The ultimate issue underlying the abortion debate (and how to learn more)


Yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v Wade. The annual March for Life rally - the world's largest anti-abortion rally - takes place on this date every year, nationally, in Washington DC and, locally, at many state capitols. This issue, like no other, evokes the strongest of emotions that make it particularly difficult to objectively consider. Even more, the rhetoric around this debate, such as "pro-choice" or "pro-life" confuses many. Polls indicate that most people do not even understand the basic differences that lie at the heart of this issue and just want it to go away. 

So, what is the ultimate issue underlying the debate surrounding abortion? The ultimate issue underlying the abortion debate is not "choice" nor partisan politics, but when human life begins. Does human life begin at the point of conception or at some point along the way? That's the issue. If a human life originates at the point of conception, and biblically and scientifically it does, we're not merely dealing with a medical technique we call "abortion" but we're actually dealing with the killing of a defenseless, voiceless, weak human being.

Every "pro-choice" argument is based on the false premise that (1) the unborn are not human beings and/or the unjust premise that (2) the human rights of those born come before the human rights of those who are unborn. Therefore this is a human rights issue that is, literally, a matter of life and death and one we should all seek to more fully understand. However, the point of this post is not to prove that human life begins at the point of conception, but to raise awareness and offer guidance on how to learn more. Here are a three ideas on how to educate yourself on this important issue: 

First, if you're interested in getting an overview, I preached on the "Sanctity of Human Life" (and applied it to abortion) this past Sunday. I address, "What is a human?", "When does human life begin?", "What is an abortion?", and "In light of all that, how does the gospel of Jesus give shape to how we respond?" I also hit the most common objections. You can listen to the audio and read the notes here.  

Second, one of the most accessible, helpful, and books available is Scott Klusendorf's The Case for Life. Others include: Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, Francis Beckwith; Natural Rights and the Right to Choose, Hadley Arkes; Embryo: A Defenese of Human Life, Robert George and Christopher Tollefson; and Pro Life Answers to Pro Choice Arguments, Randy Alcorn. 

Third, there are also many great resources available on the web, including, Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, and the Life Training Institute. If you have not taken the painful step of actually watching an abortion procedure, I encourage you to do so in order to see it for the horror it is. It’s often just a lot of ideas until its before you. All of these sites have short clips available. 

Lastly, here are two suggestions for how we can move forward:  

First, if you already hold a "pro-life" position, use reason not rocks; non-violence, not violence. Let's dream of ways to create a counter-culture where life is prized and kids are treasured. Let's dream about ways to get involved in making abortion unthinkable in our country in generations to come. Let's partner with local pregnancy centers to support their efforts and come alongside women in crisis in our communities. Let's take adoption and foster care very seriously. Let's not only graciously fight for the life of the unborn who are in need of help. But, let's also graciously offer a better life to those who are already born who are in need of help. 

Second, if you have had an abortion (and, statistically, one in three women will have an abortion by age 45) or encouraged one there is overwhelming grace for you at the cross of Jesus Christ. No sin is too deep, too dark or too ugly to bring to him for cleansing, forgiveness and a fresh start. He can't reverse what has been done, but he can forgive what has been done. Trust him for forgiveness today - and every day. And, importantly, if you've never told anyone, bring it into the light with those who care about you. It will help your healing.