How to Refute the Most Common Pro-Abortion Arguments: Part 1

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“While it’s appropriate for Christians to anchor their pro-life arguments in God’s special revelation, being pro-life is not an exclusively Christian claim. The truth of the natural law reveals the necessity of being pro-life as well.”

–WILLIAM WOLFE

Read part 2 of this series here.

Christians must always be unapologetically pro-life. Why? Because God is both unapologetically and only pro-life. There is no other position on the question of abortion that is legitimate within a biblically-informed Christian worldview. And that is good news! This should never be cause for concern nor be allowed to become a temptation for compromise. Our good, holy God created men and women in His image and likeness, endowing us with glorious purpose and inherent dignity and worth. We are His creation — His image-bearers. God is the author of life; therefore, humans have no right to unjustly assume the role of executioner, and certainly not over innocent, defenseless, unborn humans.

However, while it’s appropriate for Christians to anchor their pro-life arguments in God’s special revelation, being pro-life is not an exclusively Christian claim. The truth of the natural law also reveals the necessity of being pro-life as well. At the root of the issue is this unavoidable question: “Is this unborn baby a human life?” Science and reason prove, unequivocally, that it is. And if the unborn child is alive, and is human, then it deserves full and equal protection under the law, including the right to life — regardless of anyone’s religious views or metaphysical faith commitments.

But what does it mean to be pro-life?

First, it means we value all life. And as alluded to already, the reason we, as Christians, value life is because we recognize that we are gifted life from the life-giver, God, and that we are made in His image. Genesis 1:27-28 teaches us that mankind didn’t evolve from some primordial goo, but rather that we were made to reflect the communicable attributes of our creator:

“God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Second, it means we recognize that, just as our first parents were miraculously created by the Triune God, so too, in the act of conception, God brings forth a new life. A human life. An image-bearer — worthy of all the rights and respect that someone stamped with the Imago Dei is due. We see this clearly in Scripture, specifically in Psalm 139:13-14, which reads, “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.” As Dr. Scott Rae has summarized it, “The Bible teaches that abortion stops the handiwork of God.”[1]

Third, and most specifically for this particular moment in American political history, it means that pro-life Christians — which should be all Christians, without exception — are committed to using every legitimate means of political power or available avenue to make abortion illegal.  The goal of the pro-life movement is to bring about the legal prohibition of abortion. Since the advent of “legally protected” abortion in the United States came from the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, being pro-life means wholeheartedly supporting the entire overturning of the Roe decision. Once Roe is overturned, the question of the legality of abortion will be returned to the states. Then, being pro-life will entail a state-by-state effort to legally prohibit abortion while simultaneously working to enact a “Right to Life” constitutional amendment, as well as pressuring Congress and the President to pass a law that makes abortion illegal for the entire country. This is the irreducible commitment of being pro-life: Casting every possible vote at every possible level to bring about the end of Roe. Christians must never vote for pro-abortion politicians — and especially not for a pro-abortion presidential candidate that would appoint pro-abortion Supreme Court justices.

Finally, being pro-life means a commitment to the well-being of hurting mothers and fathers who are considering the possibility of abortion. The goal of a crisis pregnancy center is to help eliminate the crisis, not the pregnancy. This stands in stark distinction to Planned Parenthood, which exists to eliminate the pregnancy. The reality is that the pro-life movement puts their money where their mouth is on this point. As pastor Randy Alcorn recorded,

“Thousands of pro-life organizations around the country and throughout the world provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, support groups, childcare classes, financial management education, babysitting, diapers, children’s clothes, and housing.”[2]

Unapologetically Pro-life and Equipped

Now, let’s examine the top 10 most common pro-abortion arguments and consider how Christians can refute them.

1) “My body, my choice.”

This might be the single most popular argument made by abortion advocates and chanted by pro-abortion activists. However, the simple reality is that it’s false. The unborn child growing inside of a mother’s womb is an entirely different body. Just because a human child gestates inside of a woman’s body in no way makes it a part of her body. A pre-born baby is a body that is, for the time being, inside of another body. It is not one with the mother, but very much distinct. The fact that a mother survives an abortion when the child does not very clearly show this to be the case. But how should Christians respond to this claim? Well, Christians know this to be false both by general revelation — science — and special revelation — God’s Word. 

First, we know it’s true because God makes it clear. In Psalm 139, David praises God for the marvel of procreation, exclaiming that “you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Who is being knit in the womb? David. Not an extension of his mother, but rather an entirely different body.

Second, we know from science that the baby is not the mother’s body, given the baby’s unique DNA and biological blueprints. The unborn child has its own chromosomes, its own skeletal structure, its own organs, its own body. It is not the same life, but a new life. It is not the same body, but an entirely new body, in active development.

