June 9, 2019
The discussion concerning the ethics of abortion is one that has been hotly debated for years and is, again, in the spotlight.
Let me be clear where I stand. All human life is created in the image of God.
Therefore, murder is wrong. God tells us this directly.
Life begins at conception, which means abortion, defined as purposefully terminating a pregnancy, is murder and is therefore wrong.
The discussion regarding abortion is a multifaceted one. This post will specifically focus on the morality side of that discussion.
As I’ve made my stance clear, I thought I would take a look at some of the common arguments used to support abortion. I think these arguments fall apart upon further examination, further application, or comparison. However, all of these rebuttals only carry weight because they are rooted in the truth revealed to us by God. If you would like me to specifically expand on what I’ve laid out above or if you have an objection that is not listed below, please let me know!
I found a list of arguments supporting abortion on procon.org. This list was inclusive of any arguments I’ve heard, plus some I hadn’t. I feel some of these carry so little weight that I won’t belabor the answer. Please let me know if you’d like me to expand on anything below.
One final comment before I get started. As open minded as I try to be, there are some things I’m set on. For example, no amount of money could ever outweigh a life. I will run into a few of these topics below, in which I’m too convinced to ever have my mind changed. I apologize if it’s not productive to a conversation, but I want to be honest. That said, I’m always open to hearing an opinion.
Suggested Pro 1: The US Supreme Court has declared abortion to be a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the US Constitution.
This argument would imply that the US government (or worldwide, any government) has the authority on Earth to define what’s right. While they may enforce law, Jesus has all authority.
Thus, our (and any) government should take its lead from Christ. In the US, it’s whatever the democracy says, whatever the majority of people say. We’ve been slipping further and further from “under God” using only this model. We can see in the past how this doesn’t work. Slavery being a prime and horrendous example of man trying to define right and wrong ourselves. While we may “get it right” sometimes, it’s only because when we do, we fall in-line with the standard set by God. We are still prone to disastrously fall outside of this standard if we go it alone.
Therefore, I claim this argument holds no weight as the US government does not hold the proper authority to declare abortion a right. God does and already has spoken on the matter. It’s wrong.
Suggested Pro 2: Reproductive choice empowers women by giving them control over their own bodies.
Let me start by saying that I agree with the idea that women (and men) should have control over their bodies, provided they are not causing harm.
The Bible places a high standard on our bodies
However, what this fails to address is the lack of control given to the little body inside the woman. The life inside the mother was never given a choice.
Therefore, while I support autonomy over your own body, I don’t agree with that control extending to the degree that a woman can end the life of another person within their body.
The only argument I could see against this point is actually the next “pro”. That it’s not actually a person yet.
Suggested Pro 3: Personhood begins after a fetus becomes “viable” (able to survive outside the womb) or after birth, not at conception.
This is a big one and I think it makes sense to start by being specific on “viable”.
Baby Center has the following statistic
“Doctors now consider 22 weeks the earliest gestational age when a baby is “viable,” or able to survive outside the womb. But this is still extremely premature, and a baby born at this age will need a great deal of medical attention.”
Let’s take the earliest possible age, 22 weeks, as “viable” and look at some development leading up to that point:
- Conception All the genetic material is present that will determine everything about the baby.
- By week 8 Heart is beating, brain is developing, limbs and hands/feet are developed, and eyes are started.
- By week 12 All organs are there, and fingernails are growing. The arms and legs are moving and baby can even make a fist.
- By week 16 Face and heart are fully developed! The eyes will open and that little life will desire to start sucking.
- By week 20 Fully developed fngerprints can now identify this unique human. Permant, unique, adult teeth buds are there now behind the baby teeth that will emerge first. The baby can also hear things now.
I bring this up because I don’t see what is so differentiating, regarding personhood, about reaching the viability point. Does the ability to hear and a mouth full of teeth somehow make you a person? A deaf person who has lost their teeth would certain argue against that. Is it about brain development? What about coma patients with no brain activity then? I’m sure when they woke up, they would be happy their doctors didn’t think so. These can’t be the qualifiers for personhood and like examples can be made for the rest. It must be something else.
