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Friday, April 27, 2012

Christian Perspective on Abortion

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The Christian Perspective on Abortion





Abortion is the act of willfully removing a growing fetus from within the mothers’ body. Some people consider abortion to be wrong, while others feel that it is up to the mother as to what she would like to do with her body. Even though there is now a law that states that abortion is legal, and is not a form of murder, many people would tend to disagree. One of the main questions that Christians would ask is ‘What does the bible have to say about abortion?’ The bible never specifically says that abortion is wrong, but there are some verses that do provide indications as to God’s opinion on abortion. Due to the fact that the Bible does not support abortion, most Christians would feel that abortion is wrong, and therefore, believe that the act of abortion should not be accepted by the church.


How is an Abortion performed?


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There are four main techniques that are used in performing an abortion. There are a few different options that doctors may use for the first technique. The first technique is called Dilatation and Curettage, or D&C. With this form of abortion, the doctor dilates the woman’s cervix and then “inserts a loop-shaped steel knife, or curette, to cut the pre-natal human being and placenta into pieces; and, after cutting… the abortionist withdraws the pieces, generally through a suction tube” (Van Der Breggen 188, ). The next form, which is very similar to the D&C technique, is called suction abortion. The only difference with this technique is that the knife is on the end of the suction tube, thereby cutting and removing the baby simultaneously. Both of these techniques take place during the first three months of development, or the first trimester. The final option is called Dilation and Evaculation, or D&E. This form of abortion generally takes place after the first trimester, and involves a process called ‘“morcellation’, [which is] a process whereby the baby’s body is methodically dismembered and the baby’s head crushed, thereby allowing the [body] to be extracted, or evacuated, in piecemeal fashion” (Van Der Breggen 188, ). The advantage of this technique is that the mother can avoid the pain normally endured during childbirth. However, during these techniques, no anesthetic is provided for the baby. Since unborn babies can feel pain nine weeks after conception (Primm 1, ), the baby would be able to feel the knife cutting through them. So even though in the last technique the mother is released of her pain, the baby is not.


The second form of abortion usually preformed is the ‘installation technique’. This technique is characterized by the injection of a deadly chemical into the amniotic sac. This chemical, generally being a saline solution, is then inhaled by the baby, which causes the baby to become dehydrated, and also causes internal hemorrhaging. The final step that occurs during this form of abortion is that the skin of the baby is slowly corroded away. This process takes about an hour to complete, which means that the baby is killed slowly and painfully.


The prostaglandin abortion is the third technique. Prostaglandin is a chemical that when inserted into the muscles of the uterus, causes the uterus to violently contract. In this procedure, the baby is not killed directly by the chemical but by the contractions of the uterus. The fourth, and final, technique that can be used to abort a growing fetus is a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is preformed when the pregnancy is too far along to perform the other techniques, or when something went wrong during one of the other techniques. When the question is asked as to how an abortion is performed, Hank Van Der Breggen answers by saying that it is done “with barbarous brutality” (188,4).


Pro-choice View


People who call themselves ‘pro-choice’, are people who feel as though abortion should be up to the mother as to whether she aborts her fetus or not. This decision should be primarily based on the interest of the mother, but also partially based on the interest of the child. Pro-choice people tend to focus on the rights of the woman, personal and state freedoms, and the rights of the unborn baby. However, fetal rights are becoming less and less important. Abortion is seen as a very viable answer to the problem of having an unwanted pregnancy.


Legality


The abortion law has really helped the people who are pro-choice. Before this law came out, however, there were many different factors that were considered. One of the reasons that abortions were legalized was because people thought that if it were legal to have abortions there would be less ‘back-street’ abortions taking place (Gardener 17, 40). A warning was made clear that unless the act of abortion was legalized many women would have to go through the pain, and possible death, of having an abortion preformed by someone who was unqualified. Another key aspect of the abortion law is that it should be the women’s right to choose if they want their baby or not. The idea is that if the woman does not actually want a baby, then she would be doing the baby a favor by aborting it.


This leads to the next point in the abortion law; every child has a right to be wanted and to be healthy. Dr.W.H. states that “a child ideally should be born into a home where he or she was conceived in an atmosphere of love, where his or her arrival is contemplated and planned for and where provisions are made for his or her infancy and childhood” (Gardener 17, 44). This would indicate that if a child will not be able to grow up in a house where he or she will be loved and cherished, as a child should be, it should be aborted for the sake of the child. And due to the creation of the abortion law, abortions can be performed in a way that is less risky than it was when there were only back-street abortions taking place.


