Sometimes, it’s a lot of fun to imagine what archaeologists will think and discover when they dig up 21st century remains. (Or look it up on their supercomputers!) What will the legacy of the 21st century be? Other times, it’s not. What will they say when they excavate certain clinics, and after much study discern their true purpose? What horror will they have on discovering that an ‘advanced’ society sacrifices its children for prosperity, not on altars to pagan gods or by exposure to elements as the ancients did, but on the altar of personal freedom?
‘Abortion’ is not some new thing. It was very much part of the ancient world and then Christianity came and squashed it. The real revolution was not a law but an idea rooted in Christian theology: that all humans, no matter how large or how small, independent or dependent, are made in the image of God and ought to be treated as such. As a result, murder is a sin – even the murder of unborn children. The Bible consistently speaks of children as a blessing, formed by God himself in the womb. The very first Christian document produced outside of the Bible (and contemporary with it), the Didache, condemns abortion. Starting with Constantine, laws discouraging or prohibiting infant exposure – the practice of just leaving unwanted children somewhere in the countryside – came into force. Later laws by Christian rulers forbade abortion outright, protecting the innocent from womb to natural death.
Abortion’s resurgence, however, is easy to trace. It has its roots in popular early 20th century ideas about eugenices. Margret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in the racial supremacy of the white race and the importance of eugenics as a method of purifying humanity from those who were unfit to procreate. Of course, the eugenics movement itself was squashed because of one too-enthusiastic supporter – Hitler. After World War II, western society lost its appetite for forced sterilizations and notions of racial superiority. But abortion wasn’t just hitched to the eugenics wagon – it was also tied to feminist ideals and ideas about population control. These furnish the arguments for abortion today. The most common argument is that it’s a woman’s right to choose. Often many people even ‘personally’ oppose abortion while saying that it ought to be an option.
Neither of those arguments, though, addresses the substance of the pro-life argument. What is happening (regardless of rights) is the ending of a human life. We are all biologically ‘just a collection of cells’ and from the moment of conception, a new human being with unique, never before and never again to be seen DNA is formed. From there it grows – if left to grow. Only a deliberate decision to end that life will stop the process at this point; and in my home country of Canada, the decision to murder a baby can be made right up until the final seconds of its nine month stay in the womb. Nowhere else and to no one else do we grant such a broad right to make decisions for another’s quality of life.
‘Seeing is believing’ and ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ This is why pro-life advocates – those who oppose abortion – show pictures or leak videos like the ones going around the internet lately. Yes, those videos are not the entire story, though that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Yes, abortionists honestly believe they are working for the greater good. Yes, great discoveries have been made using fetal corpses. Yes, abortion empowers women to have greater control over their reproductive systems. Nobody disputes that. But what sort of legacy will a culture that uses abortion so freely leave? As Christians point out, this is the cost: