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Abortion ‘Choices’


Published: 5 October 2020 (GMT+10)

The following meme shows up on social media once in a while:


On the surface, this seems like a reasonable argument. The idea is that each of these items is a matter of personal choice that does not affect anyone else, so should not be curtailed. We will not spend time here discussing the criteria for establishing various laws (i.e. whether something does/does not hurt someone else). So without getting into whether cigarette smoke or guns can potentially harm others, let’s consider abortion. This is not merely a case of personal preference and there is no question that another human being is harmed by it.

Pro-choice advocates like to frame the debate as simply a matter of ‘choice’. The argument is that a woman has a right to choose what happens to her body and how dare anyone infringe on her personal freedoms by compelling her to do something that will have a profound impact on her life? Since it is considered to be entirely a woman’s decision, men aren’t even supposed to have an opinion. But if evolution is true, can there even be freedom of choice? If our thoughts are simply the result of chemical reactions, how can we trust them? Freedom to choose comes from God, who allowed us this freedom so we could choose to love Him and do His will, not choose our own selfish desires.

Let us examine the question of ‘choice’ a little further. There are actually three choices at play here.

Choice 1

The most obvious choice is whether to abort a preborn child. In contemplating this, we must acknowledge that there is another human life at stake. No one, male or female, should be allowed to choose whether to kill another human being with impunity. One of the reasons we have law s is to protect people from the harmful choices of others. Consider also that the aborted child does not get a choice; and roughly half of them are female. It’s ironic that our culture finds it necessary to prohibit smoking in public places to protect others from second-hand smoke, but will not protect a preborn child from abortion. There are even warnings on cigarette packs to indicate smoking may harm the baby. Should we put such warnings up at abortion clinics, I wonder?

It used to be argued that a preborn child is not a human being. Haeckel’s fraudulent embryo drawings were sometimes used to support this argument; suggesting the fetus went through evolutionary stages of development (e.g. fish, reptile) and was therefore, not yet human. Sometimes, a fetus was referred to as a “cluster of cells” or “lump of flesh”. 4D ultrasound technology has proven these ideas false. Also, a person has his/her own unique DNA from the very first cell which means that there is a unique human being at every stage from conception to death. Embryonic research has completely debunked the idea that humans during development retrace evolutionary stages. But it is still in textbooks. Some argue that, although the fetus is not part of the woman’s body, she still has a right to abort the child because the child is inside her body. But Scripture teaches us the preborn child is worthy of consideration as a distinct human being. (Exodus 21:22–23).

The Bible tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). In fact, we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which is why murder is so serious. Killing someone means destroying that image. Scripture indicates that a preborn child is considered human while still in the womb. Consider Rebekah’s twin sons, who “struggled together within her”, referred to by God as “Two nations” in [her] womb” (Genesis 25: 22–23). In Luke 1:44, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy when Mary arrives carrying the preborn Jesus. The word used for ‘baby’ here is the Greek word brephos, also used to refer to baby Jesus in Luke 2:12. Clearly, children in the womb are as important to God as those already born.

Choice 2

Another choice is made even before conception. One could add to the above list: “Don’t want a baby? Don’t do the thing that makes babies.” Having sex without birth control includes the risk of pregnancy, but contraceptives are not 100% effective either. The only 100% effective method of preventing conception is abstinence. In any other scenario, one must acknowledge the possibility of pregnancy, just as driving a car while impaired carries with it the risk of hurting someone, regardless of the driver’s intentions. Just as one ought to make plans not to drive even before starting to drink, one ought to consider all the possible implications of having sex.

The debate really circulates around a person’s freedom to have sex without taking responsibility for one of the potential outcomes of that act. When God “made them male and female” to “become one flesh”(Genesis 2:24), this involved a commitment to one another and any resulting offspring. In fact, God also said, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Can you imagine how people might operate differently in our culture if they lived by this standard?

