What About Abortion?

Is Abortion Really A Big Deal?

In 2018, over 260 immigrants died trying to cross the US southern border.[1] Also, 40,000 Americans died via gun violence in the same year (2/3 being suicides) – the highest in half a century.[2]

In 2016, accidents killed over 161,000, cancer killed over 598,000, and, heart disease, often thought to be the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killed over 635,000.[3]

That being said, in 2014, there were approximately 926,000 abortions.[4] Though rates are falling, abortion is the leading cause of death in America — and it’s not even close.

President Trump, Mother Teresa, & Jane Roe Say…

According to President Trump:

“Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.[6] (I moved footnote 5 to the conclusion)

Oh, wait. That wasn’t Trump, that was Mother Teresa. At the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.,[7] she also said:

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child—a direct killing of the innocent child—murder by the mother herself.[8]

In 1973, male Supreme Court justices decided (7-2) that abortion is constitutional. After the decision, the female plaintiff, Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. Jane Roe) advocated for abortion rights for many years.

However, after a while she realized that “working in the abortion clinics forced [her] to accept what abortion is. It is a violent act which kills human beings and destroys the peace and the real interests of the mothers involved.”[9]

After McCorvey’s conversion to Christianity, in a 1997 interview with Priests for Life, when asked about how to convert people to the pro-life cause she mentioned:

“telling [people] about Jesus and letting them realize for themselves that the holocaust against the unborn is the greatest sin that they could ever do or even ever participate in.”[10]

What Does Scripture Say?

Regardless of what Mother Teresa or Jane Roe said, what does Scripture say?

We know we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt 22:37 cf. Lev 19:18) and to do unto others how we would want them to do to us (Mt 7:12).

We may recall that John the Baptist was called a “baby” (βρέφος | brephos cf. Lk 2:16) when he leaped in his mother’s womb (Lk 1:41-44), that David said he was sinful since his conception (Ps 51:5), and that God knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs (Ps 139:13).[11]

We may even recall that even after the accidental injuring or killing of an unborn child, the Exodus command requires “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Ex 21:23-25).[12]

Yet there is one Scripture many of us may not have considered:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21, NIV).

As scholars point out, “witchcraft” (φαρμακεία,| pharmakeia), from where we get the word “pharmacy”,[13] more generally referred to drugs, potions, and (eventually) poisons.[14]

It stands to reason that, in addition to potions used in magic, Paul also has in mind abortifacient drugs.[15] For “administering medicinal potions was a common way of inducing abortions among the Greco-Romans” [16]

Also, Rev 21:8 states…

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts [pharmakois], the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.(Rev 21:8, NIV)

It appears that sexual immorality is associated with pharmakois because “sexual immorality often resulted in unwanted pregnancies being aborted.”1

This vice list has many parallels with an inscription from a pagan religious group in 1st century BC in Philadelphia. As scholars point out:

In summary, the categories of prohibitions include: (1) lying or deceit, (2) various forms of magic, (3) various forms of illicit sexual activity, and (4) abortion defined as infanticide. All of these sins exclude the individual who commits them from access to temple worship, just as the offenders in Rev 21:8 and 22:15 are excluded from the holy city.2

According to the second century compilation of apostolic teaching, The Didache (Did. 2.2), “You shall not practice sorcery [ou pharmakeuseis] .You shall not kill an unborn child or murder a newborn infant.”[18] In this context, “Οὐ φαρμακεύσεις [ou pharmakeuseis] specifically prohibits compounding poisons”3 — likely poisons made to kill unborn children.4

Plutarch (A.D. 46-120), who was not a Christian, wrote that pharmakeia was especially used for contraception and abortion.5

What Have Christians Said?

