@imbryant First and foremost, I think this is one of those topics where we need to be especially careful to extend respect, grace and compassion for those who disagree with us. There are people who have had abortions and need healing - the last thing we want to do is come across as condemning.
That said, I find this entire business about trying to identify ‘when’ a fetus becomes truly self-conscious to be an attempt at evading the real issue. Whether or not the fetus is self-conscious when it is killed, it would inevitably have grown to become self-conscious. It is as if you got in a time machine, went back into the past and murdered someone in order to prevent their descendants from being born. Well, if you did that, whose murder would you be responsible for? Just the one you killed or all the others as well?
I think the Biblical perspective is three fold:
- we are made in God’s image
- only God has the right to give or take a life
- sacrificial love is more important than self-preservation or ‘quality of life’
Here are a few articles you may find helpful on this topic:
Malcolm Muggeridge - The Humane Holocaust
No one could have put the matter more cogently and authoritatively than has Dr. Leo Alexander, who worked with the Chief American Counsel at the Nuremberg Tribunal:
Whatever proportion these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually, the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted, and finally all non-Germans. But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which the entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude towards the non-rehabilitable sick
The sanctity of life is, of course, a religious or transcendental concept, and has no meaning otherwise; if there is no God, life cannot have sanctity. By the same token, the quality of life is an earthly or worldly concept, and can only be expressed legalistically, and in materialistic terms; the soul does not come into it. Thus a child conceived in conditions of penury, or with a poor heredity, or against its mother’s wishes, or otherwise potentially handicapped, may be considered as lacking the requisite quality of life prospects, and so should not be born. Equally, it follows, at the other end of our life span, that geriatrics unable any longer to appreciate what this world has to offer in the way of aesthetic, carnal and egotistic satisfaction, in other words, by virtue of their years losing out on quality of life, should be subjected to euthanasia or mercy-killing, and discreetly murdered.
On this basis, for instance, Beethoven would scarcely have been allowed to be born; his heredity and family circumstances were atrocious, a case history of syphilis, deafness and insanity. Today, his mother’s pregnancy would be considered irresponsible, and as requiring to be terminated. Dr. Johnson, when he was born, was scrofulous, and already showed signs of the nervous disorders which plagued him all his life. He, too, under present conditions, would probably not have been allowed to survive. Indeed, a good number of the more notable contributors to the sanctity of life, like Dr. Johnson, would have failed to make the grade on qualify of life, the supreme example being the founder of the Christian religion. Imagine a young girl, unmarried and pregnant, who insists that the Holy Ghost is responsible for her pregnancy, and that its outcome, according to a vision she has been vouchsafed, would be the birth of a long-awaited Messiah. Not much quality of life potential there, I fancy, and it wouldn’t take the pregnancy and family-planning pundits long to decide that our Saviour, while still at the fetus stage, should be thrown away with the hospital waste.
A Historical Test
Simply from the standpoint of abortion’s potential impact upon history, test your
knowledge of historical figures by considering the following four situations:
- A preacher and wife who are very, very poor already have 14 kids. Now she finds out she’s pregnant with the 15th. They’re living in tremendous poverty. Considering their
poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending she get an abortion?
- The father is sick with sniffles (syphilis), the mother has TB (tuberculosis). Of four
children, the first is blind, the second is dead, the third is deaf, and the fourth has TB.
She finds she’ pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you consider
- A white man raped a 13 year old black girl and she got pregnant. If you were her parents, would you consider recommending abortion?
- A teenage girl is pregnant. She’s not married. Her fiancé is not the father of the baby, and he’s very upset. Would you consider recommending abortion?
In the first case, if abortion was chosen, you have just killed John Wesley, one of the great evangelists in the 19th century. In the second case, if abortion was chosen, you would have killed Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all time. In the third case, if abortion was chosen, you would have killed Ethel Waters, the great gospel singer. And if you chose abortion in the fourth case, you would have murdered Jesus Christ!
C. S. Lewis - Good Goal Wrong Way
Lewis points out that evil is generally done in pursuit of something that in and of itself would be good. For example, in the context of abortion, we want young women to have a good life - to be educated and free from unnecessary burdens. That is a good goal. But abortion is a twisted means of attempting to get to that end. It may seem to us that this young woman could never succeed or be happy if she had this child at this age, but who are we to say? And what right do we have to take a life? And why are we exalting this one individual’s happiness over the life of another?
If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad. The nearest we can get to it is in cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons—either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it—money, or power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much. I do not mean, of course, that people who do this are not desperately wicked. I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way .
You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind of action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong—only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him. In other words badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness . And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled. We called sadism a sexual perversion; but you must first have the idea of a normal sexuality before you can talk of its being perverted; and you can see which is the perversion, because you can explain the perverted from the normal, and cannot explain the normal from the perverted…
And do you now begin to see why Christianity has always said that the devil is a fallen angel? That is not a mere story for the children. It is a real recognition of the fact that evil is a parasite , not the original thing. Lewis, Mere Christianity