Being the sensitive and controversial debate that has
ensued, it is obvious that there are strong feelings on both sides. In the USA
it has at times erupted into physical violence, which is to be deprecated.
Much of the argument is centred on the status of the foetus
(which is the Latin for 'offspring'). When does life really begin? Does
abortion merely remove an appendage or blob from the mother as though it was a
tumour, or is it a person?
From the Christian perspective it is not regarded as a
potential life, but a life with potential, and if one does not accept that it
begins at conception, then any other alternative is purely arbitrary, whether
considered to be at the implantation, quickening or the actual birth.
At the first International Conference on Abortion held at
Washington in 1967, it declared that "We can find no point in time between the
union of sperm and egg and the birth of an infant at which we could say that
'this is not a human life'"
In Holy Scripture Psalm 139 documents the Creator's vital association and
concern with the development of the foetus, and to say the least, abortion
violently interrupts the Divine process and this interruption causes great pain
and trauma to the unborn child. If then we believe that the foetus is a person,
its wilful destruction can only be be regarded as infanticide. Only God has the
right to take life.
It is interesting to note how Holy Scripture mentions the
unborn. For instance, a pregnant woman is said to be "with child"
. The mother of
John the Baptist conceived a son, and when she was greeted by Mary the mother of Jesus the
"baby" leapt in
her womb. The Greek word that St. Luke used for babe was brephos, and he used
the same word for Jesus after he was born and laying in the manger. So the same
word was used for the born and the unborn.
In the Old Testament, if a miscarriage occurred through
violence, and the child died, the penalty was a life for a life showing that the
unborn was valued as a life.
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