Anniversaries, whether of good or bad occasions, give us a reason to reflect on the results or consequences of those events.
Tuesday, January 22, will mark 40 years since the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its 7-2 decision in the Roe v. Wade case, in which state laws prohibiting abortions were declared unconstitutional based on an alleged right to privacy in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Since that fateful day, over 54 million babies in the U.S. have been legally murdered through surgical abortions—and many more through other means such as abortifacient drugs.
Various liberal groups hail Roe v. Wade as a monumental victory. On the other hand, many Christians and political conservatives view the decision as inherently immoral and an atrocious abuse of the 14th Amendment, which was drafted to protect released slaves from persecution and unlawful imprisonment.
Answers in Genesis takes a strong stand on the issues surrounding the sanctity of life. Our statement of faith declares the following:
All human life is sacred and begins at conception (defined as the moment of fertilization). The unborn child is a living human being, created in the image of God, and must be respected and protected both before and after birth. The abortion of an unborn child or the active taking of human life through euthanasia constitutes a violation of the sanctity of human life, and is a crime against God and man.
Anniversaries, whether of good or bad occasions, give us a reason to reflect on the results or consequences of those events. Of course, the discussion of abortion can become extremely heated and even painful for some people, so a certain degree of sensitivity is often appropriate. Yet it seems to me that there is also a time for some straightforward reporting on this issue. This article will not address every aspect of the debate, and it is not meant to provide answers to every related issue (see recommended links at the end of the article for coverage of specific topics). With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the changes that have taken place in the past 40 years related to the abortion issue.
TIME magazine recently ran an article in which the writer bemoaned the various state laws enacted since Roe v. Wade that have placed some restrictions on the abortion industry.1 While laws vary from state to state, there have been many small victories for the pro-life side of the debate. In the case of minors, most states require young girls to obtain some form of parental consent or at least notify one parent. Some places require women to read certain literature, view an ultrasound, or schedule an appointment for an abortion at least 24 hours prior to procuring an abortion. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 outlawed the ghastly infanticidal practice known as partial-birth abortion nationwide except when the mother’s life is at risk.
Both sides of the debate have developed clever tactics to accomplish their goals. The country’s largest abortion provider passes itself off as a family-friendly clinic that cares deeply about the health of women. Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood was responsible for killing 333,964 babies in 2011 while receiving $542.4 million in funding from the government. To put such a figure in perspective, that’s 40,000 more people than the population of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers, or an average of about one abortion every 94 seconds. It’s the epitome of hypocrisy to assert that you care deeply for girls while actively slaughtering 166,982 baby girls (this figure is based on half of the total number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood, assuming that half were boys and half were girls).
A Planned Parenthood group in Eureka, California, will once again hold forty days of prayer, in cooperation with the Humboldt County Clergy for Choice.2 These religious leaders will offer “40 different prayers for those involved in the ‘sacred care’ of abortions to continue protecting, providing, and embracing the procedure—including mothers, escorts, [and] abortionists.”3 Of course, at present, none of the forty prayers is for the unborn.
This program makes a mockery of real prayer to the living, life-giving God, who cherishes every soul and unequivocally pronounces woe on those who do not. For instance, “
The Lord hates … hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16–17), and “
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
The reporting of the issue is often quite slanted in the popular news media. These media outlets call those who favor abortions pro-choice or describe them as being for women’s reproductive rights and access to healthcare. Those of us opposed to abortion are regularly called anti-abortion (instead of pro-life) and are said to be guilty of waging a war on women and their healthcare needs, as was popularly proclaimed in the 2012 presidential campaign.
As is so often the case, we must be careful to properly define terms as we engage in discussions on abortion. For example, pro-life advocates have traditionally argued that life begins at the moment of conception. While this makes perfect sense of what we know from a biblical and biological perspective, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary altered its definition of conception from the “act of conceiving, or becoming pregnant; fertilization of the oocyte (ovum) by a spermatozoon to form a viable zygote” in its 1995 edition to the “act of conceiving; the implantation of the blastocyte in the endometrium” in its 2000 edition. So conception is no longer synonymous with fertilization (when sperm joins with egg), but with implantation (when the blastocyst attaches to the wall of the uterus), which typically occurs 6–9 days after fertilization. One of the results of this change of definitions is that those in favor of abortion can promote “emergency contraceptives” like the so-called “morning after pill” and still claim that no abortion took place since conception (redefined as implantation) had not occurred yet.
40 years ago, the United States government granted permission for women to procure legal abortions. However, since the first passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976 the federal government was restricted from using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, except in certain circumstances.
That situation changed entirely with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (popularly called Obamacare; portions are also referred to as the HHS Mandate). Despite assurances to the contrary from President Obama, including the issuance of an essentially meaningless executive order,4 taxpayers are indeed being forced to pay for abortions because business owners are being required to provide insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. Though these drugs are referred to as contraceptives under the new definitions, this redefinition does not change the fact that they can destroy the life of a human embryo.
The Hobby Lobby case has garnered national attention. David Green, the CEO and founder of the retail chain Hobby Lobby, has said that they could not comply with this mandate because, “We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles.”5 Forcing a Christian to pay for an abortion through abortifacient drugs is a clear violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee that Americans have the right to the free exercise of religion.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But Hobby Lobby is not the only company whose founders are being forced to violate their consciences. While churches are currently exempt from the HHS Mandate to provide abortifacient drugs, other religious employers have not been equally protected under the law. Many Catholic organizations have been told that they must provide insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. Wheaton College, Colorado Christian University, Liberty University, and Tyndale House Publishers, the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of Bibles, have been involved at various levels of litigation to prevent the government from forcing them to pay for the intentional killing of the unborn.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of Liberty University addresses the HHS mandate’s inherent violations of other constitutional protections and points out that the payment of the enormous fines levied on those who refuse to violate their religious beliefs by funding the willful destruction of unborn life constitutes an onerous penalty for religious choices. This law also gives non-elected bureaucrats the power to tell employers what kind of insurance they must provide to their employees. This constitutes taxation without representation.
