You could cut the tension in the room with a knife. Pastor Rick Warren, sitting across from candidate Barack Obama at the 2008 Saddleback Presidential Candidates Forum, asked “at what point does a baby get human rights?” Obama’s response was memorable. He replied, “…answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.” Of course, his answer was largely unsatisfying to people on both sides of the issue as he went on to add, “I’ve now inserted this into the Democratic Party platform, is how do we reduce the number of abortions?”
Of course, if nothing is morally objectionable about abortions then there is no reason to attempt to reduce them. This may be why President Obama, in his address on the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this year, simply said, “I am committed to protecting this constitutional right [to abortion]. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.” The President left out any language about reducing abortions and only advocated reducing “unintended pregnancies.” His hope to accomplish this is “healthy relationships.” Sadly, his administration remains more moved by the tragedy of serving fatty foods in school cafeterias than by one in every five U.S. pregnancies ending in abortion.
Since that forum in 2008, it seems not only Obama, but the culture and the church has lost a great deal of interest in the abortion issue. At the GOP Presidential debate in September, candidates spoke endlessly about the economy, social security, illegal immigration, education, and foreign policy but only one question about abortion was asked and it was asked to Ron Paul – who, while popular, will likely not be a serious contender. Meanwhile in the church, fighting injustice and poverty is in but fighting abortion is out. The new generation is passionate about ending sex trafficking, protesting child labor, cleaning up the environment, combating poverty, building wells in poor African countries, drinking only organic coffee grown by fairly compensated farmers, rejecting consumerism, and reconciling the races.
In the stampede for justice, however, unborn children are being trampled. It simply isn’t as cool these days to be outwardly pro-life. Christian conservatism and/or the religious right made abortion central to their efforts in previous decades. In the minds of many Americans a conservative Christian became someone who oppressed women (because they were pro-life), hated gays (because they believed in traditional marriage), complained about obscenity, shunned alcohol, sheltered their children, never had any fun, and down deep was a hypocrite who secretly enjoyed the sins they condemned. Newer generations of Christians have largely agreed with this caricature and have rejected the Christianity it represented. Unfortunately, in attempting to shed this image, many have over-corrected and rejected a passionate pro-life stand along with it. We can sit in our organic coffee shop, wear our Toms shoes, and save the money we would have spent on biscotti for an AIDS clinic in Madagascar but we aren’t particularly troubled by the plight of the unborn.
That plight is more serious now even then it was at the height of the Religious Right. In 2008, 1.21 million abortions took place in the U.S. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973 there have been over 45 million abortions in the U.S. In New York City, 40% of all pregnancies and 60% of African-American pregnancies end in abortion. Ninety-two percent of babies with down-syndrome are aborted. Worldwide the situation is far worse. The United Nations estimates that over 60 million girls are missing in Asia due to sex-selection abortion and infanticide resulting in a massive gender imbalance. This means that in India there are, on average, 300,000 less girls than there should be. In Russia, 64% of pregnancies end in abortion. This has caused the number of infertile women in Russia to increase by 200,000 to 250,000 per year mainly due to complications from abortions. Twenty percent of the approximately 205 million pregnancies on earth every year end in abortion.
Here is my plea: continue to fight injustice, alleviate poverty, and eradicate pollution. But in your zeal do not forget the massive injustice being perpetrated against the weakest among us: abortion. A passionate pro-life stand will not necessarily make you popular. It may lump you together with people you’d rather not be lumped with. Your friends at work may not enthusiastically endorse it. You may have to grapple with it before you vote in the election. You may find yourself having some difficult and unpleasant conversations. But that’s ok. Battling injustice isn’t only worthwhile if it’s cool, trendy, and approved by the culture.
It is worth it because the unborn are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), God forms us in the womb (Psalm 139:13) and who we are comes into being before we are born (Ps. 139:16, Jer. 1:5, Luke 1:44). It is worth it because in the hours following conception the entire DNA blueprint that will define an individual for the rest of their life comes into being. It is worth it because a baby has a heartbeat after 21 days, has brain activity after 6 weeks, and can live outside of the womb after 6 months. It is worth it because if there is any chance unborn babies are human beings then ripping them to pieces as they are sucked from their mother’s body (most common abortion technique) is murder. It is worth it because those in the womb have no voice unless it is ours.
Will we stand by Scripture and 2,000 years of the church – from Tertullian to John Calvin to the present – in defending the rights of the unborn? Will we love those who have experienced abortion and support those who reject it? Will we weigh the plight of the unborn in the voting booth? Will we be passionately pro-life even though it is culturally un-cool? Will we speak for those who have no voice or quietly busy ourselves with other issues? Politicians may forget, the culture may move on, the church may get tired – but will we?
To check out more pro-life resources go to Abort 73.com