If not something reached through development, then the specific viability to survive outside the womb must be how they are arguing to define person. If you see another option, please let me know. I honest don’t.
That said, let’s look deeper into this idea of being able to survive outside the womb once “viable”.
But what does it mean to survive? Even in the viability definition above
a baby born at this age will need a great deal of medical attention
By this logic, are babies who are 22 weeks old, but are not able to be at a hospital with the resources to provide that medical attention not people? That can’t possibly be true. So maybe then push the goal posts back?
Maybe set the true viability age, or age we determine the fetus to be a person, to when they can survive outside the womb without being in a hospital with technology and trained professionals.
At 26 weeks, survivability is up from under 5% at 22 weeks to 90%. However, even moving back to this point the baby is still completely reliant on the mother (or others) for survival. Why at the same age, level of development, and fully dependent on others, does being inches further (outside the womb vs inside the womb) suddenly make you a person? Given proper shelter (womb in the unborn case), food, water, and time (excluding outside forces or medical accidents) the fetus will be born. Are those not the same things a newborn needs to reach 1 month old? For a 1 month old to reach a year old, a 1 year old to reach 2, etc.?
Once again, this does not seem to be a reliable means with which we can determine personhood.
Let me know propose the counter to this argument. That life begins at conception when all the genetic material has formed to create this new, unique life. Those genes having encoded within them eye color, baldness patterns, height, hair color, and many, many more things. Everything is already there that determines personhood. Right at the beginning, needing only the same shelter, food, water, and time to experience life as at the later stages. This is the defining difference between life and non-life. Personhood and non-personhood.
Suggested Pro 4: Fetuses are incapable of feeling pain when most abortions are performed.
I’ll make two comparisons. To a coma patient and someone with congenital analgesia (a rare condition where the person doesn’t feel pain). Neither can feel pain, one is conscious the other not. I doubt anyone would argue we have the right to end the life of either person because they can’t feel pain. We don’t have the right to murder anyone for any reason, but for the sake of refuting this argument, I think my comparison was clear.
Therefore, my position is that the ability to feel pain, consciously or not, is a unreliable means to make a decision regarding the life of the unborn. Regarding anyone for that matter.
Suggested Pro 5: Access to legal, professionally-performed abortions reduces maternal injury and death caused by unsafe, illegal abortions.
This arugment sounds good on the surface. However, I think deeper examination will show this to not be a tenable position.
To make this more broad, this would be saying we should make something legal because if it’s illegal people might get hurt or killed trying to do it anyway. That wouldn’t work or fly for SO many reasons that I don’t think I need to go into it. If you would like me to, let me know. Therefore, this argument can’t be a broad rule, but one specific to the abortion discussion.
So, the argument says if we outlaw abortions, people would flock to unsafe, illegal places. This would result in more injury and death to mothers. First, what about the murder of each baby? We should allow murder of one person because another breaking the law may get hurt? I just can’t stand behind that.
Secondly, there would be consequenses to performing abortions. Are we then to assume law enforcement will be able to do nothing to stop these illegal abortions from occuring? And that available doctors willing to risk their careers and freedom would be readily available everywhere?
Therefore, as I stated above, I believe this arugment to be an untenable position.
Suggested Pro 6: Modern abortion procedures are safe and do not cause lasting health issues such as cancer and infertility.
Abortions still cause the death of an innocent baby! The safety of the procedure is not the primary concern, the outcome is.
Think about the “I can do it safely, shouldn’t I be allowed” logic in other areas… It’s horrifying and not a reliable means to determine the legality of murdering the unborn.
Therefore, I reject the idea that the ease and safety of any procedure somehow legitimizes the decision to do it. Make sure it’s the right thing to do in the first place, then figure out how to do it safely before letting people do it, then figure out how to make it more convenient/cheaper/easier.
