“Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights violation of our time. It is going the way of slavery and segregation, sooner or later.”
That was my prediction in Part 1 of this series, and it was based on more than just wishful thinking. According to a recent Gallup Poll, “Support for making abortion broadly illegal [is] growing fastest among young adults” (gallup.com/poll/126581/generational-differences-abortion-narrow.aspx). That is a good sign for the future.
Moreover, in 1996, 56% of Americans considered themselves “pro-choice,” while only 33% considered themselves “pro-life.” As of May, 2016, that gap narrowed to 47% and 46% respectively (gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx).
The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels, however, fall short of identifying the various stances people hold regarding abortion. The truth is, many people who consider themselves to be pro-choice actually hold views that are pro-life to a degree, and vice versa.
For example, only 14% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal during the last three months of pregnancy. That means 86% believe abortion should be illegal during the third trimester.
Only 27% believe that abortion should be legal during the 2nd three months of pregnancy. So 73% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal during both the second and third trimesters.
Interestingly—and strangely—61% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal during the 1st three months of pregnancy (see gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx). If 46% of Americans consider themselves pro-life, yet 61% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal during the first trimester, one-third of pro-life people aren’t as pro-life as we might have hoped.
Followers of Christ, of course, believe that life begins at conception (see Ex. 21:22-25; Is. 44:2, 24, 49:5; Jer. 1:4-5; Ps. 139:13-16; Luke 1:41, 44), and thus abortion at any stage of pregnancy is the taking of a human life, an act of murder. If we could only convince everyone to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they would all be born again, and abortion would be a thing of the past.
Admitting, however, that the conversion of everyone on earth is unlikely, the second best way to reduce the number of abortions is to persuade people that abortion is wrong at any stage of pregnancy. And that is not an impossible hope, due to the fact that 86% of Americans already believe that abortion is morally wrong at any time during the third trimester, and 73% already believe that abortion is morally wrong at any time during or after the second trimester.
Just as an aside, unregenerate people have free wills, and they continually make moral choices, all predicated on the degree that they heed or suppress their consciences. Unregenerate people with moral convictions helped turn the tide against slavery and segregation, in part by persuading other unregenerate people to heed their consciences. Don’t ever think for a moment that the tide can’t be turned against abortion. Just the fact that 86% of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong in the third trimester is an indication that unregenerate people are yielding to their God-given consciences to a degree.
A Strategy for Turning the Tide
Obviously, in light of the spectrum of views on abortion, the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are inadequate. In fact, they pit those of us who are truly pro-life against some people with whom we hold some common ground. So may I suggest four new labels that more accurately define four common stances? I think they would, by themselves, help people think more clearly about the abortion issue, identify where they stand on it, and consider if their stance is defensible. Here they are:
“Pro-Baby 1” (PB1) could label those of us who believe that abortion is morally wrong at any time during or after the first trimester.
“Pro-Baby 2” (PB2) could label those who believe that abortion is morally wrong at any time during or after the 2nd trimester.
“Pro-Baby 3” (PB3) could label those who believe that abortion is morally wrong at any time during the 3rd trimester.
And “Non-Human” (NH) could be the label for those who don’t believe the “fetus” is a human being until after it is born, and who thus believe abortion is morally acceptable at any time during pregnancy.
I like those first three labels because (1) they force everyone who believes that abortion is morally wrong at some point in pregnancy to identify when they believe that point is, and (2) all three labels affirm some areas of common ground among those who hold some moral conviction regarding the unborn. All acknowledge that, at least at some point in pregnancy, there is a baby, not just a “fetus.” And those three groups together comprise 86% of all Americans.
I like the fourth label, “non-human,” because it very accurately describes the minority stance and forces those who embrace it to admit to themselves what they actually believe. 14% of Americans do not believe that the unborn are human beings at any stage of their growth. If they did believe it, they would have to admit that abortion is morally wrong.
Moreover, that fourth label could be interpreted as applying, not to just a minority belief about the unborn, but to those who actually hold that minority belief. That is, to hold to the belief that a baby, two minutes before it is born, is not a human, and thus it is morally OK to kill it, one surely cannot be a human being. Such people must be “non-humans.”
Admittedly, to label someone as being non-human is not exactly complimentary. But it might give those who hold to their minority view a chance to relate to the babies whom they’ve labeled as “non-human,” and whom they believe are of no value and OK to murder. A little taste of their own medicine. (And the rejection that the 14% might feel from the 86% will be of no comparison to the rejection experienced by every aborted baby.)
In keeping with that thought, adopting these four labels might also help unite the three pro-baby groups against the non-human group, which could pave the way for federal and/or state bans on most abortions during the third trimester, currently legal in 10 states and Washington D.C. (3 of those 10 states prohibit abortion after the 28th week, and 7 of them, plus Washington D.C., allow abortions at any time during pregnancy.)
Our Logical Message
Quoting Bible verses to persuade unregenerate people that abortion is wrong is like yelling at Chinese people in Spanish. But thankfully, we don’t need to employ such a strategy regarding the abortion issue. We only need to ask people which of the four groups they identify with, and then confront them with a little bit of logic that appeals to the moral conviction they already hold.
For example, even those in the “non-human” category hold to the conviction that it is morally wrong to murder a baby outside the womb. So what is the difference between a newborn baby and a baby in its mother’s womb one hour before it is born? There is no difference. Logically, if it is morally wrong to kill a baby minutes after it has been born, it is morally wrong to kill a baby minutes before it is born. Anyone who denies that is only fooling himself.
