The news has been buzzing with reports of secretly recorded video showing abortion providers discussing the best way to dismember a baby to maximize the possibility of getting salable parts. The apparent callousness has stirred up intense conversation about abortion and Planned Parenthood. The callous treatment of such a barabarous practice has shocked many. The abortion industry’s hypocrisy is made evident by these videos. One defense offered for harvesting organs from the unborn is that the material is not from a living person, but a mass of tissue that has the potential to become a person. Many Christians respond that the “product of conception” being aborted is a living human being who possesses all the necessary traits of personhood. To kill the baby in the womb, even if it somehow results in saving lives by furthering medical research, is just as murderous an act as killing the infant in the crib.
Why do Christian’s make such a claim? Don’t scientists disagree about when life begins? Don’t philosophers and psychologists disagree about what makes a person a person? Despite the appearance of a lack of consensus about life and personhood, the Christian declares abortion is murder because of the teachings of the Word of God. The abortion debate does not center around whether it is legitimate to kill an innocent, defenseless person. Very few argue it is right to kill someone for convenience sake. The abortion debate centers around the origin of life and the beginning of personhood.
The origin of life is not an easy topic to discuss, but one point is most defensible as the true beginning of human life- fertilization. When the mother’s egg is fertilized it begins the journey that will naturally end in the birth of a human baby. From that point on a myriad of things happen, but each event is just the next step in a series that begin at fertilization. Some have argued the baby is not really alive until after birth, but modern science, including ultrasound technology and surgical procedures on infants en utero, has show the impossibility of that argument. Defining life based on a stage in the pregnancy, whether it be weeks, trimesters or developmental milestones are all equally specious. Why is a baby at the very end of the first trimester not life, but the next day is a life? All marks are arbitrary except one. Life begins at conception and grows progressively until it reaches maturity. The Levitical passages regarding the protection of the unborn child show the Bible definitely views the baby in the womb as alive.
The harder question is that of personhood. When does a life in the womb become a person? Several Biblical characters evidence marks of personhood in the womb. Jacob and Esau fought together in the womb. While still in the womb, John the Baptist leapt for joy when Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited Elizabeth. Other individuals, including Jeremiah, were called out by God for ministry before their birth. All these actions and emotions- jealousy, anger, joy, spiritual awareness and calling to ministry- are evidences of genuine personhood. The strongest Biblical statements on the personhood of the unborn are found in the Psalms. Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The Psalmist was declared by God to be a sinful creature though still in the womb. God does not hold a lump of tissue guilty, only persons. God does not hold a collection of cells as sinful, only a person. Indvidual and unique personhood is declared by God in His Word.
The fetus is a living human being who possesses all the attributes of personhood. Abortion is murder because it is the immoral destruction of an innocent human life. Abortion crushes the life of a person made in the image of God. Abortion rips apart the life of the most innocent persons on our planet. Abortion is murder most heinous.