The Christian and Abortion

Marva Van Kooten is a 1976 graduate of Pella (Iowa) Christian High School. She is now a student at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa and hopes to go into nursing or some form of medicine. Her article won second prize in an essay contest open to the young people of the First Christian Reformed Church of Pella.

Generous monetary awards from a member of the congregation encourages participation by the young people. The topic of this essay is certainly relevant in view of the report that in 1975 there were a million legal abortions in the U.S. and 50 million worldwide.

So, you are pregnant. Now what? How should you react knowing that you do not want this child at all. As a matter of fact, you would rather get rid of it. Get rid of it? How silly you say. But is it really? In Washington D. C. more women are getting rid of this person who has come to depend on them for life (but are sacrificed for the woman‘s own pleasure) than are women keeping it.

But how did you, the American Woman, get yourself in this position anyway? The American Woman who is so liberated, who knows all about the dangers and pitfalls, who knows how to keep herself from becoming pregnant by the use of contraceptives? Let’s explore some of the reasons you failed.


Overall, permissiveness is the cause of our sex-mad society. Permissiveness may be defined as “that condition of society which permits the open practice, without shame, rebuke, or chastisement, of what was once regarded as wrong.”1 Permissiveness covers marital unfaithfulness, homosexuality, and, yes, even the destruction of the unborn.


The unmarried woman who is yet a teen is the most obvious case in an abortion situation. Teens, experimenting with sex, are titillatedbeyond the checkpoint. These young people are just discovering themselves as full sexual beings, are under social pressure, and know the facts but do not have the experience. Since the Christian community has not been completely honest about sexuality to their young people1 many are not a little confused and puzzled by it all. With this confusion and puzzlement comes experimentation which ultimately leads to the woman becoming pregnant and the father usually skipping out. The mother does not want to be ostracized by the community in which she lives, so she tries to hide the fact by getting rid of the baby.


Although not often discussed, other abortion cases come from rape and incest victims. These women had no feeling but repulsion for the father and his terrorizing of them, thus they also have no love feelings for the baby. So they would rather get rid of it than be faced daily with the memory of their tragic experience.


However, the most shocking cases of abortion are those of married women. They may have a good relationship with their husband but when they get pregnant they get rid of it. Eighty percent of the women who have criminal abortions are married.2 They get abortions for various reasons: financial difficulties, health problems, psychiatric reasons, or eugenic reasons.

Many parents Snd that when another child is expected they just can not make ends meet. They either already have too many children or they do not have enough income. Because of the federal Medicaid program which pays for abortions larger numbers of poor people are obtaining abortions.

Although many women give their health as the reason for the abortion actually their health is not involved so dramatically. For example, when a women has cancer with or before the pregnancy there is the fear that the pregnancy will stimulate the cancer cells, causing them to grow again. But abortion still will not preserve her life, because the cancer cells will start growing again anyway without this stimulation. So there are really very few cases in which the mothers life is actually saved and not nearly enough to justify the approximately 700,000 done annually in the U.S.

Along with the protection of the physical life which is the doctor’s primary interest is the protection of the woman‘s emotional and mental life. Many women will threaten suicide unless their pregnancy is terminated. However, in a study in the British Medical Journal by James Arkle evidence was found to the contrary. “In the vast majority of cases the decision not to intervene was the correct one as judged by the law in this country . . . . It seems likely that, to an unbalanced woman, the stimulus of a normal pregnancy is less deleterious than (abortion). … The psychiatrist must not allow the sociologists and geneticists to deceive him into exceeding his duty as a physician.”3 Most women’s mental health either improved or remained unchanged. Only one out of eighteen studied had become worse. She was a schizophrenic and unmarried.4 Although there has not been an extensive study on women who have had an abortion, even most normal women have psychological problems extending from their act.


One of the most publicized abortion cases was Mrs. Sherri Finkbine, one of the tragic thalidomide victims in 1962. The Arizona housewife who was also a hosless on a children‘s television hour, took sleeping pills after she found out she was pregnant. These sleeping pills contained thalidomide, a drug which causes phocomelia—the deformation or even absence of arms and legs of the unborn child. Seeking an abortion, Mrs. Finkbine was told that the statute of Arizona aUowed abortions only when the mother‘s life was endangered.5 Despite national publicity Mrs. Finkbine went to Stockholm, Sweden, and had an abortion at Caroline Hospital on August 18, 1962.6 Mrs. Finkbine’s abortion outlines yet another reason for abortion—if the child is known to be malformed or will be mentally retarded.

