US States’ abortion bills reveal culture clash over unborn human life
States in the US are battling over the value of human life. Georgia’s state law now bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected—around 6 weeks gestation.1 A popular location for filming in the US because of tax breaks, many actors have said they will now boycott the state, while other actors slam the hypocrisy in this largely symbolic stand, as many of the ‘boycotters’ have never actually filmed anything in Georgia.2
Alabama has passed, by an overwhelming majority, the strictest abortion law in the nation, which would make abortion a felony in the state of Alabama, with no exceptions for rape and incest.3 Ohio bans private insurance companies from covering abortion costs.
These laws follow several states which have passed or attempted to pass laws which legalize abortion up to birth. New York’s abortion law goes beyond allowing abortion at any point up to birth, and even removes criminal penalties for harming an unborn child who is wanted by the mother.4 Virginia now allows non-physicians to perform first-trimester abortions.5 At the time of writing, more states are lining up on either side of the conflict to pass laws of their own.
These battles are being played out in state legislatures, because it is widely anticipated that a now conservative Supreme Court could overturn the 1973 decision Roe. v. Wade which legalized abortion across the nation, much as the court’s decision on Obergefell v. Hodges legalized gay marriage over the laws of various states. If Roe was overturned, the issue would go back to the states. Some states, like New York, would continue to allow almost unlimited abortions, while states with laws on the books limiting or completely criminalizing abortion would be able to enforce those laws.
Unborn babies are human—but are they people?
With the availability of 4D ultrasounds, it is impossible to maintain the old lie that unborn babies are just ‘blobs of tissue’. Science has also disproven the lie that the unborn child ‘recapitulates’ older stages of evolutionary development with gills and a tail at early stages of development. This is scientific fact-- the unborn child is human. Yet, lay people still misled by errors in textbooks and popular media call into radio shows with statements like “We are removing women’s rights just because of a zygote.”6 The encouraging news is that as high-definition ultrasounds become more and more common, young people have grown up seeing the photos of their unborn brothers and sisters on the fridge next to their own, and the celebration of wanted unborn life makes a dramatic impact when we’re discussing whether unwanted children at the same stage of development can be killed.
A culture that knows unborn babies are indeed human but continues to kill them in numbers greater than any holocaust in history is no better than the Caananites, who sacrificed their children by placing them in the bronze statue of Moloch to be burned alive. Pro-abortionists are outraged by what they consider to be the violation of women’s rights. But if the baby is a human, does it not also have rights?
Humanity vs ‘personhood’
But is the unborn human a person? That might seem like a strange question, but ‘ethicists’ are trying to move the goalposts by separating the category of ‘human’ and the category of ‘person’. To someone like Peter Singer, an intelligent creature like a pig could be a ‘person’ but not ‘human’, entitled to the legal protections afforded a ‘person’. However, a child early in development, even for a period after birth, would not qualify as a ‘person’ based on an arbitrary measurement of brain development.
However, we are rightly horrified by past atrocities committed against humans declared ‘nonpersons’. In the early 20th century, under eugenics laws, people declared ‘feebleminded’ could be sterilized and institutionalized for life. And the Nazis infamously killed millions of Jews, along with gypsies, disabled people, and other ‘undesirables’, who were also considered nonpersons.
The advances in care of unborn children and extremely premature children are making it harder to maintain the charade that the elective murder of these babies is equivalent to getting an appendectomy. It is possible to repair spina bifida and other problems in utero, and the most premature baby to survive was born at 21 weeks.
Education is the key to open the door to the Gospel
One might draw some analogies to the campaign of the great British abolitionist William Wilberforce in the 1800s. In a country and society that strongly held to slavery, it was just a cultural norm—even amongst Christians. Wilberforce campaigned tirelessly for many years and with great opposition, but he tried to educate society and particularly the lawmakers of the day that these slaves were indeed human beings. He sought to overcome ignorance about the issue. Abortion is the next great slavery debate for our nations as we continue to educate and overcome ignorance about the science of the unborn.
What has worth?
Pro-abortion activists often protest that it is unjust to have legal penalties or restrictions for women and doctors who have or perform abortions. This is usually a strawman argument because few abortion laws target the mothers, but most target the abortionist.
Is it wrong to penalize those who kill unborn children? Consider the penalties for disturbing the unborn of endangered species. Destroying a bald eagle egg can be punished with a jail sentence and/or hefty fine. The eggs of sea turtles are similarly protected. If we can recognize that even animals can be valuable enough for their unborn to be protected with such laws, surely unborn humans in God’s image should be given similar protections.
Changing the laws is only one step
Changing the laws is only one front of the battle. Governments can change and thus reverse the laws, just as is happening now. The Gospel changes hearts and minds, and ultimately that is how one changes a country and its laws. It is important that we protect the most vulnerable in our society with laws, but we have to remember that being pro-life is ultimately a Gospel issue. It’s possible for an unsaved woman to choose life for her child, and both of them eventually go to an eternity away from the Lord. So our pro-life efforts on all levels need to be visibly connected to the Gospel, or they will ultimately be for nothing.
In the light of a seemingly endless erosion of moral laws in our societies, we should be hugely encouraged by these developments. The battle over abortion laws shows us that Roe isn’t settled law, even more than 40 years later. Many other Western nations and their academics have often criticized the US and its citizens because of their strong religious roots and how it still permeates the culture today. One BBC commentator called it a return to the ‘dark ages’.7
Many Americans are not convinced by evolutionism, much to the dismay of academics both in the US and abroad. In part due to the work of creation ministries, and with the support of Bible-believing churches, evangelical Christians are leading the fight against the slaughter of unborn babies. From a biblical foundation, we can show that God has always affirmed what science now proves to be true—that from conception we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator, and that’s why it is wrong to murder human beings at any point in their life.
The states who are passing pro-life laws should be applauded for making a stand in the face of the inevitable criticism. We should be encouraged as we fight for the lives and the human rights of the smallest, most vulnerable members of the human family.
Our booklet Is Human Life Special? discusses the abortion debate along with many other topics such as eugenics. It affirms scientifically and theologically the specialness of humanity, and also revisits some of history’s atrocities performed in the name of evolution.
Amazing things are happening in the US. This is a great time for all Christians to revisit this issue and create awareness in your own communities and countries. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Why not give a copy to everyone in your church, particularly your youth who are on the front lines in dealing with these cultural views in their places of education?
References and notes
- French, D., No, Georgia’s heartbeat bill won’t imprison women who have abortions, National Review, 11 May 2019, nationalreview.com. Return to text.
- Bilger, M., Actor Dean Cain: Hollywood boycott of Georgia for banning abortions is an ‘absolute joke’, LifeNews, 13 May 2019, lifenews.com. Return to text.
- Elliott, D. and Wamsley, L., Alabama lawmakers pass bill banning nearly all abortions, NPR, 14 May 2019, npr.org. Return to text.
- Bilger, M., Attacker kills woman 5 months pregnant, New Yorks new abortion law says her baby isn’t a human being, LifeNews, 8 February 2019, lifenews.com. Return to text.
- Hafner, K., ‘Physician-only’ abortion restriction struck down in Virginia—but only for the first trimester, The Virginian Pilot, 7 May 2019, pilotonline.com. Return to text.
- Comment heard by Gary Bates on a NPR radio May 2019. Return to text.
- Ben Shapiro: US commentator clashes with BBC's Andrew Neil, youtube.com/watch?v=6VixqvOcK8E, accessed 16 May, 2019. Return to text.