A variation of the above-mentioned meme ends with something like, “your religion dictates what you can’t do, but it doesn’t dictate what others can’t do”. In other words, your religion has nothing to do with reality (which affects everyone); it is just a personal opinion, so keep your religion and morals to yourself. This line of thinking ignores the fact that religion (or Christianity at least) compels believers to protect the helpless. No one has an issue with protecting children from abusive parents or the marginalized from discrimination and bullying. So how much more should we protect the preborn from murder?

But if evolution is true, why bother caring for anyone else? If there is no God, there is no objective morality, so we can do whatever we want. If it feels good, do it, and if hurting others (e.g. lying) helps your lineage survive, go ahead. Some evolutionists have even suggested rape is justifiable. Evolution is not about personal survival but survival of the species. The one who has the most offspring wins. Ironically, abortion runs counter to that.

Rape is often cited as justification for abortion.1 Why should a woman who has been raped be forced to give birth to the rapist’s child? Rape is a heinous act condemned by Scripture (Deuteronomy 22:25, 28–29), but as you’ve probably heard, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. I know of no other scenario in which it is considered acceptable to retaliate against an innocent third-party for a wrong that’s been committed. We rarely hear of someone getting mugged and then stealing the neighbour’s car to retaliate against the mugger.

Choice 3

This brings us to the third choice, and for this, I will pose a hypothetical scenario. Suppose a woman finds out she is pregnant. Pro-choice advocates would assert that she alone has the choice to abort or not, as it is her body. Suppose she decides to keep the baby, or at least carry it to term. Now, an extraordinary thing tends to happen. Over the next several months, that woman is likely to make choices she wouldn’t have made previously. If she drinks or smokes, studies indicate she is likely to stop doing so during pregnancy.2,3 Studies also indicate she will probably choose a healthier diet.4 Many in our culture would probably encourage such choices. Why?

One could argue these are all beneficial to the woman’s health, but why make those changes now? And if it is her body, what right do we have to advise her anyway? The truth is, this woman is now more likely to make choices that take her preborn child into consideration, but that same child was not worthy of consideration when deciding whether to abort. What changed?

All that has changed is how the woman thinks about her child. He/she is no longer an impersonal clump of cells or a fish, but a human being. She may even be thinking of potential names. A key decision every pregnant woman has to make is whether or not the child is human and therefore, worthy of her esteem. In most cases, once the child is deemed human, letting the child live becomes a no-brainer. There are those who claim the child may be human, but is not a “person”. The distinction between “personhood” and “humanity” is rather fuzzy; but why even make such a distinction unless it is to justify what would otherwise be an unthinkable act? Denying ‘personhood’ to certain people has historically led to terrible atrocities, such as slavery and the Holocaust.

God alone is Creator and God alone determines our worth. Preborn children are made in His image from the very first cell and are loved by Him. They are not to be dismissed as objects of personal ‘choice’.

References and notes

  1. There are estimated to be about 6 million pregnancies in the United States per year. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/05/01/almost-half-of-pregnancies-in-the-u-s-are-unplanned-theres-a-surprisingly-easy-way-to-change-that/. According to one study, an estimated 32,101 pregnancies per year are a result of rape. That’s amounts to just over 0.5% of all pregnancies. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8765248/. Return to text.
  2. According to a longitudinal study done in the UK in 2017, “Smoking in pregnancy is associated with increased risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight, perinatal morbidity and mortality, neonatal and sudden infant death, infant respiratory problems, poorer infant cognition and adverse infant behavioural outcomes.” The same study claims “Pregnancy is probably the event which most motivates female smokers to try quitting; for example, in the UK, over 50% of pregnant smokers try to stop” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5695489/#:~:text=Over%20half%20(55.7%25%2C%2095,trying%20to%20stop%20after%20childbirth. Return to text.
  3. A 2016 paper indicates similar statistics for drinking: 41.3 % of women did not drink during pregnancy; 27 % drank in first trimester only, most of whom stopped once they realised they were pregnant (87 %). Muggli, E., O’Leary, C., Donath, S. et al. “Did you ever drink more?” A detailed description of pregnant women’s drinking patterns. BMC Public Health 16, 683 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3354-9. Return to text.
  4. 70 percent of women surveyed said they started eating healthier when they became pregnant. https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/what-pregnant-women-really-eat/#:~:text=You%20Have%20a%20Love%2DHate,of%20fruits%20and%20vegetables%20recommended. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Is Human Life Special?
by Gary Bates and Lita Cosner
US $3.50
Soft Cover
Life Before Birth
by Gary E Parker
US $13.00
Hard Cover
US $10.00