In summary, one of the best ways to respond to this claim is to agree with them, and then surprise them. The answer? “Sure, your body, your choice. But the unborn baby isn’t part of your body.” Just because a car is parked in a garage doesn’t make it part of the garage. And this is exactly why we have laws in our nation — because people don’t have the right to do whatever they want to others and certainly not to end their life.

One Sentence Summary: You’re right, for the vast majority of medical procedures, you have the right to exercise bodily autonomy and choice — but the child inside your womb isn’t your body, and therefore what happens to it is not your choice.

Key Verses: Psalm 139:13-16.

2) “An unborn baby isn’t a person.”

Pro-abortion advocates routinely argue that it’s “uncertain when life begins.” Not only that, but even if they will admit that the fetus is alive, they will argue that it isn’t truly a person. They will often deflect claims that “life begins at conception” as a purely religious view. While we certainly can have confidence from the Bible that life begins at conception, medical science and reason also show this to be true. The moment an egg is fertilized, a new life has begun — and with that life, an entirely new person. Dr. Alfred Bongioanni, an obstetrics professor, explains it like so:

“I learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood…any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”[3]

Furthermore, reason informs us that neither size nor stage of development is what constitutes personhood. A zygote is no less a human in comparison to a newborn than a newborn is in comparison to a fully grown adult. Degrees of development are not what constitutes whether someone is a person or not. There is no magical point after conception at which a fetus becomes a “human being” or a “person” — rather, the unborn baby, from the first spark of new life, is an entirely new human person. Scripture teaches this clearly, in Psalm 139, but also we see that in Luke 1:44, which recounts John the Baptist as an unborn child leaping in his mother’s womb, the “Greek word used for baby (βρέφος) is the same word used for children after they are born (e.g., Luke 2:16). This indicates that babies, whether born or unborn, share the same status as humans after birth.”[4]

One Sentence Summary: Human life, and therefore personhood, begins at conception — there is no other reasonable, logical, scientific, moral, or Christian position.

Key Verses: Genesis 1-2, Luke 1:44, and Luke 2:16.

3) “Pre-viability abortions are permissible.”

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court drew an arbitrary line at the start of the third trimester, allowing states to legally prohibit all abortions, except where necessary to protect the life of the mother, after this gestational threshold. In the subsequent Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court adopted a new framework. Where Roe’s ruling essentially prohibited states from banning abortion before the third trimester, Casey prohibited states from banning abortion pre-viability, which at the time was unofficially declared to be the same timeframe as the end of the second trimester. But viability is an arbitrary and changing standard that ultimately has nothing to do with the personhood of the unborn child in question.

Consider this: Newborn infants are still entirely dependent upon care from their parents to live. They are not any more viable in the moments and even months after birth — capable of surviving on their own — than they were in the moments or months before birth. And yet, at the same time, if we are using the term “viable” to refer to the ability to survive outside of the womb, modern medical advancements have pushed that moment up earlier and earlier. As reported in November 2021, “An Alabama boy who weighed less than a pound at birth after his mother went into labor at only 21 weeks and one day of gestation has been certified as the world’s most premature baby to survive.”[5]

As Carl Trueman so helpfully summarizes in his ground-breaking work The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, “There are numerous contexts in which one person is dependent for survival on another person in which we do not regard the latter as having the right to kill the former.”[6] In short, viability is an arbitrary standard, and simply because a human, whether 7 months old in utero or 77 years old in an assisted living facility, needs support from other humans in order to stay alive does not in any way vitiate their right to life.

One Sentence Summary: Personhood is not determined by whether the person in question can sustain their life entirely on their own or not — such as individuals who need oxygen, are on life-support, etc. — therefore, this arbitrary and changing standard provides no moral justification for willfully killing someone, unborn or otherwise.

Key Verses: Proverbs 31:8-9

4) “Women need access to abortion in cases of rape.”

In this fallen world, marred by sin and subject to great evil and darkness, the hard reality is that horrible instances of sexual assault, such as rape, do occur. And those rapes can and sometimes do result in pregnancies. Pro-life advocates and Christians must be sensitive, kind, compassionate, and show Christ-like love to all victims of rape and sexual assault.

At the same time, the value of a life — a child — is not diminished by the sad and terrible reality of the circumstances of conception; in other words, human value is not contingent on the circumstance of its conception. Thus, it cannot be morally permissible to allow abortion even in the case of conception by rape. Imagine looking a 5-year-old in the eyes and telling him, “It would have been completely legal and just fine for us to end your life as an unborn child because of the circumstances of your conception, but your mother decided to let you live anyway.” As Alcorn puts it, “The point is not how a child was conceived but that he was conceived. He is not a despicable ‘product of rape.’ He is a unique and wonderful creation of God.”[7]

In recent years there has been a rise in pro-life activists who were conceived in rape and yet their brave mothers carried them full-term to birth. One such activist is Ryan Bomberger, who has declared: “I am not the residue of the rapist. I am the resilience of my birth mom.”[8] The enduring truth of “two wrongs don’t make a right” may sound simple, but in cases like these, it is profound. Rape is a tragedy all by itself — adding an abortion on top of that is to heap misery upon misery and crime upon crime. Therefore, even in the case of rape, abortion is wrong and should be illegal.

