The Heart of the Matter: What Makes Abortion Wrong


By Judy Salisbury

 As a professional speaker and presentation trainer, I have been assisting folks for years to communicate the pro-life or human life position with credibility. It amazes me that many individuals who are involved with this work, and have been for a long while, still do not recognize what is at the heart of the abortion debate. Often pro-lifers pose the argument, “Legal abortions harm women emotionally and physically.” Some ask, “How do we respond to the unsafe, illegal, ‘back alley abortion’ concern?” Also, there are very powerful articles and books written regarding the emotional trauma post-abortive women face. There are books that discuss the disturbing psychological impact abortion has had on those who performed them.

While these are all concerns that need to be addressed, first a distinction must be made between the sin and the consequence. The purpose of this article is to settle that distinction and address the abortion rights arguments intelligently and successfully. It is my hope that this article will be valuable to those individuals who have dedicated their lives to stopping this evil. For those of you who may find yourself in a debate or question-and-answer forum, may this be an asset to you as well.

When I was about thirteen, I was of the opinion that the best way to wash a car was to scrub it with a steel wool pad. It turned out that although my intentions were sincere, the results were tragic and rather costly. In the case of abortion, we have many sincere people who are sincerely wrong. Sincerity about a subject does not necessarily mean truth or right; it simply translates into passion. Some folks sincerely believe abortion helps women during a difficult time.

There are those who sincerely do not believe that the pre-born are human persons. When discussing the arguments for abortion rights, we must first establish the full humanity of the pre-born child from the moment of his or her conception. The establishment of the humanity of the conceptus is vitally important. If the pre-born are not fully human from the moment of his or her conception, why dispute the issue at all?

The humanity of the conceptus is not a matter of taste or opinion; it is a matter of biological fact. The Law of Biogenesis states that life comes from life and each being is pre-programmed through their genetic code, or DNA, to reproduce after their own kind. (The discussion of this pre-programmed genetic code is also valuable when debating an evolutionist. Much like your personal computer, it takes an Intelligence outside the system to create the initial program. That Intelligent Designer is not one the evolutionist generally wants to face!) The conceptus is a product of human parents; therefore has human causes, a reproduction of his or her kind, humanity. She has 23 chromosomes from her mother and 23 from her father. Having 46 chromosomes, she is neither her mother nor her father. She is her own unique individual person. There is no additional genetic material needed for the rest of her life.

We have heard it said, “It’s my body, I can do what I want with it.” The conceptus is not a “part” of the woman’s body, as their blood types can be completely different. If the pregnant woman is carrying a boy, do we then say she is both male and female? What if the conceptus were a “part” of the woman’s body? Can any of us do whatever we deem fit with our own bodies? Certainly not! There are laws against suicide or drug abuse, especially when pregnant. I could go on stating more evidence for the fact that the conceptus is not a “part” of the woman’s body, but right now I want to focus on his or her full humanity.

You may hear some say, “Well, I think they’re human, but I don’t think they’re persons.” Is there a difference between a human being and a human person? Every human being is a human person¾you cannot separate the two, as they are the same. In this argument, you are dealing with pure semantics. Do not let this argument throw you. Simply ask them to define the difference.

In an age where certain words have lost their proper meaning, ask people to define the words or terms they use. Many people will use terms they hear pro-abortionists and the media use and never really think about the meaning or the proper usage. There are those who, if they use the term “fetus,” want you to believe they are referring to something other than a child. When you are talking to someone who continues to use this term, simply say, “Oh! I didn’t know you spoke Latin. I’m sorry, I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. I speak only English fluently. Let’s do this; since we have the English language in common, let’s agree to use the English words for the Latin word ‘fetus.’ From now on, we will refer to the pre-born as ‘the child in the womb.’ After all, that is what the word ‘fetus’ means.” I know sign language, should I, when having a conversation with someone, begin to sign only certain words? Does the use of a word in another language change the meaning? Certainly not!

To sum it up, we did not come from a conceptus or zygote-we once were one. Remember we were at one time a baby, then a toddler, and then a teenager and on to adulthood. Our humanity was and remains ever present. We are what and who we are at the very moment of our conception.

Now that we painstakingly have established the full humanity of the conceptus, let’s address the arguments for abortion rights. Most arguments advocating abortion, euthanasia, or infanticide, appeal to the emotions. These arguments rarely appeal to the intellect and, with the establishment of the full humanity of the conceptus, they are morally bankrupt. Consider the following scenario:

My husband and I have been working hard, growing our new business. Financially there are things we would like to have and do. We have concerns because our daughter is starting to get expensive, and if something happened to the business, I am sure we wouldn’t want to raise her in poverty. We are very busy people, and being that she is three now she is starting to make demands on us such as, “I want some juice. I have to go potty. I need a hug.”

Sometimes there are toys all over the place, and the emotional stress associated with parenting is just too much for our mental health. We don’t want to get so frustrated that we might physically abuse her. Certainly, you can understand our not wanting to subject a child to a home where there is a potential of physical abuse!