Readers’ comments

Michael K.
A rhetorical question I like to ask when presented with the social media meme at the beginning of this article is: “Don’t like slavery? Don’t own a slave.” It helps to illustrate that the line of reasoning the meme follows can’t be applied universally. As most people today would not agree with the implications of the above statement, they may better understand why I don’t agree with the similar one on abortion.

Again, in response to a statement like the one you mentioned that comes as a variation to the conclusion of the meme, “your religion dictates what you can’t do, but it doesn’t dictate what others can’t do”. You could ask, “So that is your religion?”. It helps illustrate that the statement contradicts itself. They imply that they are making a statement that is outside of religion, but in reality it is something “they” believe. If they believe (and a religion is a system of beliefs) that “your religion doesn’t dictate what others can’t do” then their religion doesn’t either and so the statement is invalid. Self contradiction.

Excellent article. Thank you.
Adele P.
Re your response to my first comment, I did not fail to mention Jesus's first stand: I meant it in "while divorce was never part of God's original plan" (we're limited with words here). Jesus's "upping the ante" regarding Murder (under which abortion would fall, I'd think?) in Matt.5:21-26 was "22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." His point was always that we are unable to reach those levels of righteousness and therefore we all fall short of the glory of God, thus needing a Saviour and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I'm sure most of the women seeking an abortion lack the latter... And we know that Pharisee-like behaviour has done little to change that, but Jesus's uncondemning approach with a call to repentance did (John 8:1-11, the casting of the first stone on the adulterous woman). To answer your question, I honestly don't think Jesus will have a 'concession clause' on abortion (or any sin), but He may be OK with our flawed laws permitting it...? It's not about justifying anything, but just trying to find a practical way of dealing with the resultant problem of hardened hearts, like Moses did... Yes, abortion in and of itself is not a complex issue - the answer is Biblically very simple, but the tangled mess of sin surrounding it makes it complex for us humans (esp. unsaved ones) to deal with. As Jesus' conversation on divorce ended in Matt.19: "10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry. 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given..."
Thomas Bailey
Thank you for the clarification. No disagreement here regarding "the tangled web of sin" vs biblical ideals. Please note, the thrust of the article was in support of biblical ideals as opposed to those of the world. It has never been easy for believers to be compassionate toward others while upholding biblical truth. Thank you for the reminder that we all fall short in some way.
Adele P.
I've just watched the documentary "Reversing Roe", which exposes the decades-long political campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade (the 1973 case that legalised abortion in the USA). As a non-American, non-political Christian woman looking from the outside in, I was thinking people always tend to polarise a complex issue! I'm sure we all can see the obvious argument for each side, so there is clearly more to this than just black & white that is complicating the issue. I then thought of when the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce (Matt.19:1-12). While divorce was never part of God's original plan, Moses permitted divorced because their "hearts were hard". And then Jesus himself added a clause to his statement on divorce: "except for sexual immorality"...

