ETHICS: Life (Part 3)

Definition: “Abortion” in this study does not refer to spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) or accidental abortions. The word in this study refers to the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

Abortion is common around the globe. Since Roe v. Wade decision (Jan. 22, 1973), America has aborted about 45 million unborn children. This is approximately equivalent to the combined populations of 24 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. About 35% of all U.S. women will have an abortion (www. prochoice.org). About 20% of all pregnancies in the U.S. will end in abortion (www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-01-16-abortion-rates). Things are much worse in Russia. “Each year one in five women terminates a pregnancy and 90% of all first pregnancies end in abortion. For every 100 births there are at least 106 abortions.” (F. LaGard Smith, p. 116). China and India use abortions for gender selection (we will say more about this later). This truly is a global issue.

New?

Abortion is nothing new. Ancient writers wrote of such. (1) Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) “I will not give a woman an instrument to procure abortion” (Hippocratic Oath). (2) Josephus (37-100 A.D.) “The law … enjoins us to bring up our offspring and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten or destroy it afterward” (Contra A pinion Book II, chp. 24). (3) The Epistle of Barnabas (70-79 A.D.) “You shall not destroy your conception before they are brought forth, nor kill them after they are born” (14:11). (4) The Didache (80-120 A.D.) “Do not murder … Do not kill a fetus by abortion or commit infanticide” (2:2). (5) Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) said that Christians do not “take away human nature, which is generated by the providence of God by abortions, and applying abortifacient drugs to destroy … the embryo (Pedagogus 2.10.96.1). (6) Tertullian (150-220 A.D.) “But with us, murder is forbidden.… We are not permitted to destroy even the fetus in the womb… It makes no difference whether one destroys a soul already born or interferes with its coming to birth. It is a human being and one who is to be a man, for the whole fruit is already present in the seed.” (Apology, chp. 9, par. 8). (7) Anthenegalos (2nd Century A.D.). “All who use abortifacients … will account to God for their abortions as for killing men” (Embassy for the Christian, Patrologia graeca 6.919). These writings are cited not to establish doctrine, but to demonstrate that our generation is not the first to face this issue.

Science

Does life begin at conception? There are six characteristics considered to be signs of life: (1) reproduction; (2) growth; (3) metabolism; (4) movement; (5) responsiveness; (6) adaptation. Not all of these need to be present for life to exist. However, when a thing has all six of these characteristics it is typically considered to be alive. Brother Marion Fox has written, “The fetus has all of these characteristics prior to birth… These six characteristics are cumulative characteristics of life. If all six characteristics are present, it is generally accepted as undisputed evidence of life. If some thing having these six characteristics were observed on Mars, it would be said to be alive by scientists” (Marion Fox, When is a child a child? B. H.  Bulletin April 11, 2004). Model actress Kathy Ireland told The New American “I was once pro-choice … and the thing that changed my mind was, I read my husband’s biology books, medical books… This life has its own unique DNA … (and) it is growing” (June 16, 2003, p. 27). The unborn is distinct from the mother. It has its own unique DNA (at conception). It has its own unique heartbeat (at 3 weeks). It has its own detectable unique brain wave (at 6 weeks). It has its own unique fingerprints (at 8 weeks). Who can deny that it is life? “From a purely logical standpoint, if life does not begin at conception, then why does the growth process begin at this point?” (Kerry Duke, Ox in The Ditch: Bible Interpretation as the Foundation of Christian Ethics, p. 126).

Scriptures

1. The Bible uses a common word for the born and the unborn. Born Jesus is referred to as a babe (brephos): “You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger … And they came with haste and found … the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12, 16). Unborn John is referred to as a babe (brephos): “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb… For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:41, 44). No distinction is made.

2. Other words used of the living are also used of the unborn. (a) Read Genesis 25:21-22. Esau and Jacob are called children while still in the womb. (b) Read Luke 1:36. Elizabeth conceived a son.

3. The Bible speaks of the unborn as precious (a) Read Psalm 139:13-15. Watch the personal pronouns “My,” “Me,” and “I”. (b) God at times, had plans for the unborn. He had plans for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5), John (Luke 1:15, 67 cf. 76-77), and Paul (Gal. 1:15). Cyrus is written of more than one hundred years before he was even born (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1).

4. The Bible uses languages which sound like the unborn is considered life. (a) Read Exodus 21:22-25. “Life for life!” If the harm which follows refers to the harm which occurred to the unborn then it is clear that the Bible considers the unborn life. (b) Read Jeremiah 20:14-18. Observe that the mother’s womb is referred to as a “grave.” A grave is for those who have died.

5. Man should have Bible authority for what he does (Colossians 3:17). There is no direct statement, account of action, or implication in the Bible that abortion is permissible.

Arguments Made

The following are common arguments made in an attempt to defend legalized abortion:

1. Life begins with the first breath. This was Plato’s thoughts on when life begins. Some have defended this view by appealing to Genesis 2:7.

There are problems with this argument. (a) The unborn child receives oxygen even while in the womb via the umbilical cord. (b) Adam was simply dust prior to God’s breathing into him the breath of life. he did not have a beating heart, brain waves, and other bodily functions before the breath of life. An unborn child does.

2. The child may be a living creature. However, it can’t live apart from the mother and therefore has no right to choose its future.

