every person can be considered a neighbor. Therefore, it is loving to preserve the life of one’s neighbor in all the stages of human personhood (from conception through adulthood). In so doing, we are also loving God by obeying his command to preserve life and not kill.
So, if it is scientifically proven that life begins at conception and natural law reveals that that same life-form progresses from an embryo, into a fetus, into a fully functioning baby and then finally into an adult… Why is this even a debate?
Here is another syllogism to prove the point: (If all A is B and B is C, then A is C).
(A) = Human life begins at Conception
(B) = Human Personhood
© = All persons have value and unalienable rights
Therefore, all human life which begins at conception (A) has the natural progressive development from human embryo to a human person (B). All human persons (B) have value with unalienable rights ©. Therefore, all human lives which begin at conception (A) have value with unalienable rights ©.
When perceived this way, one must admit that a human life that is scientifically proven to begin at conception should be given the same value and rights as a human being that is functioning outside of the womb of his/her mother.
Honestly, the thought of millions and millions of lives being snuffed out causes me to weep. How are we to preserve life when it has become culturally acceptable to murder the innocent while they are still in the womb? Why has our political system failed to fight for the rights of the unborn? How can we combat this egoistic ethic that has helped claim the lives of so many? I can honestly say that I don’t have the answers to those questions. However, what I do have, is hope. My hope is built on the solid rock of Christ. He spoke clearly to his disciples “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
“Abortion Quotes (222 Quotes).” Goodreads. Goodreads, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2018.
Caplan, Aurthur. “When Does Human Life Begin?” Council for Secular Humanism. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2018.
Henriques, Gregg, Ph. D. “When Does “It” Become a Person?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2018.
Perrybaconjr. “The Abortion Debate Isn’t As Partisan As Politicians Make It Seem.” FiveThirtyEight. FiveThirtyEight, 10 July 2018. Web. 24 Oct. 2018.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2001. Print.
“U.S. Abortion Statistics.” Abort73.com / Abortion Unfiltered. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2018.