The problem with the "pro-life" supporters is the way they're going about it: totally self-righteous like the Pharisees, not taking into account any severe cases (i.e. lacking compassion), while the "pro-choice" supporters are really carrying the entire scar of women's oppression into this. I absolutely agree that abortion is murder, but surely compensation should be made for those who are victims of abuse?? And more ideally, care should be given more to the roots of these problems (like why are there so many unwanted pregnancies? Here are the "hardened hearts" to minister to...), than just the 9 months of the resulting problem, which will obviously continue well into the future if life was chosen... Where are the fervent "pro-lifers" then? God help us!
Thomas Bailey
I agree that attention must be given to the roots of why there are so many unwanted pregnancies (such as irresponsible fathers, sex trafficking, drug abuse, etc.), as well as numerous other injustices in the world; but one wrong does not justify another. Ultimately, the antidote for all evil in our world is the gospel. It's true that pro-lifers can appear 'self-righteous' in opposing one particular problem which tends to get all the attention. Most people (including Christians) tend to focus more on certain topics they're passionate about, but it doesn't mean they don't care about other issues as well. I would submit that pro-lifers do care about what happens to mothers and babies after birth (and are often at the forefront of compassionate care ministries).

The world claims abortion is a complex issue, but biblically, it is not (/abortion-the-answers-in-genesis). In reference to Jesus, we find that He often 'upped the ante' in reference to Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:21-48) as opposed to making concessions. In regard to Matthew 19:1-12, you failed to mention that Jesus first upheld God's intention for marriage, regardless of the concession Moses had made. His "sexual immorality" clause here is a just response in a case where the marriage covenant has already been broken. It does nothing to dissuade from God's ideal of marital fidelity. Now I must ask, where is Jesus' concession clause for abortion?
Richard A.
The Psalmist says 'in sin did my mother conceive me'. So from the very first cell God regards us as having an eternal soul and that we are created 'in the image of God.' No man or woman has the right to end that life at any stage. We recently legalized abortion in my country and now a Bill on 'Assisted dying' is going through our Government. This is the logical next step if we allow abortion. No wonder that God is annoyed and allowing us endure the current pandemic.
Thomas Bailey
I share your concern - even horror- at such disregard of human life. Of course, this isn't surprising when people and governments adopt an unbiblical (dare I say, evolutionary) worldview. But I would hesitate to ascribe Covid-19 to God's punishment for abortion and euthanasia. There will be judgement because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"(Romans 3:23). That's why our world needs Christ, as do we. In the meantime, God "makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45b).
Ian B.
Its all very well talking about man made abortion..you seem to have missed out natural abortions..ie miscarriages. Which FAR outweigh the others (1 in 4 end in miscarriage) and sadly these are children that are actually wanted. Yet God given safety systems detecting irregularities in the development of the baby end its life . This raises many ethical questions..like doesn't God want damaged babies for one ? As one person wrote in the comments..there are well developed arguments from both sides of the pro life pro choice argument yet the problem is more complex than we realise. One other point I have trouble reconciling with that you raised is..If you dont want babies dont have sex ! I take it that you view contraception as akin to abortion. Where one implicitly ends a pregnancy and the other ends it by not allowing it to start. hence your view that sex is only a procreation activity, I think you will find quite a large number disagreeing with you.
Thomas Bailey
Miscarriages are certainly very sad for everyone concerned, but they are beyond the scope of this article, which was to examine the choices made by people that are related to the deliberate ending of a human life by way of abortion. And as you've implied, miscarriages are actually in a different category from abortions. See /abortions-vs-miscarriages. The question of why God allows miscarriages at all is a much broader one, involving the results of living in a fallen world that includes disease, injustice, wars, etc. Why doesn't God, in His sovereignty, intervene to save every human life? Why does He allow bad things to happen? Why do children get sick after they've been born? These are questions we've addressed several times elsewhere ( eg /why-death-suffering). But just because bad things happen is never a justification for deliberately taking a human life.

I would question the validity of suggesting "God doesn't want damaged babies". First, I would ask, "damaged" by who's standards? There have been many children born with severe mental and physical challenges who are loved by their parents and by God. Are those "safety systems" you mention meant as a mechanism for God to deliberately eliminate certain children, or are they simply part of a much larger picture in which a sovereign God allows terrible things to occur? By the way, we could insert a side note here about the high percentages of babies with developmental issues, such as Downs Syndrome, that are deliberately aborted, not by God, but by people (/down-syndrome-abortion).

