Abortion: The Moral Issue of Our Day

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion under the premise that the right to privacy, guaranteed and protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, extended to a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.

In a speech marking the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2009, President Barack Obama made the following statement:

We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.

—President Barack Obama

Every year on Sanctity of Life Sunday, Pastor John Piper preaches a sermon on the topic of abortion. On January 25, 2009, he preached a sermon titled “The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy” and he responded to the remarks made by President Obama:

No, Mr. President, you are not protecting women’s health; you are authorizing the destruction of half a million tiny women every year. No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for a million helpless people every year. No, Mr. President, killing our children does not cease to be killing our children no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. Call it what you will, they are dead, and we have killed them. And you, Mr. President, would keep the killing legal.

Some of us wept with joy over the inauguration of the first African-American President. We will pray for you. And may God grant that there arises in your heart an amazed and happy reverence for the beginning of every human life.

—Pastor John Piper
The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy

Desiring God produced a powerful video titled “No, Mr. President” containing the audio from that sermon which included John Piper’s response to President Obama on abortion. I have posted this video before, but it merits watching again.

Reformation Trust, the publishing arm of Ligonier Ministries, recently released a 20th Anniversary Edition of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s book titled Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue. In the first chapter, Dr. Sproul makes the following statements on the debate over abortion:

Before discussing this question, certain points must be stated firmly and clearly. First, the vast majority of those advocating the pro-abortion and pro-choice positions are not arguing that women’s rights or individual freedom of choice carry with them the right to murder. I am convinced that if the most ardent feminists thought that abortion was in fact a type of murder, they would be as ardently opposed to abortion as they are in favor of equal rights for women.

Though there are many who believe an abortion is justified on the grounds that the developing baby is “unwanted,” very few of these people would be in favor of destroying the child after it is born. There are far fewer advocates of infanticide than there are of abortion. The reason for this is clear. In the minds of pro-abortion activists, an unborn baby is not a living human person. Once birth occurs, however, a different set of rules applies. Even in the case of the late-term “partial-birth” abortion procedure, or D&X, all but the most hardened pro-abortion activists argue that the child remains nonviable and nonhuman — and therefore the procedure, however grisly, does not rise to the level of murder.

I labor these points to underscore the reality that pro-abortion and pro-choice activists do not ground their position on some kind of claim for an inalienable right to murder. I am convinced that if somehow it could be proven conclusively that the destruction of unborn babies is in fact the willful destruction of living human beings, the debate on abortion would be all but over, and the law of the land would as clearly prohibit abortion as it does all forms of homicide. The abortion debate is not over whether or not murder should be legalized; it is a debate over whether or not abortion is a kind of murder.

—Dr. R.C. Sproul
Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue

Unfortunately the abortion debate has made headlines recently for reasons other than the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Earlier this month, news broke of a report by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene which revealed that in 2009, nearly 41% of pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion – the rate was 60% for Non-Hispanic blacks. Then this week prosecutors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania announced that a physician that performed late-term abortions had been indicted on eight counts of murder. The horrific details were widely reported but the most vivid summary of the graphic nature of this tragedy was revealed in this article by Alisa Harris at the WORLD Magazine website:

Gosnell has just been indicted on eight counts of murder — one count for killing a pregnant woman and seven counts for killing living, viable babies. A damning 281-page grand jury report describes Gosnell’s abortion business as a “filthy fraud” and notes that public officials failed to act against him for decades, despite numerous complaints.

The grand jury report says that Gosnell’s offices reeked of cat urine, were stained with blood, and held jars of fetal remains — “a baby charnel house.” It says he taught his unlicensed employees to fake ultrasounds to make older babies appear younger so he could perform illegal late-term abortions. It also describes botched abortions, including one that left Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old immigrant, dead. According to the report, Gosnell used high medication dosages to induce active labor and then killed “live, viable, moving, breathing, crying babies” by cutting their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. It estimates that Gosnell made $10,000 to $15,000 a night performing abortions.

The grand jury report also describes decades of public officials’ inaction, saying outright that officials failed to act until a drug raid on the abortion center brought media attention to the unsanitary conditions inside. The Pennsylvania Department of Health stopped inspecting the center in 1993 despite numerous complaints from attorneys, a doctor, and a medical examiner. Gosnell also paid damages to five women and settled a civil suit after a woman died, but the suits did not bring investigations.

The report states, “We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”

—Alisa Harris
A ‘Filthy Fraud’, WORLD Magazine

The complete Grand Jury report and testimony is available online in PDF format at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s website.

Is abortion murder? When you read details of events like this it’s hard for me to imagine how anyone could come to any other conclusion. It is clear that good-intentioned people on both sides of the issue honestly disagree. However, one statistic can not be denied – in the United States alone, one unborn baby is terminated every 23 seconds while the political football of abortion is passed around. And the debate goes on…

HT: Justin Taylor for the statisitcs on abortion.