Ethics

Articles on Morality, Social Issues and the Law of God

A Biblical Perspective on Abortion by Ed Walsh

 

As of June 3, 2019

LOUISIANA

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed it on May 30. The state’s lawmakers overwhelmingly supported the measure, in a 79-23 vote in the House and 31-5 in the Senate.

What does the law say?

It prohibits abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. The law doesn’t contain exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest. But it includes an exception to prevent a woman’s death or “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” or if the pregnancy is found to be “medically futile.”

What’s the status of the law?

It takes effect only if the so-called fetal heartbeat law in neighboring Mississippi, which was recently blocked by a judge, is upheld by a federal appeals court.

 

MISSOURI

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Mike L. Parson, a Republican, signed it on May 24. The vote in the state Legislature was 110-44 in the House and 24-10 in the Senate.

What does the law say?

It prohibits abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy. The law doesn’t contain exceptions for rape or incest, but it includes an exception for medical emergencies. The law states that doctors who perform an abortion after the eight-week cutoff could face five to 15 years in prison. It also contains a clause that requires written notification of a parent or guardian for an abortion to be performed on a minor.

What’s the status of the law?

It is set to go into force Aug. 28. A judge in St. Louis on Friday temporarily blocked Missouri from taking action that would have made it the first state in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade to not have a single abortion clinic; Planned Parenthood, which operates the last remaining clinic and is challenging the law, won a temporary restraining order.

 

ALABAMA

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed it on May 15. The state Legislature’s vote supporting the measure was 74-3 in the House and 25-6 in the Senate.

What does the law say?

It is the most stringent abortion ban in the country to date. The law will make performing an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison. It contains an exception for when the pregnancy poses a serious health risk to the woman, but it does not make exceptions for rape or incest.

What’s the status of the law?

It is supposed to go into effect in six months, but legal challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood mean it could be years before it is enforced, experts have said.

 

GEORGIA

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed it on May 7.

What does the law say?

It prohibits abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law makes exceptions in the case of rape and incest — as long as the woman has filed a police report first. It also makes exceptions to save the life of the woman or when a fetus is deemed unviable because of serious medical issues.

What’s the status of the law?

Planned Parenthood and other groups that support abortion rights have said they will take legal action. Meanwhile, major entertainment companies — including Netflix and Disney — have said they would rethink their investment in the state if the law takes effect.

 

OHIO

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed the bill on April 11. The vote in the state Legislature was 56-39 in the House and 18-13 in the Senate.

What does the law say?

It prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

What’s the status of the law?

It is set to go into effect July 11. The ACLU of Ohio and other groups are suing to temporarily block the law from taking effect.

 

UTAH

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, signed the bill on March 25.

What does the law say?

It prohibits most abortions after 18 weeks of gestation. It joins a list of other abortion restrictions in the state, such as a 72-hour waiting period and an in-person “informed consent session,” Planned Parenthood of Utah has said. The law makes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape, fatal fetal deformity or serious harm to the mother’s health.

What’s the status of the law?

Utah’s law, originally set to take effect in May, was reportedly blocked by a federal judge.

 

MISSISSIPPI

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, signed the bill on March 21.

What does the law say?

It prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The law makes exceptions if a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or one of her major bodily functions. It does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It also says a physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is found could have his or her state medical license revoked.

What’s the status of the law?

It was temporarily blocked this month by a federal judge.

 

KENTUCKY

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, signed the bill on March 15.

What does the law say?

It prohibits abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Another new state law bans abortion for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies because of the fetus’ gender, race or disability.

What’s the status of the law?

It was temporarily blocked in March by a federal judge.

 

ARKANSAS

When was the bill signed into law?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed the bill on March 15.

What does the law say?

It prohibits most abortions 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. The law contains exceptions for cases of rape, incest and medical emergencies. (The state already bans abortion after 20 weeks of a pregnancy.)

What’s the status of the law?

It was set to take effect 90 days after the state Legislature formally adjourns its session; that was expected to happen this month.

_________

Abortion is perhaps the most highly debated social issue of our time. approximately 879,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2017. The abortion rate for 2015 was 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 188 abortions per 1,000 live births. According to the United Nations’ 2013 report, only nine countries in the world have a higher reported abortion rate than the United States. They are: Bulgaria, Cuba, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine. With more than 61 million abortions that have occurred since 1973, almost everyone has an opinion on the issue. The abortion issue has been used as a symbol of independence in the feminist movement, and has been clouded by many other issues such as rape and incest. However, in order to obtain a Biblical view of abortion, one must rake away the muck which obscures the main questions about abortion, and concentrate on the issue’s essence.