It is critical to remember that in the event of a rape there is only one guilty party — the rapist. Therefore, the rapists should always be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and be subject to the most serious penalties available for their horrific crime. The victim is just that, a victim, innocent and in need of care and treatment. But in the event of a pregnancy resulting from rape, the child is also innocent. Now, some try to justify abortion in rape cases by arguing that the woman did not seek pregnancy, nor was she negligent in getting pregnant via rape, thus she shouldn’t be responsible to carry the child. While it’s inarguably true that pregnancy from rape is not desired nor planned, the value of life of the unborn remains. In this context, pregnancy from rape is not the woman’s fault nor is it the child’s fault. Allowing legalized abortion in cases of rape ultimately punishes the innocent child more than it punishes the rapist.

Rape is a grievous act of disempowering another person. But to abort a child conceived in rape compounds the disempowerment, multiplies the wickedness, and adds an even greater burden of grief to an already traumatized mother. As tragic as things can be in a fallen world, the reality remains that human life has value — and that value can never be negated by the crimes of another.

One Sentence Summary: God is the author of every life. And even the most tragic circumstances of conception don’t devalue the life of the child conceived. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Church to meet the needs of the rape victim, empower her in motherhood, or prepare her for adoption.

Key Verse: Ezekiel 18:20a

5) “The Supreme Court already ruled that abortion is a constitutional right.”

On January 22, 2022, President Joe Biden tweeted,

“The constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade 49 years ago today is under assault as never before. We must recommit to strengthening access to reproductive care, defending the right established by Roe, and protecting the freedom of all people to build their own future.”[9]

This begs the question of whether the right to an abortion is indeed a constitutional right. The answer? Well, officially yes (for the moment) — but really no. The truth is that in a staggering act of naked judicial activism, Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, found (read: invented),

“an unenumerated fundamental right to privacy that included a right to abortion, arising from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (‘No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law’).”[10]

How did Justice Blackmun arrive at this conclusion, along with six other Supreme Court justices? They just made it up in their own heads. As Dr. O. Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and professor of law and concurrent professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, explains, “Every factual premise of the opinion in Roe v. Wade—historical, scientific, medical, or sociological—was the product of the Justices’ own private reflections, untested for reliability or accuracy by the adversarial process.”[11]

And one of the sickening ironies of the Roe ruling is that, of all amendments, it found the “right” to an abortion within the very amendment that guarantees that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law. In summary, then, we can conclude that the 1973 ruling in Roe was many things — social, political, etc. — but one thing it was not was constitutional.

Furthermore, the Court certainly has a track record of overturning previous rulings that were once considered constitutional but were clearly not, such as Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal) which was made moot 56 years later by Brown v. Board of Education (ending school segregation). There’s never been a constitutional right to take someone’s life, so it’s well past time to overturn the fictional right to do so to an unborn child.

One Sentence Summary: There is no such thing as a constitutional right to an abortion; the Supreme Court has a demonstrated track record of issuing horrible rulings and, often decades later, overturning those rulings and finally getting the legal question right — we pray they do the same with Roe v. Wade.

Key Verses: Exodus 1:15-12, Leviticus 19:15, John 7:24.


Footnotes

[1] Scott B. Rae, Introducing Christians Ethics: A Short Guide to Making Moral Choices (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2016), 69.

[2] Randy Alcorn, Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers (Carol Stream, IL: Hendricksen Publishers, 2012), 20.

[3] Alcorn, Why Pro-Life?, 26.

[4] David Closson, “Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement: Personhood, Scripture, And Church History,” Family Research Council, https://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF21F36.pdf.

[5] WVTM 13, “Alabama boy born at 21 weeks named world’s most premature infant to survive;” https://www.wvtm13.com/article/alabama-boy-born-at-21-weeks-named-worlds-most-premature-infant-to-survive/38214303#.

[6] Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 318.

[7] Alcorn, Why Pro-Life?, 80.

[8] Ryan Bomberger, https://blackchristiannews.com/2019/06/watch-pro-life-activist-ryan-bomberger-declares-i-am-not-the-residue-of-the-rapist-i-am-the-resilience-of-my-birth-mom/.

[9] Biden, Joe, Twitter, January 22, 2001, https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/1484958420318961668.

[10] O. Carter Snead, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020), 113.

[11] Snead, What It Means to Be Human, 112-113.


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