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I have seen the same problem that Jeff Durbin is speaking about here. Not in the context of legislation, because there is no large political party in Australia that would ever bother to try and stop abortion. Does anti-abortion legislation even get a consideration in any parliament in our country today? Our nation is given over to this evil at the moment, though this can change[i].
But as Durbin highlights, many Christian advocates on the pro-life side see the vast majority of women who practice abortion as victims and not as the perpetrators they really are. I have seen this a lot over the years and it is just not true. Some women are victims. Some woman are pressured into abortion by their abusive boyfriends, or controlling family or even in some cases church leaders (though they could ultimately tell the doctor and get help if this is the case), or they are coerced and bullied into it in other ways. This does happen, but it is by far the minority of reasons, as the data shows.
The act of abortion is on the whole an act of choice by the woman to improve her circumstances. It is a fundamentally selfish act,
“The most commonly reported reasons for abortion in 2004 (selected from a researcher-generated list of possible reasons with write-in options for other reasons) were largely similar to those found in the 1987 study . The top three reason categories cited in both studies were: 1) “Having a baby would dramatically change my life” (i.e., interfere with education, employment and ability to take care of existing children and other dependents) (74% in 2004 and 78% in 1987), 2) “I can’t afford a baby now” (e.g., unmarried, student, can’t afford childcare or basic needs) (73% in 2004 and 69% in 1987), and 3) “I don’t want to be a single mother or am having relationship problems” (48% in 2004 and 52% in 1987).”[ii]
Economic, or lifestyle reasons are the dominant reasons for abortion. These women do not want to have to make the necessary adjustments to their lives that having a child, or another child, would entail.
It is really about power in the most basic sense; their desire to control their circumstances. Or to put it more bluntly: they care more about their education or career than the child they have conceived. It is a mere inconvenience. This does not mean that this is an easy choice, or a happy choice for many of these women. But just because they may be unhappy about doing it, does not mean that they are not exercising the ultimate power over another persons life, the child’s, and showing where their true priorities lay.
It matters not that many women do not see it as an actual child. The slave owners did not see slaves as fully human. This did not make them any less guilty. It only explains how they rationalized their evil.
If, as I know many Christian people believe, ultimately the man is responsible for this sin being tolerated in society, then it is incumbent on us men to call out the act of evil for what it is, and not to say the perpetrators are the victims. The real victims of slavery were not the slave owners who saw the slaves as less than human and were “tricked” into the benefits of free labour, it was the slaves that were dehumanized who were the victims. The real victims of abortion are not the women who may not see that they are killing a child, the real victims are the children who are killed in the process of an abortion. Tens of thousands a year, just in Australia. Many more worldwide.
I am convinced that the best strategy for undermining abortion, is working towards a society that sees a woman wanting an abortion, or a man pressuring his woman for an abortion, as distasteful as the person who wants to own another human being. We should already see it that way, since abortion is far more evil than even slavery. Showing the evil of what the slave owner was doing to the person they had as a slave – that is correctly identifying the perpetrator and the victim – helped lay the foundation for slavery to be seen as disgusting, even by many modern unbelievers. Taking the position that the women who have abortions are victims is undermining the pro-life position. Because it is wrong and it is the fundamental foundation that the left uses to justify abortion.
Progressives cast the women as helpless without abortion to help justify it. Many conservatives cast the woman as helpless in the face of relentless pressure to prefer or practice abortion. Both sides are infantilizing women and removing their responsibility from the act.
“We feel sorry for you, that you felt you needed to make that decision,” is clearly a failing strategy at the society level, even if it occasionally works with some individuals to drove them to repentance. Abortion needs to be recast as a thoroughly disgusting and disgraceful act, that even to consider practicing can cast aspersions on one’s character. Until we make that switch, it is going nowhere.
This does not mean those who have had an abortion need stay condemned in the eyes of God. Paul, the Apostle, and David the king, were both guilty of shedding innocent blood. God forgave them both. There is grace for every sinner, we are all seriously damaged goods compared to God. Jesus’ mercy is abundant and vast. But to receive forgiveness from God someone must repent of their sin. To repent of their sin, people have to be shown very clearly that they were culpable, not the victims.
[i] We should never forget that it has been worse and it can get better.
Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.
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