In 2018, an historic vote happened in Ireland where the people voted to legalise abortion for pregnant women up to 12 weeks and up to the 24th week in exceptional circumstances.
Many Christians are against abortion, encouraging women to choose life for their baby. But why and why does it matter anyway? Surely a woman's body is her body? Is that all there is to it?
In this we'll have a hopefully compassionate look at the issues and see what Christians believe and why.
Please know that this is not about 'scoring points' or making people feel bad. This doesn't have all the answers to what is a very complex issue. This is not meant to be condemning in any way - either if you have had an abortion or whether you support abortion. Each person who is a Christian has to find their own way through this and other social issues. Just know that with God the door is always open and he is always ready to listen, speak and help us. Whoever we are and wherever we're at. This is not an attempt to force a point of view on anyone (despite society doing this towards Christians at times).
It's All About Me
The first thing to think about is that when people don't know God (and especially in the Western world), many people believe that life is about them and that happiness comes from doing what they want and getting what they want out of life. People can be generous and kind but because only God can set people free from selfishness, it is only ever temporary or limited without God.
People often want to do whatever they want despite the consequences.
In this way, the message of Jesus is totally different. Jesus says you live for God and for others and that happiness can only be found in this way.
So we learn that the Christian worldview is actually very different to the human worldview. This is important because what we conclude in life is often directed by what we believe.
What people are really saying is that "I am God and I decide what I do with my life."
People see with the 'Eye-Gate' and not with the' Soul-Gate'
Second thing to understand...
More and more, people believe that what they see, taste and touch is what is real, even if it isn't (and even when they know better). So if something looks and sounds fun, impressive, lively, exciting then that must be true. Or if people are told that things are exciting, they believe it or choose to believe it. Even if it isn't! Things that are actually quite dark can be presented as being exciting and people choose to believe the propaganda, ignoring any other reality. They choose to ignore that something deeper sits behind what they see, taste and feel. If something has its name changed, people think it's not really as bad. (A person breaking apart marriage be sleeping with someone else is called an 'affair' etc).
It's like people think that if they ignore something or don't 'see it' then it makes it go away; makes it not real or not bad... Not true!
So we need to think about this when we think about any social issue. Media has become so powerful and even manipulative so that reality is often masked by what looks good. But it's only a shadow of reality and people don't like it when Christians break their illusion.
According to Life Charity, "It is a scientific fact that new human life begins at fertilisation. When the sperm and egg join together a new genetically unique human is created."
- In 2016 there were 190, 406 abortions in England and Wales according to the Department of Health.
- That means there is an abortion every 3 minutes of every day.
- Only 60 of these were performed to due the risk of physical health risk to the mother.
- 98% of abortions are funded by the NHS.
- 90% of down syndrome babies are aborted.
- 3208 babies were aborted due to disability.
- 97% of abortions were performed due to fear of 'mental health risk'
- 38% of abortions are repeat abortions.
- For most abortions, the time limit is 24 weeks. 50-70% of babies at that age who are born survive.
- According to one researcher, 45% of women aged 25 who had an abortion suffered mental health issues. Abortion is therefore associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. No mental health problems were associated with unwanted pregnancies where the baby was born.
A Life and not a Fetus - Warning, graphic content.
By calling a baby in the womb 'a fetus', society tries to present something that is very distressing to be something less distressing. It is a typical case of changing the wording to make something appear not to be so bad. But the reality of abortion is incredibly distressing and harrowing.
Abortion is absolutely horrible and brutal. If we did to young babies what we do to them in the womb, we would be in prison for life. From a young age in the womb, a baby can feel pain. When a baby is aborted, often the baby moves away from the needle. Other times the baby screams in pain. Abortion is the process of destroying / sometimes ripping apart a life in the womb and then removing it from a woman's body. There is inevitable damage to both baby (of course) but also to the woman, even if people don't want to think about it or accept it.
A video showing the graphic nature of abortion was banned in the UK. In the USA an undercover video done at a major national abortion clinic was also banned and criticised, despite showing the horrors. People think that if the reality is hidden away it makes everything better. But it's not true.
Bible and What Christians Say
The Bible is clear that life started with God and that each individual life comes from God.
