Introduction to abortion
The topic I have been studying is abortion. Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks from the date of conception. There are two main views on abortion held by two different groups, the pro-life and the pro-choice supporters. The pro-choice supporters hold the view that women should be able to have the choice if and when they have an abortion. Whereas the pro-life supporters believe that human life begins at conception and that killing potential human life is wrong. Abortion was legalised in the United Kingdom in 1967 when the abortion act was passed by parliament; but this was revised in 1990 and the legal time frame for abortion was lowered to 24 weeks.
The sanctity of life
The sanctity of life argument holds the view that all life is of value, is holy and belongs to God. Christianity teaches that every person is a sacred child of God, made in his image. This contrasts with an atheistic position which points to the similarities between humans and other primates. This view underpins Christian responses to medical issues such as Abortion and Euthanasia.
The sanctity of life principle is based on 3 main sources:
Natural Law asks what our design or purpose is as humans. One of the main concepts is to protect and preserve the innocent. This alone leads to the secondary concept (do not carry out abortions). Thomas Aquinas a respected philosopher developed his view of the sanctity of life using the idea of reason as well as the content of the bible. He observed that as the world is so complex, intricate and ordered, it must have a creator, that creator is God. Alongside his theology, he created five primary precepts (fixed moral rules) that should be followed in order to please and satisfy God. Aquinas believed that all life is sacred and therefor one of the five rules he created was to preserve life; suggesting that abortion is wrong and should not be used under any circumstance.
There are no exceptions, but it may appear as though there are because of double effect. For example, in an ectopic pregnancy - the foetus is growing in the fallopian tube, and both the mother and foetus will die. Abortion is an evil act, and therefore not an option. However, removing a fallopian tube, with the secondary effect that the pregnancy ends, is not an evil act. When carrying out an act with two (or double) effects, you ask whether the second effect is proportionate. In this case it is. In other words, it is unethical to abort an ectopic pregnancy (which would leave the woman able to have another child), but ethical to remove an ovary (which, in cases where a woman has one working ovary, would leave her unable to have future children).
The Bible says very little about abortion because it was not as common as today. Girls were often married very young and did not have careers. Abortion was not a safe medical procedure. There were no tests for any health problems for the mother or the foetus. The Bible does not use the word “abortion” or deal with the issues directly, but Christians use Bible passages both for and against abortion.
Bible quotes used to argue AGAINST abortion
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”- Jeremiah 1:5 God has a plan for every human being even before they are born:
‘Before I was born, the lord chose me and appointed me to be his servant’- Isaiah 49:1
“You saw me before I was born”- Psalm 139:16.
“God chose me even before I was born”- Galatians 1:15
These help support the idea that life begins at conception or, at the very least, that the foetus is a person.
Once Christians establish that the foetus is a human being, the sanctity of life teachings all apply:
“In the image of God” – Genesis 1:26
“Do not kill” – Exodus 20:13
”You yourselves are God's temple” - 1 Corinthians 3:16
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