The number of abortions that have taken place in the United States is breathtaking. An abortion is the forced termination of a pregnancy, which results in the death of an embryo or fetus. Historians of the Second World War recorded that the Nazi regime and its allies executed some 6 million Jews throughout the 6-year war. As shocking as that number is to the mind, it pales when compared to some 61 million abortions performed in the United States since 1973. More than four decades after the landmark decision to legalize abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court, the topic remains a widely debated hot-button issue (Roe). The two sides that fuel the controversial issue of abortion are those who align with the pro-choice or pro-life movements.
The pro-choice movement holds that women should have the option of choosing an abortion up to the point of fetal viability or, in other words, until the child is born. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision guarantees this right by stating:
“[Before viability], the attending physician, in consultation with his patient, is free to determine, without regulation by the State, that, in his medical judgment, the patient’s pregnancy should be terminated. If that decision is reached, the judgment may be effectuated by an abortion free of interference by the State.”ROE
Pro-choice groups assert that there is no scientific consensus on when human life begins and that an embryo is not yet a life but rather a potential life. That supports the view that an embryo is not a living being but only a residing cluster of cells with a potential for life; therefore, its termination is not a homicidal act. The great thinker Aristotle shared this same conclusion noting that an embryo is “the form or act of an organic, physical body that has life potentially” (Amerini 34). The pro-choice advocates hold to a secular humanism and relativism worldview. The views center on distinct human interests and ideals that exclude God. That limits itself to the nature of the mind and human understanding (Weerstra 5-6).
The pro-life movement asserts that human life begins at conception and that abortion is an act of homicide. The personhood initiative within the pro-life movement has gained increased momentum across the nation. It seeks to have states define a constitutionally protected person as a human being at any development stage. That aligns with a comment given by Justice Blackmun in delivering the court’s opinion in Roe, where the appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a “person” within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In support of that, the court outlined at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If that suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case collapses because the embryo or fetus’ right to life would be expressly guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. (Roe) While a woman’s body is indeed her own, the body of an unborn child is not her body; instead, it is the developing body of another human being and therefore, should have individual rights and protection.
Therefore, the notion behind the personhood movement targets abortion at the state level. The premise is that any state granting protected rights to embryos and fetuses can refuse abortion services in favor of the embryo or fetus’s right to life. That would be in keeping with the Fourteenth Amendment noted in Roe (Will 578). The dividing line between pro-choice and pro-life centers on whether an embryo or fetus is or is not a person. For the most part, people tend to identify pro-choice as a secular worldview and pro-life as a Christian worldview. However, several religious denominations align with the pro-choice movement.
The Pew Research Center recently reported that more than half of Catholics in the United States say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, which clouds the proper biblical worldview on abortion and when life begins. To understand at what point life begins, we must refer back to the origin of man in scripture because “As God’s people we need to operate in true biblical faith that is much more than theoretical beliefs” (Weerstra 51). The Bible teaches that God “formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
Once God breathed life into Adam, he set into motion the action of perpetual life through the bearing of offspring. An example of this motion is visible in the rapid expansion of the universe in which scientists have traced back to a single point in time, often referred to as “The Big Bang.” In like fashion, life continues to expand and move forward because of God’s initial motion with the breath of life. Nowhere else in the Bible does God breathe life into another human being, and that is because the breath of life is perpetual. When Jesus became an embryo inside Mary, he did not cease being God and reduce himself to being a potential life. He was God at conception through resurrection—he was and is God!
Likewise, when a man and woman come together to pass on the gift of life, that embryo, at conception, holds the breath of life and is a human life. Now that we have established the breath of life is perpetual and that an embryo is a human life, how does this address abortion? Again, let us refer back to scripture in the Book of Exodus, where God spoke his Ten Commandments to Moses. God said as his sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exod. 20:13). The Hebrew word for murder or kill is raw-tsakh, and it is a verb meaning to slay, kill, or otherwise take a life (Baker 1973).
God commands that we are not to kill one another as a premeditated act based on anger, jealously, and so on. For example, Cain’s mindset as he rose against his brother Abel out of rage and killed him (Gen. 4:8). Another example is King David when he premeditates Uriah’s death because he longed for the man’s wife, Bathsheba, to be his own (2 Sam. 11:15). When asked which of the commandments is the greatest, Jesus replied:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”Matt. 22:37-40
If we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves will come as a natural byproduct. By loving our neighbor as God loves us, the act of premeditated murder is inconceivable regardless of whether one is born in the world or in gestation. When it comes to choice, God will honor the free will he has given to all women to choose for themselves the path they wish to travel regarding abortion. The secular mind views abortion as a woman’s right to determine what is best for her regardless of the implications imposed on another life.
The biblical mind views life as a gift put in motion by the breath of God. It views abortion as a deliberate act that takes another’s life and stands in violation of God’s written word. The issue of abortion will likely remain a strong dividing force among people worldwide and it might well remain so until the coming of our Lord. As Christians, our job is simple; we must get out and proclaim the gospel to all that will hear, we must step out and make disciples for Jesus Christ, we must teach them God’s word so they, too, can adopt a biblical worldview. In time, perhaps the madness of widespread murder against innocent and helpless children in the womb will cease.
Amerini, Fabrizio. Aquinas On The Beginning And End Of Human Life. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University
Press, 2013. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Baker, Warren., ed. Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance: Expanded Edition. Chattanooga: AMG
Publishers, 2004. Print.
Fahmy, Dalia. 8 key findings about Catholics and abortion. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from
Cdc.gov. Center for Disease Control, 2016. Web. 18 February 2016
Christian Life Resources. U.S. Abortion Statistics By Year (1973-Current). Retrieved from
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Ed. Frederick C. Mish. 11th. Springfield: Merriam-
Webster, 2006. Book.
Roe v. Wade. No. 113. Supreme Ct. of the US. 1973.
Will, Jonathan F. “Beyond Abortion: Why The Personhood Movement Implicates Reproductive Choice.”
American Journal Of Law & Medicine 39.4 (2013): 573-616 44p. CINAHL Complete. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Weerstra, Hans M., “Christian Worldview Development.” Regent.blackboard.com International Journal Of
Frontier Missions. 1997. Web. 15 Feb. 2016