Think of the implication of such a statement. Small newborn children cannot survive without their mother or someone’s care. Neither, can many elderly survive without the case of others. Moreover, one can’t appeal to the Bible to justify this argument.

3. It’s my body, and I’ll do with it what I please.

Is it your body? (a) The unborn is not your body. It is distinct in many ways (Chromosomes, heartbeat, brain waves, fingerprints, etc.). We live in the age of test-tube babies. The unborn can grow outside the womb. (b) Our bodies do not belong exclusive to self. We belong to God. (Ezekiel 18:4; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 10:31). We’re to have Bible authority for what we do (Colossians 3:17). We also owe our spouses consideration when it comes to what we do with our bodies (1 Corinthians 7:4).

4. It’s my child. I can do with it what I want.

Really? (a) This argument would allow parents to kill born children. (b) The child belongs to the Lord (Ezekiel 18:4).

5. It prevents the birth of the handicapped.

There are many who were born handicapped, or with the potential for many problems who went on to great things. (a) Tom Dempsey was born with a club right foot. Yet, he could kick a 63-yard field goal. (b) A college professor once told this story, “‘I want your opinion about the termination of a pregnancy. The father had syphilis, and the mother had tuberculosis. Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, and the fourth had tuberculosis. What would you have done about the next pregnancy?’ ‘I would end it,’ quickly answers one student. ‘Congratulations’ responds the professor. ‘You have just killed Beethoven’” (Smith, when choice becomes God, p. 159). (c) Whose to decide which life is worth living, and which is not?

The bottom line is still authority. We have no authority from God to do such.

6. It prevents unwanted children. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner argue that the reason crime dropped so sharply in the 1990s is due to abortion (Chapter Four of Freakonomics). They claim “Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to higher crime, legalized abortion therefore, leads to less crime” (Freakonomics, p. 140).

Let’s respond with two points: (a) What if my born children become unwanted by me. Can I end their lives? If not, why not? (b) There still is no Bible authority.

7. What about rape or incest?

Brother Marion Fox has written “What about the cases of rape, incest, or deformity of the child? These questions merely beg the question because they assume the fetus is not a living human being. Do those, who use these cases to prove abortion on demand should be allowed claim a 10-year-old person who was conceived as a result of rape should be killed … (or) an 11-year-old child conceived as a result of incest …” (Bulletin – When is a Child a Child)? Remember this is life of which we are speaking, and there is no Bible authority to end it.

Note: Only about 1% of all abortions are for rape and incest (www.abortion.org).

8. What if the mother’s life is in jeopardy?

Such cases are extremely rare. F. LaGard Smith puts the number at “no more than one-tenth of one percent of all abortions!” (When choice becomes God, p. 201). Dr. Alan Guttmacher (former President of Planned Parenthood) has said, “There are virtually no conditions that threaten the mother’s life in which abortion is a medically recognized treatment. In some conditions (e.g., an ectopic pregnancy or a cancerous uterus), a treatment may be required which indirectly kills the preborn. But in such cases, the treatment does not legally or morally qualify as an abortion. When removing a cancerous uterus the intent is to save the mother, every effort to save the child should still be made. Thus, even if the child dies, the treatment is still fully justified. The death of the child was never intended. In contrast, for an abortion the intent is always the same, to kill the preborn child” (www.all.org).

9. Do you want 10,000 women dying in back alleys?

Dr. Bernard Nathansen said, “It was always 5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false … But in the morality of our revolution, it was a useful figure … In 1967 … the federal government listed only 160 deaths from illegal abortions … In 1972, the total was only 39 … Christopher Tietze estimates 1,000 natural deaths as the outside possibility in an average year before legalization (When Choice Becomes God, p. 215). Admittedly, any death is tragic. However, such in no way justifies the unauthorized taking of life, by the medical community.

10. The Bible doesn’t say anything about it. The New York Times used this point in a 2005 article (Michael Luo, “On Abortion, it’s the Bible of Ambiguity,” July 17, 2005 quoted in Ann Coulter’s Godless, p. 93).

Ann Coulter replied, “It doesn’t have words like child rape either, but that doesn’t mean Christianity is ambiguous on the subject” (ibid, p. 93). When is the Bible authority?

Other Concerns

The use of abortion for gender selection is common in India. “Giving birth to a baby boy is like giving birth to a 401(k) retirement fund. He will be a wage-earning man who can provide for his parents in their sunset years … Girls are so undervalued in India that there are roughly 35 million fewer females than males in the population” (Super Freakonomics, p. 4-5). Girls are a burden. They cost a dowery. Thus, many Indians use ultrasound to prescreen gender. Such use of untrasound is illegal, though common. In the Northern state of Punjabi there are now 20% fewer girls than boys (www.ws;.com/health/2007/04118) ultrasound—fuels—India’s—preference for boys).

China has similar issues. China is now buying so many brides from North Korea that some think such will either be North Korea’s downfall, or they will become aggressive (www.paraunudits.com).

Europe also has problems. “At present birth rates, Europe must bring in 169 million immigrants by 2050 if it wishes to keep its population aged fifteen to sixty-four at today’s levels. But if Europe wishes to keep its present ratio of 4.8 workers … for every senior, Europe must bring in 1.4 billion emigrants … First World Nations are dying … Western fertility rates have been falling for decades … Western women are terminating their pregnancies at a rate that represents auto genocide for the peoples of European ancestry and an end of their nations (Patrick Buchanan, The Death of The West, p. 22-24).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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