Abortion: Deciding ‘Who’ has a ‘Right to Life’
by David Russell
Welcome friends and family to Stones from the stream, where we discuss theology and apologetics. This article is the last side article before we get back to our apologetic series and I am going to focus this article on an issue I hold very dear to my heart; abortion. It is an issue I debate often in my social arena and for the last ten years or so the question has come up more times than I can count; where do you stand? As a pro-life advocate I stand on the side of the right to life of the unborn. In this article, I am going to share why I am pro-life, my personal dealings with certain questions regarding abortion, and an apologetic to defend the pro-life position.
The question I pose is: where do you stand? Over many years, I have talked with many on this issue and sadly many have their own interpretation of where life begins. They have opinions based on bias and mere emotion. However, the issue is much deeper than what is on the surface. Many people give way to the notion “out of sight, out of mind.” This is not the way we should look at this issue and ideas have consequences. Many of the people I have debated taking the pro-choice stand have a view point that, when drawn to its logical conclusion, is quite scary to say the least. Another line of argumentation I have heard is the big “What if” scenarios that indeed are very rare and uncommon, yet these people base their whole decision on these cases and don’t realize the view that they hold is very barbaric in fashion. I will give two examples of the arguments I hear and a reply to them, before I move on.
One example is the famous rape scenario. I have heard many, even in the Christian circle say, “If a woman is raped, then she is justified in getting an abortion and that I, as a man, could never understand the trauma and the constant reminder of that crime, and that the child, if kept, would always remind them of that horrific event.” The first problem I have is the total disregard of my view point. Just because I am a man, I can’t have a view when it comes to this? I understand that a heinous crime was committed and I do sympathize, however, I do have a viewpoint when it comes to the life of the innocent child, who had nothing to do with the crime and whose life is on the line. I do have a standard when it comes to taking the life of innocents regardless of the situation.
Let’s try this example, I am getting money out of the bank, I and the teller are having a normal conversation when out of no where a bank robber comes in and hits me in the back of the head and rapes me. After I recover and am walking down the street, I see the teller and they remind me of that horrific event; am I allowed to pull out a gun and take their life? Hopefully you say no. The same goes with a child who is conceived out of rape. They are a product of the heinous event, but still an innocent by standard to the crime itself. There is no justification for me killing the teller, just as there is no justification for killing the child.
Again, this is a rare case and I quote, “In 2004-2005, according to the 2005 National Crime Victimization Study (PDF, 287KB), 64,080 women were raped. According to medical reports, the incidence of pregnancy for one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is 5%.” This doesn’t reflect the percentage of those that actually miscarry due to the trauma of the reported rape. The bigger issue here is does rape provide justification in taking the life of an innocent human being? I don’t believe it does–when have two wrongs ever made a right? Another question presents its self as well: When is it ever permissible to take the life of an innocent human being?
Another example finds itself coming from the “what if category”. I hear it often, “what if your daughter was raped at 12 or 13 and got pregnant, would you make her go through the pregnancy?” For the record, I don’t spend a lot of time on “what ifs”, and even less time developing a worldview from them. For the sake of this article, let me just say that I don’t give in to the emotional intent of the questioner; I try and keep the subject matter relevant to the question I purposed above and also letting them know there are too many unknowns given in this situation that would have to be taken into account. These unknowns would have to deal with the reasons associated, justifiably, in the taking of another life.
As an apologist I am committed to the truth, I don’t allow the emotional arguments to deter me from what is true and right. This is about principle and what happens when, as Greg Koukl puts it, “the roof comes off.” Ideas have consequences. As a pro-life advocate, I believe the issue needs to be clear, we contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. In so saying, we believe it is morally wrong to unjustly take the life of any individual. The question is, are the unborn living human beings?
Modern science claims they are, even at the earliest stages of development. Scott Klusendorf, of the life training institutes says “Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (How to defend your pro-life views in five minutes or less) So, if the truth is that human life begins at fertilization you have to ask your self, what makes human life valuable? Is it something inside of us and therefore essential to human nature or it something that is added to us?
If it is added on to us then the door opens to all sorts of things, we are a lot like money. Consider this, when we had our civil war the Confederates had their own currency. After they lost the war, the currency lost its value; are humans like that? Are we valuable due to function? Remember, when things lose their function, they also lose their value. Does size equal value? Yes, embryos are quite smaller then toddlers and newborns; but the fact that “Shack” is larger than most human beings tell us that he is more valuable than others? Maybe as basketball player! How about level of development? The unborn are not fully developed, but neither are children compared to teenagers. Do older siblings have more rights than their younger siblings?
These are just some of the things you would have to ask yourself if you believe function is the answer, but there is something even darker than that, something that logically follows when you take the side of function. It is that your liberty is dependent upon someone else’s subjective belief on what makes human life valuable. It comes down to whoever is in power.
There is a logical slippery slope here, when a human is valuable based on function your rights are no longer “unalienable”. Once you allow this view, you lift the standard, regardless of your reason (except self defense). If there is no moral difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are now, then it
follows that human life is only valuable to ones subjective opinion. This means those like Hitler, Stalin, and other mass murderers weren’t wrong when they used their methods in killing those with impairments, the elderly, and sick. This may sound ridiculous to you. On February 23, 2012, the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article titled, “After-Birth Abortion: Why let the baby live?” The authors of this article propose that because there is no difference between the unborn and the newborn, and that abortion is widely accepted for the reasons it is so, after-birth abortion should also be allowed. I hope this shocks you! This is the result of the Pro-choice view. This is the result, when the moral conscience of the culture begins to decline. As Francis Schaeffer put it “what was unthinkable yesterday is thinkable today, and ordinary and common place tomorrow.”
I believe strongly that our founders had it right “All men are created equal” that what makes us valuable is intrinsic, built-in, meaning we have “human rights” in virtue of being human. Again Koukl states “Since a human’s value can never be gained or lost (being essential to his humanity), then the liberties based on that value can never be gained or lost, either.” I couldn’t have said that any better. These “unalienable rights” to our founders, and those that take the pro-life stance, believe this to be self evident.
We have made a case here for the unborn; science tells us life begins at fertilization, that humans are intrinsically valuable and that common arguments need to be looked at more deeply. The problem is the culture makes an uneducated guess most the time and fails to educate themselves on the issue and its consequences. In conclusion, I just want to thank people like Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf for educating me on this issue and I encourage those who read this to look into the material they have on this issue, their work in this field is exceptional and this article is resonance of all they have taught me. Have a blessed week.
Read more posts by David Russell in Stones From the Stream
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