Read the rest of the series.
In the first installment, we looked at two very different ideas of what constitutes “personhood.” The Christian perspective teaches people are “humans” because of what they are; it’s a structural concept. This is why elderly people, folks with dementia, the medically incapacitated, and unborn children, are “people” with a corresponding right to life.
On the other hand, pro-abortion advocates seem to believe in a functional view of “personhood.” You’re a person if you can do certain things. If you can’t do these activities (like, say, an unborn child cannot), then you aren’t a person and you have no corresponding right to life - or even the status of “personhood.” We saw that this conclusion has a whole host of wicked implications. Should we euthanize all medically incapacitated people, for example, because they cannot perform the normal activities of “personhood?”
We also examined what it means to be made in the image of God, and drew some implications for unborn children and the sanctity of human life, in general.
How are abortions done?
All I want to do here is speak matter-of-factly about the methods physicians use to perform abortions. If you cringe at these descriptions, ask yourself why you cringe. The reason is that God hardwired you to intrinsically know right from wrong! Here are the common methods used for elective, induced abortions
Dilation and curettage (first trimester):
The cervix is dilated, and a physician uses an instrument to scrape the walls of the uterus, cutting the baby to pieces. It’s possible to identify human arms, legs and hands at this point.
Suction (first trimester):
This method is often used in conjunction with dilation and curettage (above). The cervix is dilated, and a suction tube is inserted with approximately 28x the power of a normal vacuum. The suction tears the baby and placenta from the uterus, sucking all into a jar. It’s possible to identify human arms, legs and hands. This method is used in perhaps 80% of first-trimester abortions.
Saline injection (second trimester):
A protective water bag has developed around the baby by this time. The physician inserts a needle inserted through the mother’s abdomen, some of this fluid is removed and replaced with a concentrated salt solution. The baby is poisoned by this salt. The outer layer of skin is often burned off, the brain hemorrhages, the baby dies, and the mother usually delivers a burnt, shriveled, dead baby the next day.
Dilation and evacuation (second trimester):
The cervix dilated, a vacuum tube inserted against the baby’s abdomen or chest, and all internal organs and amniotic fluid are sucked out, causing instant death to the child. The physician then cuts the body to pieces with surgical instruments, usually aided by ultrasound, and removes the body piecemeal.
Hysterotomy (third trimester):
Similar to a C-section, but baby allowed to die of neglect or some other means immediately after delivery. In chillingly clinical prose, a free online medical website explains, “[d]uring surgery the lower segment of the uterus is incised, and the products of conception are withdrawn.”1
Dilation and extraction (second or third trimester)
The intact baby is removed from uterus and delivered in a breach position. The skull often needs to be collapsed to fit through the birth canal, and this is usually accomplished by incisions and suction of the brain, or compression (i.e. crushing) of the skull with tools.
This method was banned by Partial-Birth Abortion Act of 2003. Some physicians (their local jurisdictions permitting) inject the baby with a solution to kill it, then perform the procedure. The baby isn’t alive at the time, so the procedure doesn’t fit the criteria for “partial birth abortion.”
What does contemporary culture say about abortions?
It’s important to distinguish between the perspective of pro-abortion activists, and women who simply obtain abortions. They aren’t always the same. However, there are two overarching pillars which provide an alleged moral justification for this act. We discussed both of them in the first installment of this article:
- Unborn children are not people, and have no rights.
- An assumption of individual autonomy (“my body is my own, and none of your business”)
Here are some representative examples of these presuppositions in action from both pro-abortion activists and women who have obtained abortions themselves:
The first example is from the new President of Planned Parenthood:2
The context of Dr. Wen’s statement is an interview she gave, in which the journalist suggested Planned Parenthood would pivot to focus more on women’s healthcare, at the expense of abortion access. Dr. Wen acted swiftly to undercut this idea. To her, abortion is a “core mission.” This is proof of her own moral blindness, and a demonstration of our innate depravity.
Next, we have a woman named Maria Meltzer, who wrote an article for the New York Times (13 Sept 2018) entitled “The Abortion I Almost Forgot.” These are excerpts from her piece:
She went on:
Next, she explains that her abortion meant so little to her she almost forgot all about it:
Notice that Meltzer has no remorse about her actions. She doesn’t care at all. In fact, she has quite forgotten about the whole thing. Why? Because of her quest for personal autonomy. She apparently doesn’t consider her dead child to have a status as a human being, or any real identity at all. He is disposable, like a soiled tissue.
Next, we have an OB-GYN physician named Jen Gunter, who explained “Why I Wanted to Learn to Perform Abortions,” in the New York Times (14 Oct 2018):
Dr. Gungter apparently does not understand the Christian objection.3 The root issue is the morality of the act itself, not the safety of the procedure. She frames this as purely a healthcare issue. The only way you can get to this point is (1) a mindset of pure autonomy from God, and (2) a rationalization that the baby isn’t a human being.
Now, we have another note from Planned Parenthood:4
This is clearly a propaganda piece, trying to “normalize” a very immoral and unnormal action. The message is clear; there is no shame, there is no sin, there is no accountability, you can rest easy in your autonomy, etc. There’s something innately evil about deliberately ending the lives of unborn children, and Planned Parenthood acknowledges that – it’s why they’re trying to normalize the act.
Here is yet another Planned Parenthood tweet:5
Again, the focus is individual autonomy. You are a law unto yourself. There will be no day of judgment. You’re in control. You’re in charge. Nobody can judge you. It’s none of your business, etc.
Here, Planned Parenthood strikes again, with another attempt to normalize a terribly wicked act:6
And, finally, here is a tweet from a newer pro-abortion group called, “Shout Your Abortion:”7
Both presuppositional pillars are on full display. There is no guilt. There are no regrets. The baby was a nuisance; something that threatened her body and her life. She sounds like she’s grateful to have recovered from the flu; as if the child was a virus she’s finally shaken with the help of a vacuum suction. Ironically, she speaks of “relationships” that are preserved, when she has, in fact, just destroyed perhaps the most precious relationship God intended her to have. Finally, she is grateful her finances weren’t impacted.
You have it all here, in one terrible tweet. Autonomy. Selfishness. Disregard for the status of the child. This is a chilling display of the moral depravity of the pro-abortion movement.
In the next installment, we’ll discuss the Scriptural evidence for the sanctity of human life.
3 She didn’t appear to be responding to a theological objection, but a political one. Regardless, a Christian presupposition about the sanctity of life is behind the pro-life political platform.
Tyler Robbins is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Seminary, a DMin student at Central Seminary (Plymouth, MN) and a pastor at Sleater Kinney Road Baptist Church, in Olympia WA. He’s also an Investigations Program Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist and is the author of What’s It Mean to be a Baptist?