What does it mean to be pro-life? Why are some people so passionate about a cause that on the surface does not seem so important? Do the rights of babies override the rights of mothers? These questions will be addressed in this article to help understand some of the basic premises of the pro-life arguments about the dignity and value of all human life.
1. The legalisation of abortion
In 1973, abortion was legalised through all 9 months of pregnancy in the United States for any reason through the Roe vs Wade decision by the Supreme Court. A woman could obtain an abortion right up to birth for any reason whatsoever. As a paradigm shift, the decision had a monumental cultural, spiritual and philosophical legacy for the country as the practice of abortion increased substantially after the decision. Other Western Countries such as the United Kingdom saw the partial decriminalisation of abortion through the Abortion Act of 1967.
Since that time, many individuals have tried to change the laws, culture and practice of abortion by highlighting the invaluable dignity of not only women but also the lives of unborn children that are at the risk of a violent death as a result of abortion. Pro-life advocates have used a variety of methods pastorally, politically and prophetically to describe the injustice of abortion and help to change hearts and minds to understanding problems and inconsistencies of abortion.
2. The development of the child
Modern Science has helped us to understand the development of unborn children in the womb. Ultrasound has helped us to see clear photographs of how a child develops in the womb. 7 to 10 days after fertilisation foundations of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system are already established. By day 21 the heart begins to beat in a regular fashion with a blood type that is often difference from the mothers. Even in the first month since fertilisation, muscles, arms, legs, eyes and ears have begun to show. By 6 weeks brain waves can be detected and the baby begins to swallow amniotic fluid. By the third month (9-12 weeks) unique fingerprints are evident and never change. The baby now sleeps, and even though the mother cannot feel movement, the baby is active. The gender can be visually determined. By the end of the month all the organs and systems of the her body are functioning. By the 4th month (13-16 weeks) the baby’s ears are functioning and a mother’s heartbeat can be heard. The movement of the baby is often felt by the moth. During the 5th month (17-20 weeks) thumb sucking can be observed and by the 6th month sweat glands are functioning. By the 7th month the baby can recognise her mothers voice while the baby stretches and kicks. In the 8th month, movement can be limited due to cramped quarters, and baby’s kicks are stronger. By the 9th month the baby is getting reach for birth. 90% of a persons development happens in the womb.
The argument from a pro-life perspective might be that unborn children are human, every person has the right to life and therefore it is a grave injustice that unborn children are denied the right to life and this tragedy needs to change so that no more babies die and no more women suffer from the wounds of abortion.
3. The untold story from the perspective of the silent
Unborn children cannot speak to defend themselves in the womb and therefore none of the 40 million children that are aborted annually are able to have a conversation to dissuade the mother or abortionist from having an abortion. It has been know for unborn children to avoid the instruments of an abortionist of an ultrasound guided abortion. One example was the film the silent scream by Dr Bernard Nathanson. At times the pain that an unborn child will experience as a result of an abortion is not something that has been considered by abortion legislation. Some pro-life advocates argue that they need to be a voice for the voiceless and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Furthermore, many woman who have suffered after an abortion have done so silently. Guilt, shame and trauma are some of the reasons why many women have suffered in silence and chosen not to speak about their abortion. In some countries, there is little medical recognition for somebody suffering after a negative abortion experience. For this reason, many people may be suffering in silence after an abortion decision. Negative post abortion experiences are something that affect both men and women.
4. Understanding how to build a culture of life
Abortions happen because a person finds themselves pregnant when they do not want to be pregnant. Abortion is sought after, usually by an abortion provider, to rectify the situation. There are a variety of strategies and techniques that pro-lifers have used to change the status quo. Some people have focused on overturning unjust laws. Others have adopted a more pastoral response, reaching out to those in crisis pregnancies, seeking to change hearts and minds and help abortion minded individuals reconsider their position. Some have sought a more prophetic approach – by using prayer and public witness as methods to decrease the number of abortions. Some groups have used public education campaigns to help educate individuals about the reality of abortion. Regardless of the style of pro-life activism, the goals of such activity have either to make abortion illegal, unthinkable or to change hearts and minds and save lives from abortion. Pro-life groups are passionate about not only the women involved in abortion decisions but also the children who are scheduled for an abortion.
5. Philosophy and Logic
The pro life position holds that it is always wrong to deliberately kill an innocent person. An unborn human being, the product of human conception is an innocent human person. And abortion is the deliberate killing of that person. As abortion deliberately kills an innocent person, then abortion is always wrong. Some people argue that we can’t be totally sure of these assertions – but if we cannot be 100% sure, it is an argument for not having an abortion, because such a person does not know if the unborn are human for certain and therefore caution should be advised.
Some pro-abortion advocates would argue that there are no universal moral rules and therefore there is nothing that can be intrinsically wrong. Others would deny the moral premise or the legal premise. The legal premise of abortion is simple. It is wrong to kill innocent people. Your children are human, like you. Law should protect those who want a violent death on others who don’t deserve it.
6. Transparency and awareness through informed consent
Many abortion minded individuals have not been provided with full and impartial information about abortion prior to and during any abortion decision. Abortion providers with vested financial and ideological reasons to provide abortions often do not tell women about the full medical risks involved with abortion or the development of the unborn child within the womb. Some providers will deliberately not show a woman a scan and image of their unborn child if they do an ultrasound. Other abortion providers will separate a woman from their partner inside an abortion facility because it means they will be more likely to have an abortion.
Abortion providers cannot give impartial counselling if they financially benefit from abortion. Informed consent is a given assumption for almost every medical procedure, yet for some strange reason, many women are denied informed consent when it comes to abortion. When men and women are given all the information about abortion, including the full medical information about what abortion is and what will happen to the child before, during and after an abortion, they are in a position of informed consent. Women should be fully informed about the emotional and psychological impact of abortion. Women who abort have a six times higher rate of suicide than those who carry their babies to term. In addition to psychological problems, women are susceptible to serious physical complications due to the nature of the procedures used to abort children. The physical and psychological consequences of abortion are devastating.
7. What you can do to make a difference
What is most exciting about being actively pro-life is that you can transform the lives of people around you. You can save lives from abortion, you can change hearts and minds to find hope and healing after an abortion experience and you can encourage young people to be pro-life and never be in a position wanting abortion in the first place. You can reach out to others who are wounded by an abortion experience and help them find proven healing programs. You can reach out to those who are abortion minded by joining a local pro-life group. You can educate people in school or create a public awareness program. You can help change hearts and minds one person at a time. Your witness can not only save the live of an unborn child, but change the destiny of a family for generations to come. First, think of the one person who you can impact – visualise helping them and then go out and make a difference.
You voice might be the only voice that somebody hears before aborting their unborn child. There are some lives that only you can save from abortion. Do not be afraid, but have confidence that your witness can make a profound difference for your community. Pray to God to ask him to bless your efforts abundantly.