The primary point of conflict in the entire abortion debate is the question of when life begins. If indeed life begins in the womb, then no one could disagree that the fetus (latin for `little one’) is a human being, and is subject to the rights (God’s laws concerning humanity) which befit a human being. First, the Bible establishes that God recognizes a person even before he or she is born. “Before I was born the Lord called me” (Isaiah 49:1). Exodus 21:22-23 describes a situation in which a man hits a pregnant woman and causes her to give birth prematurely. If there is “no serious injury,” the man is required to pay a fine, but if there is “serious injury,” either to the mother or the child, then the man is guilty of murder and subject to the penalty of death. This command, in itself, legitimizes the humanity of the unborn child, and places the child on a level equal that of the adult male who caused the miscarriage. Scriptural support abounds for the humanity of the unborn child. “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 eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps 139: 13-16). The Bible, in fact, uses the same Greek word to describe the unborn John the Baptist (Luke 1:41,44), the newborn baby Jesus (Luke 2:12,16), and the young children who were brought to Jesus for his blessing (Luke 18:15).

Perhaps the most stark Biblical revelation of the humanity of the unborn comes in Jeremiah 20, during Jeremiah’s cry of woe in which he laments that he wishes he had never been born, “Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying ‘A child is born to you – a son!’ . . . For he did not kill me in the womb with my mother as my grave” (Jeremiah 20:15-17).

In the aforementioned verses, and in countless other verses, the Bible does indeed establish that an unborn child is just as much a human in God’s eyes as we ourselves are. This indicates that the command “Thou Shall not Murder” (Exodus 20:13) certainly applies to the unborn as well as the already born. Thus, when we read Genesis 9:6, the full realization of what it means to murder comes in to focus, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Murder is an abomination in the sight of God because it is the unauthorized killing of a being made in His own image, and a blurring of the creator/creature distinction (cf. Romans 1).

Though the question of when life begins is important to many, the question more representative of today’s view is “what quality of life mandates preservation?” Has the fetus gained a quality of life worthy of preservation? This is a dangerous question, indeed. For who among us, the already-born, can decide such a question? Do we apply this question to every human being? Does a fetus, or even an infant with down syndrome have a quality of life equal to that of a perfectly normal one? These questions lead only to some sort of genetic elitism, and shouldn’t even be asked in good conscience. Perhaps the biggest irony encountered when examining those who wish to make abortion a social justice issue is that much of social justice is aimed at giving help and justice to those who are unable to speak and do for themselves– the meek. Yet, from the same mouth that says we must protect the homeless, the penniless, animals and the environment comes words which speak of killing an unborn human! This contradiction must not be overlooked, lest we fail to see the cruelty, the degrading of humanity, and the violation of God’s righteous decrees supported by those who hide behind the auspices of choice-advocacy.

Mother Teresa, perhaps one of the world’s most renown champions of the underprivileged said in a recent address in Washington, “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.” Also, the logical result of the desire for “abortion-on-demand” is infanticide and euthanasia — killing a newborn if it possesses physical or mental anomalies, and killing those for whom the living find it inconvenient to care. When human life is cheapened to the point that even the womb, a symbol of tranquility and peace, becomes a place of death; even the already-born will begin to respect each others’ lives a little less.

Biblical Christianity does not just offer judgement of the issue, and then retract. Certainly there are some tough situations in which women find themselves, and the Christian community offers many outlets for aiding these women who often can’t afford a child, or who don’t have a very good situation in which to raise a child such as Bethany Christian Services . Adoption of these babies is perhaps the most obvious. Another alternative is for a family to provide room and board for a mother while she has her baby. The Christian view would be that a woman should never have to make the choice between her baby and herself. In fact, there is even a waiting list for people who wish to adopt children afflicted with Down’s Syndrome.

Yes, the Word of God gives us a clear and understandable statement of God’s consideration of the unborn child to be a human being subject to the protections of his righteous law.

Bibliography

1. Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop, Whatever Happened To The Human Race?
2. Peter Barnes, Open Your Mouth For the Dumb, Abortion and the Christian.
3. Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto.
4. Steven A. Carr & Franklin A. Meyer, Celebrate Life, Hope For a Culture Preoccupied With Death.

 

 

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