~by Randy Bushey
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).
Is there any current cultural flashpoint with greater incendiary explosiveness than the concept of abortion on demand?
And so last month’s decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade sanctioning abortion on demand as a constitutional right – and returning the issue to individual states to provide legislation – may be the most impactive and passion-generating event in recent history. (My prediction is in the coming months, it will – at least in North America – surpass the Russian invasion of the Ukraine as the #1 news story of the year.)
Other recent decisions by this Supreme Court have upheld freedom of speech and freedom of religion principles. Consequently, many have pronounced this Court led by Justice Roberts as the most religiously conservative since World War 2. But is this simply a reductionist characterization, hopeful of the next court – with more Democratic appointees – tacking in a more liberal direction?
Many (most?) Christ-followers see June’s Supreme Court Decision as a significant – and unexpected – move toward righteousness: potentially curbing the destruction of unborn babies in the US. The next step will be determined by elected officials charged with determining legislation state-by-state.
In Canada, recent annual statistics show that between 15-20% of pregnancies end in abortion (approaching or exceeding 100,000 each year).
For half a century, we’ve been told that an unborn baby is simply a growing mass of protoplasm, and should it be permitted to develop and reach full term – or not – dependent only on the determination of the mother.
But now the legal framework is changing.
From birth I was cast upon You; from my mother’s womb You have been my God (Psalm 22:10).
How are Christ-followers to respond? What is a biblically-informed worldview?
The accepted narrative of our culture is that every woman has absolute right over her own body and therefore can terminate any unwanted pregnancy which is, after all, simply a part of her own body.
However, other questions are relevant to the conversation, even if, in the court of public opinion and national political dialogue, they are dismissed and despised as being inappropriate, small-minded, even chauvinistic:
– Where did that so-called “women’s right” originate? And Who has the authority to confer that right?
– Is a woman’s right to her own body limited when it threatens the body – indeed the independent human life – of another to whom she is providing sanctuary?
– Is being pro-life, by definition, anti-woman?
The answer to those foundational queries is determined by the starting point – or the worldview – of the person responding.
And yet, the context is often too emotional for otherwise rational people to discuss in a coherent, fact-based context.
From my birth I have relied on You; You brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise You (Psalm 71:6).
And if a pre-born child can be destroyed and discarded, is the contemporary, albeit chilling argument of post-birth destruction of the child – killing babies after they are born – a logical extension of that position? As Australian moral philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer wonders out loud in the discussion of “after birth abortion”, is the moment of birth really a meaningful break point in determining whether this infant is a person or non-person, whether its life is to be nurtured or extinguished? After all, he argues, the new-born infant is without “rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness” and consequently “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person”.1
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
The biblical position is this: among all forms of life, mankind alone is created in the image of God – imago Dei. Whatever else that implies, every human person – born or unborn – has been invested by God with intrinsic worth and therefore is a possessor of human value and human rights.
As a living image bearer, each person reflects something of God’s glory.
Created human life belongs to Him and must only be terminated as He dictates, permits or causes. (This argument impacts other relevant issues of our day including capital punishment and medical assistance in dying – MAiD).
Three millennium ago, David, the Shepherd-King of Israel, understood that he was a result of God’s creative genius – and the protective womb of his mother in which he was nurtured by God – when he acknowledged You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Takeaway: Will this significant legal decision pave the way for Christians to have a stronger, more biblical understanding of the issue? Will history view this as a watershed event causing the USA to step back from the precipice of moral evil?