Changed People Can Change the World
James C. Denison
You and I are living in a day of unprecedented change. Sociologists tell us that 90% of all the changes which have occurred in human history have taken place in the last 100 years; 90% of these have occurred in the last ten years.
•One out of eight couples married in the United States last year met online.
•More text messages were sent and received today than the planet’s population.
•Today’s New York Times contains more information than a person living in colonial America would encounter in his or her lifetime.
•In 25 years, a cell phone will fit in a blood cell.
•In a few years, a computer will exist with the computational capacity of the human brain.
•By 2045, a $1000 computer will possess the computational capacity of the human race.
Changes are occurring across the political landscape of our day as well. The “Arab Spring” pro-democracy youth-led movement in the Middle East is transforming nations from Tunisia and Egypt to Jordan, Yemen and Libya. I was in Israel in March, and can tell you that the Israeli government is both hopeful and concerned about these changes. Who would have imagined that Twitter, Facebook and text messages could overthrow dictators and change governments?
Small things can produce large changes, a fact Jesus made clear in the Sermon on the Mount:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).
How can your life, influence and resources work to support life in these critical days?
Understand the issue
Let’s begin by exploring this issue. Every year, approximately 40,000 people die on American highways. Every ten days, that many abortions are performed in America. Doctors conduct 1.5 million abortions every year in the United States, more than the total of all America’s war dead across our history.
Since the U. S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in January of 1973, more than 48 million abortions have been performed in America. This is a number larger than the combined populations of Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Depending on the year, an abortion occurs for every three or four live births in our country.
What is the case for abortion? Five claims contribute to the pro-choice position:
•No one can say when a fetus becomes a person, so only the mother should make abortion decisions.
•The state has no right to legislate personal morality.
•Abortion must remain legal to protect rape and incest victims as well as the health of the mother.
•No unwanted child should be brought into the world.
•A woman must be permitted to make pregnancy decisions in light of her life circumstances. When I studied Roe v. Wade I discovered that this issue was especially compelling for the justices who sided with the majority.
Pro-life supporters such as myself respond to these assertions as follows. First, can we say when a fetus becomes a person? It is a scientific fact that every abortion performed in the United States is performed on a being so fully formed that its heart is beating and its brain activity can be measured on an EEG machine. At 12 weeks, the unborn baby is only about two inches long, yet every organ of the human body is clearly in place.
Theologian Karl Barth described the fetus well:
The embryo has its own autonomy, its own brain, its own nervous system, its own blood circulation. If its life is affected by that of the mother, it also affects hers. It can have its own illnesses in which the mother has no part. Conversely, it may be quite healthy even though the mother is seriously ill. It may die while the mother continues to live. It may also continue to live after its mother’s death, and be eventually saved by a timely operation on her dead body. In short, it is a human being in its own right.
And note that you did not come from a fetus—you were a fetus. A “fetus” is simply a human life in the womb. It becomes a “baby” outside the womb. But it is the same physical entity in either place.
Second, most “pro-life” advocates are willing to permit abortion in cases of rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother. Since such cases typically account for only one to four percent of abortions performed, limiting abortion to these conditions would prevent the vast majority of abortions occurring in America.
Third, “pro-life” advocates agree that all children should be wanted, so they argue strongly for adoption as an alternative to abortion. They also assert that an unwanted child would rather live than die. By “pro-choice” logic, it would be possible to argue for infanticide and all forms of euthanasia as well as abortion.
Fourth, “pro-life” supporters do not see abortion legislation as an intrusion into areas of private morality. Protecting the rights of the individual is the state’s first responsibility. No moral state can overlook murder, whatever the personal opinions of those who commit it. The state is especially obligated to protect the rights of those who cannot defend themselves.
Fifth, “pro-life” advocates want to encourage the health of both the mother and the child, and do not believe that we must choose between the two. As the rights of a mother are no more important than those of her newborn infant, so they are no more important than those of her pre-born child.