A Church's Position Statement on Abortion
Circulated on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
I was asked to write this statement to be printed in my church bulletin on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in 1998. Both believers and visiting unbelievers were in mind as I wrote it. You are welcome to use it in part or in its entirety.
This week is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in America in 1973.
Not just our society, but our church has been deeply affected by abortion. In our Sanctity of Life service last year, over fifty of our people, some walking together as families, brought thirty-five roses up the aisle in the services and placed them in a cradle—one rose for each one million children killed by abortion in America since 1973.
Among those rose carriers were these: women who’ve had abortions; men responsible for abortions; people who helped perform abortions; people who’ve lost grandchildren and siblings to abortion; a person who survived an abortion and was carried to term; a woman conceived when her thirteen-year-old mother was raped; a woman advised by her doctor to get an abortion but didn’t; someone who had an abortion appointment scheduled and canceled it at the last moment; a woman who places flowers outside Portland’s Lovejoy abortion clinic on the anniversary of her child’s death. These were only a small sampling of lives touched by abortion at our church.
The anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which some celebrate, is for us a cause for reflection and mourning.
What the Bible Says
At Good Shepherd Community Church we believe the Bible, which says that all people, male and female, are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9). Each individual has been personally created by God (Malachi 2:10). Personhood is never measured by age, stage of development, or mental, physical, or social skills (Exodus 4:11).
Psalm 139:13–16 paints a graphic picture of the intimate involvement of God with a preborn person. God created David’s inmost being, his soul, not at birth, but before birth. David says to his Creator, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Each person, regardless of his parentage or handicap, has been personally knit together by God in the womb. All the days of his life have been planned out by God before any have taken place (Psalm 139:16).
Scripture says that Mary “was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” Jesus became a human being at the point of conception. So do all the rest of us.
What Science Says
Dr. Alfred M. Bongiovanni, professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, states, “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”
Speaking of the early stages of a child’s development in the womb, Professor Bongiovanni says, “I am no more prepared to say that these early stages represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty is not a human being. This is human life at every stage.”
Dr. Jerome LeJeune, genetics professor at the University of Descartes in Paris, states, “After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.” He says this “is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”
Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth of Harvard University Medical School argues, “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”
Every indication is that the moment of each person’s creation is the moment of his conception. Before that moment the individual (with his unique DNA) did not exist, and from that moment he does.
Even abortionists know this, though they usually don’t tell women considering abortion. The owner of the Lovejoy Surgicenter, Oregon’s largest abortion clinic, testified under oath that human life “begins at conception.”
What Church History Says
Christians throughout church history have affirmed with a united voice the humanity of the preborn child and the duty to protect him. The second-century Epistle of Barnabas treats the unborn child as any other human neighbor by saying, “You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated” (Epistle of Barnabas 19:5).
The Didache, a second-century catechism for young converts, states, “Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant” (Didache 2:2). Tertullian said, “It does not matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. In both instances, the destruction is murder” (Apology 9:4).
Reformer John Calvin said, “The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”
What Jesus Said
Christ’s disciples failed to understand how valuable children were to Him, when they rebuked those who tried to bring them near Him (Luke 18:15–17). Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
We must learn to love children as does God, who “defends the cause of the fatherless” (Deuteronomy 10:18). He calls on us to do the same: “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3–4).
Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). If the baby Jesus were about to be killed, what would we do on His behalf? We should do it for all little children about to die.
A Civil Rights Issue
Martin Luther King Jr., said, in words prominently displayed on Portland’s Justice Center, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The daily stories of young people killing already-born children are shocking. But these are simply a logical extension of the abortion mentality. If a parent has the right to take a child’s life six months before birth, why not six months after birth? It’s the same parent and the same child. Other than size and age, what’s the difference?
We believe in civil rights. We believe that just because a boy or girl is young and small doesn’t mean we have the right to dispose of him or her. We oppose abortion for the same reason we oppose slavery—it is a fundamental violation of human rights. There is no God-given right to convenience, but there is a God-given right to life. It is not our prerogative to take life, only God’s. The concentration camps of Nazi Germany are a testimony to what happens when people start deciding who has the right to live and who doesn’t. The sign at Auschwitz says “Never Again.” We hope that someday our country will admit that abortion kills children and will say “Never Again.”
We affirm the inalienable rights of all people. All people are “created equal,” not just “born equal.” You don’t have to have been born yet to be a person anymore than you have to have walked or talked to be a person.
A Women’s Rights Issue
Years of experiences with people in and outside the church who’ve had abortions have convinced us that an abortion is never in the best interests of the mother.
Early women’s rights advocates were prolife, not proabortion. Susan B. Anthony was a radical feminist in her day. She said, “I deplore the horrible crime of child murder.... No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed... but oh! thrice guilty is the man who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.”
Anthony’s newspaper, The Revolution, made this claim: “When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged.”
Another leading feminist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, commented on abortion this way: “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we wish.”
The early feminists opposed abortion. They were followed by a new breed of feminists, such as Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, who advocated abortion as a means of sexual freedom, birth control, and eugenics.
There are feminists today who still uphold the prolife position. Feminists for Life is a very active group started in the early 1970s. Alice Paul drafted the original version of the Equal Rights Amendment. She called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women.”
If Alcohol Harms Babies, What Does Abortion Do?
Every establishment in Oregon that serves alcohol is required to post a sign which says “Alcohol and Pregnancy Don’t Mix.” In the picture is a baby clearly visible inside her mother. The message is: “Don’t drink alcohol; you’ve got a baby inside it could harm.” Our message is: “Abortion and Pregnancy Don’t Mix.” Or, “Don’t get an abortion; you’ve got a baby inside it will kill.”
We believe the most loving thing we can do for a woman considering an abortion is offer her the scientific facts, a biblical and moral perspective, and help and alternatives, such as those available through Pregnancy Resource Centers.
If we were about to take a medicine that would kill a preborn child, would we want someone to tell us? Yes. We believe it is loving our neighbor to compassionately point out to others the truth that in abortion there are two victims: one dead, one wounded.
The Bible commands us, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8–9).
Who is less capable of speaking up for themselves than little boys and girls who haven’t yet been born? If we don’t speak up for these innocent children, who will?
We are committed to open and loving dialogue with those who disagree with us in this area. We wish to work through these issues with our people to understand what God says about this critically important subject. If this message is uncomfortable, we ask you to understand that truth is sometimes uncomfortable. We are not pointing the finger at anyone; we are simply trying to be faithful to God’s Word. If He points the finger at you or at us, that’s up to Him. We are fellow image-bearers; Christ died for the sins of us all; and His forgiveness is freely available to all: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We extend to all our visitors our sincere welcome and the love of Christ. We hope you will accept our invitation to dialogue on this issue and, above all, the issue of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our doors and hearts are open to all.
(This article was originally published as Appendix H of ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments by Randy Alcorn)