Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Most Horrific Reality

In the introduction post to this blog yesterday, I promised that tRT would be open, honest, and sometimes controversial. I preface this post that way because the topic I am covering (abortion) is not to be taken lightly. It is extremely polarizing and can lead to political attacks and damaged friendships. This post is not designed to ignite passions and lead to angry comments towards others. It is designed to show how Christians need to respond to this subject and the ensuing disagreements. Keep an open mind and comment in the section below with your thoughts.

Forty years ago today, the seminal Supreme Court case Roe v Wade was decided. The Court ruled, among other topics, that abortion is legal until 'viability.'  This definition has been hotly debated and changed over the years, but the basic concept of abortion is still legal. Before I get into the facts and discussion, let me make one thing abundantly clear (which lies as an undercurrent through this post)-- there is a massive difference between 'women's rights' and abortion. I am not saying women should not have access to family planning care, contraceptives, and other measures to ensure they are having children when they are ready. If anything, I would argue all the more vehemently for contraceptive education and better access to this kind of healthcare. That, however, is an entirely different issue. One prevents pregnancy, the other ends one. Materially different.

This is a human rights issue. Let us stop and examine the facts. According to the National Abortion Federation (who has no reason to be pro-life biased, obviously) reports that half of unplanned pregnancies, which account for roughly half of all pregnancies in the States, end in abortion. How many is that? 1.3 million in 2011. This number varies from source to source, but a reliable source reports 2008 abortions at 1.21 million. For reference, this is about the population of Hawaii.

How about since Roe v Wade? One source has the number estimated at 54,559,615 (through 2011). Granted, this is an estimate, but a number that large starts to boggle the mind. Comparison? Try the entire country of Burma (according to the CIA, and they tend to be accurate). One can rationalize this all they want, but it is removing the life from a life-form. As Kevin DeYoung puts it,
  "What shall we call the unborn in the womb?   If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn't it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?
So when does a human being have a right to life?"  (source)
Logically, if one does not abort a fetus before it is independently 'viable', it stands to reason most will become independent human beings. The argument that the fetus is not alive or human is simply incorrect, both scientifically and logically. The end result? Put bluntly, if embryos and fetuses are alive, we are experiencing the worst genocide of our time.

And this problem is not an equal-opportunity issue. Consider, once again, some statistics. Some estimate that 90% of fetuses with Down syndrome are aborted. Utterly heartbreaking. Estimates say 25% of African Americans conceived since Roe have been aborted. 57% of abortions in 2000 where performed on women considered 'low-income.' For those of you who are not statistically-minded or cannot grasp the sheer sadness of those stats, please read the words of Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King:

   "We have been fueled by the fire of “women’s rights,” so long that we have become deaf to the outcry of the real victims whose rights are being trampled upon, the babies and the mothers. . . . Oh, God, what would Martin Luther King, Jr., who dreamed of having his children judged by the content of their characters do if he’d lived to see the contents of thousands of children’s skulls emptied into the bottomless caverns of the abortionists pits?"

The harshness in Dr. King's tone is hard to take, but it shows the dire problem African American leaders are seeing in the general black population in America. We will never know the talents lost. We will never know the impact this horrible loss of life will have on our culture. As several commentators note, we are witnessing a paradox; In the name of equality and freedom, we have created unequal chances for the unborn, both racially and economically.

Many of you might be clamoring for me to address all the exceptions that get brought up surrounding this issue. What about rape? What about to save the life of the mother? I struggled with if I should go into that in this post, and I have decided not to. It is simple too deep and complex of an issue to cover in the more broad scope this this post. If you want to debate it in the comments section, then please do so. I will write my response if the demand is great enough. In the meantime, read this great article on the topic.

So where do you and I go from here? Most importantly, we go in love. As a Christian, I cannot get angry and nasty to those that disagree with me. Is this an important issue? Sure. But being caustic is only going to lead to hardened hearts, which is the polar opposite of what Paul commands. Stand for what is right, but do not let dogma get in the way of being civil.

When around women who have had abortions, love them with the love Jesus showed to those around Him. I am far from perfect, so who am I to judge them? I have been redeemed by grace (and NOT on my own good works) and I need to show that same grace to anyone who has erred.

