Have you noticed how much people love babies? Magazines have celebrity baby issues, Instagram has a seemingly infinite number of adorable baby pictures, pregnant mothers obsess about everything from baby names, to decorating the perfect nursery, to newborn photos. We squeal in delight when a colleague, friend, or family members announces they are expecting, then make bets on what the gender will be before the big reveal. Babies are longed for, cherished, and celebrated.
Yet parallel to this cultural celebration of babies, is the reality that millions of babies — 42 million worldwide in 2018 alone — do not live to take their first breath outside the womb due to abortion. How can this be? Why are some babies worth carrying, loving, and celebrating while other babies are not? Does a baby have inherent value or is a baby’s value subjective based on the feelings on the one whose womb it is in?
I have always been pro-life because I believe in the inherent and priceless value of human life beginning at conception. However, my passion for the pro-life movement was brought to a new level a few years ago when one of my closest friends found out her father had wanted her aborted. I tried to imagine a world without her in it and quickly realized it would have literally changed the course of my life and the lives of so many others. All I could think about is who else is missing? Who else should be here? Who else should be impacting my life and the lives of others?
Shortly after, I visited a pregnancy crisis centre to hear the more personal side of abortion. It turns out that abortion is far more traumatic than the pro-abortion movement would lead you to believe. Most women deciding if they are going to have an abortion are deeply conflicted and many who have had one carry deep regret. What this confirmed to me is that the abortion movement is not about what’s best for women. So then, how does the abortion movement justify itself?
Human but not a Person
The current justification for abortion is called the personhood theory and gets down to this: Just because a baby in the womb is human, it doesn’t make him or her a person. To qualify as a person, a human must reach a certain level of cognitive development.
But who gets to decide what cognitive level a baby needs to achieve before it qualifies as a person? Does a baby become a person at some point in the womb? Or is it once he or she is outside the womb? What if the baby is premature? Does he or she qualify as a person then? What about toddlers? Do they have the cognitive level to achieve personhood? What about someone with mental disabilities? Is he or she a person or merely a human and thus expendable?
The personhood theory is clearly arbitrary, and yet, it is the rationale the abortion industry uses to justify itself to women, lawmakers, academics, the media, and more.
However, for many, whether a baby is human or a person is irrelevant. What matters most is that a woman’s right to choose is deemed important than the right of a baby to live.
The abortion movement says that abortion is a women’s rights issue — that women will only be able to achieve equality with men if they have access to abortion.
It’s true that women have been significantly mistreated over the centuries and I am thankful there have been significant strides made when it comes to gender equality. I know that having a baby has a far greater impact on the mother than on the father (so does an abortion). But who decided that women need to be more like men to gain equality?
Abortion reinforces that women need to adjust their lives to fit into the traditional economic, political, and social models that have primarily been established by men. What would really be pro-women is if our systems would do more to adapt to women instead of women having to adapt to the systems.
Further, the abortion movement says that men don’t have a say in what a woman does with “her” body. This has led to two significant outcomes:
1. It lets men off the hook. Abortion allows men to have complete sexual freedom without any consequences - it is essentially a contraceptive back-up plan. A man can say he supports a woman’s right to choose, when the fact is his support has nothing to do with women’s rights but his own desire for complete sexual freedom. This is very convenient in our sex obsessed, pornography-saturated culture where sexual freedom is the ultimate goal. Abortion on demand abdicates men from their responsibilities when it comes to sex, pregnancy, and raising children.
2. It gives men no say. Abortion advocates say that men don’t get a say on whether a woman has an abortion because it is not the man’s body carrying the baby. There are many men who are devastated when they are told they have no say in what happens to the child they helped conceive.
Both these outcomes are catastrophic.
Abortion as Mercy
Is there anything more inspiring than hearing about someone rising above difficult circumstance to a life filled with purposed and hope? Overcomers inspire us to be better people and they give us perspective on what really matters in life.
Yet the abortion movement says that if there is a chance a baby would suffer from a disability, poverty, or foster care, that is a legitimate reason to abort. On the one hand we celebrate those who have risen out of difficult circumstances, and on the other hand we are saying people in those circumstances should be aborted. I venture to say that most of us wouldn’t be here today if we applied this logic to our own lineage.
In many countries, if pre-natal screening indicates that there is even a chance something with wrong with the baby, mothers are encouraged to abort. Clubbed foot? Abort. Cleft palate? Abort. Down Syndrome? Abort. To think that if a baby doesn’t meet some arbitrary definition of ‘good enough’ it should be aborted is a tragedy.
The appropriate response to suffering is to eliminate the suffering, not the sufferer. Medical advancement allows us to treat a significant number of congenital defects and other medical issues while babies are still in the womb, let alone after they are born. There are social programs to help with poverty. There are countless families willing to adopt and foster. Abortion disguised as “mercy” is discrimination against the most helpless and vulnerable — the very ones we should be protecting.
Abortion as mercy to mothers in cases of rape or incest is also used as an argument for sweeping on-demand abortion laws. While these situations are tragic, the reality is, combined they account for less than 1.5% of abortions. Hard cases make for bad laws.
Sex Selection, Racism, and Climate Control
If we are pro-women, we should be against abortion for the sheer fact that a far greater number of girls are aborted than boys. The belief of women as inferior can also be seen in abortion statistics. Take India for example. Statistically 63 million girls are missing due to abortion. This is just India. Globally far more baby girls are aborted than baby boys. This is anti-woman not pro-woman.
