How Should Christians Respond to the Recent Decisions Expanding Abortion Rights?

written by Bernard J. Mauser, Ph.D.

This past year has been filled with tears for many following abortion legislation in our country. Christians have always had to live with immoral and senseless laws. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States on Jan. 22, 1973. Since then there have been more than 60 million abortions. Some States have worked to limit these ‘rights’ and others to expand them in various ways since the Roe decision. There are even some under the guise of religion who support abortion.

Consider the ministers who have been blessing abortion clinics in the name of social justice. They describe their support of access to abortion as ‘reproductive healthcare.’ The Rev. Carlton Veazey asked this blessing from God for the doctors performing abortions: “Keep them safe and keep them strong. And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.” Amelia Bonow shares with children that abortion “is all part of God’s plan.”

Democrats in New York recently changed their state law to decriminalize any act that leads to the abortion of a fetus. Before this passed, if a woman was assaulted and she lost her unborn child as a result, the man would be charged with hurting the mother and the unborn child. Due to this change, there can now be no charge against the person for hurting her unborn child.

Some Christians wonder, “What’s my role in this? I can’t help improve things.” The Christian’s responsibility is to influence people to do what is morally right. Of course we should pray for and financially support prolife ministries. We should do all we can to “defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” (Psalm 82:3)

All of us have heard, “If your friends told you to jump off a cliff would you?” It is implied in the question that just because your friends told you to do something that was bad, this would not make it good. Similarly, just because government allows something or even commands it, this does not make it good. Slavery was legal. Everything the Nazis did was entirely legal. Abortion is legal.

The best way to ensure moral laws is to learn moral arguments. Here is the argument against abortion:

  1. Killing innocent human beings is wrong.
  2. Abortion kills innocent human beings.
  3. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

The first point is easy to defend. Life is one of the inalienable natural rights listed in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed with by our Creator. We have these by virtue of being human. The government exists to protect these rights. If the government makes laws against them, the law is unjust. The Christian tradition says one is not bound to follow unjust laws.

The second point is one that science supports. Embryology textbooks describe the unborn as the same type of thing as its parents. Here is a sample of what you find in college embryology textbooks:

“Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).”[i]

Human parents have human offspring. Conception marks the earliest stage of human development. Each person was once an embryo.

The conclusion, that abortion is wrong, necessarily follows from the two premises.

Despite this straightforward argument, objections persist among the public to overturning existing abortion laws. Most of the objections can be answered if one understands the SLED test originally developed by Stephen Schwarz. SLED is an acronym for Size, Level of Development, Environment, and Degree of dependency. The way to use this test is to apply any objection to one of these four categories and ask whether someone has greater value as a human due to differences in these areas.

For example, is someone more valuable just because they are bigger? Does Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have more value as a human than Danny DeVito because the former is bigger? The unborn child does not lose her value because she is small. My college students are more developed than my own children. College students don’t have more value because of this. In the same way, the unborn do not have less value due to being less developed. Simply changing your environment or position does not give you value. A person does not have more value in the White House, or outside the birth canal, than those who are six inches inside it. People do not have less value simply because they are dependent on another. Teenagers are dependent upon their parents. Parents would not be justified in murdering them due to their dependence. Their value derives from their humanity. Regardless of the degree to which they are dependent, they don’t lose their worth.

Scripture reminds Christians of the moral responsibility to defend the weak and oppressed. None are weaker than the unborn who are being killed by the millions each year. We should be on the front lines in this fight. “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, he is sinning” (James 4:17).

[i]Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.): p. 18.; “Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (or spermatozoon) from a male. (p. 2); … but the embryo begins to develop as soon as the oocyte is fertilized. (p. 2); … 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. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. 7th edition.; “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization … is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Muller, Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd ed.

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