Part of the justification for the current presidential administration’s views is the alleged divide between sacred and secular. We are told that it’s fine to have religious beliefs, as long as they remain private, so it wouldn’t be right for a Christian to operate their business according to Christian principles. Yet the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added). Christians who own businesses and operate private institutions like Christian colleges do not lose their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion when they arrive at the office each day. First Amendment rights are about more than just the right to go to church.
There is no biblical basis to divide the real world into sacred and secular. God is the authority in all areas of life, and Christians must recognize that the Bible does not only apply to a weekly church service or the privacy of the home alone. God’s Word is our authority and must be obeyed in every area of life (Mark 12:30; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
The pro-abortion crowd has long played the “gender card” and “race card” to ramp up sympathy for their causes. We are told that without abortion on demand, women would not have equal rights. An article in The Atlantic recently implied that pro-lifers are elitist and racist because outlawing abortions would disproportionately hurt low-income non-whites.6
At Answers in Genesis, we have often highlighted the importance of one’s worldview in looking at the evidence. The two examples above are classic examples of this. How would the right to an abortion give women equal rights? The rationale here is essentially that abortions give women the ability to be as promiscuous as they want to be without the consequence of having children, just like men have been able to do. However, men don’t have the right to kill unborn children, so how does abortion solve this alleged inequality? In fact, many American men have been tried for murder under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 after they were charged with killing a woman’s unborn child. The duplicity of our nation’s laws regarding the unborn is astonishing, and it certainly does not result in equal rights for men and women.
Also, what sort of twisted thinking could spin the truth about abortion to claim that banning it would be racist? The truth is that the vast majority of abortion clinics are located in low-income, non-white neighborhoods and that the abortion rate for black women is three times higher than the rate for white women, meaning unborn black children are being aborted at a much higher rate.7 So which position results in racism: the one that claims all human life is precious because we have been made in the image of God or the one that results in a tripled rate of abortion for those of one particular skin shade? Regardless of one’s desired outcomes, the end (alleged equal rights for women) does not justify the means (slaughtering unborn children).
Lest you think this type of bullying only touches the abortion issue, consider that in 2008 a New Mexico commission ordered a Christian photographer to pay nearly $7,000 for refusing to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony,” in a state that currently does not officially recognize gay “marriages” or domestic partnerships.8 An Indianapolis bakery has faced criticism and an investigation for refusing to take an order of rainbow-colored cupcakes for a student group’s celebration of National Coming Out Day.9 A similar case in Iowa involved a Christian who declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.10 A Christian t-shirt company in Kentucky has been investigated for refusing to print shirts for a gay pride event.11 Last year, outspoken homosexual and “anti-bullying” speaker Dan Savage lambasted Christian students and their beliefs at a national student journalism conference in which he was supposed to speak against bullying.12 Perhaps the best-known example of this bullying occurred last summer when the president of Chick-fil-A stated that he stood for traditional marriage. This was not surprising since he had previously made similar statements, but many liberal groups claimed to be outraged and called for a boycott of the restaurant, sparking an outpouring of support for Chick-fil-A by many Christians and other supporters of free speech.
It is important to notice that no one was discriminated against in any of these cases. Each business has the right to refuse promoting ideas contrary to religious and personal convictions. For example, the African-American owner of a t-shirt company should not be harassed and accused of racism or bigotry if he refused to print shirts promoting a Klu Klux Klan rally. Should a homosexual owner of a t-shirt company be forced to print shirts containing slogans from the offensive Westboro Baptist people? Should a Muslim printer be forced to print cartoons of Muhammad that he deems to be offensive? Of course not. Then neither should Christian business owners be forced to engage in activity that violates their conscience and religious convictions.
It can be disheartening and frustrating for American Christians to watch the steadfast erosion of religious freedoms and the increasing attacks on biblical values. But what should we expect to happen when the church itself is so compromised on biblical values? Not only have many pastors, Christian colleges, and churches jettisoned the foundational history of our beliefs found in Genesis, but also many professing Christians are complicit in the promotion of abortion and homosexual behavior.
The United States of America is one of the few countries in the history of the world to enjoy religious freedom, but that religious freedom came from a commitment to the Christian values held by our founding fathers. As generation after generation has been trained in our education system (and sadly, in many churches) to reject the authority of God’s Word, we see the rise of antagonism toward Jesus Christ and His followers.
Instead of retreating and licking our wounds, Christians should be encouraged. Paul told Timothy that they labored and suffered reproach because they trusted in the living God (1 Timothy 4:10) and that all who desire to lead godly lives will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). After being beaten for their testimony about Jesus, the apostles rejoiced because “
they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus concluded the Beatitudes with these words:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10–12)
Unless the church returns to the authority of God’s Word and boldly proclaims it to the next generation, I believe the attacks on Christians will continue to increase. But we must never “
grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Rather, we should look at the incredible opportunity God has given us to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
Finally, while I believe abortion is a heinous crime against God and man, it is certainly not greater than crucifying the Son of God an atrocity for which we are all guilty (1 Corinthians 15:3; Matthew 20:18–19; Acts 2:23). Yet, God was willing to forgive a wretched sinner like me. He has promised to do the same for all who turn from their sins, including the sin of abortion, and place their faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who graciously gave His life and rose again so that we could have eternal life with Him (John 3:16).