As a public speaker, I often share my story of having had an abortion as a teenager and finding hope and healing through God’s love and forgiveness. I’ve spoken to countless men and women who wrestle with the view held among abortion rights supporters that a woman’s right to seek abortion services should be a constitutional right (or at least at the constitution at the state level). Very often, when legal challenges are raised, abortion advocates will focus on the dangers of illegal abortion or turn to the common exceptions most often cited in support of abortion.
There are a number of situations commonly viewed as reasonable exceptions to the prohibition of abortion. This is true even among Christians who would otherwise consider themselves to be abortion opponents. However, the very moment exceptions to abortion are raised, two things invariably have happened.
First, the exception’s argument is rooted in the concept of “choice.” The concern with the ‘exceptions’ group is they want to determine who may be killed. Not only is this essentially the pro-choice argument, but there are any number of different exceptions or combinations of exceptions that one may embrace or reject. In the end, everyone is still arguing for choice – as long as the choice is theirs.
Second, even if there were a consensus among Christians as to which exceptions could warrant abortion access, whenever anyone presumes the right to declare that certain members of the human race created by God are disposable, it undermines the argument that all other pre-born children are valuable members of the human race and worthy of protection. No one can have it both ways; in effect, it is an attempt to take the place of God. Still, for the sake of argument, let’s look at the top four commonly argued exceptions.
What About Handicapped Exceptions for Abortion?
What about the handicapped? If the life of a handicapped child is presumably not worth living, why aren’t more handicapped persons committing suicide? Could it be that God has granted them special strengths or characteristics to overcome their limitations and live a fulfilling life, which seems foreign to those of us who’ve never experienced it? Are their lives disposable? Do they consider life not worth living?
Let’s consider the exception for the handicapped, including those born with Down Syndrome. Prior to a child’s conception or diagnosis, I think it is safe to say that no honest person would claim they desire to conceive a handicapped child. However, the effort to eliminate so-called imperfections (or undesirable traits) in the human race is the basis that led to the Nazi Holocaust.
Perfection is not only subjective (depending on what someone claims makes a person “perfect”), but may not always be a worthy goal. God is the Creator of all persons. As such, He alone knows the purpose for which He has created each one. There is a beautiful story in the gospel of John where Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. When Jesus’s disciples asked who had sinned to cause the man to be born blind, Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin nor his parents: but that the works of God should be displayed in him” (John 9:3).
Should any of us presume to interfere with God displaying His glory through His work in the life of a handicapped person? Even in the cases of severe deformity where there is no reasonable hope short of God’s miraculous intervention that the child will live long after birth, interfering with the child’s appointed time, as ordained by God, is simply not our place.
All parents have been entrusted by God to care for their children and none are informed how long that precious time will be. In these heartbreaking cases where parents are faced with their own health care decisions, a compassionate response would be to encourage the family to arrange with their doctors for the best possible comfort for the child and a private time to say goodbye. The heartbreak and loss are not lessened by prematurely terminating the life of the child, but rather multiplied.
Looking back, would not the parents (and other family members) one day find some solace in treasuring a birth certificate, naming their child, the memory of the time they had with the child, or perhaps a funeral service honoring his or her brief life, and treating the child’s body with respect through proper burial? On the other hand, what comfort does it bring to see the memory of their child reduced to a computer-generated line item on a hospital bill for the cost of an extra “medical procedure” and the body disposed as “medical waste?”
When abortion is proposed in a case like this, the presumption is that it will somehow lessen the pain and loss. How? Not only is the child dead, but now the parents have to live with the reality that they took an active role. This means the Christian choosing this refuses to believe that God can carry them through the heartbreak, trusting that He has a purpose even if they do not understand it.
What About Rape Exceptions to Abortion?
How about children conceived in rape? Are their lives are not worth living? While pregnancies that occur in the case of rape are rare, they do occur. Cases, where women are the victims of rape, are the most common exception readily accepted by many who would otherwise be opposed to abortion. No one argues that the woman has been the victim of a heinous crime. However, those who propose abortion when pregnancy occurs in cases of rape and sexual assault are not offering counsel based on either wisdom or facts, but are responding from an emotional (albeit understandable) abhorrence of the thought of a child conceived in rape and the trauma the pregnancy is presumed to bring upon the already traumatized woman.
Rather than suggest compassionate counseling to try and help the woman see that her child is innocent and valuable, many succumb to the pro-abortion rhetoric that it is understandable in this case for the woman to choose abortion. For the Christian, however, this presumes that God’s grace and power are insufficient to carry a woman through the pregnancy and perhaps even come to love her child. That it is unrealistic to assume that pregnant women can find the courage to choose life for their children.
