THE BABIES WHO NEVER CRIED
(A brief look at the current abortion debate and the current challenges the church must face)
I sat with my eyes glued to the TV, watching the third and final presidential debate. Like millions around the world I saw myself drawn into the euphoria of American politics. Suddenly the question hit the stage; it was time for the candidates to reveal their stand on abortion. As I listened to both aspirants attempt to answer the question, I had to ask myself,"What's the real issue behind the abortion debate? Is abortion a political issue? Is it a struggle for women's rights and liberation? Is it about religion? Is it about biblical Christianity versus stoic, traditional, historical dogma? Is it about medical ethics and medical health?
Some think about the abortion debate and wonder 'How big an issue is abortion?' why is there so much hype associated with the abortion debate? Let’s take a closer look:
All over the world an estimated 46 million abortions are carried out yearly at a rate of approximately 126,000 a day .78% of abortion occur in the developing nations and 22% in the developed nations. (1). 1 in 4 pregnancies in the world are unwanted. Believe me, 46million is a big one and the abortion debate may be around for a while.
In 1996 the centre for disease control USA estimated 1.31 million pregnancies were terminated by an abortion in the US. (2). Another study showed that in the US, almost half of all these unplanned pregnancies, 1.3 million each year are ended by an abortion.(4)
Abortion touches all, it affects all people. No race or colour is left untouched. No religion is also spared. In the U.S13% of women who have an abortion describe themselves as born again Christians or evangelical Christians; 27% say they are Catholics.
The abortion debate has gone as far as dividing all of us into three groups
I’ve heard different arguments and various schools of thought, which support either the pro-choice or pro- life movements. But today I want to share with you, an opinion based on scriptures. I’ll stand by God’s word because I’m afraid of the extremities. God’s word remains the only unchanging reality in our rapidly evolving world. Abortion techniques have become more sophisticated, and the debate more complicated, but God’s word remains clear in revealing God’s heart over the issue.
I’m afraid of a pro-life message that is hard-line and preached without compassion, ignoring certain realities we face in today’s world.
I’m afraid for the undecided because unfortunately there’s no sitting this one out on the fence.
I’m afraid of pro- choice folks who I must admit (with all due respect) some have simply become cynical to say the least. Bible bashing, misinterpretation and distortion have become one of the tools in the pro-choice movement.
I look at an ultrasound scan, I see a bay’s heart beat, and they tell me that’s not a life. No, it’s a bad joke.
Some of the favourite scriptures used to argue the case in favour of abortion include:
In Leviticus 27 God talks about the costs of redeeming people offered to the Lord for service. They were instituted during the era of the law, for those who were offered to GOD to serve him, but if the individual or relations decided not to keep their vow, the individual would have to be redeemed. In Leviticus 27:6 Moses told the people: “…the price for a baby boy one month to 5years is…the price of a baby girl one month to 5 years…”. As a result some pro-choice folks tells us that God does not value the neonates. How cute…in numbers 3:13, there was a census of the Levites, and the lord instructed Moses to count “…every male one month ore older”. Yet another proof that the bible does not value the neonate let alone a fetus.
Some also tell us that life in the bible begins after the first breath. We are told this can be justified based on:
“Then the Lord God took dust from the ground & formed a man from it. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nose, and the man became a living person.”
Forgive me, I might be wrong on this one but I think the scriptures reads “He god breathed the breath of life into the man’s nose…” in other words life begins when God breathe life into man, thus God is the giver of life.
*Ezekiel 37:3-10 is another scripture that has fallen victim to 6the attack.
It’s easy to mess up scriptures a little bit when part or parts of it is isolated from the rest, taken out of context and interpreted to suit our agenda. However it’s nice to know that some folks are reading the bible. I hope that one day, they just might happen to stumble upon exodus 21:22-25:
“Suppose two men are fighting and hit a pregnant woman, causing the baby to come out. If there is no further injury , the man who caused the argument, must pay money- whatsoever amount the woman’s husband says and the court allows. But if there is further injury, then the punishment that must be paid is life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound and bruise for bruise.”
