Thinking About Abortion: Why do you think the way you think about life and death?
Gallup has released findings from it’s nationwide Values and Beliefs poll which includes American attitudes toward abortion. The lead of the story reads:
“Americans’ support for the legality of abortion varies sharply when they are asked to evaluate it on a trimester basis, which is consistent with the pattern Gallup has found for more than 20 years. Six in 10 U.S. adults think abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy. However, support drops by about half, to 28%, for abortions conducted in the second three months, and by half again, to 13%, in the final three months.”
There are two lines of thought to pursue as we evaluate why Americans think the way we do about abortion. We should consider what the statistics tell us about how scientific and technological advances are helping some Americans actually see the person in the womb is a person. And we should also consider what informs and influences how Americans think about abortion. Let’s take the second question first.
Why do we think the way we think about abortion? Why do we answer differently depending on how the question is asked? Why do we think in terms of trimesters instead of the inherent dignity of the person? Why do we think in terms of when the abortion happens instead of seeing it at as a matter of life and death? Why do we think the life or death decision is the right of a woman and not inherently the right of the person whose life is in jeopardy? The answers to these questions reveal what is governing or guiding our thinking – and how far we are as a nation from submitting to the will of God and the mind of Christ on the matters of our day.
For more than 20 years Gallup’s research reveals that Americans think in terms of trimesters when it comes to the morality and legality of abortion. Why? Because that’s how the Supreme Court told us to think about it. In what we now consider the most important decision of the SCOTUS history, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court established that the interest of the state in preserving the life of the pre-born became stronger over the course of a pregnancy. This resolved the balancing test (between the mother’s right to choose and the child’s right to live) by tying state regulation of abortion to “viability” – which at the time was defined as the third trimester of pregnancy. So, we think the way we do about abortion because the Supreme Court told us to think in terms of viability and they tied viability to trimesters. And, as Gallup’s research reveals, so we think.
So what happens when, through advances in science, technology and medicine, viability shifts to an earlier and earlier stage? Or eliminates the need for an actual woman with a womb altogether? Is viability the right criteria for abortion? If not, what is?
A recent law passed in Iowa is designed to force consideration of that question. The law in Iowa makes it illegal to terminate the life of a child once a heartbeat is detected. Iowa’s Attorney General refused to enforce the law and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit which has challenged the law’s constitutionality. So, this case may well make its way to the Supreme Court and we, as a people, will reconsider how and where to draw the line on the morality and legality of abortion. Where and how should those lines be drawn? What guides and governs your thinking when answering that question?
As Christians, our thoughts are to be captive to Christ and our minds conformed to the way God thinks about things. So, how does God think about life and death? What does the Bible reveal about God’s view of the person in the womb? Does the Bible lead us to believe that trimesters or fetal viability or the detection of a heartbeat matter in terms of who lives and who is denied life?
Read these texts:
Can you reasonably argue that God’s consideration of the person has anything to do with trimesters? If not, then why allow that thinking to guide your own?
Consider these resources to help you develop and speak the mind of Christ on this subject: