Subject: The Bible and Abortion Part 3: What defines a Person?
Genesis 1:26 “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”
On its website, Kansas City’s Rachel House Crisis Pregnancy Center explains the 80% Life vs. Death Rule: “According to national statistics, if a woman considering abortion goes to an abortion clinic first, 80% of the time she chooses abortion. But if she receives an ultrasound at a life-affirming pregnancy center first, 80% of the time she chooses life.” They go on to explain that they provide resources and services to empower the young mother with truth and knowledge about her situation before she makes a decision to either have her baby or end the baby’s life through abortion, with their goal being to encourage her to choose life for her child. So then, what “truth” does the ultrasound provide to the young mother?
Ultrasounds serve two main purposes: 1) medically, to confirm the presence, location, and gestational age of the newborn, and 2) personally, to allow the young mother the opportunity to view their unborn baby, which enables the mother to truly make a choice. As the Texas Fifth Circuit Court noted, in its 2012 ‘Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services v. Lakey’ decision, the disclosure of the ultrasound, the fetal heartbeat, and their medical descriptions are “the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information.”
So the first purpose of the ultrasound is a medical one – to verify the existence of a human being. As Dr. Herbert Ratner writes in the standard college text book “Psychology and Life”, “It is now of unquestionable certainty that a human being comes into existence precisely at the moment when the sperm combines with the egg.” At fertilization, all genetic characteristics, such as eye color, “are laid down determinatively.”
But the second purpose of the ultrasound is a moral one. Why does the ultrasound provide such compelling evidence to a woman that she would choose to carry her child 80% of the time after viewing her baby and hearing the baby’s heartbeat? Because, as our verse this week explains, the baby in her womb is a person created by God in His image and uniquely fashioned by Him in her womb.
In Genesis 1:26, the word used for “image” and “likeness” means a “carving” or “pattern”. It is the same word as used in Exodus chapter 20 when God first gives us the Ten Commandments, warning us not to make any graven “images” of Him to worship. God says He Himself is the pattern from which mankind’s personhood is carved. Every child at the moment of fertilization has intrinsic value as uniquely human.
People who are pro-choice argue that abortion is not a moral issue, but only a medical one, because they must avoid the issue of whether or not abortion involves the evil of the murder of an innocent person. But they cannot avoid including morality because the very issue of whether something is morally right or wrong is uniquely human – it is centered around the intrinsic value of a person! As Dr. Ravi Zacharias explains, it is this intrinsic value of a person that is the very foundation of our moral laws: “You cannot even have a moral law unless the moral law itself is intrinsically woven into personhood”.
The concept of “value” is relative, based on the one who decides to call something or someone valuable. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “attributing relative worth or merit to something.” So the question becomes: is the value of the child in the womb, as a person, absolutely recognized as binding on all people everywhere, regardless of time, culture or situation? We hopefully all recognize that all people *ought* to be intrinsically valuable. So where does this sense of the “oughtness” of value of a person come from?
Again, Ravi explains that the fact that every person has intrinsic value demands that God exists: “The moral law demands an intrinsically worthy person if the moral law itself is valued. And that person can only be God.” An absolute standard for the worthiness of all persons, including babies in the womb, demands “an intrinsically worthy person.” This “person” must be in themselves, by their very essence of who they are, worthy of high value.” There is only one candidate for such a person – the personal God of the Bible
It is the violation of God’s command to protect the intrinsic value of a person that demands abortion be stopped. As Rachel House reminds us: “In Kansas City alone 25 babies a day are killed by abortion. In just 8 years, that adds up to enough life lost to empty Arrowhead Stadium, taking every life – in every seat. That’s what abortion has done to our city in less than a decade. It’s what’s stealing unborn children from us each and every day. Rachel House exists to end abortion in Kansas City. We’re here to fight for the physical lives of unborn babies and the eternal lives of their moms.”