The advocates of these abortions maintain that to have the child would be unfair to both the unborn child and previous children.7 But the Rev. Thurston N. Davis, editor-in-chief of America, comments that “No matter how praiseworthy the motives that inspire an abortion the answer must always be no. To deliberately terminate the life of an innocent being . . . is, in one word, murder.”8


Pro-abortionists, especially women, also tend to see abortion as a “status symbol of women‘s ‘liberation’ from the laws of God and man.”9 For centuries our Western world has accepted a “double standard of sexual morality.”10 Men have had almost complete sexual freedom, while the woman because of the difference in reproductive roles does not have such freedom. They also would like to do anything at anytime. Abortion gives them this chance to be on equal terms with the man. “Some consider freedom life’s primary value, one which goes beyond the value of life itself.” But truly free men and women are those who “stand in the truth of our God.”11


Dr. Lawrence Baker, director of a private Atlanta abortion clinic maintains that “Anti-abortionists tend to make the fetus a baby. We don‘t consider a fetus a person. It hasnt been socialiated, its emotional life hasn’t evolved. Our society hasn’t been brought up to think of a fetus as a person.”12 Yet many gynecologists believe that the life of the child begins at the moment of fertilization and God‘s Word supports this concept. Psalm 139:14–16 exclaims: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” And God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image” which illustrates the “unique value of all human life and the special relationship of man to God as his image-bearer.”13 As the imagebearers of God can we criticize His greatest Creation? “for shall the work of him that made it say, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” (Isa. 29:16). And can mothers really kill their unborn babies when “children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward?” (Ps. 127:3). We have to “ . . . Give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works” (Ps. 105:1, 2) for the children who are unwanted.

William P. O’Connell has said that to many the right to abort should be the woman‘s choice, he would agree “if it were clear that the fetus is part of the woman and thus hers to dispose of. The evidence, however, is to the contrary. Microbiology has established that the zygote (fertilized ovum) is human and autonomous, if dependent, organism from conception. Once fertilized the cell is no longer latent life. It has its full and human allotment of chromosomes. It is uniquely human like no other living thing or part of thing.”14


On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court, with a 7-2 ruling made it legal to get rid of this tiny human being by induced abortion. The Supreme Court limited any State’s right to prohibit abortion. Tn their decision abortion can be prohibited only in the last three months of the pregnancy unless the mother‘s life is endangered, in the first three months the decision rests solely with the woman and the doctor, the second three months the State regulates it to protect maternal health. The Court based their decision on the Fourteenth Amendment, the right of privacy, but decided that the due process clause “does not include the unborn.”15 On July 1, 1976, the Court ruled that a wife does not have to have the husband’s consent or the girl under eighteen docs not have to have her parent’s permission to have an abortion. The woman does have to give her written consent before the operation can be performed.16 What this all means is that the Supreme Court has put the right of a woman to have an abortion as a higher right than that of the child to be born.17 But by the end of last year, twentythree states passed thirtynine abortion laws tightening procedures, and pressures are building up to overturn or to modify the Supreme Court ruling.18

If they had their way, the Religious Coalition for Abortion Ri gh ts would like to see all medical personnel and institutions helped in any way by the use of public funds to be compelled to provide abortion services. They may talk of freedom of religion and conscience but forget about it when they are faced with an opportunity to impose abortions on command.19 But nineteen states have laws which state that “no institutions or individual may be compelled to perform an abortion.”20

Even though, “the law of the land” as generally interpreted and applied since 1973 means that the U.S. is the only major civilized nation that does not know when life begins and that takes no measures to protect it during its early development.21

Of the three major candidates for the presidency, Beagan is the only one who has taken a strong stand against abortion which is fairly close to the Roman Catholic bishops and the Christian Action Counsel. President and Betty Ford have backed the Supreme Court decision.22 Jimmy Carter opposes a constitutional amendment to permit laws against abortion although he personally disapproves of it.23

In this election year Christians can, should, and must take a stand. It is their responsibility to see that the unborn of this nation are saved. As David W. Louisell, a University of California law professor and constitutional scholar has declared, “the Court could hardly have issued a more direct challenge to our civilization and its value.”24

In response to the controversy over abortion the Synod of 1972 of the Christian Reformed Church has condemned the “wanton or abitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the pOint of conception to the point of death” unless the mother is “genuinely threatened by the continuation of the pregnancy.”25

The believing members of the Christian community should show compassion and understanding for all the women who find themselves in the position of an unwanted pregnancy. Christians also should “offer their full resources of counseling, encouragement, acceptance, and material and financial support . . . joyfully and without recrimination in the name of Jesus Christ by whose grace we all must daily live.”16

