How can so many Americans be so wrong on abortion?

How can so many Americans be so wrong on abortion? January 18, 2024

Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in America, more than sixty-three million babies have been aborted in our country.

This is a population four times the size of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston—combined.

And yet, more Americans than ever before think abortion should be legal under any circumstances. More than two-thirds also believe it should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy.

If you believe as I do that life begins at conception, you might be asking yourself: How can so many people be so wrong on this crucial issue?

“The real question today”

It’s not because pro-life supporters are not vocal and visible.

The National March for Life is tomorrow in Washington, DC. It will be followed by Sanctity of Life Sunday, both of which are timed to coincide with January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling that discovered a “right” to abortion in the US Constitution.

It’s no longer because of Roe v. Wade. After the Supreme Court overturned this horrendous ruling in 2022, returning the issue to the states, abortions increased nationwide.

It’s not because the science is unclear. The Supreme Court claimed in its 1973 ruling:

We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

But resolving “the difficult question of when life begins” is precisely the issue. If life begins at conception, our founding declaration that “all men are created equal” and endowed with the “unalienable” right to “life” should clearly apply to preborn babies. As should every legal protection that currently applies to babies from the moment they are born.

The science is clearer than ever. As Jan Langman writes in Medical Embryology, “The development of a human being begins with fertilization.” (For Princeton University’s large collection of scientific statements concurring with this assessment, click here.)

On the tenth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Ronald Reagan wrote the only book ever published by a sitting US president. In Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, he states:

The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether the tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law—the same right we have (his emphasis).

The foundational issue

Why, then, do so many Americans support the abortion of preborn children?

Some claim that abortion must be legal as an alternative for women who are victims of rape or incest. However, while such crimes are unspeakably horrific, only 1 percent of women who choose abortion do so for this reason.

Others cite the need to protect the health of the mother. However, only 3 percent of abortions are chosen for this reason.

In fact, the most popular motives for abortion are:

  • Unready for responsibility (21 percent)
  • Can’t afford baby now (21 percent)
  • Concerned about how having baby would change her life (16 percent)
  • Is too immature or young to have child (11 percent)
  • Has all the children she wanted or all children are grown (8 percent).

Here’s the foundational issue: most Americans want the right to determine what is right for themselves.

This is a major reason the majority of men in America want abortion to be legal under any circumstances: they want the state to have no authority over their personal decisions as well. And they want a woman who becomes pregnant with their unwanted child to be able to abort it.

This quest for personal autonomy extends to other moral issues. It helps explain LGBTQ advocacy by those who are not LGBTQ, for example. They not only see this as a civil right for others—they also want the right to live their lives however they wish.

How does God see America?

My purpose today is not to inflict guilt on those who have chosen abortion in the past. Nor is it to offer simple answers to such a divisive and complex issue.

Rather, it is to make this point:

Our democracy can function effectively only if it is practiced within the consensual morality its founders embraced.

As Benjamin Franklin noted, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

When American culture decided that all truth is personal and all morality is subjective, our collective future became imperiled.

If we will not extend justice to the most innocent and vulnerable among us—our preborn babies—how can we claim to be a just society?

How does the God who cherishes children (Matthew 19:14), who fashioned us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13–16; Jeremiah 1:5) and forbids the taking of innocent life (Proverbs 6:17), see our nation?

How is he calling you to love life as he does?

More resources on this topic from Denison Forum

Thursday news you need to know

Quotes for the day

  • “You shall not murder a child by abortion, nor again shalt thou kill it when it is born.” — Epistle of Barnabas 19:5, written between AD 70 and AD 132
  • “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.” — the original Hippocratic Oath

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