By Ian D’Souza
The following is a reply I received from a friend to my Facebook post citing the sad case of an entire country (Ireland) voting for Abortion in May 2018.
Ian D’Souza, it’s ok to murder poultry animals? This should be a woman’s choice and we need to change our beliefs in the face of a growing world population. When the unborn is abnormal, it is better to abort it earlier on. It becomes easy for society to say do not abort but no one will help the mother with an abnormal child. That’s the reality. I believe we should keep aside our religious beliefs and understand nature and science better.
Nice to have your interaction here. I know this issue of abortion is a hot-button issue globally. While I certainly respect your opinion on this matter, allow me to share why I see things differently. Your response addresses five specific areas with respect to abortion: (1) Abortion & the Animal-killing connection (2) Woman’s Choice (3) Answer to Population Growth (4) The Abnormal Child & (5) The Religious Connection.
In order to arrive at a correct understanding of this issue we need to first answer two other questions also. When does human life begin? And, Is human life Sacred?
When does human life begin?
Life is a continuum which begins at fertilization and develops continuously till the day we die. The formation of LIFE involves the formation of a physical body and also a living soul. The embryo in the womb particularly, goes through moments of fertilization, gastrulation, neurulation and then birth. However, though science recognizes this continuum, it does not have a distinct answer as to when life exactly begins.
Scott Gilbert, PhD, professor of biology at Swarthmore College, states: “If one does not believe in a ‘soul,’ then one need not believe in a moment of ensoulment. The moments of fertilization, gastrulation, neurulation, and birth, are then milestones in the gradual acquisition of what it is to be human. While one may have a particular belief in when the embryo becomes human, it is difficult to justify such a belief solely by science.” [Gilbert, “When Does Human Life Begin?”]
However, though science cannot predict the exact moment of life’s beginning, it does agree that – all we will become is present from the first instant that the mother’s egg is fertilized by the father’s sperm. This includes personality, body size, color of eyes and hair, basic intellect, etc.
It further indicates that the baby’s brain begins functioning enough to generate measurable brain waves (electroencephalographic impulses) at 40 days. [H. Hamlin, “Life or Death by EEG,” JAMA, October 12, 1964, p. 120.]
Additionally, the baby’s facial muscles move, even appearing to form “smiles” as early as 12 weeks. [http://www.baby-health.net/articles/390.html. New 3D images verify that a baby smiles at least as early as 26 weeks.]
Hence, if science cannot clearly pinpoint the timing when human life occurs, then where else can we go? Also, science being largely based on observation and checking of conclusions against nature, has no ability to know some of the deeper things of life which are a mystery.
This brings us to the second question that must be asked.
Is Human Life Sacred?
Science might be able to tell you if an action may hurt someone—like giving a man cyanide will kill him—but science cannot tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone. We know that it is wrong to hurt people, but who told us that? Science never did, for it is a moral issue. Clearly then, we receive our total instructions (both moral and physical) with regard to life from other sources besides science. Here is where God comes into the picture. This is why religion (point no. 5 above) cannot be separated from any issues with respect to human life. It is necessarily integrated into the human fabric. We are a composite whole comprising of a physical material body and a soul which is the life part.
As a Christian, I believe in Creation based on the bible. Christians believe that the bible is God’s Word to man and has all of life’s answers either by direct injunction or by principle. It is interesting to note that the bible undergirds all scientific data; that is whatever science finds will almost always have its source/connection with the bible. So when science cannot answer the question of when does human life start, I immediately go to the bible (God’s Word) which reveals the following: [Bible references are given in brackets]
From the very beginning of the Bible we learn that God is the author of all life. Human beings have incredible dignity because we are made in God’s image. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,” the Creator says. “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). In giving man dominion over animals God revealed that humanity is in a totally different class from animals. Genesis reveals that God created the human being from dust and breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7). It is important to note that Man was created in the image of God and is tripartite: meaning 3 parts – Body, Soul & Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). It is with his spirit that man communicates with God who is Spirit. This spirit element separates man from all other forms of creation. [All other created animals have only a body and a soul but no spirit as they are not created in God’s image].
Clearly, while the physical development takes place as a natural growth process, the impartation of LIFE into the foetus is a divine action. (Acts 17:25b) – “Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else”. And so, our lives are inextricably intertwined with God, who is the giver and sustainer of all life and hence all life is SACRED. [Also see Genesis 2:7 above]
In Genesis 9:6, God explains that human life is sacred because man is made in the image of God. (Gen 9:6) – “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image”.
Now let’s look at each of the points raised in connection with abortion:
(1) Abortion & the Animal-killing Connection:
The argument here is – If abortion is murder/killing, then how come those who are against abortion promote the killing of animals for food? Response: Those who believe in evolution often say that since man evolved from a beast, therefore the killing of an animal is the same as the killing of a human being. But Christians believe in Creation as opposed to the theory of evolution. And this is reasonable as the differences between an animal and a human being are vast, if you really study it. Listed below are some vital differences between human beings and animals that should help us to realize that Man has been created vastly superior than animals because he has been made in the image of God and has no comparison therefore with the animal world.
