The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “life at conception”

Killing The Inconvenient

by Adam McIntosh

Readers of Kuyperian Commentary may have noticed an abortion theme in my articles over the last few weeks. With the celebration of Christ’s incarnation upon us, there is no better time to talk about pregnancy, birth, life and abortion. My original motivation for this trend, however, was from conversations I’ve recently had with pro-choice acquaintances (some being Christians). Here is a summary of how these conversations usually go:

Acquaintance: I believe in a woman’s right to choose.

Me: Oh, really? Why’s that?

Acquaintance: Because a woman should have the right to do whatever she wants with her body.

Me: What about the unborn fetus? Is it not a person with rights itself?

Acquaintance: Nope, it’s not a person until it can survive outside its mother’s womb.

Me: Ok, but premature babies born at only 21 weeks have survived outside of their mother’s womb. Should a woman be limited after 21 weeks from doing whatever she wants with her body?

Acquaintance: No, I still think she has the right to choose until birth. If she doesn’t want something growing inside of her, she shouldn’t be forced to keep it.

Me: But if the fetus is a human person, then abortion would be murder, right? There’s only four scientific differences between the born and unborn: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. None of these differences are relevant to determining personhood because they also exist between infants, teenagers, adults and the elderly. To avoid the charge of murder you have to prove that the fetus isn’t a person.

Acquaintance: So, what if a teenage girl is raped and gets pregnant? What if the mother’s health or life is at risk? What if the baby has birth defects from incest? What if she can’t afford to raise the child? You’re saying she should be forced to have it?!

At that point the topic turns to morality and whether or not killing innocent life is ever justified. From my experience, the abortion advocate always returns to the emotional and circumstantial arguments mentioned above. They may use scientific rhetoric to justify abortion (e.g. denying personhood) but their fundamental reason for being pro-choice is a matter of inconvenience – not science or morality.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that rape, health risks, birth defects and poverty are horrible circumstances. My heart goes out to any family that has to carry the weight of such tragedy. I believe churches should take a more prominent role in providing counsel, healthcare and safety for women in those situations. But to use the inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy as reason for abortion only begs the question.

Children are always inconvenient, even when parents love them dearly. Children change your entire life, interrupting and altering your normal routines. They constantly depend on you for food, shelter, clothing, education and entertainment (which can be emotionally and financially stressful). They get sick or injured at the worst possible times and you take extra precautions to protect them from harm. The inconveniences of having a child obviously do not stop after birth.

So, is killing a person for the sake of convenience permissible? In the case of the born child, pro-choicers say “absolutely not!” In the case of the unborn child, they say “absolutely,” without providing any significant distinction between the two. This position is as arbitrary as it is immoral; a classic case of being illogical and inconsistent. Perhaps doing otherwise is just too inconvenient.

The Myth of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

by Adam McIntosh

In 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. It was hailed as a pro-life victory across the nation:

Today’s signing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is truly an historic moment… This is an achievement for life, a great victory for women, for unborn children and for all Americans.”

“We are thrilled that this historic legislation has finally completed its journey through the legislative process… we are celebrating this milestone protecting the unborn.”

“…it’s a major victory for prolife Americans… This is the first time in 30 years that we’ve seen reflected in public policy the cultural shift that has been taking place, and that is back toward respecting life… We have come with our toes to the line of crossing over into barbarism and we’ve said we’re not going to go there.”

Politicians have used their support of the ban as pro-life street cred ever since. The bill’s author, former presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum, used the ban as proof that there was not a stronger pro-life leader in Congress than himself. (Ignoring, of course, the fact that he never once introduced or cosponsored legislation to outlaw abortion or repeal Roe v. Wade – unlike another member of Congress.)

But does the hype match reality? Would the ban outlaw partial-birth abortions from that point on? Technically, yes. In all actuality, not at all. Let me explain.

The partial-birth abortion procedure is commonly described as pulling the baby out of its mother’s womb backwards, up to its neck. While the baby’s head is still inside the birth canal, the doctor then crushes its skull with a medical utensil, instantly killing the child. Prohibiting this procedure would certainly be a noble goal even if we could not outlaw abortion entirely. But notice carefully how the ban defines the procedure and what it prohibits:

The term ‘partial-birth abortion’ means an abortion in which the person performing the abortion, deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus.”

According to the official text, as long as the breech baby isn’t pulled out past its navel it can still be murdered by the physician. The baby can be outside its mother from the hips down – with wiggling legs and toes – and it is lawful to kill it. Similarly, in a head-first presentation, the skull can still be crushed or punctured as long as the entire head hasn’t exited the mother. If only part of the head has exited, the doctor is free to kill. I don’t know about you, but that still sounds like a partial-birth abortion to me. We are supposed to praise this legislation as a monumental victory; yet there is no reason to believe that it would save the life of one child. Rather than outlawing the procedure, it merely limited how far the baby can be pulled out.

By defining terms so narrowly, victory was perceived without any true accomplishment. If intentional, this is an example of political manipulation. If unintentional, it’s an example of poor lawmaking. No doubt, well-intentioned activists and legislators supported the ban, including Congressman Ron Paul (though not without a disclaimer). But the pro-life movement should carefully consider the legislation it rallies behind. We shouldn’t be so quick to accept every bill that has the appearance of pro-life principles. In our attempt to outlaw a gruesome abortion procedure, we actually legalized it. The fight against partial-birth abortion is far from over; sifting through political word games is just the first step.

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