In other words if 2 guys got into a brawl, and in the process they hurt a pregnant woman in such a way that she goes into spontaneous labour, the culprit must pay a price for whatever happens to the baby. If the baby comes out dead, then it’s life for a life. Based on this I think it’s safe to say that God considers the fetus a life. If he didn’t he would not have instituted civil laws to protect the fetus.
God considers the fetus a life, there’s no doubt about that. The question however we must ask ourselves as the church is the stand we must take in other to reach out to a world clearly in need. Some pro-choice folks are quick to point out some issues we cannot ignore. However the church, turns the other way, shuts the door of compassion and isolates people in need of healing. During the presidential debate one of the aspirants made mention of a scenario in which a father rapes a 14yrs old girl, she turns pregnant and ‘needs’ an abortion.
Although the church cannot justify the slaying of millions of babies, we must offer practical solutions and alternatives if our voice will be relevant in today’s world. Each year in the U.S 13,000 women opt for an abortion because they’ve become pregnant as a result of incest or rape. (4). The Central Illinois Right to life gives us the following reasons why women have an abortion:
-95% as a means of birth control
-1% because of rape or incest
-1% because of fetal abnormalities
-3% due to maternal health problems.
Another study on reasons women request an abortion, revealed the following
-25.3% want to postpone childbearing
-7.9% want no more children
-21.3% cannot afford a baby
-10.8% say it will disrupt an education or job
-14.1% have a relationship problem or the partner does not want the pregnancy
-12.2% are too young; parents or other(s) object to pregnancy
-2.8% as a result of maternal health risks
-3.3% as a result of fetal health risks
-2.2% for miscellaneous reasons (5)
As a church we must understand the reasons women have abortions, and with a heart of compassion offer the alternatives/options that are practical, achievable and realistic. God cares about the life in a woman’s womb, and so do we as His church. Before a baby is conceived, God has chosen and defined the baby’s purpose. We see this theme replayed all through the scriptures. We also see another dark theme, twice in scriptures, where the enemy resulted to massive killings of baby to prevent the birth of God’s instruments for the deliverance of his people; Moses in the old testament and Jesus in the new testament.
In an article written by John Wyatt, professor of neonatal pediatrics at University College London and chairman of the CMF medical study group, he suggests that as the church “…we must concentrate on finding and developing practical realistic alternatives to abortion.” He went on even further to say:
“The way of practical, supportive caring is never an easy alternative. It is costly in terms of time, emotional involvement and financial commitment. But it is an essential response if Christians who defend the rights of the unborn child are no to be guilty of hypocrisy. Unless we are in the forefront of providing practical care and support to those with problem pregnancies, helping parents struggling with the implications of bringing up a disable or impaired child and defending the rights of the disable and stigmatized within our community, our supposed commitment to the sanctity of human life is deeply suspect.”
He couldn’t have said it better; talk about stark naked truth. That’s the challenge the church must address. We the church who value the sanctity of human life from conception, must fight abortion at its roots. I want to see us championing the fight against rape and incest. We must fight for the protection of women from violation and defend true women rights. We ought to set up support ministries for women who want to abort because they cannot afford to take care of a child. Let’s encourage church folks who can and are willing, to adopt some of these so-called unwanted babies. We also need to show practical care to the disable, and promote the message that disability is not inability.
As long as we pioneer viable alternatives to abortion we will win some hearts and minds out there. Perhaps more little babies will be given a chance for a first cry.
1 center for biochemical reforms
2 finer & henshaw 2003
3 alan Guttmaher institute. Facts in brief- induced abortion 2003 http//www.agi-usa.org/pubs/fb induced abortion-html
4 Jones RK, Darroch JE, Henshaaw SK. Patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortion in 2000-2001. Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health in 2002
5 Bankole, Akinrinola;Singh, Sugheela, Taylor. Reasons why women have induced abortion from 27 countries. International family planning perspective 1998. As reported by the Alan Guttmacher institute online.