• Caleb Harrelson

A discussion on abortion

Updated: Dec 3, 2021



Below is my response to my friend in our conversation on the topic of abortion. I am not including their name to protect their privacy. However, I did want to include their comments below in red so that you can see their main points. I also attempt to summarize their main argument in 5 points and include those in red. Unlike most discussions on abortion, so far I have seen this conversation just focus on the issue and not about attacking another person’s character or disregarding the logical conclusions based off of the source (aka the “ad hominem” or “genetic fallacy." An example of these type of fallacies would be, “you only think this way because you are a man or not smart”). Below, I will use a pseudonym to refer to the person I am responding to.


The pseudonym for my friend that I am responding to will be “Person 1.”


“Okay, if you kill the baby after he/she has been born already, then you can say it’s murder. While the baby is in the womb for the first few weeks when the heart hasn’t even developed how can you kill it if it doesn’t have life yet? Or wouldn’t you rather have an abortion and the baby not knowing if anything then a baby being born and the parents kill it only seconds after being born because they didn’t want it? Now they caused pain to the baby and it’s a big difference from having an abortion no?”....I know babies are a blessing regardless the situation, but can you imagine telling somebody who was raped to keep the baby of the man who raped them as their own?....There was a story about a couple throwing their new born baby in a trash bin only minutes of life and left to die because they didn’t want him, don’t you think it would just be better if they had an abortion? Throwing the baby in the bin is so unnecessary and cruel, an abortion can’t cause any pain to the baby? Adoption can be another option but a child is never guaranteed a good life with that, I think some things are just not meant to be." Person 1

My response:


Thanks for your thoughtful response and not attacking me. Sadly, I see that many times people try to attack the other person instead of have a rational discussion. So I commend you for your maturity and thinking about my initial points. You said that it is only murder “after he has been born already”? So, staying consistent with my point earlier, do you believe that the second before the baby leaves the womb he is not a person and then he automatically becomes a person at the moment he leaves the birth canal? That would be consistent with that type of reasoning. If so, then it seems that your position is primarily based on:

  1. “the location of the baby determines its worth and if it is a human being”


2. “Since the baby is in a level of development (I.e. developing organs like a heart and so forth), therefore it can’t be human.”


3. “If a baby was conceived in rape, then his life is not valuable and he should be aborted/killed?”


4. “if someone can’t feel pain, then it must be ok to terminate/abort or kill them”


5.“abortion is a better option, because you don’t know if someone will have a hard life.”

   Is that accurately representing your view?

1. Lets talk about the first one- “does the location of the baby, in or out of the womb, make him a human?”


It seems that you are saying that being born automatically gives a human rights and that life does not begin at conception? You are making a philosophical and scientific statement to say that life only begins after birth. Thus, the question is: "is this position justifiable and logically consistent?"


If the unborn is NOT a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary because it doesn’t matter if you kill it or not. However, as Greg Koukl says, "if the unborn is a human person, then no justification for abortion will ever be adequate."


So, the logical question to be determined is: “is the unborn a human person?”

According science, life beings at conception, it is not dependent on a “stage of development” of when the heart is developed. In fact, many scientists are very confident that humans begin their existence when sperm and egg meet. Standard embryology and college-level textbooks teach that that life begins at conception. Furthermore, see these quotes be several scientists.


-Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic): “By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

-Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School): “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

-Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania): “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”

-Dr. Jerome LeJeune, “the Father of Modern Genetics” (University of Descartes, Paris): “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.”


Also, consensus agreement among scientists on what makes a living being is "made up of cells, movement, respiration, sensitivity, can grow and develop, can eventually reproduce, excretion, intake of nutrition." (from sciencelearn.org and study.org) A baby fits this description of a "living being" perfectly.

Furthermore, how is the unborn’s location, in the womb, mean that it is not a human? How does your location affect your value? Can changing your environment alter your status as a person now? If you are on the moon does that mean you are less of a person? Where you are has no bearing on who you are.  If changing your environment can’t change your fundamental status, then being inside or outside a uterus can’t be relevant either. How can a short journey through the birth canal magically transform a “value less” human into a “valuable person?” Nothing has changed except their location.  