Finally, it was not my intention to take a position on contraception within the context of a committed marriage covenant. Sometimes, there are health reasons why married couples need to avoid pregnancy, as one example. Certainly, God intended sex to be a beautiful and pleasurable experience between a husband and wife, as well as for procreation (Genesis 1:28, 2:24). But like so many beautiful things God created, sex is often abused for selfish reasons; often by those who are not in a committed marriage covenant. Since abstinence is the only 100% effective method of contraception, couples who choose to have sex ought to be aware of the potential for pregnancy. If they (married or otherwise) don't want a child, they ought to take responsibility for their actions, if not before conception, then after.
Tim C.
How is it that a joyfully expectant mother will do everything possible to keep her baby alive
Health services have teams of doctors and entire wards set up to preserve the life of a premature baby
The embryo is a child and worth fighting for. Yet there are those in our society who will call the child a fetus and fight to kill it. How can the government spend millions in trying to save a life and then promote killing it.
Nicholas S.
The gravity and urgency of absolute reasoning required regarding abortion.Where are the interviews of the post abortion mothers?We know someone who,after 50 years,still suffers remorse,loss.Life is a continuum,from potential progeny life before conception,to then life at conception,in the first day,the first cell 3 billion information DNA is given for the individual baby i.e.from conception=the developing Human Being;developing Human Being to birth;developing Human Being to complete adulthood,about between early 20's to early 30's (variable between individuals) i.e.to fully developed prefrontal cortex of the brain completion.Before fully developed prefrontal cortex: e.g.sometimes possible,unjustifiable,spontaneous decisions.After fully developed prefrontal cortex: e.g.making decisions dependent upon and taking into account consequences.Therefore,developing Human Being from conception to complete adulthood and beyond=Humanity.In Human history,people have in many different circumstances,risked and even given their lives to save others,for the love of Humanity,John15:13.Jesus Loved us even before we were His friends
There is wonderful,fruitful Biological Science Research achievement keeping the developing Human Being in the womb for full gestational term.It has been determined to be the foundation for optimizing opportunity for the best health outcome for the Human Being,from birth to the remainder of their life.Research for love of Humanity
Therefore,except for real,very dire,extreme jeopardy biological reason when fatal for the mother,there must be otherwise reasonable ways of dealing with quote 'unwanted'pregnancy,e.g.(of many)Counselling,during and after pregnancy;practical and financial help from numerous genuine community care organisations;etc; adoption,Isaiah 1:17
Jack H.
To start with: I believe purposeful abortion is an atrocity. Whether from a religious or secular point of view: it is MURDER for convenience and/or profit. PERIOD. There are alternative methods for obtaining STEM cells now, but I have no doubt the Godless Science Charlatans prefer those of dead babies

The people who get abortions are those who chose to have sex but did not want to become pregnant.
IMO, that is a very simple to understand concept and SHOULD BE the focus of our attention.

#1 BC pills, as of today, are really not safe for the women using them. Hormone manipulation as a palliative measure to help decrease the pain associated with menses is fine BUT the pill is just not a safe, healthy long term way to prevent pregnancy #2 Abstinence is fine for the young devoutly religious who believe sex before marriage is a sin, but what if after marriage, the couple is not ready for the life-long commitment of parenthood? And what about the overwhelming majority of people who are not really religious? Abstinence is not an option they even consider. #3 Barrier BC devices like condoms can be effective but they are inconvenient, interfere with the physical/mental pleasure of spontaneous sex and have been proven to not be a wide spread choice for preventing unwanted pregnancies

All, whether secular or religious, who despise abortion being used as birth control should JOIN hands & DEMAND that several billion of the trillions being spent to kill God's children overseas, be diverted to research into non-permanent safe, effective & convenient birth control solutions for both MEN & WOMEN.

It takes TWO to create an unwanted life and both should have effective, safe and practical BC choices so the ABORTION choice never becomes one they must ponder.
Great points - If it is about cholce - then why do we not consider the choice of the little unborn person?