What about the racism of abortion? Western nations are funding overseas abortions the majority of which aborts non-white babies. But this is also a problem in the USA. In the state of New York, over half of black pregnancies are aborted. How is this not a public health crisis?!
Our current obsession with climate change is scaring people into the belief that population control is a part of the answer. Again, western nations are encouraging abortions in poorer countries overseas as a way to combat the perceived climate crisis. (Ironically, carbon emissions are far higher per capita in the West.)
Abortion as population control has a very heinous track record against humanity, and in particular, women and children.
What about the Women?
While the political debate about abortion rages on, the reality of a woman with an unwanted pregnancy is fear, confusion, and heartache. Most women feel a sense of attachment and protectiveness over the baby they are carrying, which comes as a surprise, as they have been told that abortion is “no big deal.”
Add to that the reality of plans that will be upended, financial implications, impact on relationships, and potentially single-parenting, and the thought of having an unexpected baby is overwhelming and seems very, very complicated. Even when women would like to keep the baby they carry, many are coerced and pressured into abortion by their boyfriend or family.
A friend of mine was recently counselling a girl named "Eve." Eve became pregnant at 16. From the beginning, she wanted to keep her baby. However, her boyfriend, his parents, and her own parents pressured and pressured her to have an abortion, so finally, at 17 weeks along, she aborted. The devastation and regret that overtook Eve cannot be overstated. The bitter irony of this situation is that as soon as she aborted, her boyfriend and her mother regretted that they had encouraged her to do so. It is not just the baby’s life that was destroyed.
I know many women who have had abortions and they are never the same. Most are filled with regret so deep, that not a day goes by they don’t think about what could’ve been. Or they are so desperate to convince lawmakers to make this a fundamental human right so they can feel better about a decision they keep blocking out and trying to convince themselves was okay.
Another friend of mine recently told me about an employee that worked for her husband. This once-outstanding employee started to miss work, became unfocused, and became separated from his wife. My friend’s husband finally asked him what was going on. The employee shared that his wife had had an abortion six months ago. They hadn’t planned on having children, so when she became pregnant, they decided to stick to their plan and abort. Since then, his wife began to struggle with depression, which was spiraling into further mental health issues, and then the break-up of their marriage. She could not forgive herself for having the abortion.
A Change in Plans
Why is it that as a society we say women are strong enough to handle anything that comes their way except an unexpected pregnancy? A society where women are obligated to choose an abortion out of loyalty to their “plan.”
Life is full of life-altering, plan-changing events. An unexpected pregnancy won’t be the last of the unexpected. When other unexpected events happen, women are told, “You can do this! You can rise above your circumstances and find a new path and plan a new future." Yet when a woman has an unexpected pregnancy, she is told, “You can’t do this. This screws up everything.”
If we care about women, we will try and protect them from abortion, not encourage them to have one. Let them know that it’s okay if plans change. No matter how complicated and inconvenient a baby may be, it is still a baby. It is not the baby’s fault that he or she is not wanted. He or she still deserves to live.
WHY is this Happening?
The sexual revolution and the abortion movement have done their best to reduce sex to a purely physical act that should be able to happen with no consequences, but results are in and they are disasterous. An epidemic of abortion (and STDs, pornography, sex trafficking, physical and emotional trauma) is the cost of this so-call sexual freedom.
While contemporary society scoffs at the moral values of the Bible, the fact is, the Christian ethic is the most pro-woman ethic there is. Imagine for a moment, if our society saved sex for marriage and within marriage. Women would not feel pressured to have sex before having a relationship with a man. Dating couples would be able to get to know each other apart from a sexual relationship. STDs would disappear. Sex trafficking would be a thing of the past. Unwanted pregnancies would all but be eliminated. The demand for abortion would be virtually nil. Imagine the healing that would bring emotionally and physically to women. Imagine the cost savings to our health care system. Society can make fun of Biblical values as much as it wants, but the fact remains, the Biblical ethic is the answer. You don’t need to be religious to see the benefits of a Biblical sexual ethic.
Yet, surprisingly few churches are involved in the pro-life movement, not wanting to get “political.” In fact, many churches have had a poor track record of supporting their own when there is an unexpected pregnancy in the congregation.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine got pregnant. She was an amazing godly woman, so it came as a great shock to find out she was having sex. When her church found out, the leadership made her go to the front of the church and apologize to the congregation for getting pregnant outside of marriage.
Can you even imagine? A teenage girl being humiliated like that? I still get furious when I think about it. No wonder there are Christian girls and women who would rather abort their babies than face a metaphorical stoning in front of their church congregation. (It comes as no surprise that my friend and her family left that church shortly after this event.)
The church should be a GO TO SAFE PLACE for women with an unexpected pregnancy – the first place women think of! Churches should be equipped to compassionately direct women to the resources that can help them.
We can't be silent on this any longer. All babies are precious and should be celebrated and cherished regardless of if they are planned or not, regardless of whose womb they are in. It's time we gather our courage and Speak for Life.
To find out what you can do, head to www.lifeculture.ca.
-Susan Penner B.Comm (Houns), MBA
About the Author:
Susan Penner has been passionate about life since she first volunteered at a pregnancy crisis shelter in her early 20’s. She is the Executive Director of Life Culture and is a City Councilor in Steinbach.
You can contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy or are struggling with post-abortion grief, visit www.pregnancy.ca or call 1-800-665-0570.