Can Christians ‘live with’ abortion?

Viewed from one angle, that is an easy question to answer. Obviously we can ‘live with’ abortion, because that would seem to be precisely what we are managing to do, right now.

To be fair, when (or if) we stop and think about what happens with abortions, we may not be very happy about it all and we may wish that things were otherwise. But, in the end, we do manage to live with abortion, as regrettable as we may find that to be.

Some readers may be offended by this claim. Yet, if we look at the facts it is very hard to refute. In Queensland for example, twenty years ago there was one abortion “clinic”, now there are nine or ten. These places, specialising in bringing about the death of preborn children, openly flourish in our cities and suburbs all around the country. They boldly advertise their presence in the Yellow Pages (under ‘Pregnancy Termination Services’) as they vie for their share of the estimated 100 000 abortions that are now carried out each year in Australia.

There have been times when significant efforts have been made to challenge the onset of the abortion culture, but, as the years have gone by, it has become all too quiet on the abortion front. To be sure, there are a handful of committed people in pro-life groups who continue to give their all on behalf of the defenceless little ones and mothers in difficulty. But they increasingly find themselves out on a limb, with support from the wider Christian community being, on a frank assessment, relatively limited and patchy.

No, there can be no disputing it. Overall it is clear that Christians can, and in this country have learned to, live with abortion.

The title question can be viewed in another way of course. Instead of reading it as if it were asking whether Christians are able to live with abortion, it can be read as asking whether Christians ought to live with abortion. In other words, can Christians rightly go about the normal business of daily life while allowing the destruction of unborn babies by abortion to continue largely unchallenged?

In seeking an answer to that, it may be helpful to answer this related question first: “Can it be right to have an abortion?” The clear response of the church from its earliest years and maintained over the centuries has been, “No”. It has been recognised that a living human being, uniquely created in the image of God, grows in the mother’s womb (Ps. 139: 13-15, Luke 1: 39-45). Therefore the preborn human being has been regarded as worthy of the same respect and protection as the born human being. Deliberately aborting a baby is wrong.* So then, should we just ‘live with’ abortion going on around us?

There are many wrong things that are done in this world; things that we would rather did not happen, but about which we do not believe we have a responsibility to directly intervene. Could abortion fit into that category?

While there are wrongs which we need have no direct role in preventing, there are other wrongs that we all recognise as undoubtedly demanding intervention– eg. situations where someone is being murdered or raped. Where a person, particularly a child, is at imminent risk of serious or mortal harm, the intended victim must be rescued or saved. There is nothing controversial about that claim.

So, if abortion is wrong because it destroys innocent human life, why do we respond differently to the killing of a preborn child than to the killing of a born child? It is true that not everyone agrees that a preborn child is fully part of the human family. But then there have been times when other segments of humanity, for example Jews and dark-skinned people, have been deemed less than fully human, and have consequently suffered brutalisation and death. Such attitudes however in no way changed the real status of the people so abused, nor negated the responsibility of others to help them. We must be true to our convictions, not those of others.

Saving babies from abortion in our present culture will not be easy, or achieved without cost- perhaps enormous cost. That however should not surprise, or deter, someone who is a sincere follower of Jesus- the one who told us to take up a cross.

Yes, Christians can live with abortion. But we should not- any more than we should/would live with socially-sanctioned rape or the murder of born people. So what are we going to do about abortion? Well, we are told to, “Rescue those being led away to death.” Prov. 24:11