Thursday, November 14, 2013

So... uh... why is abortion bad?

This fantastic post, ‘Hell House,’ abortion, and the mute zombie children of Heaven, follows the logic of some in the pro-life crowd to its creepy conclusion. If every fertilized egg is a full person, and aborted "unborn babies" go to heaven, then so do all the fertilized eggs that are lost without anyone even knowing they exist- in fact, the majority of the population of heaven would be these "people" who never lived, never had a body, never interacted with any other person. Creepy.

So on that note, I'd like to examine the logic of the pro-life side- specifically the evangelical Christian pro-life beliefs that I always assumed Christians HAD to hold. (Ya know, I've always been pro-life because, uh, Christians are pro-life. Not any more though. That's a subject for another post.)

So, the story goes that abortion is wrong because the fertilized egg/ fetus is a real person with a soul.

Yeah but, what does that even mean to have a soul, if it's before they even begin to develop a brain and the ability to feel pain and stuff? Why does it matter if the fetus is aborted at that point? It doesn't hurt anybody.

Ah, because you see, the unborn baby has an eternal soul and its death matters to God. Even if no one else cares, God cares.

Umm, even if "God cares", how does that translate into "and therefore we must allow this unborn baby to develop and be born and have a life"? I thought heaven was better anyway and our lives on earth don't really matter? Seems odd that God would be the one insisting that someone with absolutely no connections or obligations on earth stay there instead of just coming to heaven where everything is awesome.

(Another blogger, Libby Anne, has written about this contradiction before.)

Image source.

I understand the idea that "life has value." What I don't understand is how that apparently means that the "unborn child" MUST be allowed to have an earthy existence. When we say "life has value," do we mean our earthly lives? I thought those were "but a breath" and all that matters is eternity in heaven or hell?

It just seems odd that pro-life evangelical Christians are fighting so hard to give the "unborn babies" something that they claim only matters in that it decides whether or not you go to heaven- a deal that said "unborn babies" have already won anyway.


  1. I identify as pro-life, but I definitely agree that the argument that "an egg is alive and has a soul the moment it is fertilized!" makes zero sense. Case in point: I'm an identical twin, and by that logic my sister and I must share a soul, seeing as we started out as one fertilized zygote that then happened to split. So, yeah. I'm really uncomfortable saying that life begins at conception. It's always interesting to raise the question of identical twins to pro-life people who argue like such.

  2. "I thought heaven was better anyway and our lives on earth don't really matter?"

    Libby Anne is right that this is a massive contradiction in Evangelical Christianity. Followed to its logical conclusion, Evangelicals should execute people either before they are old enough to be accountable for their sins or immediately after they get saved so that they will go directly to heaven.

    The answer is that our lives on earth DO matter. Because our lives on earth matter, we do not have the right to take the life of another.

  3. I never thought about how there would be more people in heaven who had never lived on earth than who had. Weird, but maybe that's good? Also, it's possible babies who don't make it are reincarnated for lack of a better word. Also, if a fetes doesn't go to heaven that's devastating to mothers who had a miscarriage.

  4. Exactly. Once the fetus has brain activity and stuff, then abortion becomes a problem. I don't know when exactly that is though...

  5. Wow. Thought-provoking stuff! I realized the contradiction between believing in original sin and believing the unborn go to heaven when I was still a teenager, but it had never before occurred to me that if all unborn went to heaven they'd be the majority in heaven...weird!!

    The idea that a fertilized egg instantly has a soul seems even more bizarre to me now that I have been through an entire pregnancy, open-minded about learning something new on the subject. Certainly I became increasingly aware of a living creature inside my body that was not me, but it was like having a pet under my skin. Then one morning I awoke to a striking sense that there was an extra person in the room. I soon realized I was in labor, and my son was born 15 hours later. Seems like THAT was the moment he got his soul, when he was getting ready to be born.

  6. I've had a miscarriage, but the idea that my dead embryo isn't waiting for me in heaven is not devastating to me. It's not a person I ever knew. I wouldn't recognize it if I met it in heaven. I was very sad about the miscarriage, but it was a matter of lost POTENTIAL, not of losing a person I knew.

    Furthermore, the fact that I continued to feel every bit as in-touch with my embryo after it was dead and remained dead inside me for two weeks before it was surgically removed, as I had when it was alive, gives me the impression that the connection I was feeling was caused by pregnancy hormones, not by a soul-to-soul connection with my unborn child. I did not detect any change whatsoever when it died.

    I'm pregnant again now. I don't know if this is "the same baby" making a second attempt at earthly life, or not. I don't see how it matters.

  7. One other thought: Every day, I pass a plaque put up by the Knights of Columbus quoting "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you," no doubt in an effort to discourage abortion. It seems to me that a crucial word there is BEFORE. Our souls are eternal. God knows our souls. We do not have to have physical bodies to know and be known by God.

  8. Thanks for sharing. Nice to hear your perspective. I was thinking of later term pregnancies.

  9. In his book Broken Words: the Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics, Jonathan Dudley points out that the traditional Protestant and evangelical view prior to 1970 was that the soul entered the fetus at about 4 months' gestation, and that indeed a fertilized zygote was incapable of containing a human soul. The idea that human life is fully human life at the moment of conception has no biblical support, and it was adopted when evangelicals were joining political forces with Catholics in the 1970s, as a way to enlist Catholics to evangelical political causes.