Earlier this week, maybe last, I listened to presidential hopefuls, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton answer questions about abortion and whether there should be any limits. For both the so-called right to abortion, which Clinton insisted is grounded in the Constitution, is obviously sacrosanct. Apparently neither would concede to the need for any limitations; Clinton even remarked, “it’s not much of a right if it’s totally limited and constrained.”
That the question wasn’t about totally limiting and constraining but whether there should be any restrictions at all aside, if only she and Sanders felt the same way about the First and Second amendment rights that are actually spelled out clearly in the Constitution!
Sanders, nonetheless, handled the question by simply stating that he believed it is simply a matter of a woman having the right to do whatever she wants with her own body. Well if we were talking about her appendix, he would have a good point, but we’re not.
We are actually talking about the body and life of someone else, another entity who, in pretty short order, has his or her own heartbeat, brain development including learning and memory, DNA, and possibly even a completely different blood type and eye color, as a unique finger print pattern is being forged in utero. Moreover, this living body is not just part of the mother, but the unique combination of the the mother and a biological father. She or he is an entity with its own body, albeit dependent on the mother for its nutrition, growth and development, which is still true to a lesser, but still great extent after birth.
The embryo/fetus, in utero, has its own body, but in the name of sexual freedom and personal comfort and convenience some refuse to even acknowledge that basic biological fact. So even though we are really talking about much more than the body of the mother, some still refuse to acknowledge the fact the this entity with it’s own unique body, a living body, is a somebody (i.e. a person). Even though just as you and I were once infants, quite helpless and dependent infants, we were also at one time embryos and fetuses, just as we were toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, and adults, if you have made it that far. One who has a body, is somebody, even in the womb.
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)
According to the Bible every person’s personhood begins in the womb, even before in the foreknowledge of God. Our days in the womb count, even if some still say those in the womb don’t in terms of the right to life. All our days are numbered from conception to death, and every day, even in the womb, counts.
John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:5-25), and leaped for joy within womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (Luke 1:39-45). His mother Elizabeth referred to him as “the Baby” (Greek, brephos) in her womb; later immediately after his birth Jesus is also referred to by the same term (Luke 2).
What the Bible demonstrates and what common sense and medical technology reveal is that one who has her own body, “knitted together” in her mother’s womb is a somebody, and should be treated as such. This is the truth that some want to deny, distort, and suppress, even if it comes through in a Doritos Superbowl ad, but it is the truth.
People who know me, or just know of me, often don’t know that I’ve only really been pro-life for about 10 years. At one time I was convinced that life doesn’t start until a newborn takes its first breath. I had even accepted a cobbled together argument based on a few proof-texts from the Bible. At times I would argue the point with some who were pro-life. A more thorough reading and study of Scripture has convinced me otherwise, but it was more than just Scripture that changed my mind.
Theoretically, I had bought into the idea that abortion could be justified if there was an “accidental” pregnancy at an inopportune time. In theory I would have agreed with the Episcopal priest who says she aborted a child when she discovered she was pregnant during seminary so it wouldn’t interfere with her completing her degree and getting ordained. That’s what our heads used to tell me and my wife, but when we found ourselves in a similar situation our hearts said something else.
My wife and I had been married for a couple of years. She was still trying to finish a bachelor’s degree in education and I was just starting to work on a Master’s. Our plan was for both of us to continue to work part-time and go to school full-time until we graduated. We also planned on getting pregnant the semester before we graduated so the baby would be due a few months after graduation. Our planning was good; our timing was off.
A couple of weeks after the first semester of graduate school began we found out Christi was pregnant. It was a game-changer. If we were going to have a baby that soon, I would have to continue working full-time to keep the health insurance that we would need, which meant graduate school might take longer and Christi felt like she would need to take some time off from school altogether. Having a baby that soon was going to be difficult and inconvenient, to say the least.
Although theoretically either of us could have insisted upon or assented to an abortion, and felt justified, Christi and I both realized then and
there that we just couldn’t. Without a second thought we chose life and we received Grace, which is the name of our oldest child. Our life together has been greatly enriched for over 15 years ever since, even through the late nights and early mornings, the frustrations and the worries, and having to juggle duties and responsibilities and sometimes do more than we ever imagined we could do at one time. It was hard, but then again, Jesus said, the right road is a hard one (Matthew 7:13-14).
Five children later, I have no doubt when life and personhood begin. One who has a body is somebody, awesomely and wonderfully made, even in the womb.
If you are someone who made a different choice, and you feel convicted, please know that there is forgiveness with God, and healing for a broken and contrite heart. If you are in the midst of contemplating such a choice or know someone who is, know there are ministries such as the Crisis Pregnancy Center in the area where I live that can help you know all your options so you can confidently and confidentially choose life.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 ESV