What is a Christian view of abortion and from a Biblical perspective how should we react to pending federal and state bills?
By Dr. Geoffrey Gerow
On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision. As Christians, we need to remember that what is legal is not necessarily moral in God’s sight. Morality is not determined by popular or judicial opinion, but by what the Bible says. So today we want to look at what the Bible says about abortion and then look at two bills being brought up one at the Federal level and the other at the State level.
What did the Roe v. Wade decision decide? The U.S. Supreme Court held that until a child in the womb is viable (capable of sustaining life outside the womb) or “capable of meaningful life” (the court reckoned this to be six or usually seven months), the mother’s desire for an abortion should take precedence over the baby’s right to life.
However if the life or health of the mother is threatened, the mother can still have an abortion. The court defined her “life or health” to mean her physical, emotional, or psychological health, her age, her marital status, or the infant’s prospects of a distressful life and/or future. In other words, a woman can kill her child in the womb legally for any reason right up to the moment of birth!
According to former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, the most common reason for abortion is convenience. Only three to five percent of all abortions performed are for reasons of rape, incest, the possibility of a deformed child, or severe threat to the life of the mother.
Now let’s consider what the Bible says about abortion: Since God is the creator and sustainer of human life, we should value and protect the lives of all innocent humans. In Genesis 1:26, God distinguished humans from the rest of the animal creation by saying “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
The Bible speaks against shedding innocent blood as in “You shall not murder” (Exod. 20:13). However, The Bible does not forbid all killing, such as in capital punishment by the government, national defense, or personal defense. God chastised the Jews for shedding innocent blood when they sacrificed their children to the idols of Canaan (Ps. 106:38). It can be argued that the blood of the unborn child is as innocent as any. In fact the Bible ordains the penalty of life for life when the life of an unborn child is taken (Exod. 21:22-25).
From the NASB“… so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury….” As the following verses (23-25) make clear, if there is an injury, then the offender must be penalized, life for life, eye for eye, etc. These are the same penalties as in offenses against adults (Lev. 24:20). So the meaning of Exodus 21:22-25, is that the baby in the womb has as much value as an already-born person.
The Bible affirms the distinctiveness of individuals in the womb, thus showing that they are fully human. Let us consider the following examples:
•Jacob and Esau were distinct individuals in the womb (Gen. 25:23; Rom. 9:11-12).
•Samson’s mother was not to drink wine, because her son was to be a Nazirite, who would abstain from alcohol (Judges 13:3-5).
•Jeremiah and Paul both acknowledged that God formed them in the womb and knew them by name (Jer. 1:5; Gal. 1:15). Isaiah 49:1, 5 affirms the same thing about Messiah.
•John the Baptist recognized Jesus while both were still in the womb (Luke 1:35-36, 39-44)! This is an amazing text! Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Mary went to visit Elizabeth before John was born. Thus Elizabeth would have been in her last trimester, while Mary was in her first trimester. Yet John recognized Jesus in those early months of Mary’s pregnancy! This passage is probably the strongest argument that a baby in the womb in the first trimester is a person created in God’s image. We are not free to take the life of such a child just because it is not convenient to have a baby!
In Luke 18:15-17, people were bringing their babies to Jesus so that He could touch them. The disciples rebuked the parents. Jesus had better things to do than to bless babies! It was a great inconvenience! But Jesus rebuked the disciples and welcomed the children. The Greek word for infant in Luke 18:15 is the same word Luke uses for the infant in Elizabeth’s womb (1:41, 44). God shows His great love for us by calling us His children (1 John 3:1). Surely, we should have the same attitude as Jesus towards our children from the time of conception onwards! Let us take a look at the two bills.
What is the freedom of choice act or FOCA?
FOCA is a proposed national law before Congress (H.R. 1964 and S. 1173) that would remove all state and local restrictions on abortion. It establishes a new fundamental right to abortion at all stages (under current law there is no “fundamental right”). It provides that the government cannot “interfere” in any way with an abortion decision. Nor can it treat abortion differently than any other health procedure. It further provides for the ability to sue any governmental body that restricts or interferes with a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion. These provisions have far reaching effects.
Changes in the Law
If FOCA becomes law there would be sweeping changes in the legal landscape of abortion. Hundreds of state laws would be nullified including: - Informed consent laws would be overturned. Informed consent laws require that a woman be given accurate medical facts about the abortion procedure, the alternatives available, and her legal rights, all for her own protection.
- All parental notification laws would be nullified. This means that any pregnant girl, no matter how young, could have an abortion without telling her parents. Nurses and doctors would not be required to inform the parents of minors if they referred for or provided an abortion. Only six states currently are without some kind of parental involvement law.
- All laws requiring a waiting period before abortion so that a woman can take time to think about her decision would be eliminated.
- The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 would be reversed. This ban was vetoed twice by President Clinton, and finally signed into law by President Bush. It was tied up in court for 4 years, and finally became effective on April 18, 2007. It banned the brutal practice of aborting a child who was delivered normally, all but the head, and then killed.
- The Hyde Amendment, which restricts taxpayer funding of abortions, would be reversed.
- Religiously affiliated hospitals that do not currently allow abortions in their facilities would be forced to either perform abortions or stop providing health care.
- Military hospitals would now be required to provide abortion the same as any other health procedure.
- Health insurance for federal employees would have to cover abortion as a regular procedure with no restrictions.
- Abortions would no longer have to be performed by licensed physicians, creating a greater likelihood of complications and safety issues for women.
- Health and safety regulations at abortion clinics could be invalidated.
- Doctors, nurses, and hospitals that conscientiously object to abortion would no longer be protected from lawsuits if they created a delay or inconvenience for a woman wishing to obtain an abortion.
- Artificially implanted cloned human embryo’s could now be allowed to be carried to term.
- FOCA would require any government program that provides, pays for, or insures childbirth or healthcare services to do the same for the abortion procedure.
- All public hospitals and medical schools that restrict access for abortion procedures would now be open to be used for these procedures.
- Taxpayers would now be required to pay for elective abortions with their tax dollars under the Medicaid program and in the military.
How FOCA Came to Be
The Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act on April 18, 2007. After this occurred abortion advocates feared that the Supreme Court could add further restrictions on abortion. The very next day the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was reintroduced in the Senate and House by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of abortion has called for the passage of FOCA. Why would they do this? Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion Congressmen want absolutely no restrictions on abortion. This includes everything - from minors having to tell their parents of their intention to get an abortion to taxpayer funded elective abortions through Medicaid.
FOCA would establish a new fundamental right of women. A woman would have the ability to legally abort her child until the moment of birth without any restriction. In the last stages of pregnancy, a “health” reason for the abortion would be required. However, "health" has been so loosely interpreted in abortion law as to include even mental stress. This requirement does not prevent any late term abortion.
In a letter to Congress, Cardinal Justin Rigali stated: "Despite its deceptive title, FOCA would deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. And FOCA would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government to reduce abortions in our country."
FOCA would overturn every state law that has been enacted to restrict abortion in any way. This includes even state laws that have been shown to reduce the number of abortions, a supposed goal of FOCA supporters.
What is New York State Bill S5808
Recently, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and 23 of her colleagues introduced a new Governor's Program Bill called the "Reproductive Health Act" S.5808. This is a radical and dangerous proposal that in many ways mirrors FOCA but at a state level. The bill would:
•Legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, for virtually any reason;
•Make abortion immune from any reasonable state regulation such as parental notification or informed consent; and
•Repeal current law that requires licensed doctors to perform abortions and allow any "health care practitioner" to provide it. The bill contains limited and ambiguous conscience protection language.
The bill could:
• Force hospitals to allow abortions, including religious hospitals and others whose mission statements oppose it;
• Force insurance plans, including those of Catholic employers, to cover abortion;
• Force religious charitable agencies to counsel and refer for abortion;
• Force all schools, including Catholic schools, to educate children about abortion; and
• Force individual doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to promote abortion. Because the bill declares that the state “may not discriminate” against the exercise of abortion in providing “benefits, facilities, services or information,” it could compel every institution licensed or funded by the state to support, cover and/or allow abortions.
What YOU can do:
• 1. Educate yourself. Very few people are aware of the devastating effect FOCA and New York State Bill S5808 can have on the lives of women.
• 2. Educate others. Abortion advocates rely on you doing nothing. Law is a political issue. Without your involvement and that of others, FOCA and NY S5808 will take effect.
• 3. Get your church involved. Distribute bulletin inserts and ask your pastor or church leaders to become involved.
• 4. Write, call, or email your Congressman. Tell him or her that you oppose FOCA.
• 5. Contact your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators by FAX letter, e-mail, or phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121; or call Members’ local offices. Full contact info can be found on Members of Congress’s web sites, at: www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.
• 6. Contact your state assemblyman and senators and tell them you oppose S5808.
• 7. We can pray about the situation. It is ultimately a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-12). Pray for pro-life judges to receive Senate confirmation, especially to the Supreme Court. Pray for the horrors of abortion to become obvious to our self-centered culture. Pray for Christians to get involved in the pro-life cause.
• 8. We can vote for pro-life candidates. Don’t vote for pro-abortion candidates.
The Bible does not give us a program for political action, but it gives us a picture of God who comforts those who mourn and a God who satisfies the needs of the poor. To be a light is to follow this God, struggling to bring about social justice in our society, to safeguard human rights and to work for peace and reconciliation.
To bring about this effect we must not be drummed out of society based on our religious moral convictions or society will lose our saltiness. If you find yourself opposing FOCA and NY bill S 5808 Call or write your United States congressmen and senators regarding the former and call or write your NYS Assemblymen and Senators.