The woman who has the unwanted child should also remember to take her problem to Christ because “the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.”27 If this woman turns away from God to seek help, He promises them they will just get farther into trouble.28 Because we are responsible as creatures to God our Creator we have to evaluate the advice we get from whom we get it. To do this the woman should use prayer and patience to find out what God’s divine purpose is. She is also going to have to realize that “the Scripture plainly teaches that God alone creates life and He commands men everywhere to respect and protect the sanctity of innocent human life specially the lives of defenseless unborn babies. Termination of this life constitutes murder and is a direct violation of the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Ex. 20:13). Only the sovereign God can give or take away life!”29 And God only gives four reasons for men to be willfully killed:

1. Capital punishment for willful murder (Ex.21:12)

2. Manslaughter (Numbers 35:6–11) 3. Just wars (Deut. 20:4)

4. Self-defense30

On which of these four grounds can the mother kill her baby? Self-defense? “The child was killed as if it had been an aggressor, against whom self-defense is more than justified; but a mother‘s womb is the natural abode of the child yet unborn. And whoever limits himself simply to live there where nature (therefore God) has destined him cannot be considered an aggressor, a threat to someone else’s life.”31

The first place to start eliminating this horrible practice is in our own homes. Christian parents must prepare their children for the day when they themselves will meet head-on with society and its problems. They have to be shown that God’s Word holds directives for all phases of life. The Bible does not call on the parents to save their youth from the world, nor the world for their youth, but to rear their children in the fear of the Lord.

1. “The Breath of Hell,” Christianity Today (May 7, 1976), p. 12–13.

2. “Question of Emphasis,” America (April 17, 1965), p. 513. 3. “The Ethics of Abortion,” Time (July 15, 1957) , p. 93.

4. Ibid.

5. Matt Clark, “I Pray They’ll Hurry,” Newsweek (August 6, 1962), p. 52. 6. “Is Abortion Ever Justified? Two Church Views,” U.S . News and World Report (September 3, 1962), p. 89. 7. Matt Clark, “Abortion: Mercy—or Murder?” Newsweek (August 13, 1962 ), p. 54.

8. Ibid.

9. E. L. Hebden Taylor, “A Calvinist Case Against Abortion On Demand,” Renewal, Vol. 2, No. 17 (February 9, 1976), p. 16. 10. Nicholas R. Van Til, “Abortion As a Women’s Rights Issue,” Renewal, Vol. 2, No. 20 (March 22, 1976), p. 8. 11. Van Til, Renewal, p. 8. 12. “Furor Over Abortion – Hotter Than Ever,” U.S. News and World Report (March 4, 1974), p. 44. 13. Article 47 on Abortion, Acts of Synod 1972, The Christian Reformed Church, p. 63.

14. Taylor, Renewal, p. 6.

15. “Furor Over Abortion – Hotter Than Ever” U.S. News and World Report (March 4, 1974), p. 44.

16. “Abortion Consent Law Struck Down,” The Des Moines Tribune (July 1, 1976), p. 5.

17. Taylor, Renewal, p. 6.

18. “Furor Over Abortion – Hotter Than Ever,” U.S. News and World Report (March 4 1974), p. 44.

19. “Abortion On Command” Christianity Today (October 11, 1972), p . 32.

20. U.S. News and World Report, p. 44.

21. “Three Years Is Too Long,” Christianity Today (February 13, 1976), p. 39.

22. E. L. Hebden Tayolr, “The Abortion Issue In the Coming Elections,” Renewal, Vol. 2, No. 16 (January 26, 1976), p.7.

23. Bill Keller, “Behind Carters Smile,” The Des Moines Tribune (July 27, 1976), p. 24. 24. “Three Years Is Too Long,” Christianity Today (February 13, 1976) , p. 39.

25. Acts of Synod 1972, p. 63.

26. Ibid, p. 64.

27. Edith Schaeffer, “Fearing of Afraid,” Christianity Today, (October 25, 1974), p. 28. 28. Edith Schaeffer, “Choose Ye This Day . . . ,” Christianity Today (April 23, 1976), p. 27. 29. E. L HeWcn Tayklr, “A Calvinist Case Against Abortion On Demand,” Renewal, Vol. 2, No. 18 (February 23, 1976), p.5.

30. Ibid., p. 8.

31. “Is Abortion Ever Justified? Two Church Views,” U.S . News and World Report (September 3, 1962), p. 89.