In the early church, both infanticide and abortion were seen as murderous acts.[17]

Clement of Alexandria (155-213) links pharmakeia with abortion-inducing drugs while writing against those who were seeking to hide their sexual immorality with abortion.6

Moreover, the 2nd century Christian work, The Epistle of Barnabas (19.5), states, “you shall not murder a child by abortion, nor again kill it after birth.”[19]

As scholars points out, “it is certain that from the beginning, Christians, following Old Testament and Jewish custom, rejected abortion.”7

From Tertullian (d. ca. 220)8 to the Synod of Elvira (ca. 305-6) in the West,9 to St. Basil (d. 379) (who inspired Emperor Valentinian to outlaw abortion in 374),10 to Middle Age canon law,12 to Martin Luther,13 to John Calvin,14 to Dietrich Bonhoeffer:15 Christians have largely been anti-abortion for almost two millennia — until about the 1960’s.16

The sanctification of human life set Christianity apart from the pagan Roman culture in which it began. Belief in the intrinsic worth of every human being, which we often take for granted even today, is a product of Christianity.17

What Do Americans Say?

In America, poll data suggest that only 43% of Americans find abortion morally acceptable.[20] However, about 56% think it should be legal in most cases, as opposed to about 40% who believe it should be illegal in most cases.[21]

Also according to Pew Research Center, there is “no gender gap in views on whether abortion should be legal.” Men (57%) are actually more likely to say abortion should be legal in all/most cases than women (55%)!

Interestingly, early feminists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matilda Gage, and Susan B. Anthony were against abortion.18 And, there are plenty of contemporary feminists who are against abortion (e.g., Feminists For Life, New Wave Feminists, cf. Save the Storks).

Whether an argument comes from a man or a woman is logically irrelevant. Arguments stand on their own merits.

Shooting the messenger does not logically invalidate the message; it’s merely succumbing to the ad hominem fallacy (attacking the arguer, not the argument). The origins of the argument are also irrelevant (genetic fallacy). Focusing on someone’s identity instead of their argument is intellectually lazy.

Speaking of arguments…

The Main Anti-Abortion Argument

The central anti-abortion argument can be summarized in a logical syllogism (without appealing to Scripture).

  1. Killing innocent human beings is wrong
  2. Abortion kills an innocent human being
  3. Therefore, abortion is wrong

I suspect very few people will deny premise 1, but some do!

Concerning premise 2, from what I understand, scientists have long concluded that the life of a genetically distinct human being begins at conception. A recent survey of over 5500 biologists across the world by a researcher from University of Chicago found that “95% of all biologists affirmed the biological view that a human’s life begins at fertilization (5212 out of 5502).”

Even Webster’s defines abortion as: “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.” I fail to see how something can die if it is not alive.

So, this is not about “reproductive rights”; reproduction has already taken place!19

The debate of the biological status of an unborn child is pretty much settled. The debate whether the human being in the womb is a “person” with certain ethical and legal rights, however, rages on.

Many concentrate on the unborn’s viability instead of their humanity. Yet, in the past, viability has changed from year to year. And, in the present, viability changes from country to country.

Legal or ethical “personhood” should not rest on the shifting sands of viability. If all humans have human rights, shouldn’t human rights apply in all places at all times?

Moreover, in most states, if you murder a pregnant mother, you will be charged with (at least) two counts of murder. That is, 38 states have fetal homicide laws — 29 of which apply to unborn children in the earliest stages of development.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 states that anyone who causes the death or bodily injury of an unborn child is guilty of the same offense “had that injury or death occurred to the unborn child’s mother.”20 Anyone except for the mother or her doctor/abortionist, that is (see Section c).

In my eyes, that the justice system would treat unborn children as persons with legal protections in some cases, and not in others, is absurd.

Pro-Choice Arguments

In any case, if premises 1 and 2 are more probable than not, then the conclusion logically follows. However, I suspect people will rarely argue against these premises and instead respond with one of the several, predictable pro-choice (for mothers to kill their unborn children) arguments.

The women and men at LiveAction provide some great video responses:

“My Body My Choice” – Kirsten Watson

“Life Only Begins After Birth” – Tara Sanders Lee, Ph.D

“I’m Personally Pro-Life” – Lila Rose

“A Fetus Is Not A Person” – Kristopher Kaczor, Ph.D

“Abortion Will Stop Overpopulation” – Steven Mosher

“Women Will Die From Illegal Abortions” – Kathi Aultman, M.D.

