Evangelical Christians have been swept up into debate recently over the comments made by Donald Trump regarding “punishing women” for obtaining illegal abortions. Pro-life leaders responded vehemently in opposition, declaring “we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women” and asserting the historical pro-life position has always been aimed at prosecuting abortion providers and not targeting women. National Right to Life president, Carol Tobias, tweeted this Lifenews.com article a few days ago, which explained the following:
While pro-life advocates yearn for the day when unborn children are protected under law and abortions are banned, the pro-life movement has historically opposed punishing women who have abortions — instead focusing on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children they kill in abortions.
Others have strongly maintained that abortion is murder, thus all complicit parties must be culpable and appropriately charged for murder. Getting lost in the pro-life discussion, it seems, is the personhood of the child, as if compassion for the mother must be at the expense of full justice for the baby. As the term “pro-life” doesn’t appear to apply to me anymore, I hope to make several positive arguments as to what I believe to be the biblical position on the sanctity of life.
I am pro-mother
Motherhood begins at conception. The moment Mary was “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), she became the mother of Jesus. Just prior in verse 31, the angel told Mary that she would “conceive in your womb and bear a son,” and later in verse 36, the angel informed her that her relative, Elizabeth, had also “conceived a son.” In defining the embryo in Mary’s womb as a son, and the fetus in Elizabeth’s womb as a son, the scriptures reveal these women as pregnant with human persons. They were mothers who had conceived sons. There is plenty more Scripture to argue for the personhood of the child in the womb, but the example of Jesus, who was God in the flesh, and John the Baptist will suffice.
God loves mothers. Women, precious and made in the image of God their Creator, were chosen by God to be the vessels to unfold His plan of redemption. Though, because of the Fall, pregnancy would be a painful experience for women, it would still bring much joy for the woman who loves her child. Ultimately, the most blessed mother of all mothers, Mary, had the honor to carry in her womb the Son of God. Jesus was nurtured in Mary’s womb until He would be born in Bethlehem, where He would be worshiped as Lord, Christ, Savior, Shepherd, Ruler, and King.
We see how much Jesus loved His mother, Mary, when He ensured her provision and care just before He died on the cross (John 19:26-27). In his letter to Timothy, Paul gives instructions to care for widows and esteems those widows who have demonstrated faithful service to the Lord, including bringing up children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (1 Timothy 5:3-16). Paul also alluded to the great responsibility women possess as mothers, and saw to the older women in the church teaching the younger women “what is good” and training them to
love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).
So the Bible is clear on how we, as a church, should cherish mothers, build them up, protect them, provide for them, honor them, and teach them. This is God’s design for mothers, though many mothers do not come to the understanding of how weighty and honorable their responsibility is.
I am pro-compassion
Because I am pro-mother, I am pro-compassion for mothers who are considering abortion as the answer to their unwanted pregnancy. There are many ways to show compassion to mothers on the dark path to end the life of the child, including giving them what they need to hear the most – the truth spoken in love. They need to understand they are loved and their baby is loved. There are times when the mother is in a crisis situation, and doesn’t feel she can provide for her baby. In those cases, there are opportunities to meet her and her child’s tangible needs. Sometimes women need shelter to be protected from violent men in their lives. Many churches and Christians provide assistance to these mothers through mercy ministries. I’m very thankful for Gospel-centered ministries who show both compassion and speak the truth in love to these mothers, and I’m grateful to have one such CPC in my community to which to refer mothers choosing life for their baby.
Sadly, most women do not seek assistance and decide to end the life of their child. Whether a Christian has opportunity to engage a woman before she enters the door of an abortion mill, or whether she is post-abortive, the woman still needs compassion. She is about to abort her child, or she aborted her child, because she is a slave to sin (John 8:34). She, like all sinners, is dead in her sins and is blinded by and follows the god of this world, Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:4). She’s just like every Christian before God showed them compassion to save them from their sins.
So a woman who remorsefully recognizes the destruction she almost wrought in the life of her baby (and thus does not go through with killing her baby), or the one who has already regretfully destroyed her baby, she needs to know their is forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ through biblical repentance from sin and faith in Christ alone, and that there are Christians who love her and want to come alongside her to disciple her into the faith.
I am pro-baby
I have already established the personhood of the baby, given that Jesus was the conceived son in the womb of Mary. Elsewhere in Psalm 139:13-16, we find God’s personal, intricate creation and design of David in his mother’s 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.
God, the sole Author of life, creates every child at conception. He breathes life into every man (Zechariah 12:1), creating his very soul ex nihilo. Indeed, our soul defines our personhood, our being made in the image of God, not our biological material.
