I recently received a question about abortion. The question was about how Dr. William Lane Craig referred to the termination of pregnancy as particularly horrifying because anyone can see that a fetus even at 8-12 weeks of development looks like a human baby.
She had asked if it was acceptable, therefore, to terminate a pregnancy before that stage. She went on to ask why the pregnant woman should not have the choice to a longer life, freedom to make her decision, or pursuit of happiness while waiting for a better time to raise her child. Finally she asked if God condemns all women that have an abortion.
My response is below:
I am not certain which specific article you may be referring to, as Dr. Craig has a large body of work. Even so, I am not troubled by Dr. Craig’s comments as you have described them. Presumably many have obtained an abortion without realizing that they were bringing about the death of another human being. Perhaps lack of philosophical reflection or misinformation has caused them to think of the growing embryo as a part of themselves or as somehow inhuman. The point you have ascribed to Dr. Craig seems to state that such ignorance cannot be maintained when the fetus has such obviously human characteristics as they do during the 8-12-week stage of development. This point doesn’t speak to the intrinsic value of the fetus, but to the culpability of the abortion practitioner and participant. They cannot claim ignorance when the humanity of the unborn has become so obvious in the later stages of development.
You asked why the woman should not have the choice to wait for a better time to raise her child. This misrepresents abortion, as the aborted child will never be raised. The woman is putting the growing fetus to death, and thus will not raise it at a later date. Perhaps she may raise another child at a later date, but the aborted fetus no longer has such an opportunity. This is the horrifying reality that Dr. Craig is referring to. In abortion, we are putting to death the most vulnerable among us.
You also mentioned that you agree that a fully formed fetus should not be aborted, “because I believe the woman had enough time to make her decision in regard to keeping the baby.” This is an interesting statement, as it places the reason the baby should not be aborted solely in the woman rather than the baby. I would give quite a different reason, preferring to say that the baby has intrinsic value as a human being. This seems to be close to the heart of the issue. If the baby does not have intrinsic value, then we may do with it what we wish. If the baby does have intrinsic value, then we may not.
As you consider the intrinsic value of babies, consider the reasons why someone would deny intrinsic value to them while affording it to adult human beings. Typically, they will fall under one of these categories: Size, Level of development, Environment, or Degree of Dependency. As we think through these issues, however, we’ll realize that denying intrinsic value to the unborn for any of these reasons would likely result in denying intrinsic value to adult humans (making it an obviously poor criteria for withholding intrinsic value). Stand to Reason has a great article on this which you can access here.
Finally, you asked if God condemns all women who have an abortion. The central message of Christianity is that God is offering you a choice. You may either be judged on the basis of Christ’s work or on the basis of your works. The scriptures teach that, “no one is righteous, no not one…for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10, 23) Paul goes on to say that, “God shows his great love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Elsewhere we have the promise that, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) In short, even if you have had an abortion, God does not want to condemn you. In Christ, God offers to cover the penalty for your sin, to offer you forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice, and to invite you into a new life as his daughter.
Got a question? Ask it here
Hit the “Follow” button at the bottom of the page to receive future Q&A.