By David Hegg
My wife and I say the movie “Unplanned” last week. The true story of a woman in the abortion industry kicked up quite a bit of conversational dust around the country. Where you stand on the issue of abortion depends on how you view it.
Most today would see it as a political issue since it has become a litmus test for each of the major political tribes. But beneath the issue itself each tribe has a deeper, philosophical argument that actually grounds their respective views.
Some see abortion through the legal lens, and content themselves with the misnomer that, since it is legal, it must be acceptable, fully blind to the fact that, not so long ago, slavery was legal as well.
Still others see abortion as a feminist issue, adamantly defining it in terms of women’s health, and absolute hegemony over their own bodies, as though sexual intimacy, and the resultant pregnancy, constitute a solo act, engaged in and experienced by a woman alone.
Another group views abortion scientifically. For them, the legitimacy of the procedure depends on the age at which the womb’s occupant becomes viable, able to live on its own. But the times they are a changin’ as the medical profession becomes better and better at shepherding premies to viability.
Most recently, those who swim in the deep waters of philosophy have attempted to see the issue in terms of personhood. The problem has been finding any agreement on the “when” of personhood, even as the underlying presupposition is that it would be immoral to intentionally end the life of a person.
Some attempt to consider abortion as it relates to morality. Yet, here again, there is great division depending on the authoritative standard by which morals are measured. With the progressive morphing of basic moral categories such as honesty, faithfulness, and respect our society has reached the point where personal comfort, convenience and opportunity most often “define” what the individual considers morally acceptable. Simply put, everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
Those who believe in the existence of God ground their view of abortion as immoral and reprehensible on theological grounds if they believe God has spoken authoritatively in Scriptures, such as the Bible. For this tribe, personhood is not progressively attained but begins at conception, making each life precious, even sacred. Grounded as their views are on authoritative writings, this tribe is unmoved by the progressive morality of society, and considers the ongoing compromises being made in basic moral areas to be dangerous for both the world and the individual.
Having surveyed very quickly the various ways abortion can be viewed, it now falls to me to suggest that, in each case, what is really at stake is one’s ethical position, the way each of us determines right and wrong.
Here’s my question: When did it become right and good to invade the womb with a suction tube and literally suck the life out of the occupant whose heart is beating, who recognizes the invader and moves to avoid it? What kind of ethic, for reasons of personal well-being, dismisses the physical, emotional, and moral price abortion demands be paid by the occupant of the womb, the mother, the father, the extended family, and the society as a whole?
Those who consider abortion to be a weapon in the fight for female equality must be blind to the fact that at least half of those aborted would have grown up to be women, while those undergoing the procedure, who will carry the emotional scars for life, are always women.
Abortion presents a monumental problem for women. The irony in too many cases is that, having been impregnated by what some call the predatory male, the woman now turns to the male-dominated abortion industry and pays both financially and emotionally to turn back the clock. The insidious belief that abortion is good for women must, at some point, be overcome by common sense.
Abortion has become one of the most divisive issues of our day, with the end of debate nowhere in sight. It engenders great passion simply because it actually relates to the most precious gift of all… life. History has demonstrated time after time that, when a society determines to marginalize and subjugate a particular group, that group risks becoming dehumanized as a result, which allows their destruction to be deemed acceptable. The Holocaust in Germany and racial slavery in America are two monumental examples.
Today in America it is legal, and for some politically advantageous, to marginalize, subjugate, dehumanize, and destroy a living human being in the womb. Sadly, too many refuse to really think about that, or to consider what it means for our society. The movie “Unplanned” will make people see, and think, and maybe, even change some minds.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident.“Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.