The argument that Christians make Biblically is that when a baby's life is taken in the womb, we are taking the life of a human being who is made in the image of God. As all life is given by God, we then start to play god by deciding who can live and who can't live. There have even been selective abortions done due to the baby being the 'wrong gender'.
Christians believe that mankind is not simply an advanced animal but that we are made in the image of God. What that means is that God made us to be unique. In the beginning, God breathed his life into every human to make them unique and above animals - not 'above' as in to abuse - but 'above' as in there to care for the world. Only humans have a spirit. Some people (atheists or humanists) believe we're all just animals. But this devalues people, gives them no hope and conveniently means that it's easier to take a life.
Genesis 2.7 - "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
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."
Christians believe that everyone has the right to life. The UN Declaration on Human Rights, article 3 agrees.
Women's Rights - Yes!
The body of a woman is valuable and deserves protecting. If society saw and treated women as God sees women there would be few of the problems that we see today with women being abused, attacked, raped, ignored and treated as second class citizens.
Supporting the right to life is not about rejecting the right of a woman to decide what to do with her own body. But we all have a choice what to do with our bodies and whether we like it or not, our choices have consequences for society. People decide they have the right to get drunk but then they cause violence, vandalism, cause great cost to the NHS and police through various destructive behaviour. Supporting the right to life is about confronting the idea that we should all be able to do whatever we want without any consequences.
But when people talk about women's rights, what they really mean is the woman's right to do whatever they want. Yet in society, everything we do has an impact on others. If we live according to what God says, we'd have a much fairer, compassionate and caring world than we do. People choose to have sex without care with whoever they choose, then get pregnant and then don't want to have the baby. But rights always come with responsibilities. We can do things but they always have a consequence, good as bad, as the Bible says.
It's the rejection of God that causes problems and not the lack of rights.
When people encourage women not to have abortions, they are thinking of the rights of women. They are considering that a responsible society lives responsibly. They consider the health of women who are more likely to get certain medical conditions if they have an abortion and are more likely to be unable to have children in the future. They are considering the welfare of a woman who may well have mental health issues later in life as a result of the abortion, often undiagnosed. It is also thinking of the good of the nation where there is an increasingly elderly population and a low birth rate.
Only 0.000315% of abortions carried out in 2016 were due to physical risk to the mother.
It is also worth considering the right of a female baby in the womb to be and live as a woman.
Men - LISTEN UP!
This applies to men perhaps more than women as we see incredibly careless and reckless behaviour from guys. They need to be brought into line! If men behaved more responsibly and more like 'real men' then women would not have many of the problems that they are faced with. If you're a guy, get a life and be a real man. A real man is loving, caring, responsible, loving, helpful, protective, provides and if he leads, he does so by serving and not by dominating. A real man doesn't go round looking at their six pack or causing violence. It's not cool to sleep around and it's not cool to see how many women you can have sex with. Real men don't walk out on their wives or children either.
Justice and Not Judgment, Care and not Condemnation
In everything we need to present what we believe in genuine love. Don't argue with what someone says, speak to the person who is asking the question. Our heart and God's heart is for that person. People live in a very confusing world and we don't have every answer for every situation.
We should be quick to listen and slow to speak or get angry - James 1.19
Christians should never be arrogant, judgmental, full of pride or nasty to other people. Jesus told us to love God and love others, even our enemies. This session is not done so that you can have the latest evidence to shout at people but so you are informed as to why Christians are mostly against abortion.
The message is not that abortion is wrong. The message is that through Jesus we can choose life in every situation we face. The message is that it's not all about you. It's about God, this world and each other. Selfishness destroys but selflessness gives life.
If you know someone who has had an abortion then don't criticise or judge them but speak God's Word of life over people - that God gives life and wants to give the best life for each person. Living his way is the best way. It's not something that can or should be forced on anyone.
There are agencies available in most cities and online that are more than happy to talk to and help those who are struggling with the issue of abortion, both during a pregnancy and if they have had a termination.
Abortion could be seen as a reflection of society - getting rid of what is disposable or inconvenient. But in people's efforts to do this, they can end up destroying themselves and damaging society.
When we live God's way, people become valuable and to be valued and that creates a society full of value and life.