But What About Rape? (less than 1% of all cases) – Stephanie Reynolds

“Abortion for Babies with Fatal Diagnoses” – Kendra Kolb, MD

“Babies with Disabilities Are Better Off Aborted” – Dr. Karen Gaffney

“Abortion Can Be Medically Necessary” – Kendra Kolb, MD

Conclusion

Since 1973, in America, an estimated 60 million unborn children have been killed in the womb.21 Every year, almost a million more children in the U.S., and 40 million worldwide, are killed in what should be their safe place.[22]

In the words of Karl Barth, abortion is “the great modern sin.”[5] Simply put, abortion is the greatest evil of our time. I implore everyone to fight against it.

Moreover, I contend that Christians who are committed to “social justice” should consider speaking out against the greatest evil of our time. Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves (Prov 31:8) – the divine imagers still in the womb (cf. Gen 1:26-27).

One does not even need to appeal to Scripture to do so (I don’t recommend quoting Scripture. People will often just say, “you can’t impose your beliefs on others” – not knowing that they are imposing that belief on you).

But let’s not somehow confuse “social justice” with the current platform of the Democratic Party.

Footnotes

[1] Anne Flaherty, “More than 260 migrants died trying to cross the US southern border: Report”, ABC News, December 14, 2018, https://abcnews.go.com/International/260-migrants-died-cross-us-southern-border-report/story?id=59832675

[2] Sarah Mervosh, “Nearly 40,000 People Died From Guns in the U.S. Last Year, Highest in 50 Years”, The New York Times, December 12, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/us/gun-deaths.html

[3]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Leading Causes of Death”, National Center for Health Statistics, accessed May 2, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm.

[4] Guttmacher Institute, “Induced Abortion in the United States”, accessed May 2, 2019, https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

[5] Mark Water, The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000), 6.

[6] Water, 7.

[7] Catholic News Agency, “Blessed Mother Teresa on Abortion”, accessed May 2, 2019,  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/abortion/catholic-teaching/blessed-mother-teresa-on-abortion.

[8] Water, 7.

[9] Norma McCorvey, “The Truth about Rove v. Wade (according to ‘Jane Roe,’ Norma McCorvey)”, Eternal Perspective Ministries, March 2, 2000, https://www.epm.org/resources/2000/Mar/2/truth-about-roe-v-wade-according-jane-roe-norma-mc/ ; Michael Gryboski, “10 Pro-Life Quotes From Norma McCorvey, ‘Jane Roe’”, The Christian Post, February, 20, 2017, https://www.christianpost.com/news/pro-life-quotes-norma-mccorvey-jane-roe-wade.html.

[10] Emphasis added. Frank Pavone, “An Interview with Norma McCorvey, the ‘Roe’ of Roe vs. Wade”, Priests For Life, January 1, 1997, https://www.priestsforlife.org/articles/2737-an-interview-with-norma-mccorvey-the-roe-of-roe-vs-wade.

[11] “Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth calls the preborn child in the sixth month of pregnancy a “baby” (Greek brephos, “baby, infant”). This is the same Greek word that is used for a child after it is born, as in Luke 2:16, where Jesus is called a “baby [brephos] lying in a manger.” Cf. Gen 25:22-23 where Rebekah has two “children” in her womb. Wayne A. Grudem, Politics according to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 158-59.

[12] Grudem (Politics), 159.

[13] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 394. Douglas J. Moo, Galatians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 359.

[14] “[1.] use of drugs, esp. of purgatives.” Henry George Liddell (LSJ) et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1917. “The word can also mean ‘poisoning’, from its etymological derivation.” R. Alan Cole, Galatians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 9, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 216. “This word has commonly been translated as “sorcery” (NRSV) or “witchcraft”(NIV) because potions were often made in a context of sorcery.” Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, (Zondervan, Kindle Edition, 2004), 57. “Pharmakeia originally meant the medical use of drugs; but it came to mean the abuse of drugs for poisoning instead of healing.” Ronald Y. K. Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), 256. Moo, 359.

[15] “In New Testament times pharmakeia in fact denoted the use of drugs with occult properties for a variety of purposes including, especially, abortion.” George, 394. Cf. “of abortifacients”, LSJ, 1917.

[16] Schmidt, 57.

