It's Really About Life and Death
The fundamental question of the abortion debate is this: When does life begin?
Abortion is one of the major dividing issues of modern times. It intersects with the philosophies and policies in politics and government, is evident in the faith community with vast interpretations of Holy Scripture and doctrinal teachings, and is rooted in science. All it that is demonstrating an ongoing need for debate and discussion.
First, a woman facing a crisis pregnancy has been confronted with a weighty decision that involves any number of factors, such as her own age, a present or absent father in the child’s life, abuse, and maybe rape, even though that’s documented to be the case in less than 1% of abortion cases. Finances and the ability to raise a child are often key factors in whether a mother chooses to carry her child to term. In the case of teenagers, many abortions occur out of shame when a young lady fears the scorn from family, friends, and, yes, the religious crowd in some circles. These and many other factors are those considered by the women who choose to end pregnancy.
In the inflammatory rhetoric and posturing of this issue, both sides, while fueled by passions, must always understand that lives, emotions, and serious decisions are involved. Abortion is divided by two measures of analysis and standards: the legal and the moral.
In the legal world, agreement is needed on the critical question: When does life begin? A second question must follow regarding this demarcation of life from a moral and cultural view: If a life is conceived in violence or crime, is that life less valuable?
Why does a question that’s determined by science have such legal ramifications? The protections of life through the prosecution of murder or wrongful death are foundational in civilization. Currently, there are felony charges that can be filed and prosecuted if a child in the womb is killed or harmed due to an act of violence or harm inflicted upon the mother. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states have enforceable fetal homicide laws, with 29 of those states applying the standard of fetal life to “the earliest stages of pregnancy.” Clearly, intent is involved in the decision of criminality because the act perpetrated upon the mother resulting in the child’s death is viewed as robbing the life of an innocent.
But, when a mother decides to voluntarily have a procedure done that results in the same end, the death of an pre-born baby, it’s not treated similarly because, in the words of the pro-abortion lexicon, a fetus is part of the woman’s body and it’s a choice, not a child. So, some children are assigned different value based on the morals and beliefs of the mother. Again, the contested and unanswered question remains: When does life begin and who assigns the value of that life?
Here enters morality and ethics. The calling of the prophet Jeremiah recorded in the Old Testament, relevant to both Jews and Christians, records God saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” This deliberate creation of life honors the created by a Divine God for a purpose. King David wrote Psalm 139 to declare in song, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.” Again, a biblical and historical leader writing in Holy Scripture references the intentional creation of life in the womb for a future of potential.
In these and other places in Scripture, not only is life addressed as a creative force existing in the womb with a purpose intended for more than an existence but a calling of value. Unfortunately, the value of life has become secondary in this discussion as we scratch and fight over the politics. Pro-lifers embrace not only the belief that the science of a fetal heartbeat that’s present around six weeks indicates life, but that there is a morality that comes from the Ancient of Days that precedes the 4-D ultrasonography showing the multidimensional images of a moving, active being in the mother’s womb.
Another point of discussion that must be addressed is how to define those who stand for life. Is it pro-life to support the fetal heartbeat bills of some states that do have an exception for incest, rape, and the life of the mother, or are those supporters not pure enough and, in the eyes of some, stand as those who still support abortion?
The discussion and debate must continue but will only prove beneficial if we assess this topic through the medical, legal, moral, and ethical perspectives that are objective, not subjective. Assigning value to some lives and not others is a dangerous precedent. Assuming a pre-born child has no rights if that child is unwanted and must pay for the sins of its father or mother is, too, a dangerous precedent.
We argue politically about abortion. What we’re actually displaying is where we stand with life or death.