Adding onto the “Christian and Abortion Series” –
Lately a lot of Christians have been coming out and saying they’re pro-choice, declaring they’re not necessarily for abortion, but they are for the right of the woman to choose. I want to look at some of the arguments for this and argue why a Christian simply cannot be pro-Choice:
1) “We have no right to tell a woman what to do with her own body.”
This argument has been dealt with already in another post I made concerning abortion. I argued:
This way of thinking assumes too much – it assumes that we can do whatever we want to our bodies without having a communal consequence. However, there are times where what I do to my body will inevitably affect those around me (i.e. if I inject myself with an airborne disease, because it will harm those around me I do not have the right to do such a thing). Almost everyone would argue that if we take an action against our body that negatively affects others, that action shouldn’t be taken.
In this case, the child in the womb is ontologically separate from the mother, though reliant. That is to say, the child really isn’t part of the mother’s body. The mother plays host to the body. If a guest comes into your house, eats your food, drinks your water, and sleeps in your bed, does that guest belong to you? Of course not – the guest, though reliant upon you, is not a part of who you are.
The counter to the above argument is that the baby, especially early on, is made up of cells provided by the mother. This is true, but completely irrelevant. No female can spontaneously produce a child without any fertilization from a male. This means that the baby isn’t entirely made up of the mother’s cells, which would seem to indicate that the child in the womb isn’t really part of the mother’s body (in the same way an arm, heart, or lung is part of the mother’s body).
All of this means that the child growing within the mother is really a body inside a body and not just an extension of the mother’s body. It contains foreign matter (via sperm) that is not natural to the mother’s body. If that is true, an abortion is an act that is taken out on the mother’s body that severely affects the child (through death). This would mean that abortion is highly immoral since it is a selfish action that harms an innocent party.
In short, a baby simply isn’t a part or an extension of the mother’s body, but instead a separate being that is reliant upon the mother.
In light of this, though we might not have a right to tell a woman what to do with her own body, we do have a right to tell her what to do with her body when her actions affect a living human being.
2) “There are other issues that should be dealt with.”
It is true that there are other issues that need to be dealt with, but we must ask ourselves if these other issues are on par with or above our ethical responsibility to human life. I believe there are two approaches to this view:
I) The hierarchialist view – Under this view one accepts that there is a hierarchy of ethical conduct. Thus, there are some ethical codes that are simply higher than others. If the Nazis knock on my door and ask if I’m hiding Jews and I am, in fact, hiding Jews then most hierarchicalists would argue that protecting human life is a higher good than lying. Thus, one is allowed to suspend the ethical judgment against lying because a higher ethical calling is on the line. Another example is that of speeding. Most would agree that it is ‘ethical’ to go the speed limit (ethical in that it is obeying the law), but most would also argue that if there was a life-threatening emergency that required one speed to the hospital it would be okay to suspend the ethic of following the law in order to follow the ethic of saving a life.
Biblically this holds some justification. Though there is nothing explicit within Scripture that says there is a hierarchy, it is implicit in some of the ethical situations presented. Without going into too much detail we can see that the Law itself holds different punishments for different offenses, with offenses and crimes against the image of God (humans) holding severe penalties. Likewise, we know it is wrong to deceive people or to tell half truths, yet we see God ordering Samuel to deceive and tell a half truth when directed by God to go anoint David as king. Jesus tells us not to deny Him while Paul tells us to follow the government and ruling authorities; the Jewish authorities told Paul to cease preaching Jesus, but he disobeyed them. Obviously, in this instance, the higher ethical value was following God rather than following an authority. The list goes on, but this should help to show that there are some ethics that are higher than others.
With the above in mind once could argue that crimes against humanity are more severe than any other ethical violation (such as pollution or animal cruelty). Things such as homosexuality, adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse, or even child abuse – though evil in their own right – do not measure up to murder. Whereas there is still life after the previous offenses, murder is a final act.
In light of this, though there are other acts that are important and should be dealt with, ethically speaking abortion is the greatest unethical act allowed by law, thus it should be the number one issue when going to the voting booth. This is not to say the other issues aren’t important, but simply that they are not as important as that of abortion.
II) The Deontological view – this view would hold that all values are equal. Lying and murdering are both ethically wrong and should both be avoided, regardless of the consequences. To use an above example, even if you need to speed in order to save a life you shouldn’t speed because you would be violating an ethical principle.
Even this view, however, would negate the above argument. Though other issues would be viewed as equal they would not be mutually exclusive to desiring to ban abortion. One could conceivably be passionate about both environmental reform and banning abortion on demand.
3) “Why don’t you get out there and talk to the women instead of trying to pass a law against abortion?”
For whatever reason some people are pro-choice because they believe abortions will happen no matter what we do to prevent them. Thus, they argue to forgo the law and address people on a personal level.
Let it be said that I do support a form of this argument. Two of my previous articles deal directly with this view. I do whole-heartedly believe that on any issue we should deal with the person and realize the law will make little difference.
That being said, I believe that abortion is a violation of natural law and should therefore be banned. Not that this will stop abortions, but it will certainly limit them and it simply is the right thing to do.
If we apply this logic across the board it simply doesn’t work. Some men are going to rape women no matter what, so why not try to address these men on a personal level and forget about making rape illegal? What about murder, child abuse, or any other list of crimes? This is not a slippery-slope argument; this is taking the way of thinking for this one issue and applying it to other issues. When we do this it fails.
Instead, as Christians, we should be reaching out to these women while trying to ban the practice of abortion. The two are not mutually exclusive.
4) “It’s not my calling as a Christian to change the law or to make the lost behave like Christians.”
There might be some merit to this argument, but this still wouldn’t support a Christian being pro-choice. In fact, a Christian that wanted to consistently hold to this belief would simply have to cease voting or holding any opinion on politics.
Even if we are not supposed to hold political sway we simply cannot say we are pro-choice. To say you are pro-choice is to say you believe a woman holds the right to kill her own child. Let that sink in for a bit. Should we honestly believe or teach that something is wrong, that abortion is really the act of taking a human life, but then turn around and argue that someone has a right to do this?
Overall, I would argue that it is simply illogical for a Christian to claim Christ and the pro-choice agenda. It is inconsistent – one cannot denounce abortion as wrong (because it takes a human life), but then argue a woman has a right to have an abortion. This is a logically inconsistent view. If one wanted to be consistent then one would have to apply this to rape, murder, theft, and a host of other crimes. All of these crimes violate the rights of other people and create victims, as does abortion. Instead, Christians are called to speak out against all violent acts that unjustly end the life of a human being. We should not teach that a person has the right to have a choice when it comes to unjustly harming another human. In the end, a Christian cannot support the pro-Choice agenda.