Is the fetus a human?


The question as to whether the fetus is a human or not, has been one of great enquiry for many years. Many people feel that since the fetus developed enough to live outside of its mother, it is not a person. The baby can only eat what its’ mother eats, and go where its’ mother goes, therefore, the fetus is simply part of its’ mother, and is not to be considered a person. With this in mind, abortion cannot be murder due to the fact that in order for a murder to occur, there must be an actual living person killed. According to most pro-choice supporters, the fetus is not a human.


It’s my body


Many people who are pro-choice feel that since the baby is still in the mother’s body at the time of the abortion, it is not murder. This is due to the fact that since the baby does everything that the mother does it must simply be a temporary addition to the mother herself. Most abortionists’ feel that the fetus is just part of it’s mother, and so there is no issue as to whether or not the mother has the right to remove something that she doesn’t want. The fetus has been described as “just a blob of tissue, nothing more than a tumor” (Primm 1, 1). When a fetus is thought of as nothing more than a tumor, there can be no issue in removing it. Just as a person may want a tumor removed from their body, a mother my want their baby removed.


Ethics and Morality


When it comes to the topic of abortion, many people wonder if it’s ethically or morally right. Is it justifiable to remove a growing fetus from within the mother’s body? Or should a baby be forced to grow up in a home where it is neither cared for nor loved? According to many pro-choicers, abortion is morally the right thing to do. It is a child’s right to be loved and taken care of, and if the parents will not meet this need then the child should not be. It would be better for the child to not live at all, than live a life of neglect and maltreatment.


Another issue that is very important in regards to the ethics of abortion is under what circumstances the child was conceived. It is a hard question to answer as to whether or not a person who becomes pregnant out of a rape situation should be forced to give birth to her child. Everyday of the nine-month term the mother would be reminded of what happened on the night she conceived. Is it ethically right to force the mother to continuously remember the trauma she may have gone through?


Since the baby is technically not a person yet, the baby does not have any rights, and it can’t be morally wrong to remove a blob of tissue from within the mother’s body. Therefore, the fetus is simply a new section of the mother’s body, and is not a person, so there can’t be any moral reasons to argue against the act of abortion. Or as others put it “a fetus is a human body lacking a human soul, … therefore abortion is not a moral issue, for the fetus is not yet a person” (Shoemaker 176, 4). Abortion is simply the removal of an unwanted fetus, and since the fetus is unwanted, then abortion is actually doing the unborn baby a favor.


Pro-life View


The pro-life view on abortion is that everybody has rights, including the fetus, so abortion is wrong. A pro-life person, or an anti-abortionist defines abortion as “the taking of [an] innocent human life” (Gorman 18, 5). Anti-abortionists value life, and feel that every fetus has a life worth saving. There are other alternatives offered to women who don’t want their babies, and therefore abortion is not a viable option.


Legality


Many people who agree with the pro-life stance on abortion would also agree that greater restrictions on the abortion laws would be good. While many people feel that the fetus is a person, “the Supreme Court decided that until viability the state has no compelling interest in the fetus” (Sproul 10, 1.). The government is so concerned about the strong overpowering the weak, but there seems to be no concern over helpless fetus’s being destroyed everyday. Most pro-life supporters would feel that the law should be stricter to reduce the number of abortions that are occurring purely because the mother does not want the inconvenience of having a baby.


Is the fetus a human?


Posing this question to a person who is against abortion will provide an answer that is quite different from the one who supports abortion. The question that is sometimes asked is, ‘what is necessary in order for something to be classified as a person?’ Some say that a human simply needs a body, while other say that since the baby needs its mother, the baby isn’t a person until birth, or until it reaches viability. Anti-abortionists would tend to differ. The fetus does have a body; the only different is that the baby’s body is still in its developmental stages. Nonetheless, there is most definitely a body present within the womb. The statement that suggests that the baby isn’t a person until it has reached viability may be proven to be wrong in a short period of time. Scientists are still working on the “test-tube baby,” and as soon as they are able to successfully have a fertilized egg grow into a fully developed baby, the age of viability will be gone. This is because the baby will have never needed its mother, making it viable from the time of conception (Shoemaker 176, .). This would make it so that no matter what stage of development the baby is in, the fetus has to be considered a person.