- The human brain possesses qualities that have no parallel in the animal world. One consequence is man’s explicit mental capabilities.
- Man possesses the faculty of speech and his creative communication by means of his vocal system is completely different from those of animals.
- Only man is fully bipedal; he can walk upright because of the special structure of the spine. Thus, our hands are not required for locomotion and are available for other purposes.
- Only man is able to express emotions(e.g., joy, sadness, hope, laughter, shyness). Some animals seem to have similar abilities, but they cannot be compared with human emotions.
Here, we have established that human beings are vastly different from animals. Again, science does not instruct us whether we can kill them for food or any other purpose. Hence, again we go to the bible for answers. In the beginning of creation God created Man and Woman and gave them every plant for food: “Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you, and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.” (Gen 1:29,30). However, after the fall of man (Gen 3) and the consequent flood in (Gen 6) the scenario changes.
God now permits Man the use of plants and animals as food. “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Genesis 9:3-4).
We see clearly here that killing of anything being a moral issue requires sanction from the Creator of all life – God! Plants also have life for that matter, but to ask if killing them is right, would be to stretch the point to absurdity. The bible clearly shows that both the animals and plants were given to man for his food. Animals, which include the fish and the birds being made different from human beings – that is – not in the image of God, can be killed therefore for the purposes of food.
(2) Woman’s Choice – “My Body, My Choice”:
Those who advocate abortion, use the rhetoric “My Body, My Choice” as their tag line. However, if you examine this phrase, you will find that it is not quite accurate. The reason being that inside a pregnant woman, there is another body. In other words, “There’s a body inside a body.” Hence, scientifically, this catchy little phrase is wrong. We are not just dealing with One Body, but Two!
For example if the pregnant woman was to get an abortion, she wouldn’t be aborting her own body, she would be aborting the body inside her body. So where is the logic of the “my body, my choice” mantra?
Laura Klassen, founder of the Canadian Pro-Life Organization says: “Instead of ‘my body, my choice,’ what we should be saying is, ‘our bodies, my choice’”. “Because when you’re pregnant, as the larger, stronger body, it’s totally up to you about what happens to the smaller, weaker body inside your body.”
So the truth is, when a mother chooses abortion, she’s choosing for two people. She’s deciding the path her own life will take, but she’s also deciding whether or not her pre-born child will even get his/her chance at life. ‘My body, my choice’ is totally wrong. It completely ignores the other body involved in a woman’s pregnancy – her innocent baby’s body. People use the word choice to avoid facing the real fact that a human being is being killed in an abortion.”
Pro-life apologist Randy Alcorn states it like this: “I am pro-choice, he says, And because I’m pro-choice, I believe every man has the right to rape a woman if that’s his choice. After all, it’s his body, and we don’t have the right to tell him what he can and can’t do with it.” Would this argument be right? Not at all! He was pointing out in this argument, that, In choosing the right to do with his body whatever he wanted, he was ignoring the equally God-given right of the woman (to be raped), to be protected. The point is clear. Life is precious to both parties and need to be recognized and preserved by everyone.
(3) Abortion & Population Control:
When we use Population Control as an argument in favour of Abortion, we are basically confusing the concept of “finding a solution” and the concept of “eliminating a problem.” For example, one can eliminate the problem of poverty by executing all poor people, but this would not really solve the problem, since it would directly conflict with a basic moral truth that human beings should not be arbitrarily exterminated for the sake of easing economic problems. The means clearly do not justify the end in such cases.
Again, since we are dealing with a moral issue here, a quick glance at the bible would help our discussion. In (Genesis 1:28) – God states: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth, and subdue it.” After the great flood, essentially the same commandment was given again to the handful of survivors of the great Flood (Genesis 9:1). Multiply and fill the earth is the command of God.
The total population currently averages less than one person for every 400,000 square feet of land area. even to its maximum feasible “carrying capacity,” it seems unlikely that the earth has yet reached its optimal population, as far as the purposes of the Creator are concerned. [Evolution and the Population Problem by Henry M. Morris, Phd – 1975]
It is clear from the biblical account of creation and its prophecy regarding the end, that should the earth reach its peak carrying capacity, which is a very long way off, the Lord Himself who overseas his handiwork will move into His next phase of consummating all His creation. [This can personally explained some other time].
However, even apart from Biblical revelation, there is no good reason for alarm over population. The earth is quite able to support a much larger population than it now possesses. Even with the present status of technology (available water for irrigation, potentially arable land, modern methods of soil treatment and improved crop yields, etc.), authorities estimate that the earth’s reasonable “carrying capacity” is about 50 billion people. [Donald Freedman and Bernard Berelson, “The Human Population,” Scientific American, Vol. 231, September 1974, p. 31]. Clearly, the alarm over “population explosion” is overrated when seen in the clear light of scientific facts and hence also exposes the misuse of abortion as a method to curb it.
