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Abortion Pill: Simpler But No More Moral Or Healthy

Mal Fletcher
Posted 30 May 2006
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The news this week that a record number of British women are now using an abortion pill to terminate their pregnancy at home, should ring very large alarm bells for anyone committed to questions of justice and compassion.

According to various news sources, the use of this pill, known as EMA (early medical abortion), accounted for nearly a third of the total number of ‘terminations’ provided last year by the UK’s leading abortion provider.

In 2003 this organisation, known as bpas, provided 3,500 patients with the pill. The number rose to 10,000 by 2005.

In all, 185,400 abortions were performed in the UK during 2004, an increase of 2.1 percent on the previous year.

The abortion pill is administered to women in two stages, the first taking place at a clinic and the second in the privacy of their own homes. This, say its advocates, is part of its attraction – allowing a woman more control over a very personal procedure. It also, they say, gives a woman greater flexibility to fit the procedure into a hectic schedule.

I think personal schedules are the last thing we should be talking about with a procedure designed to end a human life.

What supporters don’t tell us is that there are significant health risks to the mother – as there are with all abortions – such as haemorrhaging and lasting pscychological damage. In the US, the FDA is considering a ban of the RU486 pill because of safety concerns.

Just as worrying is the fact that more than 20 women in Britain have had later-term abortions because scans revealed that their unborn children had club feet. About one in every 1000 children in the UK is born with this defect so it is not that uncommon and it is treatable with surgery. Last year, two doctors even carried out an abortion of a 28-week-old foetus with a cleft palate, again an easily treatable defect.

There is concern that biotechnology may lead to ‘designer babies’; but it’s already happening via abortion.

Some will say that the whole issue of abortion is very private; an question that can be settled only by individual conscience and which is not the domain for public debate. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Laws are set in place to protect everybody in society and particularly its weakest and most vulnerable members.

Arguments continue to rage about when a foetus becomes a human being, even in the face of photographic evidence suggesting that babies are babies long before some pro-abortionists choose to admit.

One thing is certain, however. For all of our talk about human rights, individual freedoms and situation ethic, there's a growing sense of crisis today in relation to public morality.

People are concerned about rising crime rates and family breakdown. Voters are frustrated and angered by the lack of scruples shown by leaders in public office and juvenile delinquency is on the increase in many Western nations – leading to ASBOs and the like.

More than ever we need a set of moral values which are generally shared and honoured throughout the community. Morality like this doesn't come cheaply, however.

We need morality that's based on more than our fickle human tastes.

In the Judeo-Christian worldview as it is held by the majority of practicing Christians worldwide, a human being is seen as an individual from the very time of conception. This view is based but on a series of absolutes outlined in scripture.

These are much more than arbitrary rules designed by some ancient priestly elite to limit personal freedoms. Absolutes are universal laws, descriptions of how things always are, no matter who's in power, or what is the fashion of the day.

Is it ever right to murder someone in cold blood? No. Is it ever right to steal someone else's property? No. Oh, you can come up with all the fancy-sounding rationalisations you like to avoid absolutes, but at some point in your life you'll want to fall back on them! (If someone's about to murder you, you're not going to be saying, 'Sure, murder's OK; go for it if it turns you on!')

Moral absolutes are 'absolute' – unchanging and all-encompassing – because they're based on the greatest Absolute of all, the moral character of an unchanging God. To understand these divine mandates in their proper context, one must appreciate the divine nature which they’re designed to reflect – and to help us emulate.

All of God's creation reflects His nature. To live in a way which is inconsistent with God's character, to deny the absolutes in His universe, is to work against the very fabric which holds the whole thing together.

According to the Judeo-Christian scriptures there are at least two fundamental things we can say about the nature of our Maker which directly impact the discussion of abortion.

The first thing we need to know about God is that He is just. He's scrupulously fair in everything He does.

Actually, it's true to say that God doesn't just act justly, He is justice itself. What we call justice is simply a reflection of God's character. And He has built that 'justice-factor' into His natural creation.

You will always reap what you sow - if you put apple seeds in the ground you'll get an apple tree. If you lie your way through a relationship, your lies will someday, some way, work against you. You can't escape it what goes around comes around.

The Judaeo-Christian concept of justice is based on the legal and prophetic writings of the Old Testament. It has stood societies in great stead for millennia. One of the very foundations of that justice system is the idea that the poor, the weak and the unprotected should be given a 'fair go' in law.

With that in mind, God's justice should be a part of any discussion about abortion. As scripture notes, the unborn are human beings in God's eyes. If that's true, and God demands that we take special care of the defenceless, what can we say except that those who end these young lives for no good reason will answer for their injustice?

The other characteristic of God's nature which we need to consider here is His love. God doesn't just feel love, or even decide to love, He is love.

What is it that distinguishes the Ten Commandments from other religious lists of dos and don'ts? The love of God.

Jesus despised the way some religious authorities imposed laws without compassion. The Pharisees of his day, a class of hyper-religious nit-pickers, knew what the law of God said, but their application of it always lacked compassion and mercy.

They disconnected God's nature from God's law - and that's just about as counterproductive as having no law at all.

The Pharisees saw God only as a judge, a disciplinarian. In contrast, Jesus' favourite word for God was ‘father'. According to Jesus, God's greatest act in human history was one of love (John 3:16).

Justice was involved, too. I deserved the eternal death which was coming to me (Romans 3:23, 6:23). But God in His love for me allowed Jesus to take that punishment. Thus God's love fulfilled all that God's justice required, but at the greatest possible cost to Him.

Love is an absolute which must also be brought into our discussion about abortion.

Love will cause us to empathise with those women who do not feel able to handle motherhood, but instead of killing their unborn child which would offend God's justice - we should find ways to support them in their motherhood, or to help them have their child adopted.

Where a woman is pregnant due to rape or incest, justice again will rule out abortion. But love will demand that those around her offer support and healing for her shattered self esteem and her understandable sense of violation and outrage.

If genetic abnormalities are expected to show up in the child, we must avoid the temptation to play God, deciding in our limited understanding who will and will not lead meaningful and happy lives and make a contribution to the world.

Do we kill people who go through tragic accidents which leave them paralysed? No, because that would be neither just nor loving. Besides, science is constantly coming up with new ways to alleviate suffering. So why treat the unborn disabled any differently?

It's not really too surprising that in the battered heartland of what used to be the Soviet empire, Russia, most women have between four and five abortions in a lifetime.

That reflects a system of government that denied God, and ruled out His justice and love as foundations for human behaviour. It also demeaned humanity in the process and turned civility into brutish and civilized behaviour into barbarism.

What’s your view?

Do you think abortion on demand is morally wrong?



Keywords: abortion | abortion on demand | abortion pill | RU486 | absolutes | Christian Scripture | morality | Mal Fletcher | social comment

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Thanks Mal for helping us see the US gun laws issue from an ethical perspective. Our right to possess guns (or any other right, for that matter) is surely insignificant when compared to our responsibility to preserve life.
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