Why the topic of abortion matters

One voice in the abortion debate that is beginning to emerge within Christianity is the one saying that we’ve wasted our time on the abortion issue and that its time to move on. Certainly there has been an emphasis on the effects of abortion and not on the root cause of abortion – this has led to avoiding a real solution. Does this overemphasis, however, mean that abortion is a worthless topic of discussion?

Murder vs. Dignity

If the pro-life side of abortion is correct – that abortion is the murdering of a human life – then abortion is the single greatest moral tragedy in the modern world. It would be the greatest evil (the systematic killing of unwanted humans) of the modern age and, by default, require legislative action.

If the pro-choice side of abortion is correct – that the ‘baby’ is really just a fetus, or an underdeveloped human (non-human) and a collection of tissues – then by speaking out against abortion Christians would be speaking out against a woman’s right to her own body. This would be speaking out against the dignity of choice.

No matter where a person falls on this debate, the issue should be an important one. Though it might appear to be a dead horse, it truly isn’t one – when human dignity and state approved murder are up for discussion, it’s hard to say that the issue is an unimportant one.

There’s so much else to worry about.

It is true that there are many issues in the world today that are extremely important to deal with. The genocide in Sudan, the energy crisis, rising food prices, the war in Iraq, and many other things tend to find themselves at the forefront of American’s minds. Why must we bring up abortion?

As stated above, if abortion is murder then all other issues would tend to pale in comparison to this issue. Though they are all tragedies, it would be an even greater tragedy to allow the murder of these children. Thus, it is difficult to say there are bigger issues to deal with when there is so much on the line with abortion.

The courts can’t even change it, so why bother?

The courts can’t change it, but the legislature can. Constitutional amendments that protect the sanctity of human life can be introduced and passed through grassroots efforts. Likewise, an amendment can be passed that solidifies abortion as a legal action as part of a woman’s right. Either way, the courts can be circumvented by the legislature (and if your representative doesn’t vote your way, you can always vote that representative out of office as punishment).

What about science showing that it’s just a fetus and not a human?

The irony is people often turn to science to answer what is primarily a philosophical question. Science can tell us how a baby operates in the womb, how he grows, how he develops, what he can feel, when connections are made, etc. What science cannot do, however, is dictate what is and is not human. It can help categorize what we define as human (i.e. a tree isn’t human because it is non-rational), but ultimately what we categorize as human is purely philosophical.

If I say life begins at conception, scientifically I am correct. A life has begun, but we do not know if there is any reason to ascribe value to this life. Often times people forget that is what this debate is about – is there value to life in the womb. No one doubts that it is true life – the baby feels, has a heartbeat, etc. The debate is over if this life is truly human and, if it isn’t, is there really any value to it?

In other words, this isn’t a scientific question. Science is only helpful in determining if something has met the qualifications for being human, but it cannot tell us what the perimeters for “human” are. That is up to humans to decide and what we decide will have far reaching ramifications.

It is my hope that people will see the importance of the abortion debate. What comes out of it will affect other policies in other areas (i.e. euthanasia). Likewise, there are major consequences on both sides of the issue if the issue is not properly resolved. Abortion is an issue worth discussing.