Because of the high incidence of abortion world-wide, current population trends have become a serious threat to the social and economic prosperity of many countries. The problem of a shrinking population propagates itself. Because today’s women have fewer children, there will be fewer parents tomorrow, resulting in still fewer children. Fewer and fewer people having fewer and fewer children adds up to dying societies.
(4) Aborting the Abnormal Child:
It must be remembered at the outset that all sickness, disease and genetic abnormalities are the result of sin that entered the human race ever since the fall of man (Genesis 3). However, an abnormal child does not reflect the personal sin of the child nor the parent necessarily. Instead parents who have a child with Down’s syndrome need to realize that their child is a gift from God, and there are no accidents with God.
In the bible (John 9:3) there is an incident of a man born blind. The disciples speculated about whose sin was to blame for a man born blind, but Jesus corrects their thinking: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, . . . but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him”. If God has entrusted parents with a child who has any kind of disability, those parents can be assured that God has a purpose for them to bring glory to Him by their loving response—and God will provide the grace (divine enablement) necessary to carry it out.
We need to ask ourselves, does the child deserve to die because of his handicap or illness? Life is hard, both for the handicapped person and for its parents. But it is significant that no organization of parents of mentally retarded children have ever endorsed abortion. Often, parents abort children with defects because they don’t want to face the certain suffering and pain that comes with caring for a handicapped individual. By aborting the child, they believe they are aborting the trouble. But there is no way to avoid the consequences that follow abortion – the need to grieve, the guilt, the anger, the depression that follows.
Children with Down’s syndrome can grow up to be highly functioning adults. One mother whose second son was born with Down syndrome stresses that she was burdened by preconceived notions and prejudices and was unaware of what her son could actually achieve (see Carlene K. Mattson, “My Very Special Son” in Focus on the Family Magazine, April 1993). People with Down’s syndrome can learn to read, hold jobs, and even get married, although they may need additional support. Like all other children, children with DS will need love and discipline. Parents who find out that they will have a baby with Down’s syndrome will most likely need extra help and support, as well. Help is available through a variety of government programs and support groups and special schools, but hopefully will also be abundantly available through the parents’ extended family, community and Church. A mother or couple who feel that they simply cannot provide what is necessary to raise a child with special needs should never consider aborting the baby. There are many Christian/ childless couples who are happy to adopt children with special needs and give them loving, stable homes.
Society tends to look at the abnormal child as the unwanted child. Let’s be clear: everyone, including pro-lifers, agree that children should be wanted. But unwanted shouldn’t be used to describe a child but rather, an attitude of some adults toward the child. The real problem isn’t unwanted children, but unwanting adults.
(5) The Religious Connection:
Like many other pro-lifers, yes, my faith in God and in His Word, which claims He created humans in His image, certainly informs my pro-life beliefs. But you don’t need to be a Christian, nor even subscribe to any religion, to believe that the unborn are children and it shouldn’t be legal to kill them. That’s because the abortion issue is really a human life issue, a civil rights issue for the preborn. It’s not simply a religious issue.
Dr. Landrum Shettles was for twenty-seven years attending obstetrician-gynecologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Shettles was a pioneer in sperm biology, fertility, and sterility. He is internationally famous for being the discoverer of male- and female-producing sperm. His intrauterine photographs of preborn children appear in many medical textbooks. Dr. Shettles states:
“I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest—that human life commences at the time of conception—and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances. My position is scientific, pragmatic, and humanitarian”. [Landrum Shettles and David Rorvik, Rites of Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), 103]
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, internationally known obstetrician and gynecologist, was a cofounder of what is now the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He owned and operated what was at the time the largest abortion clinic in the western hemisphere, and was directly involved in over sixty thousand abortions.
In his film The Silent Scream, Nathanson later stated, “Modern technologies have convinced us that beyond question the unborn child is simply another human being, another member of the human community, indistinguishable in every way from any of us.” Dr. Nathanson wrote Aborting America to inform the public of the realities behind the abortion rights movement of which he had been a primary leader. At the time Dr. Nathanson was an atheist. His conclusions were not even remotely religious, but squarely based on the biological facts.
Nathanson wrote: “I think that abortion policy ought not be beholden to a sectarian creed, but that obviously the law can and does encompass moral convictions shared by a variety of religious interests. In the case of abortion, however, we can and must decide on the biological evidence and on fundamental humanitarian grounds without resorting to scriptures, revelations, creeds, hierarchical decrees, or belief in God. Even if God does not exist, the fetus does”. [Bernard Nathanson, Aborting America (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979): 227.]