Home > Uncategorized > Abortion pt 2: The Morality of Abortion

Abortion pt 2: The Morality of Abortion

I’m taking a few posts to lay out what I believe to be some key things to think about when approaching the abortion discussion. You can see a summary of these topics in the opening post. Today, as legal abortion turns 41, I pray with everything I have we as a nation will have the veils lifted off our eyes at what we are doing.

In this post my hope is to examine the morality of the act of abortion, and then to examine the role of government in legislating on abortion. Now you and I know far more has been written by far better thinkers than what you will see here. Nonetheless, this is something I’m particularly passionate about so I’m going to give my best shot here

The Morality of the act of abortion

I won’t dwell long here as it is likely most reading this will affirm what I write. But maybe it will be clarifying to some. Peter Singer, a respected ethicist and distinguished bioethics professor at Princeton, once astutely outlined the argument against abortion in a simple syllogism:

  1. It is wrong to kill an innocent human being.
  2. A human fetus is an innocent human being.
  3. Therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

In the past, the argument by pro-abortion advocates usually denied the second premise. But Singer, himself a staunch pro-choice advocate, finds this impossible to maintain. There is no point in the development process where the fetus moves from “non-human” to “human.” This is why he believes the first premise, not the second, must be denied. This is where the conversation is shifting. And this is where we must be compelling and consistent in defense of the inherent worth of human life.

The reason abortion is morally wrong is that abortion is the killing of innocent life (premise 1). The killing of innocent life is in direct violation of a pillar of one of our culture’s guiding moral principles. We as a culture believe people posses certain unalienable rights. Unalienable (or natural) rights are those not granted by a legal system but are considered universal applying to all people at all times, of which Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are just a few. Life is perhaps the most valuable of all of these rights.

We weep when our soldiers die, when our friends lose cancer battles, when a relative is lost to tragedy or crime, and when our neighbors pass on of old age. We weep because life is so valuable to us. Indeed there is nothing more valuable to us as Americans than the right of the individual to a free life.

As a Christian I believe this guiding principle is universal and was declared when God formed man in his very image. And like a messenger carrying the seal of his king, I believe we are all owed respect because of the seal we carry with us. When an innocent human person is killed by poison or a puncture wound to the head, I weep because what we value most was just taken from us. I get angry because injustice was committed. I am horrified because when that injustice is applauded.

But in your smart way of thinking you reply…”the right to live a free life is the very right that we must protect by allowing the woman the right to have an abortion.” Thank you for using my own words against me, it makes me feel smart. The difference of course is the difference between pregnancy and death. Pregnancy is a season, death is permanent. Pregnancy is difficult, death is irreversible. Pregnancy is life-changing, death is life-ending. Do not think for a second I take pregnancy lightly. I’ve lived it alongside my wife 5 times first hand over the past 5 years. It is fragile, scary, and exhausting even with a good support network. But the right to terminate a pregnancy cannot trump the right of another to live. And because it does not, abortion is morally wrong.

Legislating Abortion

Perhaps the most common defense of legal abortion used, indeed the one used in Roe v Wade, is that the state cannot interfere with a woman’s right to privacy. And according to that 41-year-old ruling, her pregnancy falls under her right to privacy.

Our nation has many laws protecting the lives of the innocent and defenseless. These laws are a reflection of that guiding principle discussed earlier. Now that technology (you can hear & see a baby’s heartbeat at 8 weeks) and philosophy (refer back to Peter Singer) affirm that human life indeed begins at conception, our laws must be updated to uphold rights to life. As Wesley Smith observes in this fantastic commentary, Roe v Wade is not the first ‘dehumanizing’ gaff our Supremes have made that has needed correcting.

Legislation is not the magic bullet, and incredible work is being done to turn the tide on abortion despite its present legality. Let us remain grateful for God’s grace through these workers and see it as hope for a day when all Americans once again exalt life as an unalienable right.

The next post in this series is on the ‘Normalcy’ of Abortion.

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