As each child in the womb is a person, each pre-born child is granted by God protection and the same natural rights as every person already born. To treat the pre-born child any less than a person already born is to dehumanize the child.
I am pro-justice
Yes, to not provide the same protection and guarantee the same natural rights to pre-born children is to dehumanize them. Violating natural rights for pre-born children would include not doing justice on their behalf in the same way a person already born would receive justice due them if they were murdered. Yes, abortion is murder.
I am dismayed that compassion for the mother is pit against justice for the child. I have already explained the mother should be shown compassion, but never at the expense of justice for the child. The current discussion is whether “women should be punished.” The pro-life argument is the woman is purely a victim of a predatory abortion industry, so only these predators should be punished and never the woman, should abortion every be
banned. It has been called “proximate justice,” or imperfect justice, as that is the best justice we can hope for in this fallen world.
I think arguing for proximate justice is a failed argument for the simple fact that we do see perfect justice already demonstrated in our fallen world. We see it every time someone steals and they are prosecuted and sentenced as a thief. We see it every time a rapist receives his just penalty. We see it every time a 1st-degree murderer is convicted and sentenced to death. Granted, there is no denying corruption in the system, weaknesses in the system, and injustices in the system. But we do, in fact, have just laws in our fallen world, even if they are not always carried out justly.
So the problem is not proximate justice being our only hope for any justice (i.e., “some justice is better than none at all”); our problem is that we are not willing to call abortion what it is – murder; we are not willing to grant pre-born children every dignity, right, and protection that we grant every person already born; and we are not willing to execute justice for every criminal involved in the slaying of the pre-born child.
We must not allow emotion to fog our thinking. Consider this example:
a woman pregnant with a 24-week old son killed her child with a coat hanger. If you believe the woman should be charged with murder, you would be demonstrating a biblical view of justice. However, if you also believe women should not be punished who illegally murder their child by paying an assassin to poison, burn, impale, dismember, and decapitate her child, then you are terribly inconsistent and lack a biblical understanding of justice.
Apparently, even our government gets it right from time to time, as the above example was taken from a real-life case where a Tennessee woman was charged with attempted 1st-degree murder for torturing her 24-week old pre-born son with a coat hanger.
I am pro-abortion abolition
Pro-life leaders have accused Donald Trump of not being pro-life. I certainly agree that Trump isn’t pro-life; however, these claims were made because he contradicted the supposed “historic pro-life” position that post-abortive women should not be prosecuted in a society where abortion is criminalized.
While I am thankful for all the good the pro-life movement has done since Roe v. Wade (and let’s be honest, there has been plenty of good from many who consider themselves pro-life), I have to distance myself from the label. I think pro-life leaders would actually agree that I am not pro-life, since I believe the woman also bears culpability for the crime of killing her baby. Additionally, it is acceptable in the pro-life movement for one to be considered pro-life while allowing for abortion exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and the supposed risk to the life of the mother.
For these reasons, and more, I aim to no longer use the pro-life label, even for convenience sake. I’m OK with being outside the pro-life tent. There is too much baggage, and too much compromise. What I desire is the complete abolition of abortion, which would necessarily be followed by criminalization to enforce the law (not retroactively, mind you, at least not in the case of the mother).
Yes, the abortion industry dragon needs to be slayed. Yes, unlicensed, illegal abortion assassins would need to be prosecuted and executed for their crimes of murder and genocide (as God demands in Genesis 9:5-6). Politicians, like Hillary Clinton who considers a pre-born baby a person and child but advocates for a woman choosing to murder the baby anyway, need to be prayed for, silenced, and forced out of the conversation. But, also yes, women who hire their child’s assassins for any number of reasons should also be prosecuted.
Depending on the degree of culpability, punishments might vary, but the crime should be treated no less than the woman’s culpability in the unlawful death of a person already born. Surely if the mother is sacrificing her child on the altar of convenience, she should receive no less penalty than those Israelite women who sacrificed their children on the altar of Molech (Leviticus 20:2).
God hates the hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17), and He hates the hands that pay people to shed innocent blood. Let us not love abortion-determined or abortion-guilty mothers more than we love their babies. Let’s love them equally. Let’s not seek proximate justice nor maintain the status quo of regulating abortion, but let us advocate for the same justice we advocate for people already born and call for the immediate abolition of all legalized child murder.
Let us not dehumanize pre-born children with our low view of justice, but treat them with the same dignity God treats all of His image-bearers. Let’s be pro-mother, pro-compassion, pro-baby, pro-justice, and pro-abortion abolition.