When counseling such a woman, the added trauma of abortion and the resulting shame, regret, and guilt that a woman’s mental health often suffers for years afterward, are never acknowledged or factored into the equation. The realization that the child is still as much her own child as a child she may willingly conceive will only surface later, subjecting the woman to further pain and loss.
Everyone agrees that sexual assault and rape are horrific crimes whereby someone selfishly and violently exercises his choice to violate someone else’s body with no regard for the well-being of the other person. How tragic that when a rape victim is counseled by medical providers and others to seek an abortion, she is unwittingly encouraged to behave much like her rapist! Of course, the malice is not there but in the end, the outcome is identical: choosing to violate someone else’s body (even taking its life) with no regard for the well-being of the other person. While none of us are in a position to condemn a rape victim who seeks counseling after having an abortion, the reality is that she will now need to be guided through the recovery and healing of not one, but two, emotionally devastating traumas, when at least one could have been avoided. Even if the 39 weeks of pregnancy and childbirth are assumed to be at least as traumatizing as the aftermath and regret of an abortion, should not saving the life of an innocent child be factored into the equation?
If this were not tragic enough, many also fail to recognize how abortion serves rapists by covering up their crimes. This is especially common in cases where the rapist is a family member or is known by the victim, and will seek to coerce the woman into getting an abortion. Rather than helping the victim by filing a police report, abortion providers inadvertently end up helping the perpetrator. Excusing abortion for incest exceptions and children conceived as a result of rape also sends a message to those children, along with their courageous mothers, that they are unworthy to live. This would include Ryan Bomberger, Emmy Award-winning Christian Artist who was conceived in rape and then adopted, along with 10 other “unwanted” children, into a loving Christian home. Ryan is involved in various ministries promoting the message that there is no such thing as an unwanted child. Other famous persons conceived in rape include Jesse Jackson, Ethel Waters (Gospel singer, Academy Award-winning actress), Sherrie Eldridge (Christian Speaker and Adoption advocate), plus countless others.
The worth and dignity of any child’s life are not dependent on whether the child is “wanted” but on the fact that she is created in the image of God. By embracing the pro-abortionists’ argument (even if unintentionally) that for the woman, the pregnancy “embodies the rape,” the rape victim is encouraged to abort. This is rather than being encouraged, through wise and loving counseling, to consider that God, though He hates the sin she suffered, has nevertheless allowed her child to come into being for purposes she may not yet understand.
The reality is that when rape occurs, which is sudden and horrific, the emotions of the other persons involved (health care providers, family members or legal guardians, etc.) are naturally heightened with a single-minded purpose to care for the wounded pregnant woman and alleviate her suffering. In the panic, however, it is easy to focus on the person whose suffering is more visible and lose sight of the suffering of the child whose very life is in danger. It is easy to lose sight of the further suffering the woman will endure when she realizes that she took the life of her own child.
Should There Be An Exception If The Mother’s Life Is In Danger?
There is one final exception where the lines of distinction are blurred, which is when the life of the mother is at risk. There are essentially two health exceptions where a pregnant woman’s life could be at serious risk.
First is the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a serious medical emergency. However, this is hardly equivalent to having an elective abortion since the life of the developing embryo in such medical emergencies cannot be sustained. Because the developing embryo did not implant inside the uterus, one of two outcomes will result. Either the fallopian tube will expel the burrowed embryo naturally resulting in miscarriage or, emergency surgery will need to be performed to either prevent or treat the inevitable rupture of the mother’s fallopian tube. Either way, the embryo could not have survived.
The other case most often cited is when life-saving treatment needed by the mother (such as for cancer) would invariably cause the pre-born child to die. On the one hand, if the treatment is administered to care for the woman’s health, the child would miscarry but the mother’s life would be spared. On the other hand, if the treatment is withheld, the child would be spared but the mother’s life would be in danger or even sacrificed. In both cases, only one person can be saved.
Such exceptions are hardly comparable to an elective abortion where both lives can be saved but the choice is made to take the life of the child. For families that are faced with such heart-rending decisions of whether to accept life-saving treatment that places a pre-born child at risk, the struggle is not because they seek the death of the child, but rather that they desire that both mother and child should live!
Such painful decisions must be made by each individual family and whatever decision is made, others should be supportive by recognizing that the family was not granted an option that could save both. Therefore, whether the child could not have survived (ectopic pregnancy), or whether it is a matter of choosing one life over another (administering treatment in order to save the pregnant person’s life), neither scenario is an appropriate parallel to elective abortion.