Ethics and Morality


People who are against abortions generally feel as though abortion is morally, and ethically, wrong. They usually feel that there is no justification for the murder of a developing baby. It is felt by many that every child has the right to live, and therefore performing an abortion is an infringement of the rights of the baby. Abortion has also been compared to the death penalty with the exception being that the baby has committed no wrong, yet is still put to death. Another ethical problem is determining when human life actually begins. Pro-choice followers feel that life does not officially being until the baby has been delivered, and has taken its’ first real breath of air. However, most people who are against abortion feel that the baby’s life has begun from the moment of conception, therefore deeming abortion as murder. Since everyone knows that murder is morally wrong, and is punishable by imprisonment or even death, it is felt that abortion should be treated with the same regard.


The Christian Response


The hardest thing about understanding how a Christian should respond to the act of abortion is that there are no actual verses that specifically mention abortion. There are references that indicate that God has chosen the events of each person’s life from the time of conception, but there is nothing that actually states that abortion is wrong. However, the knowledge that each person’s life has been pre-planned should serve as enough evidence against abortion.


Biblical Refutations to abortion


Jeremiah 15 provides an example of how God has a purpose for each person. It says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” God had planned that Jeremiah would be a prophet before he was even formed in his mother’s womb. Exodus 1-4 is another verse that can be used as a reference towards abortion. “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.


But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life.” This indicates that even though the woman would have been hit accidentally, if the baby were to die, the offender should also die. The difference between the situation in this verse and abortion is that abortion is the intentional destruction of the fetus, whereas in this case it is generally an accident.


Some information that is not found in the bible, but is still very important, is found in the Apostolic Constitution.


“The Apostolic Constitution (an eight-volume set of ecclesiastical literature compiled in the fourth century and reflecting the views of Christian theologians in previous centuries) testifies, ‘Thou shalt not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten, for everything that has been shaped and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged as being unjustly destroyed’” (Shoemaker 176, 51).


The views of a group of Christian theologians was that abortion was wrong because every person that God gives a soul to is supposed to live. There is also a Jewish belief that no baby can be conceived without the work of the Spirit. The main point that is supported throughout scripture is that God knew everyone before they were conceived, and that it was God who created each person in their mother’s womb. God has a purpose for everyone’s life, and by aborting the growing fetus God’s great and wonderful plans are being altered.


Ethics and Morality


Once again, there isn’t any specific evidence that blatantly supports one side or the other. However, there is the implication that abortion is morally wrong. This is primarily due to the fact that in Exodus, if a person causes a woman to have premature birth and the baby dies, that person too, must die. Another reason why abortion is wrong is that no one has the right to say that their body is their own. God is the one who created each and every person, so it is only God who can claim absolute rights to anyone’s body. Without there being specific evidence in the Bible against abortion, no one can say that the Bible says abortion is wrong. People can, however, say that since the Bible does show that God has plans for each person’s life before they are born, that it would be against God’s wishes to have an abortion.


A Personal Response


The reason why I chose to research abortion as my topic for this paper is because it’s a topic that is very close to me. One morning, my older sister developed a rash. Usually this would not have caused any concern, but for some reason my mom panicked. Now, the reason why this was strange is because my mom is a nurse, and is used to handling this kind of thing. However, my mom was so distraught, that she called my dad at work and insisted that he go with her, which he did. The doctor took one look at my sister, and decided that she had German measles. He then commented to her that it was good thing that she was not pregnant, because her baby would be deformed, and no one wants a deformed baby (German measles has been known to affect fetal development). My mom told him that she may, in fact, be pregnant because her period was five days late. She then underwent a pregnancy test, and when the test came back positive, the doctor informed her that she should abort me, and even called and booked her an appointment with the abortionist for the very next day. My mom, being very distraught over the news she had just heard, went home and got my dad to call their pastor. The pastor then recommended they see a doctor from their church. The next morning my dad called the new doctor, and told his receptionist, and wife, the story. My mom was told to come in right away. On the way to the doctor’s office my parents decided that no matter what the doctor said, abortion wasn’t an option for them. Upon further examination of my sister, it was declared that she, in fact, did not have German measles, and would therefore, be of no risk to me, or my developing body.


