Abortion: are we getting away with murder? — Johann McFarlane

Johann McFarlane

‘My heart is breaking over what is happening to the young girls of Jerusalem’ — Lamentations 3:51

Part 1 (Introduction) in a 7-part series on the issue of abortion by veteran lecturer, teacher and academic Dr Johann McFarlane

See Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

How I came to write this article

I started on the project of writing this article eight months ago after a friend gave me a book written by an advocate who specialises in the topic of abortion. After reading the book, I became interested in the complicated issue of abortion and began talking to friends and family members about this vital topic.

I discovered there is an amazing degree of ignorance — even among those with tertiary education — about the details of, and arguments about abortion. Experiencing a special urge and energising from the Holy Spirit, I kept on writing right throughout the lockdown. And I thanked God for the opportunity this season gave me — no social obligations, no pressing business.

I commenced reading and writing about the topic, trying to avoid most of the well-known Bible references because I wanted to support my arguments on current-life issues, facts and arguments. However, I wanted to include the following Scripture excerpt because of the words of superlative grace, uttered by an innocent Man being tortured and killed; praying for those torturing Him; and adding His explanation of why they needed to be forgiven for killing Him. The words: “for they do not know what they are doing” — Luke 23:34.

A major premise of my article is that women in crisis pregnancies are often pressured into having abortions under the slogan: “It is your right to choose”. Ironically these women are provided with scant information and false assurances about the details and consequences of the procedure, causing them to take part in the killing of their babies while “not knowing what they are doing.”

My objective in writing

My objective with this article is to present women with unwanted pregnancies with information about what happens in abortions, and to warn them about possible consequences. The problem is that there are so few unbiased sources of information about abortions — especially on the internet. The information abortion clinics put on their websites are advertisements, which by their nature try to persuade potential customers by offering all the good news, and avoiding the bad.

My hope, therefore, is that people who read this article will be empowered to say their own “no” or “yes” when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy — their own or those of someone close to them. Fromm1 emphasises the importance of the following qualities for decision-making: “independence, freedom and the presence of critical reason” (10:72)

What Jesus taught us about our ‘rights’2

Jesus taught his disciples three things about their “rights”: 1. to submit to another’s rights (taking the Roman’s soldier’s weapons and carrying these for a mile); 2 shaming those rights (at the end of the first mile, offering to carry his gear for another mile), 3. earning his own right to speak (responding to the soldier’ s baffled questions, telling him that is what Jesus had taught him).

The abortion triangle

The abortion rights triangle illustrates the complexities of the interrelated rights of the different parties in abortion. The abortion triangle shows three “rights” often referred to in debates about abortion: 1. to choose; 2. to know and 3. to live.

Of these three, 1 and 2 are complementary, while 1 and 3 are mutually exclusive. The complementary relation between 1 and 2 implies that the “right to choose” is dependent on the “right to know” (as your right to choose the best car is dependent on information about its fuel consumption, any service plan and, of course, its price).

If a dealer tells you that it is against the law to give you the service history of a vehicle, you would immediately become suspicious, thinking he is withholding negative information and you would decide against buying that car.

The dealer might pursue you further, showing you all the car’s luxury features, but because your “freedom” or “right” would already have been compromised by the his suspicious withholding of information from you, you would probably refuse to engage in any further business with that company. However, if you needed a car urgently, you would probably be forced to take the dealer at his word, because you want to believe him!

The example above, is a clear picture of what is currently happening in South Africa regarding advice being given to women to embrace abortion. And we have seen that in a case where pro-life doctor Jacques de Vos allegedly informed a pregnant woman that the foetus she was carrying was a living person and that if she aborted the baby she would become a murderer, he was legally barred from practicing as a medical doctor for a period that currently stands at more than three years.

Ankerberg and Weldon3 maintain (1:143) that “when it comes to abortion, millions of Americans are inadequately informed”. If this is true about Americans, how much more could it be said of South Africans and how much more do we need information to make sound decisions about abortion? 

In “America abortion is the only surgery for which the surgeon is not obliged to inform the patient of the possible risks of the procedure or even of the exact nature of the procedure, indeed, abortion providers have a ‘constitutional right’ to withhold information, even when directly questioned by the patient.” (1:90). 

The strategy to promote abortions seems to be this: proclaim from all platforms, the “woman’s right to choose”, while you conspire with the legal authorities to consider laws that will limit that right.

I cannot help thinking that means to act ‘in bad faith. Some women “slip into the abortion decision, restraining their doubts and questions, simply because it is the most visible and presumably the “easiest” way out of their dilemma. For these women pro-abortion clichés replace investigation and blind trust supplants foresight.

They [women in crisis] assume abortion is safe because that is what they are told, and that is what they want to believe, naively hoping that they will have the strength to deal with the aftermath of abortion – even though they are choosing abortion because they feel they lack the strength to handle an unplanned pregnancy” (1:66).

David Reardon4, (1:66) puts it like this: “Abortion counsellors are cosmetic figures who only reinforce the abortion choice”, acting to waylay the woman’s fears and confronting her with the ultimate abortion lie: “Soon it will all be over!”

  1. Fromm, E. 1976 To Have or to Be? Continuum. New York
  2. Rights 1 and 2, see Matthew 5:41 (NLT); Right 3: “What Jesus knew was that, when one of his disciples would respond as he taught them, the soldier, when this lowly Jew (a disciple would take the soldier’ weapon, and after slobbering under this heavy load for a mile, at the moment others before him, would have thrown down the soldier’s gear in front of  him, adding a couple of obscenities, this exceptional one, would say in a friendly tone, ‘I will take your stuff for another mile’, the soldier would not be able to believe his ears, and obviously, as they were walking the second mile together, he would ask the Jew many questions, giving the Jew all the time in the world, to tell him about Jesus, His Teachings, and His sacrificial death for soldiers too!  Isn’t that clever! Jesus wanted his disciples to experience that amazing change in the soldier too. He was such an exceptional teacher, that his way of teaching was what Mark van Dooren would say many years later: ‘teaching is not telling; It is assisting discovery’”
  3. Ankerberg, J. & Weldon, J. 1990. When does Life Begin? Wolgemuth and Hyatt Publishers Inc. Brentwood. Tennessee.
  4. Reardon,

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