The Week Magazine (October 23, 2020, page 11) had some interesting data on abortions in the United States. Here are the abortion rates per 1000 women ages 15-44 in some of the states:
Arkansas 6.2 Oklahoma 6.2 Alabama 8.3 Mississippi 8.6 California 17.3 New York 27.4 New Jersey 28.2
Middlebury College in Vermont conducted the study of abortions in the United States. If the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, the national reduction in abortions would be 12.8%, and 90% of the American abortion industry would remain intact.
The main point of all this is that laws and court rulings cannot control people’s moral choices. If we are to stop infanticide in America, it will have to be done by changing the thinking of our population. The question remains as to whether a woman’s personal rights supersede the personal rights of a child.
This reminds me of the story of a man who came to the United States of America. He came because he heard that it was the land of the free, and you could do anything you wanted because all human rights were guaranteed. On his first day in America, he saw a man he didn’t like the looks of, so he punched him in the nose. He was arrested and brought before a judge. “I don’t understand,” the man said, “I thought America was the land of the free!” The judge said, “That it is, but your freedom ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
The microbiome consists of trillions of beneficial bacteria that support our bodies in many ways. Some bacteria play an essential role in digestion and in separating the waste and processing it so that it can be excreted. Other bacteria play a role in our reproductive system. When I was a student at Notre Dame, there was a germ-free laboratory on campus where researchers raised animals with no bacteria. One of the complications of doing that was that even rabbits could not conceive if they were germ-free. For years, scientists have debated the question of the origin of our microbiome.
One interesting discovery that has come from prenatal research is that pre-born babies have their own microbiome separate from their mothers. For the past century, medical experts believed that babies acquired their microbiome at or shortly after birth. Research like that done at Notre Dame was thought to support the” sterile womb paradigm” hypothesis. Recent research has suggested that the origin of our microbiome may be from small amounts of bacteria built into the placenta. Discover magazine (June 2020, page 16) reviews the debate over when babies get their microbiome. Part of the problem is that it is very easy for contamination to get into the research specimens creating confusion over whether the bacteria were natural or if they came from contamination.
Our interest in this subject is not so much about the origin of our microbiome as to look at the implications of the data. Everyone agrees that the baby does not have its mother’s microbiome. Some microbes like E. coli are so common that they are found in all microbiomes. Beyond those, there is a unique makeup to each person’s microbiome, including newborns and pre-born babies.
Maintaining that a baby is an extension of the mother and therefore has no rights is to ignore the evidence. Morning sickness is caused by the mother’s immune system not recognizing a foreign object, the baby, and going into defensive mode. The baby growing inside the mother is a unique person with its own genetic makeup, awareness, and microbiome.
The abortion issue ignores the evidence and attempts to create a new vocabulary to make it seem less brutal, but taking a baby out of the womb and killing it is still infanticide. As tough as this issue is, we need to not shield the vile nature of this process by ignoring the evidence. Instead, we should look for solutions that recognize the value of life and the worth of every human being.
As we enter an election year, the issue of abortion once again rises to the attention of politicians, women’s rights activists, Christians, religious fundamentalists, and the medical establishment. The issue is complicated, but we must not overlook the alternatives to abortion.
We can understand the rhetoric that a woman should have control of her own body. But from a scientific standpoint, there is no question–a baby is NOT just an extension of the mother’s body. Morning sickness is the body’s reaction to an invasive foreign object that has entered the woman’s body. When the sperm meets the egg, a unique individual is produced. It is not a dog or a cat or something unknown–it is a human. Mountains of evidence exist that show the baby does human things long before birth. The preborn child hears, feels, reacts, and responds to outside influences on its environment.
Do we, as a culture, wish to sanction infanticide? Is a baby better off dead than born to a mother who doesn’t want it? Is infanticide a slippery slope to horrible misuse–harvesting organs or paying for organs from a baby not yet conceived? These questions are complicated, and in an election year, inflammatory literature abounds on all sides. Working together to provide alternatives to abortion can help to settle this issue. Here are three points to consider:
*Easy abortion as a method for birth control is foolish. Abortion does physiological and psychological damage to most women. Repeated abortions can lead to serious health problems even when the abortion is done in an ideal environment by competent doctors.
*Reproductive healthcare is needed for all women, and abortion is not the sum total of that care. This healthcare can and should include modern contraception methods, moral teaching about sexual relationships, prenatal care, family planning, and options about alternatives to abortion. Adoption is an option that is used far too infrequently. Abortion should not be the first or only choice given to women.
*World population growth is also an issue. Every day the world population grows by 225,000, adding up to 82 million per year. God has told us to “take care of the garden, dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). He also gave us the family as the proper vehicle to populate the Earth. Dumping unwanted children into the world without family, love, care, or the physical things they need to survive violates God’s commands (James 1:27). However, abortion (infanticide) is a poor alternative to education and moral teaching.
We need to join hands and work for alternatives to abortion and solutions to this issue on this 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the US Supreme Court.
There seems to be confusion between abortion and infanticide in Virginia today. State Delegate Kathy Tran introduced a bill in the Virginia legislature that would permit abortion through the moment of birth, even when the mother shows signs of being in labor. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said this about a baby born with significant physical problems: “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines abortion as “the expulsion of a fetus before it is viable.” It is obvious that in Virginia – and also New York – at least, it is now legal to kill a viable fetus. That is not abortion – it is infanticide. Matthew 2:16-18 tells of Herod practicing infanticide to try to avoid the political consequences of the King of the Jews surviving. In ancient Rome, unwanted babies were simply thrown into the street to die. In some nations today, male babies are preferred, and the females are eliminated.
In America, babies are now viewed by many as commodities, and only the best are fit to survive. The unfit – those with physical problems or perhaps the wrong physical features – can be destroyed. Abortion and infanticide are the tools to accomplish that. Science has sequenced and analyzed the human genome and developed techniques to modify the genome. That means we are close to being able to design a child with the features we want. Then we can discard any child that has the “wrong” features.
Christians believe that what defines a human is not their appearance or a set of physical characteristics. The Bible defines humans as beings created in the image of God. No, we don’t look like God physically because God is not a physical being. If God had a physical body, and we were all in created in God’s physical image, we would be identical. God is a spirit, and we are in God’s spiritual image. That means all humans have value, no matter what our physical body is like.
Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists, musicians, and political leaders were people who had physical problems. Before America today is the question, “What do we believe about the worth of a human being?” Do we want to create the super race of physical beings manufactured by human intelligence and designed to be the most fit of all life on Earth? Or do we believe that every human has value and worth? If we want the super race, then abortion and infanticide are the methods by which we can achieve that goal.