Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you...”
On the website of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund is this statement: “The March for Life in Washington, D.C., began as a small demonstration on January 22, 1974, the first anniversary of the now-infamous Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, abortion.”
Americans like to consider ourselves a very cultured and civilized society. So what do we make of the National Right to Life’s January 2016 report?: “Since abortion was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe vs. Wade (January 22, 1973), more than 58 MILLION unborn children have lost their lives.” This ranks close to the combined mass murders of Stalin and Hitler (65 million). If abortion is the ends a human life, then America’s abortion industry is one of the greatest human rights violations in world history.
Our verse this week is one of several where God clearly defines human life as beginning in the womb. He even makes it clear that He knows every child even before they are conceived, which means human life becomes real to us at the moment of conception. But can we make this a rational argument from a scientific point of view? Let’s work through the main premises and see where the argument takes us.
Premise 1: Every human being has the right to life, which is protected by the law of the United States; Premise 2: at the moment of conception, the unborn child is a human being; therefore Premise 3: an unborn child at conception has the right to life, which should be protected US law.
If you agree with premises 1 and 2, then you are a pro-lifer, because premise 3 is inescapable. Since I have never met anyone who objects to premise 1, the battle in American culture must be over premise 2. If at conception there is no independent human being created, then what a woman does with this ‘tissue’ is truly her own business, for it isn’t any different than what you do with your tonsils or appendix. But if conception creates a human being, and we all agree with premise 1 (all human beings have a right to life, which should be protected by law), then there is no debate here. It is the obligation of the government of the United States to protect the lives of unborn children by prohibiting abortion.
So we now focus on premise 2: is the “tissue” created at conception a living human being or not? In his majority opinion statement from the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmum said it this way: “The judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to... resolve the difficult question of when life begins... since those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus.”
What is amazing in that statement from Justice Blackmum is that medical science has indeed stated that human life begins at conception, at the very onset of fertilization. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of one of the largest pro-choice groups in the world (NARAL), wrote this in response to Justice Blackmum’s statement: “Of course, I was pleased with Justice Harry Blackmun's abortion decisions, which were an unbelievably sweeping triumph for our cause… Our final victory had been propped up on a misreading of obstetrics, gynecology, and embryology, and that's a dangerous way to win.”
What does Dr. Nathanson mean when he says the Supreme Court “misread the science behind abortion?” In 1974, just after the Roe vs. Wade ruling, Dr, Nathanson wrote this in an article for New England Journal of Medicine: "There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy..." Years later, he would be even more straightforward on his medical views: “There is simply no doubt that even the early embryo is a human being. All its genetic coding and all its features are indisputably human. As to being, there is no doubt that it exists, is alive, is self-directed, and is not the same being as the mother–and is therefore a unified whole.”
So what is the significance of where we are today in the scientific community? Human life has been determined to begin at conception, aligning precisely with the Bible. So Premise 2 is true. Which makes Premise 3 inescapable. We cannot claim that abortion is morally defensible because it doesn't kill a distinct human life. There is no debate among honest, informed people that each abortion kills a human being.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.