Abortion: Why Changing Hearts Brings the Most Effective Transformation
Abortion! The very word brings up charged emotions, raw pain, and deeply divisive politics. While this post won’t stop the endless debate, I do want to share some insights that will get us thinking.
The key issue is when does life begin? The gamut of possibilities runs from conception, to when a heart starts beating, to viability of the unborn child. The answer to this question is essential to the debate because if what is inside the uterus is not alive, then abortion is nothing more than a medical procedure.
My absolute conviction is life begins at conception. There are many reasons for this belief. C. Everett Koop, Former Surgeon General of the United States said “we now know when life begins, because the test tube baby proves that life begins with conception. What do you have in the dish?, an egg and a sperm. What do you add to it to get a baby? Nothing.”
The World Medical Association adopted the Declaration of Geneva which states, “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of its conception…”
Other noted physicians have conclusive medical evidence that an unborn child can feel fetal pain as early as eight weeks. This is long before the heart starts beating or the child can live outside of the womb.
Additional reasons have to do with the Christian faith. The Bible talks very clearly that life begins at conception. Some examples: Psalm 51:5, “For I was born a sinner, yes from the moment my mother conceived me.” Matthew 1:18 and 1:20, “Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit…. ‘Joseph, son David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.’” Psalm 139:13-15, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb….You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.”
How is this for a complete shock? A century ago, all the women suffragettes, were pro life! They saw abortion as something men wanted women to get so they didn’t have to deal with the responsibility of a child.
So with this diverse and substantial proof of when life begins, you would think that I would be jumping at the bit to have laws change to outlaw abortion. While I believe legally making an abortion more difficult to get is important, I have come to the conclusion that laws themselves aren’t the most persuasive means for women in crisis. The better way is one of education and loving, compassionate care for the women and men in a crisis pregnancy.
Recently my wife and I went to see the movie, Unplanned. This is the true story of Abby Johnson, who was the youngest Planned Parenthood facility manager in history. Abby was passionate about the Planned Parenthood message until she witnessed an abortion being performed at her clinic. It so changed her that she left her job and became a spokesperson for the pro life movement.
In the movie two different Christian groups are portrayed, one yelling at the women that they are murderers and baby killers and the other simply saying that they would love to talk with those considering an abortion. The second group was caring, loving, and trying to get to know the women as people without judging them for their decisions. This approach helped Abby Johnson to make the transition from Planned Parenthood to pro life advocate.
I recently read a powerful book by Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, called Them. The premise of the book is why people in this country hate each other and how we can heal the divisions. One of the chapters talks about how Martin Luther King Jr. believed that ultimate change of civil rights would take place with persuasion and civil disobedience and not force. Similarly, Sasse goes on to say, “deep, enduring change does not come through legislation or elections. Meaningful change comes as lots and lots of individual minds are persuaded and hearts changed.”
If this is the most effective way to bring real lasting change, how do we go about making our case? I believe we start with a conviction that we need to love people even if we totally believe what they are doing is wrong. Second, we can volunteer at pregnancy centers where women come in seeking help. My wife has been doing this now for several months and has seen some amazing results. Third, find ways to engage in constructive debate with people from the other side. Let them know that you are interested in their view and then loving share your position. Fourth, pray. Prayer can do amazing things to change someone’s heart.
Lasting transformation always occurs when someone’s heart changes because they are convinced of their new belief. That my friends will always be the goal.