Wednesday
Sep032008

Abortion Exceptions

Life begins at conception.

Regardless of the circumstances, human life is conceived in the womb and the precarious potential for childbirth is created.

The beloved physician, Luke, writer of a gospel account of the life of Christ and a history of the Acts of the Apostles, referred to an unborn baby, not as a fetus, but as brephos, a child (Luke 1:41,44). David, the royally sweet psalmist of Israel, sang that God acknowledges his existence even when his substance was unformed and unborn (Psalm 139:13-16).

The parents of that unborn child might be properly married or any combination of fornicators and adulterers (see Genesis 38). They themselves might be two stupid kids who are about to pay the price of sin by becoming parents too soon. They might have been strangers that morning, intending to be strangers again tomorrow, except that the odds caught up with them. They might be participants in more complicated procedures – in vitro fertilization, for instance. 

The child that is conceived in the process is a human being regardless of the circumstances of his conception. It is possible that his fetal development will pose risks to his own health or even to that of his mother. It is possible that he will predisposed to disease or display evidence of deformity.

It is even possible that, for any number of reasons, one or both of his parents will regret his conception and not want him to be born. Perhaps he will complicate the young lives of two irresponsible college students. Maybe he is the product of an illicit affair or is coming along too late for his forty-something parents. Maybe he is inconvenient, expensive and demanding.

Maybe he is even the product of a rape. Or parental abuse.

If abortion is tantamount to murder in cases where the parents are merely irresponsible or inconvenienced, is it any less a crime when the circumstances involve rape, incest, or a risk to the life of the mother?

Many opponents of legalized abortion make room for exceptions in such cases, but less upon a biblical perspective than a pragmatic one. 

No one would suggest that a child should be executed to atone for the misdeeds of a parent, but this routinely happens when babies are aborted because of inconvenient timing or fornication. Even the child of rape or incest is still human and deserves a right to live, even if in an adopted home.

The emotional arguments for abortion are powerful, especially when lives are at stake, yet what seems like a simpler path often turns out to be one of guilt, regret and anguish. Forty weeks of prenatal difficulty can translate into precious life for an innocent child. If abortion is murder in cases of irresponsibility, what makes it any different in those rare cases that many consider exceptions? “Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).