Did you know that CMI has a free book available on the topic of Abortion? _Lives of the Innocents_ is an excellent book that gives direction and suggestions for proclaiming the love of God in the face of authorities who deny the existence of God and disregard His design for us as beings created in His image from the moment of conception.

[link deleted per feedback rules]Lives_of_Innocents-English.pdf
Thomas Bailey
Hi James. Thanks for pointing this out. I have a little proverbial 'egg' on my face, as I was not personally familiar with this resource. Just an indication of how much information there is available at creation.com. :)
Abe M.
I'm sure I'm off tangent here. What would be the response from God's word when God takes the lives of infant children (if I'm recalling correctly from the OT) to the unbelievers who would level the accusations against God of "being a jealous murderer"? I think I'm familiar with two: that infants/babies/unborn babies/toddlers return to his presence after death, and that God is Omniscient (only he can see the full life of all human life, including lives who are born and will reject him even at their final breath, and sadly spend eternity in Hell, thus for taking their lives at infancy, he is 'saving' them). Any clarification/understanding is welcome. =).
Thomas Bailey
You certainly do raise some interesting questions which go beyond the scope of this article. These are theological questions about God's justice and the role of God's omniscience in salvation. Specifically, what happens to infants(and others) who have never heard the gospel? I recommend starting with the following articles that touch on these topics: /god-moral-monster, /bible-immoral-book, /never-heard-gospel.
Jaroslav L.
there is also another problem associated with abortions. I have found that in the Czech Republic, for example in 2016, "controversial abortions" made up to 51% of all abortions. By "controversial abortions" I mean a) abortions made because of health issues associated either with a woman´s pregnancy or some complications with fetus + b) miscarriages. It seems that strangely high percentage of women have serious problems to carry a baby to term resp to give a birth to a baby.

In other words it seems to me that there is a lot of fight between pro-life and pro-abortions people while the problem of abortions is more complicated.
Nigel B.
There's a well known US apologist who starts one of his lines with 'do you think torturing babies for fun is OK?' Most of his interlocutors are horrified at the idea. But this is exactly what abortion is. Maybe not for fun proximately, but for convenience...which gets rid of a risk to fun.

As a civilisation we now have no right to criticise the Caananite Moloch worshipers.
Frank G.
As with many clever "talking points," the logic in the meme's arguments is fatally flawed. It's like saying "Don't like crime? Don't commit any. Don't like murder? Don't commit one."
Robert R.
abortions increase risk of cancer i've seen in studies (and other problems)

even with rape you have 2 victims and 1 criminal. best thing is to give kid up for adoption if you don't want it. these days you can get $200,000 to $500,000 for giving a child up for adoption.
Thomas Bailey
Although I haven't personally looked into a connection between abortion and cancer, there are definitely a number of negative consequences for the mother, which are seldom mentioned. See /how-abortion-harms-women. While I wouldn't necessarily advocate the adoption option for purely monetary gain (and I don't expect that was your intention), it's certainly a better plan for all concerned. Some monetary incentive may be of help to those who feel they can't afford to give birth(much less raise a child). I just hope it doesn't result in anyone getting pregnant just for the sake of the money.
Richard B.
Thank you for the article.

A minor typo crept in at the conclusion:

“Preborn children are made His image from the very first cell and are loved by Him.” made IN His image

Kind regards,
Richard Baggarley
Thomas Bailey
You are correct sir! Thanks for pointing that out. :)
Geoff C. W.
If the woman has the right to choose what happens to her body, doesn't the preborn child also have that right? Obviously the baby is unable to choose, so it's up to the state to make that decision. The state has laws against murder, so it's clear what the choice should be.
I also like to talk about three choices - the man chooses to have sex, the woman in most cases [chooses] to have sex. That leaves one other choice, and one other involved person who has not yet had the opportunity to make a choice. Let the baby decide whether to be killed.
Phil P.
Excellent article . Says it all
King T.
Quote from a YouTube comment: "The woman's body now has 4 eyes, 4 legs, 4 arms, 4 hands and a whole lots of extra organs".

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