This is not arrogance or self-righteousness. It is a singular desire to serve those broken by the sin of the broken Covenant. Go serve at a pregnancy care center. Go assist a single mother who is struggling to see why going through a pregnancy makes sense. Go help. Die to yourself. Die to your pride and your ideology, and go love those who need to see the Author and Protector of life.


  1. Great thoughts, Tim. I appreciate your both candid and respectful take. The statistics you mention are truly mind-numbing and should break our hearts. My wife and I were firmly pro-life before we had our two children, but that conviction has taken on a new life as we journey through the whole child-raising process.

    I found this article recently and commend it to you and your readers. Peter Kreeft is a theologian/philosopher I have always admired, and he mounts a pretty convincing case for the pro-life position.


    tl;dr version:

    "There are four possibilities:

    1. The fetus is a person, and we know that;
    2. The fetus is a person, but we don't know that;
    3. The fetus isn't a person, but we don't know that;
    4. The fetus isn't a person, and we know that.

    What is abortion in each of these four cases?

    In Case 1, where the fetus is a person and you know that, abortion is murder. First-degree murder, in fact. You deliberately kill an innocent human being.

    In Case 2, where the fetus is a person and you don't know that, abortion is manslaughter. It's like driving over a man-shaped overcoat in the street at night or shooting toxic chemicals into a building that you're not sure is fully evacuated. You're not sure there is a person there, but you're not sure there isn't either, and it just so happens that there is a person there, and you kill him. You cannot plead ignorance. True, you didn't know there was a person there, but you didn't know there wasn't either, so your act was literally the height of irresponsibility. This is the act Roe allowed.

    In Case 3, the fetus isn't a person, but you don't know that. So abortion is just as irresponsible as it is in the previous case. You ran over the overcoat or fumigated the building without knowing that there were no persons there. You were lucky; there weren't. But you didn't care; you didn't take care; you were just as irresponsible. You cannot legally be charged with manslaughter, since no man was slaughtered, but you can and should be charged with criminal negligence.

    Only in Case 4 is abortion a reasonable, permissible, and responsible choice. But note: What makes Case 4 permissible is not merely the fact that the fetus is not a person but also your knowledge that it is not - your overcoming of skepticism. So skepticism counts not for abortion but against it. Only if you are not a skeptic, only if you are a dogmatist, only if you are certain that there is no person in the fetus, no man in the coat, or no person in the building, may you abort, drive, or fumigate."

  2. Kevin,

    Fantastic article. I do appreciate the well-reasoned, logical tack he takes. It is so easy to get polarized and emotional about this issue, but ultimately, one needs to examine the evidence on both sides and make a conclusion. Great reference, for sure.

  3. Not addressing difficult issues like rape or dangers to pregnant women is practical for the framing of an argument, but not the argument you're making.

    When you remove the difficult considerations from such a difficult issue, the new argument you're framing is: should all fetuses be aborted, or should no fetuses be aborted? I find both of those solutions empirically impractical, which is why I'm pro-choice (which is the operative word). Different situations, such as the ones set aside in the above post, are what necessitate the ability to make a different consideration in each and every case.

    Any absolutes in such a non-absolute concern are a mistake. There are abortions that shouldn't happen, of that I'm sure. I also think that there are children born of rape that will serve as constant reminders of the worst moment in some women's lives, or stillbirths that end mothers' lives, that could and should have been able to be prevented.

  4. I totally understand your view, but for sake of brevity in this post, I had to give a general Christian position. I am seriously considering doing another in-depth post in a few weeks that would address the practical considerations (incest, rape, etc) that are much more relevant to real-world living. Thanks for the insights and comments!

  5. Tim,

    What I really appreciate is the one connection that you leave out of this article that so many other people implicitly assume: because abortion is wrong, it is the obligation of the government to ban it. As we live in a society with a secular constitution and rule of law, our democratic institutions are required to reject strictly religious reasoning when choosing how to govern. This distinction is important and essential because it assures that all sides (regardless of religious affiliation) have an equal voice in the political process.

  6. I really appreciate that, Henderson. I should have made that distinction much more clear, but that is definitely a shared feeling. Really glad you read this post-- I very much admire your ability to articulate your beliefs even when they might differ from mine.

    "This distinction is important and essential because it assures that all sides (regardless of religious affiliation) have an equal voice in the political process."
    ^ Also, this x 1,000,000