More than 50 million human lives have been lost in the U.S. as a result of the Roe v. Wade legalization of abortion 38 years ago.1 Millions of women have made the agonizing choice of abortion, and many still struggle with doubts and heartache. On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7–2 vote that a woman’s “right to privacy” trumps the unborn baby’s right to life until the child is capable of “meaningful life outside the womb,” in which case the states could institute laws limiting abortion (except if the abortion was for the “preservation of the life or health of the mother,” a broad exception clause). The court determined this viable age to be six to seven months in the womb, although subsequent cases made abortion legal up until the baby’s birth.
How should a Christian view abortion? Does the Bible provide guidance in this area? Have scientists settled the matter through their research?
Abortion is not simply an issue of empirical science because scientists cannot answer the question of precisely when human life begins. Abortion is a battle between worldviews. A prime component of these worldviews is whether or not one holds to the authority of Scripture. To be fair, some evolutionists may be pro-life. However, the implications of an evolutionary worldview lead to the devaluing of human life, whereas the implications of biblical creation uphold the sanctity of human life, even in the womb. What people believe about origins will influence their answers to the following questions related to the issue of abortion: Who is man? What is the purpose of death? Who determines right from wrong?
Evolutionists answer that man is merely an advanced animal. Since man is just a more highly evolved life form, human life is nothing special. A person does not have any more inherent value than the life of his alleged ape-like ancestor. Therefore, abortion is just a fact of life regardless of the consequences for the developing life inside.
In contrast, biblical creationists believe mankind is distinct from the animal kingdom. Our belief is based on the Creator’s testimony in the Bible. After creating the universe and filling the earth with plant and animal life, God created human life on Day Six of the Creation Week. God personally formed man after His image (Genesis 1:27). He gave people unique linguistic, aesthetic, rational, moral, and spiritual faculties not given to animals.
The way a person develops before birth displays God’s handiwork (Psalm 139:13–16). From the moment of fertilization, the zygote has 23 pairs of chromosomes, which contain the information for the gender, eye color, appearance, and all other characteristics of the physical body. The heart starts beating a few weeks after fertilization, often before the mother knows she is pregnant; eyes, ears, arms, and legs are forming by five weeks after fertilization; and brainwaves can be detected six weeks after fertilization.2
Creationists believe in the sanctity of life from conception (defined as fertilization in this article). Abortion is an act of rebellion against the authority of the Creator and Giver of Life (Exodus 20:13). No matter how young or elderly, no matter how disabled or unwanted, human life is precious because it is given by God and has been made in His image.
Evolutionists answer that death is a means of evolution. Species evolve through the survival of the fittest to higher life forms. In nature, predators often prey on the young, who are less fit and often more vulnerable to disease and predators. This process of death supposedly weeds out all but the best.
If humans evolved from animals, their existence is derived from the survival of the fittest. From an evolutionary perspective, abortion seems to be a brilliant method to aid natural selection. Why not end the lives of those with genetic defects or disabilities before they can be a drain on society? Might abortion even be saving these weak ones from lives of suffering?
Creationists see death in a far different light. Rather than death being a violent means to an evolutionary end, the Bible shows death as a just consequence for sin against an infinitely holy God (Romans 6:23). While God created Adam and Eve to live forever in fellowship with Him, He warned them that disobedience would bring death. Adam’s sin brought the curse of sin and death on the entire human race (Romans 5:12).
However, just because all people are sinners and deserve death doesn’t mean that anyone can kill a fellow sinner. When Cain, the first man born, killed his brother, God condemned and punished this murderer (Genesis 4:10–12). Later, God ordered capital punishment for those who murder (Genesis 9:5–6). This execution is not to be personal revenge; God gave the authority of capital punishment to government (Romans 13:1–4). Sadly, many governments today have abused their authority by legalizing abortion, affirming the gruesome execution of the unborn.
Death is ultimately God’s jurisdiction (Psalm 139:16; Hebrews 9:27). God will judge those who take life unjustly if they do not turn to His one way of forgiveness (Proverbs 6:17; Revelation 21:8). In contrast to the “survival of the fittest” mantra, believers are urged throughout Scripture to defend and care for the fatherless, the widows, the weak, the blind, the lame, and the poor. God has appointed each person’s mental and physical abilities (Exodus 4:11). While He allows disabilities in this sin-cursed world, even these weaknesses can bring Him glory (John 9:1–3; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Many evolutionists answer that no higher authority exists, believing the world evolved through mindless chance. Therefore, the evolutionary worldview supports relativism, the idea that there is no absolute truth. Instead, the individual or society determines right and wrong. Tolerance is often seen as the ideal to pursue—at least tolerance toward issues secular society wants to tolerate, like homosexuality, different religions . . . and abortion.
Abortion is considered a personal choice because the baby is infringing on the mother’s body, weakening her and bringing pain. Often, she feels caught in a trap. Perhaps the mother doesn’t have the means to care for the child. Perhaps the pregnancy is threatening her life, or perhaps the baby was conceived through rape.
However, abortions for reasons of rape, incest, deformity of the child, or life threat to the mother only compose three to five percent of abortions. The large majority of abortions are performed for convenience, according to the testimony of former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop.3 In a world of relativism with evolving moral standards, supporting abortion is called being “pro-choice.” People become their own gods, choosing their own standards of right and wrong.
Creationists, however, believe that the Creator, Who ordained absolute physical laws like gravity, also has ordained absolute moral laws, stemming from His own moral perfection. Since He is the God of life, anything contrary to His nature, such as murder, is wrong. The Lord has revealed right from wrong in His Word, the Bible.
The Bible is clear that life begins long before birth and should be protected. Under Mosaic law, if a man injured a woman so that she gave premature birth, he was required to give compensation. But if the unborn child were killed, the murderer must face the death penalty (Exodus 21:22–25). Ironically, manslaughter is still charged in many U.S. states if a child in the womb is murdered.4 Yet in those same states, the mother may legally choose an abortion to remove the “tissue” infringing on her body.
However, that “tissue” is not part of the mother’s body like an arm or foot. The baby has his or her own DNA that directs development throughout life. Therefore, abortion shouldn’t be considered a “right to privacy” or personal choice because it involves more than one person. Personhood amendments are one way Roe v. Wade is being challenged.
More than laws, hearts must change. By trusting God’s Word instead of the human reasoning of evolution, people can understand they are each valuable to their Creator and answerable to Him as Judge. Everyone falls short of God’s glory and deserves His judgment of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Yet God sent His own Son to save fallen mankind.
The Son of God took on human flesh, being conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin named Mary. While every other person is a sinner, Jesus has always been perfect (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, Jesus alone could take the punishment for sin—death—by dying on the cross (Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Then He rose from the grave, victorious over sin and death.
Sinful humanity cannot save themselves by being pro-life, living moral lives, or going to church (Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8–9; Titus 3:5–7). Only by turning in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ may the repentant sinner find life (John 14:6; Galatians 3:22). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).