God played such a major role in my mom being reassured about not aborting me. Every time that she questioned her actions, God showed her that she made the right decision. The strangest even that happened was that there was a two part radio broadcast on at the time, and on this broadcast was a woman who was told to abort her baby because there was another child in the house with German Measles. Now for some reason my mom was unable to hear the second part, so she did not know how the broadcast ended. However, for no apparent reason, the radio station decided to replay the second part, and it happened to be when my mom was listening to the radio. In the conclusion of part two the woman decided to have her baby, and not abort it, and the baby was born perfectly healthy, with no deformities. This provided my mom with the reassurance that everything would be all right.


In a strange way, I have actually been baptized twice; once in the womb, and again by my own decision. My parents were baptized together while my mom was pregnant with me. Of course my mom had to get the doctors permission first, but seeing as her doctor was elder at the church and would be present, there wasn’t much of an issue. During my mom’s baptism, she said these verses to me,


“For you created me in my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes say my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 11-16).


These are some of my favorite verses because of the meaning that goes behind them. The best thing about these verses is that I also used them in my testimony when I was baptized. That made it so that instead of simply saying a verse that I really liked, I could share a verse that was given to me before I was born. The whole situation made those verses so much more meaningful to me.


Another thing that I learned through this whole ordeal was that doctors can be wrong. So many people think that doctors are always right, but they too are human and can make mistakes; I am living proof of that. If my mom had listened to what the first doctor told her, and decided to abort me, I would not be here today. I tend to take life for granted, but whenever I think about how easily I could have never existed, I just become so grateful for the life I have. I also go through days when I think that the world would have been a better place without me, but then I remember that that almost was the case and regret thinking about never existing. God had all of our lives written out before any of them came to be. He has amazing and perfect plans for every one of us, and we should never take our lives for granted. The Master Creator placed us here for a purpose.


After looking at the different views of abortion, and also examining what the Bible has to say, it becomes apparent that abortion truly is the wrong answer. There are so many people who want to have children but are incapable of it for some reason who would appreciate being able to adopt a baby who, for whatever reason, cannot remain with the birth parents. Everyone deserves to grow up in a family of love, and if the biological parents can’t meet this need, then let adoptive parents do it instead. Abortion should never be an option for unwanted pregnancies. No one should be allowed to intrude on God’s plan by murdering unborn babies. Everyone deserves the right to live. Therefore, abortions should not be accepted by the church because it is against God’s plan for the baby’s life. Pregnancies out of wedlock happen both inside and outside of the church, so people should be supportive and promote adoption within the church so that the girl doesn’t feel the need for an abortion to cover up her sin. Everyone sins, and abortion should be seen as much worse that getting pregnant. Everyone makes mistakes, but abortion should not be accepted as the solution. Reference List


Ganz, Richard L. ed. 178. Thou Shalt Not Kill. New Rochelle Arlington House Publishers.


Gardner, R. F. R. 17. Abortion The Personal Dilemma. Grand Rapids William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.


General Council of the United Church of Canada, 8th council. 18. Contraception and Abortion. Edmonton The United Church of Canada.


Gilbert, Jeff. 18. Abortion Perspectives. http//www.pottersschool.com/abortion.html


Gorman, Michael J. 18. Abortion & the Early Church Christian, Jewish & Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World. Downers Grove InterVarsity Press.


Hoffmeier, James K. ed. 187. Abortion A Christian Understanding and Response. Grand Rapids Baker Book House.


Kreeft, Peter. 18. The Unaborted Socrates A dramatic debate on the issues surrounding abortion. Downers Grove InterVarsity Press.


Montgomery, John Warwick. 181. Slaughter of the Innocents. Westchester Crossway Books.


New International Version Bible


Pavone, Frank A. 001. Priests For Life. http//www.priestsforlife.org/


Primm, Todd. 1. Fetal Development. http//www.sehlat.com/lifelink/data.html


Shoemaker, Donald. 176. Abortion, the Bible, and the Christian. Grand Rapids Baker Book House.


Sproul. R. C. 10. Abortion A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue. Colorado Springs Navpress.


Van Der Breggen, Hank. 188. An Enquiry Concerning Human Abortion. Burlington Crown Publications.


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