Jan. 22 marked the 41st anniversary of the infamous “Roe v. Wade” Supreme Court decision. In this decision, the court struck down individual state laws related to the issue and legalized abortion in all 50 states for any reason and at any time during the entire 9 months of pregnancy.
I was the age of my eleven year-old when this decision was handed down and did not realize the significance of it until many years later. Now, I am fully aware of the destructive consequences of such a decision – not only on the 50 or 60 million unborn children who have been lost during those 41 years, but also on countless women (would-be mothers) and men (would-be fathers) who have been irreparably hurt by this “right to choose.” Even in my own extended family, abortion has left a horrible scar.
So here’s my question for all of you: At what time does an unborn (or perhaps, recently born) child attain to ‘human status’? At conception? At such and such number of days (or weeks) gestation? 30 minutes before birth? 5 hours after birth? When?
I would like to suggest to you that the issue of ‘human status’ – the When? (and even the What?) of ‘human status’ is what is really at stake here. If ‘human status’ is something that is fluid as to its timing (and meaning), then the killing of human life at any time (pre-born or after birth) is potentially legitimate (and acceptable). But, if one examines basic biological realities like DNA, what does he discover? He finds that the embryo at the point of conception and the fully developed child (or adult) have the same DNA all the way through – from conception and throughout the rest of the child’s (or adult’s) life. In other words, if DNA is any indicator, the embryo does not change from “pre-human’” into “human” somewhere along the process of gestation. No. Rather, the debate about “human status” seems to be settled – at least from the stand point of human biology.
But what about human distinctives that are other than biological in nature? In other words, is a human being just the sum total of his ‘biology’, or is he/she more than that? This is where we must go to Holy Scripture for insight. Genesis 1:26 – 30 and Psalm 139:13 – 16 are a starting point. In these passages (and others) we learn that human beings are the special creation of God. In fact, the psalmist indicates that the Lord actually knits each person together in his/her mother’s womb. In other words, characteristics that are uniquely human (and more than just biological in nature) come from the hand of God and are formed by God in us while we are yet unborn. The awesome hand of the Creator is at work – even in the womb – from the point of conception – making every one of us fully human from that point in time.
I am not sure about you, but I am deeply saddened by the fact that tens of millions of ‘fully human’ children never had a chance at life. I am equally broken-hearted at the loss and pain women (and men) continue to experience because of this unwise court decision. As a Christian, I have a huge opportunity to bring the redeeming grace and healing power of Jesus Christ to all those who have and are being affected by this issue. I intend to do just that. And one other thing: abortion is not ultimately a political issue at all; it is a moral issue – with its rightness or wrongness spelled out clearly within the pages of Holy Scripture. Think about it.
David Kautt, Preaching Minister
Community Christian Church of Durant