As we move through January, the topic of abortion in the United States is often given more spotlight. Abortion was fully legalized in this month in the 1973 Roe V. Wade case. For that reason, some have made January into Sanctity of Life month, in remembrance for the lives lost. You may also have heard about the recent March for Life in Washington D.C. Then again you might not have, given the tendency for the media to awkwardly ignore the massive gathering every year.
Every election year this issue becomes one of the most important questions candidates must answer. But why is this such a big deal, especially to Christians? Why do Christians care so much about abortion? Maybe you’re in favor of abortion being legal and cannot understand why conservatives get so vigorous about this issue. Or maybe you consider yourself pro-life, but want to better understand the arguments. Whichever side you land on, I’d like to give you the primary reasons that Christians often oppose abortion.
The Basic Argument
The basic pro-life argument can be described in three short points.
- 1. It is morally wrong to take the life of an innocent human being.
- 2. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.
- 3. Abortion is morally wrong.
If points 1 and 2 are true, the conclusion of point 3 is true. In order to argue in favor of abortion, one must do one of two things. Disprove the first point, and show that murdering innocents can be morally acceptable, or disprove the second and show that abortion does not take the life of a human being.
Along with the logical argument above, philosophy also comes in when discussing whether the unborn are human. You may have heard some say that a fetus is not a person, but is merely a potential person, or simply a clump of cells. When it comes down to it though, the only differences between an unborn fetus and a fully grown adult are Size, Level of development, Environment, and Degree of Dependency. Just remember that SLED acronym. But none of those are proper justification to take an innocent life. We don’t kill someone because they’re smaller, less intelligent, in a different location, or more dependent and vulnerable. Most people tend to think the vulnerable are more needing of protection, not death.
Contrary to what you may have heard, science can actually be a very valuable tool for the pro-life case. Through the science of embryology, we have no reason to think that the unborn fetus is any less human than an adult. In The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm…unites with a female gamete or oocyte…to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” This conclusion is echoed almost universally in this field. After all, what else could it be but human? Trying to argue scientifically that two humans reproduced something non-human would be the real difficulty here.
A common mischaracterization of the pro-life view is that it stems exclusively from the Bible and religion. The above points should be enough to convince them otherwise. That being said, to understand why Christians are so passionate about it, you must understand this issue from a Christian perspective. Just remember that even a die-hard atheist can reasonably hold these views too.
The Christian story begins with God creating man in his image. This means humans have value because God gave it to them, not because of what they’ve done or whether they’re wanted. If the unborn are human, abortion is shedding of innocent blood, something clearly condemned through scripture, such as Deuteronomy 19:10, or Proverbs 6:16. But it equally condemns the passive acceptance of the innocent shedding of blood, such as in Psalm 82:3-4. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, can we truly do that while letting them be slaughtered? That is why not only Christians cannot actively support abortion, but also cannot simply let it go and not interfere as if it’s not our problem.
The Death Toll
The numbers are less an argument and more a reminder of the stakes and urgency. Combining data from the Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control, there were approximately 1.06 million abortions in the United States In 2011. Averaged out, this comes in at about 2900 abortions everyday in America alone. To put that into perspective, that’s roughly the same amount of people who died in the attacks on September 11th 2001. The numbers are going down slightly, coming closer to 2500 per day, but the significance remains the same.
Obviously this leaves a lot of questions and issues unanswered. Ultimately it comes down to those simple questions. Is the unborn fetus a living human being, and does abortion unjustly take that life? If the answer to both of those is yes, the other issues may be important, but are ultimately secondary. A death toll equivalent to a 9/11 attack every single day should be enough to give us pause and not ask “Why do Christians care so much about abortion?” But instead, “Why doesn’t everyone else?”
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