Suggested Pro 7: Women who receive abortions are less likely to suffer mental health problems than women denied abortions.
I feel this to be misleading. The point hinges on a study done comparing women who had abortions with those “denied”. While that is in-line with what the argument says, this does nothing to discuss the devastating, life-long mental consequences of going through with it. Furthermore, I would just like to quote part of what they have written under the “Pro”
“A peer-reviewed study comparing the mental health of women who received abortions to women denied abortions found that women who were denied abortions “felt more regret and anger” and “less relief and happiness” than women who had abortions.”
I think calling logical emotional reactions “mental health problems” is a stretch. I’m not trying to downplay those who have had problems after being denied an abortion. At all. I’m only stating my opinion based off the information gathered above. The emotions of anger and regret were all they mentioned. Even so, I don’t think avoiding anger and regret, to feel more relief and happiness justifies murder! Additionally, so many women have admitted to have regretted getting an abortion for the rest of their lives. I think it’s probably fair to say that if the topic of abortion becomes relevant in your life, you’re not going to make it through without a bump or two (at least). Your life will be changed forever by either decision. I’ve heard mom after mom say having my baby was the best thing I’ve ever done, rough patches and all. I can’t say the same for the other side.
Suggested Pro 8: Abortion gives pregnant women the option to choose not to bring fetuses with profound abnormalities to full term.
They actually use Down Syndrome as an example. I just can’t get around how this doesn’t result in the outcome that one human is determining that another human’s life is not worth allowing to exist because of a disability.
The reasoning they provide?
“Even in the case of nonfatal conditions, such as Down syndrome, parents may be unable to care for a severely disabled child. Deborah Anne Driscoll, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania, said “many couples… don’t have the resources, don’t have the emotional stamina, don’t have the family support [to raise a child with Down syndrome].”
While I cant imagine the challenges of caring for a child with a profound disability, you cannot determine the value of another human or if that life should be allowed to continue based upon a defect or disability. Ever. This is one of those areas I mentioned in which I will never have my mind changed. I don’t mean to offend, I just think all life has to be valued above earthly struggle.
To be fair, they also listed very rare fatal birth defects. This is a very small minority case where the baby is not expected to survive. As such, it’s out of place in comparison with survivable disabilities. It’s a discussion for another post which I’m happy to have, but not relevant to their stated position.
Suggested Pro 9: Women who are denied abortions are more likely to become unemployed, to be on public welfare, to be below the poverty line, and to become victims of domestic violence.
I think my prior responses and response to the next argument will cover this as well. You cannot use earthly struggle as a means for deciding the worth of life. Being poor or out of work or struggling in other ways does not justify ending a life.
Suggested Pro 10: Reproductive choice protects women from financial disadvantage.
In the sense that not having a baby is way cheaper than having a baby, of course. This is another point in which I will not have my mind changed. The financial status of the mother and/or child can never be used to decide whether or not to take an unborn life. You simply cannot use monetary cost as a means by which to decide to end a life. Ever.
Suggested Pro 11: A baby should not come into the world unwanted.
This is a bit leading to me, given the number of parents who are desperate to adopt a baby. A child may not be wanted by its mother, but there are people out there who care and want that baby.
That said, this is another point where I won’t have my mind changed. I believe the amount a particular baby is wanted by their parents (or anyone) has no correlation with their right to life. Every person has a right to their God given life.
Suggested Pro 12: Abortion reduces welfare costs to taxpayers.
This may very well be true. However, this is another area I will not have my mind changed. You simply cannot use monetary cost as a means by which to decide to end a life. Ever.
Suggested Pro 13: Abortion reduces crime.
I was baffled at first by this one. Procon.org goes into detail by saying
“Because “women who have abortions are those most at risk to give birth to children who would engage in criminal activity,” and women who had control over the timing of childbearing were more likely to raise children in optimal environments, crime is reduced when there is access to legal abortion.”
