Call for national referendum
The latest news reports on the practice of abortion around the world show that its scope is widening. It is reported that parents can now abort a baby if its gender is not what they want. Some abortionists are prepared to kill newly-born infants.
The reason that Christians reject abortion is that the Bible condemns it as murder. In view of the arguments swirling around this subject, it is timely to return to the Scriptures and read what they say.
First of all, when does human life begin? Once we have got the Biblical answer to that question, we can then answer the consequent one: is a human being ever something other than that? This latter question is vitally important, because those in favour of abortion, the so-called ‘pro choice’ lobby, argue that a baby in the womb is a foetus or an embryo, in other words just a lump of flesh, and only becomes a human being when it is ready to be born.
Start of human life
The Bible is very clear about when human life begins. In Jeremiah 1:5 we read: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (NIV).
Human life in God’s sight is a continuum: it has no known beginning and it never ends. The Scriptures tell us that God is spirit, and we all therefore exist in spirit form in the mind of God before our conception. From the above text we can draw the following conclusions:
- God knows us in our pre-conception existence; He therefore relates to us in a way different from any other creature;
- Before we are born, God has already planned what we will do and be in this life;
- Because He forms us in advance for the work He has planned for us, putting within each of us the gifts and talents we will need, it follows that He prepares us pre-natally as human beings for our work in this world as those same human beings.
- Our prenatal existence in the womb changes nothing in terms of what we are: we exist in the mind of God as human beings; as such we take on flesh in the womb; and we are born equipped and appointed as such to do what God has planned for our lives. An acorn, for example, is planted as an oak tree seed, it remains that in the ground, and it sprouts and grows into an oak tree. Logically, then, what is conceived as a human being remains just that throughout the time of pregnancy.
- When we die our physical and mental faculties die; our spirit leaves our body and returns to the One who gave it. The essence of who we are is in our spirit, in the same way as the essence of the tree is in the seed.
This process is exactly what our Lord Jesus experienced on the Cross: Matthew 27:50 records that “Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and gave up His spirit.”
- At the Resurrection of the body our bodies rise in their resurrection form and we become once more whole: body, soul and spirit in perfection, never to die again.
Having restated the argument as to why abortion is murder, we must look at developments that I alluded to in my opening paragraph, which are either happening or being contemplated.
The “abortion” — in fact outright killing — of newly-born babies, is already happening. This is nothing short of infanticide. The British newspaper, ‘Mail Online’ has published figures of 66 babies who were left to die in a year after they were born following botched abortions. The newspaper quoted a report by an organisation in the National Health Service, CEMACH, which reads: ‘The figures for the CEMACH 2007 Perinatal Mortality report, gathered from hospitals in England and Wales during 2005, reveal 16 babies who survived abortion were born after 22 weeks in the womb or later in the pregnancy. The remaining 50 were under 22 weeks’ gestation….the 16 survived between one minute and four-and-a-half hours-half lived for just over an hour.”
Born alive after abortion
The Mail also reports some official medical responses to these statistics: the British Association of Perinatal Medicine said in a statement that “New guidelines were being drawn up to cover babies born alive after abortion. Neonatologist Professor Neil Marlow, president of the Association, said: “Parents may be told that the baby will not be viable but may still want to hold it until it dies, and this is what we are seeing in these statistics.”
Another report in the Mail said “A baby born alive after a botched abortion is among the worst cases reported in the UK. The little girl, who had Down’s Syndrome, lived for three hours after being delivered. The parents were later told that their baby had not ‘really’ been alive, even though she was clearly breathing.”
Meanwhile a group of medical ehticists linked to Oxford University say that parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion. In an article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, they says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.
Concerning non-voluntary euthanasia, or mercy-killing, the Netherlands put a law into effect on April 10, 2002 which legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide. This law raises many ethical questions, but in essence non-voluntary euthanasia can now be more openly practised without fear of legal reprisal. The result is that, according to a report prepared by Dr Brian Pollard, and published in an article entitled Current Euthanasia Law in Holland, “Over 10,000 people in Holland carry anti-euthanasia cards entitled ‘Declaration of Life.’ They read: I request that no medical treatment be withheld on the grounds that the future quality of my life will be diminished… I request that under no circumstances a life-ending treatment be administered, because I am of the opinion that people do not have the right to end life.” This response shows that euthanasia without the consent of the patient is being increasingly practised.
This murderous development raises the question: what other categories of people may be included? For example, will the insane, the terminally ill, be it mental or physical, or the deformed, be executed, or “euthanased” as the colloquial term now puts it?
Reject ungodly practices
A secular society can contemplate such evil practices, but a godly society should reject them out of hand. When people come to be judged in terms of their usefulness, as in a secular society, rather than by their value, as in a godly society, then truly the devil will have had his way. He comes only to steal, kill and destroy; and as the arch enemy of God he hates all that God created, especially humanity.
The conclusion to be drawn is that only God can give life, and therefore only God can take it. If we accept this as the guiding principle in this matter, then logic dictates that all forms of killing by man are to be abhorred. If a society bans abortion, then it must ban the death penalty as well as euthanasia.
In South Africa we have a constitution in which the only reference to God is to ask His blessing on our country, which comes at the end of the document, so for practical purposes we are officially a secular state. We have an anomalous situation: the death penalty is outlawed, but abortion is legally permissible. Euthanasia has not yet entered the chambers of Parliament as a subject for debate, but it could happen.
What can we do as Christians to get the Termination of Pregnancy Act off our statute books? Simply this: first of all, to keep on stating the Biblical teaching on abortion, whenever and wherever appropriate: secondly, to protest in whatever way is most effective for our situation; thirdly, to write to the Minister concerned.
I believe we should ask for a national referendum on the subject as I am convinced that most South Africans are against abortion. The Government has been asked to do this but it has refused, which is a very telling decision that shows that they know that they do not have the support of the majority of the population behind them on this issue.
And finally, pray. This is the most effective weapon we have. There are many believers who have and who do spend much time in prayer on this issue. If possible, find such a group and join it. There is strength in numbers.
May the Lord end this murderous practice in our land.
About the author
Lawrie Wilmot was in business for 14 years before being called to fulltime ordained ministry as an Anglican pastor. He is married to Isobel. They have two children, James and Kate, who were murdered in 1999, aged 20 and 18. Lawrie has always been active in promoting inter-denominational unity and also assists in a ministry which trains school leavers in employability skills. He and Isobel offer bereavement counselling as well as general Christian counselling. After his retirement in 2009 they joined Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Central, Port Elizabeth, where they assist wherever they are needed.
He is a long-time anti-abortion campaigner. In the 1980’s, as an ordained minister in the Anglican Diocese of Port Elizabeth, he proposed a resolution at a Diocesan Synod condemning abortion as murder, which was unanimously adopted. He was moved to action again after the Government ignored thousands of anti-abortion petitions, and many demonstrations and marches, and went ahead with passing the Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1997, which legalised abortion on request. Guided by the Lord he founded a crisis pregnancy crisis centre in Uitenhage, where he was serving at the time. The clinic is in its 14th year of existence and has been instrumental in saving the lives of many hundreds of babies, as well as offering supplementary related services.