Published in Challenge Weekly in 2010
So it seems that, after Sweden, NZ has the second highest abortion rate in the developed world. Last year alone, 4000 NZ teenage girls had abortions. Last week Close Up (Oct 28) told the story of Rachel who, with dreams of being a professional dancer, had an abortion after giving no thought to keeping or adopting out her baby. Such is the world we now live in.
On Close Up Mark Sainsbury described this as shocking; yet in the same breath says, 'the issue is not about the rights and wrongs of abortion, the issue is about why so many teenagers end up in this position.'
With respect to Mark Sainsbury, it is not just about too many teenage abortions, but it is about the rights and wrongs of abortion. Every year in NZ some 18,000 babies are aborted. Globally, in the last 40 years, over a billion abortions have been conducted. Surely the question of the rights and wrongs of abortion remain!
The evidence suggests from a Christian worldview, it is not right. Abortion was a big issue in the Greco-Roman world at the time of Christ, a part of daily life and practiced extensively. Aristotle and Plato approved of abortion. While not explicit, the evidence suggests however, that Judaism rejected intentional abortion.
While the NT does not expressly say so, the church from its inception rejected abortion. The Didache (AD 70-100) states, 'you shall no slay your child by abortion.' Other Christian writers like Tertullian saw it as murder.
Some arguments against abortion include: 1) A person's life and personhood begins at conception when development begins; 2) God's creation and sovereign guidance of the baby in the womb (e.g. Gen 25:23; Jer 1:5; Lk 1:15; Gal 1:15); 3) The incarnation whereby God became flesh in Mary's womb (Matt 1:18, 21; Lk 1:35). It is inconceivable that abortion is acceptable to God after his Son became a zygote to grow and save the world! 4) The commands not to kill (e.g. Exod 20:13); 5) The rights of the weak and defenseless have priority over the strong i.e. the unborn child's rights supersede that of the mother. Theologically, the only time abortion seems arguably defensible is when the child's life is medically non-viable and/or when one has to choose between baby and mother.
Abortion in my view is the greatest social evil in today's world. As upholders of life, we must not flag in zeal to challenge it. Let us work at every level to see this horror ended. We must do so out of grace for those who carry guilt and grieve over abortion. But we must persevere. I see it as parallel to slavery in the 17-18th century which took centuries to overcome. As with slavery, it may take years, but we need to continue to stand. May God raise up a new generation of those who will determinedly and with grace continue the fight for life. Go deeper!