I don’t have facts or statistics for this one, but this cannot possibly be so clear cut. There is no way that denying the decision of the mother to abort has a direct correlation with higher crime rates. C’mon!
I mean, one more time
Because “women who have abortions are those most at risk to give birth to children who would engage in criminal activity,”
Is this argument then
Your baby is likely going to be a criminal because you want an abortion, so you have the right to kill it?
If you stand behind this, we will be in disagreement then. I will never be convinced. If you have an alternate interpretation, let me know.
Suggested Pro 14: Abortion is justified as a means of population control.
I understand why people may go this route. I know some countries today practice this. If you agree with this idea, we will just have to disagree. I just can’t agree that killing babies to keep the population down is an option that can ever be explored.
Suggested Pro 15: Many religious organizations and people of faith support women’s reproductive choice.
I cover other religions elsewhere in the site, so here I’ll only speak on any “Christian” organizations.
They are wrong. Abortion is 100% unbiblical and against God’s Law. Period.
This completes the list of “pros”. I thought it would be worthwhile to also look at some statistics around reasons for abortions. Personally, my perception versus the facts were very different. It seems like a majority of the time is spent discussion reasons which account for the smallest minority of abortions.
Abortion is not something a potential mother does without deep thought. As such, it’s logical that there’s usually more than one reason for deciding to do it. This first picture has recorded statistics for any reasons stated for having the abortions. This is why the percentages don’t all add up to 100%, but it still allows us to see the common reasons. This is useful as it allows for deeper investigation via sub-reasoning as you can see.
Now, let’s see how these reasons change, or don’t, when we look at only the most important reason given. These will all add up to 100% and I believe are a useful set to use when discussing the topic. Again, the first picture is great for adding context to those reasons discussed from the second picture.
Moving down the chart from top to bottom, the top 86% of all abortions stem from financial, personal, or professional interference.
Convenience is defined as
“the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.”.
I am going to say something offensive now, but I truly mean it out of love. I’m sorry if you feel hurt by what I’m about to say, but I feel it needs said.
From the statistics above, it’s my estimation that 86% of the roughly 650,000 US abortions per year (or 559,000 abortions) are done to ensure higher personal convenience while pursuing a previously desired path. Personal happiness and your currently desired outcome for your life (which changes over time) is never a reason to end anyone’s life.
Lastly, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 45% of all women having abortions every year have had at least one previous. I think this is an incredibly relevant statistic to add context to the other statistics above. I think it also speaks to the solidity in the minds of those in our country who believe that abortion should be an equally weighted option. It also further supports that the majority of abortions are not these life and death, wild, and/or horrific cases usually used to justify a pro-choice stance. I will cover these cases in another post. Perhaps it’s time for us to adjust this conversation.
This discussion is commonly one framed around choice. There are four choices that I support. Abstinence (in or out of marriage), use of contraceptive (within marriage), adoption, or parenthood. I will never support the fifth, which is violating the God given right to life of an unborn via murder or “pro-choice”.
If by chance you are reading this and are considering an abortion, please consider talking to some people more knowledgeable and better equipped than me before doing it. To really understand your options, including some you might not be aware of.
A ministry I’m aware of is EndAbortionNow, through Apologia Church. They have put in place something that is doing incredible and important work. Work I believe to be inline with God’s Word. I’ve been personally moved by seeing the children they have saved and hearing the gratitude from the mothers who decided to let their child live! Beyond just delivering God’s Word to those in need, Apologia and other ministries have resources to provide real, tangible support for the women and families who need it. From financial and supply support to even adoption.
If you would like help finding someone to help or need anything, please let me know. I will do my best to help.
Torres A and Forrest JD, Why do women have abortions? Family Planning Perspectives, 1988, 20(4):169–176.
Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions:
Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives by Lawrence B. Finer, Lori F. Frohwirth, Lindsay A. Dauphinee,
Susheela Singh, and Ann M. Moore.