We just didn’t plan on all of this. It’s not convenient, the timing is poor. We also have concerns that the world might be over-populated, and we know many think it’s best for couples to have only one child. We want to do our part and if we should only have one, we’d much rather have a boy.

Now is the time for us to make a decision because we don’t believe she is a person until she is five! So, we have decided to choose to terminate her, after all, this is a private matter and she belongs to us anyway. Unfortunately, some of the homemade guns used to execute the terminations backfire and women are harmed while in the process. So I think there ought to be a safe, legal place for me to go where I won’t be harmed in the process of executing the termination of my toddler, who again we feel is just a non-person until the age of five anyway.”

Now, does this scenario sound shocking and horrible to you? It should, and it is. Financial concerns, poverty, emotional stress, mental health, child abuse, unplanned, inconvenient, bad timing, population control, sex selection, a denial of humanity based upon opinion, illegal back ally terminations where women may be harmed in the process, and finally our own children have been reduced to a piece of property that we can keep or discard for any or no reason. The reasons outlined in the above scenario for the termination of the born child’s life are considered perfectly legitimate for the execution of the pre-born child’s life. When considering abortion rights arguments and applying them to the born child, soon we can see that they do not apply at all. Reductio ad absurdum, we have reduced the arguments to exactly what they are¾an absurdity.

Arguments for aborting a child conceived through rape or incest calls for their elimination on the basis of how they were conceived. Simply put, this is executing the child for the crime of the parent! Should we, if we meet a person who is a product of rape or incest, automatically execute them?

It is not how one comes into this world, but that one is already here, in this world. Birth does not usher us into this world. From the moment of conception, we have already been in the world.

In the case of incest, when a girl is secretly carted off to the abortion clinic, the abuse is covered up, which actually allows it to continue. When victims of rape or incest abort, they suffer more emotional trauma from the abortion than from the sexual assault, for they know the aborted child was theirs as well.

In the case where the life of the expectant mother is at risk, the intent is not to actively kill the child. The objective is to save the life of the mother through drastic measures. There is no denial of the humanity here of either party. It is either sacrifice one or both die. It is the greater good to sacrifice the life of the one who cannot survive apart from the mother who we know will survive. In some circumstances, the child is viable and there is the difficult choice between mother and child. However, I know there are many mothers who would surrender their life for their child. Again, the intent is not to kill, but to, at a very high cost, save one life so as not to lose both.

We often hear arguments to justify aborting the handicapped child. Dr. Margaret White, a British physician, writer, international lecturer, and vice president of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, made the following statement at the Heartbeat International Conference in November 1995, “Research into the causes of handicap almost ceased. Now nearly all research goes into spotting the handicapped in the womb and getting rid of the tainted baby. When Professor Lejeune discovered the extra chromosome in Downs Syndrome, there were seven professors working on research in Downs Syndrome. After abortion became common in Europe, he was the only one left trying to find a way to cure it. The others turned, trying to find a way to find it (Downs Syndrome) early in the womb, so you could get rid of it (the child) on the grounds it would have such a poor quality of life.” What a tragic reality that statement is.

As with euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide, abortion for the sake of a terminal illness, disease, or handicap reduces one to a mere physical being, which we are not. We are not our bodies, our finances, our possessions, or our appearances. We are spiritual beings, created in the image of a Holy God. We have a mind and a soul, which makes us who we are. When you see me you see my shell, not what makes me who I am. You do not see my dreams, memories, goals, or fears. You are simply looking at my earthly tent.

Answering these abortion rights arguments is not difficult, it’s simple. Because the conceptus is fully human, we are talking about the wholesale slaughter of tens of millions of innocent human lives since abortion became legal. It makes no difference when we abort, or by what method, as the results are brutally the same; the taking of an innocent human life.

I think it is absurd how the media, when talking about the partial-birth abortion method refers to it as a “little used method.” It makes no difference if this method was employed only once. The result was the death of an innocent human being. The fact that our elected officials would have to debate this should send chills up all of our spines. What some are saying is, “As long as we don’t see the child being mutilated, it’s all right to continue the legalization of abortion. Just don’t do it in this manner.” Others are saying, “Since it is a ‘little used method’, why all the fuss? They are going to abort anyway, so let’s do it in such a way that we can use the child for his or her body parts.” The abortive method, the month in which we commit this act, or how often it is committed, is not what makes abortion wrong.

What if the abortive procedure actually was safe for women, they suffered no emotional or physical side effects, and they received all of the informed consent possible? Suppose the parents had full notification that their teenage daughter was about to undergo an abortion. What if the individuals who perform this deed did so rarely and with no psychological aftermath? Imagine if the procedure to put the pre-born to death was done quietly, peacefully, and pain free. Removing all of the surface arguments, would abortion be a morally and ethically viable option? The answer is no. At this point, I am sure you can recognize that the horrors that follow an abortion are all consequences for the sin of taking an innocent human life. You see, it is the taking of that life that is what makes abortion wrong and this is the real heart of the matter.

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