Furthermore, if you hold the Bible as authoritative, then you must go with its treatment of the unborn in scripture regarding when life begins. Scripture does assume a continuity of life from before the time of birth to after the time of birth. The same language and the same personal pronouns are used indiscriminately for both stages.”


the Bible gives a high view of the status of unborn humans to valuable persons. Below are a couple of examples:

“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;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13–1

 Jeremiah 1:5, Job 31:15, and Psalm 22:10–11 all demonstrate that  the unborn is a valuable human being. Never do we see scripture affirming that  unborn treated as a “clump of cells” in the Bible.


Furthermore, in Luke 1:41–43 it tells us that a baby, very early on in pregnancy is recognized as a human person:

“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”


Christian thinker with Apologetics ministry Stand To Reason, Amy Hall, says in response to this paragraph that “it is hard to grasp the weight of this paragraph. The third trimester John (who was already “filled with the Holy Spirit” according to Luke 1:15) leaped for joy in the presence of the first trimester Jesus, who was even called “Lord” in His first trimester. How can a “clump of cells” be Lord?


The Bible clearly communicates that Jesus, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, David, and others were valuable persons—living human beings—before they ever took their first breath.”

(To see more of her article on this topic see the link below)


https://www.str.org/w/what-does-bible-have-say-about-abortion?inheritRedirect=true&redirect=%2Fna%3Fq%3Dwhat-does-exodus-21-22-say-about-abortion


2. Lets talk about the second view: “Since the baby is in a level of development (I.e. developing organs like a heart and so forth), therefore it can’t be human.”


A baby is in a stage of development when it begins to develop a heart (around 22 days). An unborn baby is a high level of dependency for sure. However, the question to be asked is: “how does being less developed disqualify someone from being considered a human being?” For example, at my friends at Stand to Reason say, “a four-year-old girl can’t bear children because her reproductive system is less developed than a fourteen-year-old girl. That doesn’t disqualify her from personhood. She is still as equally valuable as a child-bearing teen. The unborn is also less developed than the four year old.... Therefore, we can’t disqualify her from personhood from the same reason we can’t disqualify the four-year-old.” Both are merely less developed than older human beings. It seems inconsistent logic to say that “a stage of development determines whether or not one is a human being. If one is consistent with that type of reasoning, then you can’t say someone is a human until they are like 23 years old and adolescence has ended. That doesn’t seem right. 


Furthermore, for a fun example, Ironman doesn't even have a heart, but is he considered to not be "alive" or "human" by even Marvel definitions? Or what if someone has to get an "artificial heart" in the future...does that make them less human philosophically speaking?

3. Now I wanted to talk about this view: “If a baby was conceived in rape, then his life is not valuable and he should be aborted/killed?

 

If we have already established that a child is a human from the point of conception, how can the circumstances change whether or not an innocent life should end? If one of your siblings was conceived in rape, would you tell them that it would be better if they were never born? I don’t think so because I know that you love your siblings a lot. Should a person’s worth be based on how they were conceived? It seems more just and consistent with God’s word that the rapist should be punished to the full extent of the law and not the innocent child. 


Here is a short article about how Miss Pennsylvania, who was conceived in rape, is arguing that her "life is worthy of protection" too.  


https://preciouslife.com/news/443/conceived-in-rape-former-miss-pennsylvania-shares-why-every-human-life-is-worthy-of-protection/

By logic and Biblical standards, it does not seem right to murder because of bad circumstances. Also, many organizations do not tell the truth about the heavy level of depression that women go through after an abortion. I think it is because deep down they know the baby is a human person. So I think even under circumstances of rape, as horrible as that is, it  doesn't justify making another victim by killing an innocent child. Furthermore, the woman can always put the baby up for adoption.

