[The following is an updated re-post of a blog I wrote and posted originally eight years ago . This also appears as Chapter 39 of my book, Random Observations of an Orderly Universe.]
Most of the time I begin these blogs on a light note, something that will hopefully whet your appetite and cause you to think that what you are reading will be enjoyable as well as instructive, maybe even inspirational.
This will not be one of those times.
I’m posting this in advance of January 22, 2021, the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision known as Roe v. Wade. This was the case in which the Court decided that the Constitution contained a right to abort a baby in his or her mother’s womb – a “right” that had somehow gone unnoticed in the first 197 years of our existence as a nation, the preceding 186 years as a Constitutional republic. By a decision of 7-2, “the Court … [found] within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment [ratified in 1868] a right that was apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment” (Justice William Rehnquist, in his dissent).
I am not an attorney or a Constitutional scholar. I am able to understand that the Constitution was written to reflect the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights – that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I also understand that unless you have Life, you can neither have Liberty nor pursue Happiness.
More than just being anti-abortion
Someone reading this may say, “Oh no – not another anti-abortion diatribe!”
As one who affirms the biblical doctrine of the sanctity of human life,* I most certainly am against abortion. Those who disagree – including, presumably, some who are reading this – never come out and say they are pro-abortion. They prefer to call themselves pro-choice, and people who think like I do anti-abortion or even (horrors!) anti-choice. Those labels, however, don’t work. Consider:
If you like choices, here are some:
- contraceptives that are not simply early abortifacients, like RU486, the so-called “morning-after pill”;
- carrying the baby to term and putting him / her up for adoption;
- carrying the baby to term and raising him / her yourself;
- placing an ultrasound machine in the lobby of every Planned Parenthood office and other abortion clinic in the country.
These are all choices, are they not?
They are fine choices. In contradiction to the pro-abortion rallying cry, “We are pro-choice, you are no choice” – a slogan utterly devoid of coherence and moral content – those of us who are pro-life support any or all of those choices. The only choice we oppose is: ending the life of an unborn child.
But believing in the sanctity of human life is much bigger and broader than being merely anti-abortion. It means to affirm the value of human life in all its many forms: all races and religions, nationalities, the physically and mentally healthy, the challenged / disabled / handicapped. All human life is sacred.
And so today, 48 years after the Court’s decision to declare some lives not sacred, some lives not worth living, I want to post these thoughts.
All of life is sacred
Life is sacred because it is given to us by a holy God. As the Bible teaches, and our country’s Founding Fathers affirmed, all human beings have an unalienable right to life because God gives us that right. There is no other possible source for unalienable [their term – today we would say inalienable] rights, because if man gives us these or any other rights, man can take them away … as we have witnessed to our everlasting sorrow.
In the United States alone, there are:
- Approximately 950,000 babies aborted each year;
- 78,867 every month;
- 18,200 every week;
- 2,600 every day;
- 108 every hour;
- Slightly less than two every minute.
By way of encouragement, the numbers are decreasing to some of their lowest levels since Roe v. Wade became law in 1973 … but it’s still 950,000 too many. The Bible teaches that all human beings, including those in their mothers’ wombs,** are created with dignity, fearfully and wonderfully made, crowned with glory and majesty.
And that doesn’t only mean the baby in the womb: It means the mentally or physically challenged person; the homeless; the homosexual or drug abuser dying of AIDS – or the African child orphaned because of it; the elderly person with Alzheimer’s; the young boy or girl trapped in human trafficking, and the trafficker; the prisoner serving a life sentence … all made in the image of God.
In the mystery of the Word made flesh, Christ sanctified – made holy – all of human life:
- In being conceived by the Holy Spirit, He sanctified conception.
- In being born of woman, He sanctified the womb.
- In growing up as an infant in Bethlehem, a toddler in Egypt, and a boy, an adolescent and a young man in Nazareth, He sanctified those stages of life.
- In working as a carpenter, He sanctified our work.
- In His passion, He sanctified our pains.
- In dying, He sanctified death, and made it not the final obscenity, but only the doorway to eternity – eternal life with God, or eternal death without Him.
All of life is sacred, because Jesus has entered into it. Wherever He goes, is holy ground.
Reasons for hope
I would give you some reasons for hope: For over 30 years, I have been telling people from the pulpit and elsewhere that I am optimistic about the future of the right-to-life movement. Consider:
- In 2003, Congress passed legislation banning the barbaric practice known as “partial birth abortion;” the Supreme Court upheld the legislation in ’07.
- Many states – including Florida – have passed parental notification acts. Last year, in fact, saw the second highest number of state pro-life bills passed; a total of 43 pro-life laws went into effect in 19 states. (Good news / bad news: Americans United for Life ranks Florida 26 out of 50 in terms of being protective of life – room for improvement, certainly.)
- Advances in ultrasound technology are increasingly providing us a window into the womb. The more we see what goes on in utero, the less likely it is a mother will abort her baby.
- As mentioned, the number of abortions performed annually, approx. 926,000, is down to its lowest level, from a peak of 1.6 million in 1990.
- Every year at this time, many thousands of teenagers and young adults descend on Washington, D.C., ignoring wind, rain, and cold. Coming from universities, high schools, and churches around the nation, they take red-eye bus rides, sleep in church basements, and forego showers to defend the lives of the unborn. And they sport pro-life paraphernalia, like the popular black T-shirt with white lettering that says: “You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation.”
- We recently had a Vice President who has been involved in the pro-life movement for many, many years – and who spoke at the 2017 March for Life, the first sitting Vice President to ever speak live at the event; and
- We also had a President who, whatever else you may think of him, openly professes to be pro-life, and who nominated and had confirmed three Supreme Court justices who take a more originalist view of the Constitution – thus minimizing the kinds of judicial activism that brought us Roe v. Wade in the first place – and who spoke live from the White House Rose Garden to the 2018 March for Life rally, attended as it is every year by hundreds of thousands, the first sitting President to ever do so.
Even so, my hope does not lie in Washington. My hope is in the people of God, and my ultimate confidence is in God Himself, who made us in His image. 48 years and well over 60 million abortions after Roe v. Wade, it is well past time for the Church, and this nation, to say, “Enough.”
*See Genesis 1:26-28; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 8; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:1-5; Luke 1:39-45.
**If you question the “personhood” or “humanity” of the baby in the womb, consider:
Fearfully and wonderfully made
- At conception, a single fertilized cell has 46 chromosomes and a unique genetic code. Each human being is unique from the moment of conception, and fully human.
- At 18 – 25 days, the heart is beating.
- At 8 weeks, the baby has brain waves and fingerprints.
- By 12 weeks, he or she is sensitive to heat, touch, light and noise.
- Between 12 – 13 weeks, the child can suck his or her thumb.
- By this time, all body systems are functioning.
- By the 20th week, the mother is able to detect movement, or “quickening.”
Psalm 139:13-16: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.