How do you answer pro-choice arguments?

Pastor J.D. explains a few of the most common pro-choice arguments and responds to each one with scientific and scriptural insight.

A glimpse inside this episode:

What greater tragedy is there than taking the life of another human?

First, “The baby is a part of a woman’s body, and we need to respect her right to privacy and sovereignty over her body.” 

  • I agree that the right to privacy over our bodies is precious. 
  • But here’s the thing: The baby is not part of her body. That baby is intimately attached to her body for a period of time, yes, but it’s not part of her body. Listen, Thaddeus Williams, from whom I glean a lot of this today, says: “From the moment of conception, that baby has its own DNA–it’s own unique genetic code, a unique heart, (unique) circulatory system, brain, and more. If you’re saying it is a part of her body, does that mean SHE herself has 2 brains, 2 hearts, and 4 arms and legs?” No, it’s a separate person, even intimately attached to her body.
  • Scripture certainly presents the preborn child as its own person: The Psalmist of Psalm 139 says that in the womb God knew me by name, as a person; there I was fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together according to the plan of God with his purpose for me already in mind. 
  • Scripture tells us that John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb because his spirit–in the womb–was filled with the Spirit when he came into the presence of Jesus. 

Someone might say, “But it’s still IN my body.” 

  • Yes, that’s true, but we all know our rights over our bodies are not absolute as far as the law is concerned. Prostitution is illegal in most states, and I don’t know of anywhere in the US can you legally pour drugs into your body just because it’s your body. Your rights to your body stop precisely at that place where they begin to affect someone else’s. And that’s exactly what is happening to the pre-born.

Alright, here’s the next one. Someone might say, “Pastor JD, saying life begins at conception is a matter of opinion, and you shouldn’t force your opinion on others.” 

  • Well, we’re not in the realm of opinion, here; we’re in the realm of biology and Scripture. Hear me out–let me get in the weeds for about 5 minutes. Hang with me. 
  • If you say “life begins at birth”: Well, the only difference in a baby 5 seconds prior to birth and 5 seconds after birth is location, and “location” seems like an arbitrary foundation for personhood. Scientifically, what is the difference in the nature of the baby 5 seconds before birth and 5 seconds after? 
  • If you say, “Life begins with brain function, when the baby can experience pain, when they are in (what scientists call) a sentient (or self-conscious) state.” Well, first, note that that contradicts the position that abortion is a fundamental woman’s right through all nine months of pregnancy simply because it is in her womb. But second, does that mean when we are not in a ‘sentient’ state we have lost our right to life? If I go into a temporary coma from which you know I am going to wake up in 9 mos., my strong preference would be that you not kill me.  
  • If you say, “Life begins at viability,” (when the baby can live on its own). This also seems like a strange criteria for when personhood begins, because isn’t viability contingent on the advancement of technology? Every year, doesn’t newer, better technology push the length of “viability” back? If “viability” determines personhood, that means whether or not someone is a person is dependent on how advanced our technology is. And that seems arbitrary–it means that those born in more technologically advanced societies somehow possess greater personhood and more rights than those who are born in poor countries–and that doesn’t make sense.
  • Plus, I would argue that the more helpless a person is, the more vulnerable–the less viable–the more we as a society should do to protect them. In the words of Cardinal Roger Mahony says, “We judge societies on how they treat their weakest members—the last, the least, and the littlest.”
  • Even if you are unclear on this, and are not convinced that personhood begins at conception–shouldn’t you err on the side of life? “If you’re hunting in the woods and hear a rustling in the bushes and you’re uncertain as to whether it’s your friend or a deer, morality and common sense dictate that you don’t pull the trigger, given the potential risk of murder.”

Here’s the next one: “If abortion were made illegal, people would just go back to coat hangers and back alley butchers.” 

Two things I’d say here: 

  • First, just to be clear, stories of that are WAY exaggerated. A total of 39 women died the year before Roe vs. Wade through illegal abortions. And that’s tragic, of course, but compare that to 900,000 babies who died in state-sanctioned abortions this year. 
  • Second, again quoting Thaddeus Williams: the “coat hanger” argument misses the point that the preborn are people, and pointing out some negative side effects of a restriction doesn’t justify the sanctioning of murder.

Next, “What about in the case of genetic disabilities? We shouldn’t bring babies into the world with genetic disabilities whose lives will be reduced to hardship and unhappiness.” 

  • First, note that people with disabilities are vehemently opposed to this argument. There is not a single organization of disabled people in the world that I know of that is in favor of elective abortions of those who have disabilities.
  • Second, you are making a false correlation between genetic deformities and unhappiness. Listen to this: “No study… has found that handicapped persons are more likely than non-handicapped persons to want to die or commit suicide… This report, which came out in Baltimore, said: “In fact, of the 200 consecutive suicides in Baltimore last year… none had been committed by people with congenital deformities. None! If you’re trying to say that we should be able to abort those whom we know in advance are the most likely to be unhappy, it’s not those with genetic deformities that you should start with. They are on the happy end of the scale.
  • The point is: Who are we to determine when another life is not worth living? 
  • Again: this whole line of thinking misses the point: The preborn baby is a person. And if we think they might experience hardship in their lives, does that justify killing them in advance?  

I’ve heard people say, “Abortion sometimes help poor women escape crushing financial burdens. Banning abortion would cause overpopulation and massive poverty.”

  • This kind of statement confuses “finding a solution” with “eliminating a problem.” Think of it this way: If the neighbor’s dog keeps pooping in your yard… you go out and shoot the dog. You’ve eliminated a problem, but you haven’t come up with a solution.
  • If poverty is a problem, let’s keep working to find a solution. 
  • Again, the point is–the preborn are people. You can’t justify killing a person because it eliminates a problem. I mean, if you use that reasoning there, where does it stop? Couldn’t you use that same line of reasoning to justify eliminating other financially burdensome groups? 

Finally, “Well, what about in cases of rape or incest?” 

  • First, let me say I can’t imagine the pain involved in something like this. It’s unspeakable. But just to keep it in perspective. These tragic and heartbreaking cases make up less than 1% of all abortions. When someone says this to me, I always ask them: “So are you agreeing then that the other 99% of abortions are indeed immoral?” 
  • But the bigger point is this: Does the fact that that baby got there by rape or incest change the fact that they are still A PERSON? Does the circumstances of one’s birth take away from their personhood? If a grown adult found out that they were conceived by rape, would that somehow reduce their value, or right to life, as a person? 
  • Keep your eye on the central question: Is the preborn baby a person? If they are, how they became a person is irrelevant.

Listen: That little human life, that little person, regardless of how they got there, when it’s no bigger than a speck, the size of a period at the end of the sentence, is made in the image of God. That speck has more value than all the planets and stars in the vast cosmos! It has a soul made in the image of God, that Jesus died, that has an eternal future.

We’ve gotten into the weeds here a little bit because I want you to see that scientifically and Scripturally there is no question about how Jesus feels about THESE little children. “Let them come to me,” he says. Their lives are precious and valuable. And if you care about me, you’ll care about them, and not dismiss them (like the disciples did in this story) as an inconvenience.“ 

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