The Illogical Objection
Before I begin, I want to answer an objection that will inevitably come. This article is going to touch on several specific aspects of a specific argument for legalized abortion. Because I am a man, meaning that that I affirm the male gender I was “assigned” at birth and have all of the accompanying biology that comes along with it, and am incapable of carrying and birthing a child it may be said that I can not or should not express an opinion on the subject.
Let’s look at some facts that put the lie to this argument:
- Scientific Fact: A child can not be produced without genetic material from both a male of the species and a female of the species, therefore the male is equally responsible for the life or death of the child
- Philosophical Fact: Truth is not owned only by those who are engaged with it at the moment. In other words, that you are the one we’ve determined has the legal right to decide to kill that child doesn’t mean I can’t speak to the situation
- Fact Fact: Your offense doesn’t make me incorrect
So the objection is ridiculous on its face. It’s an obvious attempt to shut down opposition when the opposition is saying something that can’t be intellectually refuted. Trouble is it’s being used as the mantra of the modern “women’s” movement.
The Ordinary Argument
On the pro-life/ anti-abortion side the most extreme argument is that abortion destroys a living human and therefore is immoral in all circumstances, thus it should be illegal in all circumstances. Advocators of this position might also argue that all who participate in the abortion(the mother, doctor, etc.) should be prosecuted. To call this position extreme is not to put it down. I’m simply placing it on one end of a continuum.
The other end of the continuum will be the extreme of the pro-choice/ pro-abortion side. This one is more difficult to nail down. You’d have to say, however, that the position advocated in an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2012 by Australian philosophers Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva is the most extreme. Their article entitled, After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? , as the title implies advocates for the permissibility of killing a newborn in every circumstance where aborting a fetus would be legal.
I could find no good statistics on how many pro-choice advocates would agree with the legalization of post-birth abortion, but I would guess it is vanishingly small. Please understand, I only expose it to illustrate the extreme. A much more mainstream view would be what is termed as abortion-on-demand, a legal framework where women are allowed to obtain an abortion under any circumstance all the way up until the moment of birth.
So when the pro-lifer makes the statement that all abortions are immoral the immediate push back is usually to ask about three very specific circumstances. These are incest, rape, and the life of the mother. I may address the rape and incest circumstances in a future article, but for now I want to narrow the focus to the life of the mother.
This is the one circumstance that can lead to an abortion decision by a mother who actually wanted to have the baby that will be killed. The implication of challenging the pro-lifer in this way is to say that if it can be agreed upon that the moral choice is to save the mother and lose the child then perhaps there are other circumstances where abortion is not immoral. It’s a short move, in there mind, from there to saying no abortions are immoral.
When I was young the question occurred to me that there could be a situation where a father might have to make a choice to let his wife die in order to save his child, or the child die to save his wife. I asked my mother what decision she would have me make were I ever to be in that position and her answer and logic were bracing to me at the time. She said without hesitation that I should save the wife and lose the child, because the wife and I would already have a life together and could potentially have another child. I never forgot that because, at the time it seemed crass in a way I didn’t think my mother was capable of.
No Moral Choice
What my mother knew then, but didn’t explain, is that sometimes there’s simply no right answer to a moral question. Were my wife and I to find ourselves in a situation where that ghastly choice had to be made I know now that I would make my mother’s choice according to her exact logic. I could not, however, believe I had made a right moral choice. Either choice would lead to the death of a human who did not deserve to die, a human I would give my life to save. God alone could hold me together after having to make the choice and God alone could hold our marriage together after that horrendous choice. Either choice ought to draw the ire of the one who was saved.
About now if you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ you might be stunned in some ways at my admission. You might be thinking that this in some ways defeats the moral arguments that so many christians make to explain how God and the world works. You couldn’t be more wrong. Sadly, the existence of circumstances where there are only immoral choices fits neatly into the biblical worldview.
You see, one man and one woman made a choice to put their will above God’s in a garden long ago and it broke the world. One analogy would be to say that it introduced a bug into the software of humanity and this sent shockwaves through the rest of creation setting everything off balance. This doesn’t go far enough, however, because we are not merely malfunctioning machines that need to be fixed. On a cosmic scale we’re more like an out of control train barreling down the tracks damaging vehicles and structures all along the way.
One of the consequences, I would submit to you, of a whole universe out of balance is that somethings can not be put right by us. We broke it, but we can’t fix it.
The Good News
Less than one percent of abortions occur for the reason of saving the life of the mother. Praise God for the medical advancements that make birth so much safer than it was even just 70+ years ago! But, this is not the circumstance worldwide. We absolutely need to support communities of doctors who are focused on bringing the training and technology to the third world and beyond that would make losing a baby at birth a rare thing.
The second bit of good news is this, we are living in historic times in terms of rolling back the legalization of murdering babies in the womb. The political situation is ripe for change, but so is the spiritual. We who are on the side of life and the dignity and value of all bearers of the image of God must begin to come together and push forward in love for those who have been taken in by the lies of the pro-choice movement. Stand up, speak out, share the gospel, save moms and babies.