Evangelicalism’s Abortion Inconistencies: Guest Post by Pastor David Morris, Grace Church of the Valley
In yet another headline creator, Donald Trump recently stated there should be some sort of
punishment for women who have an abortion before being quickly forced to retract yet another
politically incorrect statement. While pro-choice advocates jumped on Trump’s first statement
with both feet, a surprising group joined the hue and cry. Pro-lifers decried Trump’s statement
too, claiming pro-life never took such a position, writing blogs to explain why women shouldn’t
be punished for having an abortion, and generally calling foul on any attempt from the left to
make them look bad.
Which is all well and good. Except it isn’t. At least, not for me. I’m having a hard time working
through this one, even though some of the voices I’m hearing are from men whom I respect,
whose work to end abortion has been more consistent and impactful than mine, and who are
reliable biblical and moral advisers in a lot of areas. All of which contributes to my
disappointment and confusion.
There’s probably no way I can write what I’m thinking without appearing cold-hearted or
vindictive to some. But let me tell you up front what my motivations are before you assume. I
love people, the moral authority of the Bible, logical consistency, and the pro-life movement.
These are what motivate me to write to you who are self-identified pro-lifers. We are allies and
we are friends. But I’m troubled by the majority, in fact the only, opinion I’ve heard until now on
this issue. So here’s how it looks from here. Abortion should be criminalized because God says
murdering a person is wrong, and a child in the womb is a person. Therefore, people who
murder another person should be punished in some form. Punishment should extend to anyone
who commits the act of murder, assists the murderer in his act, or solicits a murder to be done.
From what I’ve read today, here are four main arguments from pro-lifers explaining why women
shouldn’t be punished for having an abortion even if it’s illegal.
1. It’s painful for women to have abortions; therefore they shouldn’t be punished.
In her National Review article “Please Politics, Help, Don’t Cause More Hurt on Abortion,”
Kathryn Jean Lopez urges us to remember the pain of abortion any time we talk about it. She
writes about the damaging effect abortion is known to have on women, how they suffer and are
in tremendous pain and changed. She writes about the need for mercy and for something “more
humane” in caring for the very real women who visit abortion clinics.
Mercy and caring and love ought to mark all true followers of Christ, including its extension to
women who abort their children. But Trump wasn’t remarking on our attitude and motivations;
rather, it was a statement about law and justice. Should we really say illegal activity shouldn’t be
punished merely because the criminal is suffering? Is that morally right?
For instance, let’s say a drunk driver crashes into a car, killing a family of four. In the crash, the
drunk driver breaks his back, several ribs, and a leg. Only the heartless would enjoy the drunk’s
pain and misery. And only the unjust would say he shouldn’t be punished since the crash
caused him great suffering too.
I hate the pain and suffering abortion, like all sin, causes. I feel for those women marked by
shame and guilt. But is the solution to feeling someone else’s pain to excuse their illegal act?
And while we’re speaking of compassion and mercy, we haven’t forgotten to feel bad for the
pain and suffering caused the aborted child have we? We haven’t failed to want justice for them
and the very inhumane end their lives came to, have we? It’s easy to feel compassion for the
crying woman in front of you; it’s godly to feel compassion for the little one who will never tug at
your heart strings because he or she never got to see the light of day.
Would it hurt a woman who had an illegal abortion to face some sort of punishment? In a
manner of speaking, yes. But not nearly as much hurt as she caused her child, whom we should
definitely also feel mercy towards. So does a woman’s pain rule out punishment for a crime?
Go to argument 2 here