On a side note: here in the United States, when the landmark case Roe v Wade was recently overturned, trigger laws went into effect in thirteen conservative states whereby state law instituted abortion bans for any (medically unnecessary) abortions in the first trimester (some states include the second trimester). While such abortion laws, often referred to as a trigger ban, do not impose a total abortion ban, it is clear that a significant shift is taking place in many state legislatures.
Are The Children Better Off?
At a recent Christian women’s event, after sharing my story of finding God’s forgiveness after abortion, I was approached by a woman who asked, “I know abortion is wrong, but aren’t the children better off? After all, don’t they go straight to Heaven?” Personally, I do believe aborted children go to Heaven; God Himself even blessed me with a vision of my child whom I lost to abortion as a teenager. However, even if the souls of aborted children do go to Heaven, using this as an argument for abortion is dangerous on many levels.
First, a perceived beneficial outcome never justifies sin. Would God have allowed His Son to suffer and die if His Law could simply be ignored and we would all still go to Heaven? Jesus paid an unspeakably high price because of our sin. To justify sin for any reason is to have no regard for what sin cost our Lord.
Second, human beings were created by God to live on earth in a human body with other human beings for a period of time set by Him; if He wanted to create more angels, He could have easily done so; instead, He chose to make them human.
Third, an aborted child whose life was stolen will never experience the precious gift of knowing Jesus as his or her personal Savior because the child never sinned; likewise, forgiveness and unconditional love (in light of sinfulness) will never be known or experienced.
Fourth, if Christians are truly convinced aborted children are “better off” because they go straight to Heaven, why wouldn’t we likewise take the lives of all our children, regardless of their age? After all, rather than risking their future rejection of the Savior, their salvation would be “guaranteed.”
Fifth, by taking the lives of children God created, we have stolen from Him countless persons who could have praised His Name here on earth and lived to help spread the gospel as living testimonies of His love. In effect, we have stolen praise from God. How can we know which children would have embraced His salvation had they been given the opportunity to do so? Abortion is one of many ways Satan tries to minimize the impact of the gospel by murdering those who might bear witness to it.
And finally, the assumption behind every abortion is that either the child is unwanted, unworthy to live, or its life is (in one’s own opinion) not worth living. And yet, “unwanted” children are adopted, loved, and living full lives every day. Are these adoptions merely a “Plan B” or part of God’s plan?
The reality is that when we justify abortion because we decide that someone else’s life is not worth living or protecting, we deceive ourselves. If we could truly discern our heart’s motives as God does, choosing abortion is never about the quality of life we presume upon the child since only that person can rightly make that assessment. Rather, abortion stems from our own fears that our personal quality of life would be threatened by the birth of a child.
As Christians How Do We Approach The Top Four Common Exceptions To Abortion?
The Bible declares that the ability to conceive and bear children is a blessing from God. When we lose respect for life, we’ve lost respect for the Creator of Life. While there are various situations often cited as reasonable exceptions against a total ban on abortion, these circumstances invariably depend on the pro-choice argument, with the condition that “I” be the one who chooses the exceptions. Since God is Creator and sustainer of all life, how can anyone claim the right to question His judgment concerning the children He has allowed to be conceived and then to act on that judgment and presume the freedom to declare that they are not worthy to be born?
And yet, those judgments happen 3,000 times each and every day. They happen in our schools, in our neighborhoods, and in our churches. It happened to me. At the time, I was just fifteen years old and living in upstate New York with my mom, then a single parent. It was most definitely an unintended pregnancy and both my mother and I were frightened for my future. At that time, abortion clinics stressed a woman’s reproductive rights against abortion restrictions and made no effort to inform abortion patients about the developing child during each stage of pregnancy. For example, did you know that a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as five weeks of pregnancy? – long before most pregnant women realize a child has been conceived.
At the same time, as we strive to teach and preach the Truth that every pre-born person is worth protecting, may we always be mindful of the countless persons, both men, and women, in our midst who have been wounded by abortion. Women like myself who believed the lies succumbed to fears, and can never undo the choices they made. May we come alongside them and point them to Jesus who forgives all sin – even the sin of abortion.
Have you suffered the heartache of abortion? Do you struggle to forgive yourself? Do you have regrets?
I know what that’s like. For years, I kept my abortion a secret. I know what it’s like to suffer in silence. Worthy of Love is more than a Bible study. It’s a journey of hope – and a promise of healing.
Are you are ready to move past your fears and embrace the love and forgiveness God offers? Get your copy of Worthy of Love today and let the healing begin.