And if it is morally wrong to kill a baby minutes before it is born, how could it be morally OK to kill a baby a day before it is born? And if it is morally wrong to kill a baby a day before it is born, how could it be morally OK to kill a baby a week before it is born?
Of course, you can apply this same logic all the way back to conception, and so it can also be employed to help those in the “Pro-Baby 3” and “Pro-Baby 2” categories realize that the arbitrary date they use to split pregnancy into the “fetus (non-human) stage” and “baby (human) phase” has no logical basis. If it is morally wrong to kill a baby who has just begun the third trimester, how could it be morally OK to kill a baby one day before the third trimester? If it is morally wrong to kill a baby who has just begun the second trimester, how could it be morally OK to kill a baby one hour, one day, or one week before the second trimester?
Nothing Else Can Become a Human Baby
Here’s another bit of logic that can’t be refuted: If left alone, the “fetus” is the only thing in the world that has any chance of becoming what everyone agrees is a human baby. And everyone agrees that the fetus is alive from the moment of conception. (It is itself the product of two living things, a sperm and an egg.)
And everyone agrees that to stop something that is alive from continuing to live, you must kill it. Thus everyone, PB1s, PB2s, PB3s and NHs, must agree that abortion is the killing of a living thing that if not killed will become what is indisputably a baby, a human being by everyone’s measure.
So what makes it morally OK to kill, at any stage of its growth, what is the only thing in the world that can become what everyone indisputably agrees is a human baby? To kill a 2-week-old “fetus” is to kill what would have become a 3-month-old “fetus,” which 73% of Americans believe is morally wrong, and it is to kill a 6-month-old “fetus,” which 86% of American believe is morally wrong, and it is to kill a newborn baby, a toddler, an adolescent, and an adult, all of which 100% of Americans believe is morally wrong.
In the United States, it is a federal crime to crush a bald or golden eagle egg. The simple reason is because, as everyone knows, to crush an eagle egg is to kill an unborn eagle, which is to kill an eagle. The same logic applies to human beings in the womb.
Again, this cannot be logically refuted. And that is why, as I pointed out in Part 1 of this series, the murder of a pregnant woman, at any stage of her pregnancy, is considered double homicide by our federal government and 38 states. To murder a pregnant woman is to murder two human beings.
One other point that comes to light in all of this: To identify one’s self with either the “PB2″ or PB3” groups is to be somewhat hypocritical, because those in both groups condemn others outside their group for a moral infraction of which everyone in their group is also guilty. For example, those who identify with the “Pro-Baby 2” group are declaring, by their identification with their group, that all those in the “Pro-Baby 3” group are baby killers due to an arbitrary date within pregnancy that the Pro-Baby 2 Group has set. But that is exactly what everyone in the Pro-Baby 2 group has done as well, only with an earlier arbitrary date.
A Final Question
As you would expect, and for various reasons, most abortions occur within the first trimester. In fact, 91% of abortions occur within the first 13 weeks of gestation. (66% occur within the first 8 weeks, 53% occur within the first 7 weeks, and 35% occur within the first 6 weeks.) Yet 14,000 American babies are aborted each year after they’ve reached 21 weeks or greater gestational age.
Obviously, the closer to conception, the less the embryo resembles a newborn baby. But from the time of fertilization, a unique set of human DNA is created, one that never existed before and will never be duplicated. Every genetic detail is determined once and for all. That of course includes gender, height, hair, eye and skin color, and much, much more.
Anyone who looks at a baby in its 13th week of gestation (see illustration below) has no doubts they are looking at a developing human baby that very much resembles a newborn. Although only 3 inches long, at 13 weeks the baby is already forming fingerprints and fingernails on its tiny fingers. The heart is pumping, and it has had four chambers for four weeks. If a girl, she already has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries…the only eggs in the mammalian world that have the potential to become human beings themselves.
Yet, those who identify with the PB2, PB3 and NH groups all believe that there is a time period when the “fetus” is just a clump of cells, either prior to 13, 27 or 40 week’s gestation. But do they really believe that? I suggest we ask them this question: “Since a ‘fetus’ is not a human being until after 13 (or 27 or 40) week’s gestation, but rather just a clump of cells, would you be willing to feed your dogs a dead aborted ‘fetus’ at 13 (or 27 or 40) week’s gestation? Would that be morally acceptable to you? If not, why not?”
By the way, here is what 13, 27, and 40-week “fetuses” look like:
In summary, perhaps the simplest way to end abortion is to persuade more people that it is immoral. And that is not an impossible task in light of the fact that so many people already believe that abortion is immoral after a certain point in pregnancy, and all people (just about) believe that killing a newborn baby is immoral.
Women who are thus persuaded become highly motivated to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and if they do find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy, will not consider abortion to be an option. Men who are thus persuaded are also motivated to avoid impregnating women who are not similarly persuaded. Citizens and politicians who are thus persuaded will push for legislation that makes abortion less accessible, but that makes education, contraception and adoption more accessible, and that reduces social ills that contribute to the abortion problem. But it all starts with moral convictions.
Next month, I’d like to publish some thoughtful reactions to this and last month’s e-teaching, as well as make an attempt to respond to any respectful objections. If you have something to contribute, please do! — David