[17] “Both are flagrant violations of Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” George, 394. Schmidt, 57f.

[18]  Francis X. Glimm, “The Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” in The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Francis X. Glimm, Joseph M.-F. Marique, and Gerald G. Walsh, vol. 1, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1947), 172. Cf. Schmidt, 58.

[19] Francis X. Glimm, “The Letter of Barnabas,” in The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Francis X. Glimm, Joseph M.-F. Marique, and Gerald G. Walsh, vol. 1, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1947), 219–220.

[20] Jeffrey Jones, “Americas Hold Record Liberal Views on Most Moral Issues”, Gallup, May 11, 2017, https://news.gallup.com/poll/210542/americans-hold-record-liberal-views-moral-issues.aspx.

[21] There is not much of a gender gap. Pew Research Center, “No gender gap in views on whether abortion should be legal”, April 7, 2015, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/17/nearly-six-in-ten-americans-say-abortion-should-be-legal/ft_16-04-07_abortion_demographics/.

[22] Micaiah Bilger, “Abortion was the Leading Cause of Death Worldwide in 2018, Killing 42 Million People”, LifeNews.com, December 31, 2018, https://www.lifenews.com/2018/12/31/abortion-was-the-leading-cause-of-death-worldwide-in-2018-killing-42-million-people/.

Sources

  1. Schmidt, 57.
  2. David E. Aune, Revelation 17–22, vol. 52C, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 1132.
  3. Kurt Niederwimmer and Harold W. Attridge, The Didache: A Commentary, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 89.
  4. Schmidt, 57
  5. Romulus 22 of his Parallel Lives. Schmidt, 57
  6. Clement of Alexandria, “Paedagogus,” in Clementis Alexandrini Opera, ed. Guliemi Dindorfii (Oxonii: E Typographeo Clarendoniano, 1859), 1:296. as cited by Schmidt, 58 and 77
  7. Niederwimmer and Attridge, 90
  8. “We may not destroy even the foetus in the womb.” And he continued, “Nor does it matter whether you take away the life that is born or destroy one that is coming to birth” (Apology 9).” Schmidt, 58
  9. to the Council of Ancya in 314 in the East
  10. “Basil mobilized Christians to help minister to women who were facing unwanted pregnancies. At times he helped stage public protests against abortion. His efforts reportedly inspired Emperor Valentinian to outlaw abortion, along with infanticide and child abandonment, in 374.” Schmidt, 59
  11. From the 4th to the 12th century, “over four thousand canons had been issued affirming the sanctity of life.”11Schmidt, 59.
  12. “those who pay no attention to pregnant women and do not spare the tender fetus are murderers and parricides.” Martin Luther, “Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 26–30,” Luther’s Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan and Walter A. Hansen (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968), 5:382. as quoted in Schmidt, 59, 77.
  13. “The unborn child. . . though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being. . . and should not be robbed of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy.” John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, trans. Charles Bingham (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 3:42. as quoted by Schmidt, 59, 77
  14. ““Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life.” as cited in George Grant, The Third Time Around: A History of the Pro-Life Movement from the First Century to the Present (Brentwood, Tenn.: Wolgemuth Publishing, 1991), 133 as cited in Schmidt, 59, 77
  15. Schmidt, 59
  16. see Schmidt’s entire chapter that covers not only abortion, but infanticide, infant abandonment, gladiatorial combat, human sacrifice, suicide, and more. Schdmit, 48-76
  17. Anthony said, “I deplore the horrible crime of child murder [abortion]. . .No matter what motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed;. . .but oh! thrice guilty is he who for selfish gratification. . .drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.” Susan B. Anthony, “Marriage and Family,” The Revolution, 8 July 1869, 4 as cited by Schmidt, 60, 77.
  18. I forget which speaker I heard make this point. I believe it was from an Instagram Video shared by LiveAction.org
  19.   Web Archive of the Act here: https://web.archive.org/web/20120106071132/http://nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/UVVAEnrolled.html. For a downloadable .PDF visit: https://uslaw.link/citation/us-law/public/108/212
  20. https://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/18/60069971-abortions-in-america-since-roe-v-wade-in-1973/
About @DannyScottonJr 185 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student