Pictured above— Mary asking— How could I be pregnant?
I’m under no illusions that these blog posts will settle anything in the ongoing issues surrounding abortion but since a challenge to Roe vs. Wade appears likely to be on the horizon, a few reflections from a Christian viewpoint (notice I do not say THE Christian viewpoint) will not go amiss here.
Firstly, it is a debatable issue whether Christians, in an increasingly less Christian culture, should be dictating public policy for all Americans. Perhaps a little walk down memory lane to the era of Prohibition of alcohol and its reversal would provide a timely reminder. I personally think that Christians should bear witness, and try and persuade others of what they believe to be true about these complex life issues, but at the end of the day, if by a considerable margin Americans don’t believe abortions should be banned or limited just to the case of a mother’s life being in danger, then that must be taken seriously in a democracy like we have in the U.S. These recent ‘heartbeat’ bills are meant to provide ammunition to challenge Roe vs. Wade in the Supreme Court. And there is a problem already there— namely judges are not supposed to be liberal or conservative. They are supposed to be non-partisan and evaluate cases on the basis of their merits and whether they are in accord with the Constitution and settled law . But in our polarized society we have managed to even polarize what was supposed to be a non-partisan part of our government, the judiciary— and it’s frankly wrong. The Founding Fathers would not be please I don’t think.
Secondly, I hold the following truth as something that should be self-evident, but isn’t apparently. Namely, someone’s right to life always trumps someone else’s right to make a choice that could terminate that other person’s life.
As a Christian I don’t think anyone should have ‘an inalienable right’ to an abortion, or for that matter to murder another human being who is already born. We can talk about lesser of two evils situations where sometimes a choice must be made, because the alternatives are worse, but that is a different matter than trumpeting ‘I have a right to abort my unborn child’. I do not agree that should be a ‘right’ of anyone. The vast majority of cases of abortion in America, do not have as their prelude rape or incest or a dangerous pregnancy. So far as I can see, the vast majority of them are the consequences of what the Bible would call sexual immorality. Here a few statistics from the Guttmacher Institute will not go amiss, and what they show is that the rate of abortions has been declining in the last ten or so years— thank goodness.“Nearly half (45%) of all pregnancies among U.S. women in 2011 were unintended, and about four in 10 of these were terminated by abortion. Nineteen percent of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) in 2014 ended in abortion.
Approximately 926,200 abortions were performed in 2014, down 12% from 1.06 million in 2011. In 2014, some 1.5% of women aged 15–44 had an abortion.2 Just under half of these women (45%) reported having a previous abortion.
The abortion rate in 2014 was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down 14% from 16.9 per 1,000 in 2011. This is the lowest rate ever observed in the United States; in 1973, the year abortion became legal, the rate was 16.3.4
At 2014 abortion rates, one in 20 women (5%) will have an abortion by age 20, about one in five (19%) by age 30 and about one in four (24%) by age 45.5.” (see https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvoeFkcSn4gIVB7XACh3n1AmOEAAYASAAEgLxe_D_BwE).
Even if these figures are a little off when it comes to the rate of abortions from last year, still– it should concern everyone, including all Christian persons, that as many as 900,000 abortions are performed every year in America. That’s frankly appalling for anyone who believes that every life is of sacred worth, created in the image of God. But here’s the rub. Often, those most stridently pro-life amongst conservative Christians DO NOT HAVE A CONSISTENTLY PRO-LIFE VIEW. What I mean by this is many of them are pro-capital punishment and hawkish on war as a way to solve world problems. I do not think it works to argue that unborn human beings are of more sacred worth than born ones. Furthermore, plenty of innocent people, non-combatants get killed in war, including children, and frankly as Grisham’s book An Innocent Man and the ‘Innocence Project’ shows— lots of people, especially lots of minorities have been wrongly executed for crimes they didn’t commit! Where’s the pro-life outrage about those two things? So, a little more consistency in one’s life ethic would help.
In the next post I want to say a bit more about the back story to abortions, which sadly all too often is about the sexually immoral climate in which we live.