4. “if someone can’t feel pain, then it must be ok to terminate/abort or kill them” 


If my 8 year old daughter can’t feel any pain in her left arm, is it ok for me to punch her? I think you would automatically say no. But why? Because something is not just wrong because of the stimuli someone may or may not receive from something, something is wrong because it is grounded in the Character of God and his commands. If you try to justify morality apart from God’s perfect standards, then who gets to determine what is right and wrong- yourself? At That point people try to put themselves in the place of God and morality is completely subjective (it depends on the “subject” or the “person.”) Yet if morality is subjective, then we have no objective way to say that Hitler was wrong because at the end of the day, morality is really just determined by the one who has the power. I don’t think that is a world that you want to live in. There is absolute right and wrong and murdering an innocent child will always be wrong, whether or not the child can feel pain.


You have to continually ask yourself “by what standard am I appealing to to make this decision?” If you are you own standard to say whether something is right or wrong, then you are rejecting God and his standard and saying you know better than him. 

Additionally, the Journal of Medical Ethics is now arguing that unborn children can probably feel pain before 24 weeks. See the article below for more info.


https://www.str.org/w/unborn-babies-may-be-able-to-feel-pain-earlier-than-24-weeks

Either way, I’ve established that “feeling pain” doesn’t determine whether it’s ok to murder someone or not

  1. “abortion is a better option, because you don’t know if someone will have a hard life.”

Again, I would say “what standard are you appealing to when you say ‘abortion is a better option.’ How do you know what ‘good’ is? Where does that standard come from? If there is no God, there is no such thing as good. Furthermore, I have met many people that have had a very difficult life, yet God was able to redeem those horrible things that happened in their life. In fact, I recently read a story about a guy that had a horrible childhood. His brothers hated him, he was sold into slavery, framed and thrown into prison. However, eventually He advanced to a position of great influence and God was able to use him to save his family's life later after he forgave them. Furthermore, when people die, they don’t cease to exist, they just change locations. Everyone will stand before God someday and give an account for their deeds.  We don’t have the right to play God and try to justify taking a person’s life and saying their life isn’t meant to be. According to what standard are we able to say that a unborn human shouldn’t live? Has our 4th baby changed our life a lot (born 8/16/19)? Yes, a lot. We are still poor. Not as much as before, but there are still struggles. Have children made it difficult for us to do other things we want? Yes, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. If I have a dream that involves sacrificing my child’s life on the alter of “this isn’t convenient for me or not the right time” then I am worshiping myself and self pleasure, not God. The logic that says “sleeping with someone doesn’t mean I  agree to have a baby” is the same as saying “eating a lot of donuts doesn’t mean I signed up to gain weight.”

Thus, since life begins at conception, I believe that this issue matters a great deal. It is wrong to intentionally murder innocent life and abortion does that. God commands us not to murder in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. To say that “it’s my body, my choice” or that “it is nobody’s business if you have an abortion” doesn’t seem logically consistent. One, the child’s body is not your body. It is another body. It has its own DNA and fingers, etc. Furthermore, your body doesn’t die when an abortion happens. Secondly, if abortion intentionally takes the life of an innocent human being, then saying to people “mind your business” is logically the same as saying: “it is nobody’s business who someone wants to murder....it's their life.” It is a sobering thought for sure. Bad logic has literally aided the murder of millions of humans.

However, for any women that has aborted their baby, there is forgiveness and healing found only in Jesus!  Also, consider listening to this podcast episode by Pastor John Piper (below) if you have already had an abortion and God helped you to see what it truly was. He points to the hope, forgiveness and healing found in the gospel of Christ.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJYGOPiOxrs


If you are in the middle of considering an abortion, please keep your baby, don't murder it. You can also consider putting up your child for adoption. I know an army of people that would be overjoyed to help any mom take care of their baby or adopt as well!


Please consider this option if you or someone you know is considering an abortion. As you said, “Babies are always a blessing regardless of the situation.” I agree and encourage you to fully embrace that viewpoint.



Blessings “Person1”. I hope that my thoughts helped you think through this issue more.

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