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Abortion Is the Leading Cause of Death in the US: The Persuasive Logic and Compelling Story of Life


Today is the forty-seventh anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion. Since that 7–2 decision, the lives of nearly sixty-two million babies have been aborted in America.

There were 862,000 abortions in the United States in 2017. This is the lowest number since abortion became legal in 1973. However, abortion remains the leading cause of death in our country: that same year, 647,457 Americans died from heart disease, the second-leading cause of death. 

Worldwide, abortion is the leading cause of death as well, killing forty-two million people last year. By contrast, 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2019, thirteen million from other diseases, and 1.7 million from HIV/AIDS.  

What if a virus killed 18 percent of unborn babies?

A man in Washington state has been diagnosed with the new Wuhan coronavirus, the first case reported in the US from an outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people in Asia. 

Imagine that such a virus was attacking babies in the womb and killing 18 percent of them. Medical science would be doing everything possible to protect unborn children from this dire threat. 

By contrast, pro-abortion forces in America are conspiring to do everything they can to protect the threat. 

For example, Planned Parenthood in New York is pressuring doctors to violate their conscience by performing abortions or leave medicine. The Center for Reproductive Rights(CRR) is working to fight abortion restrictions and to help states enact legislation protecting the practice. 

But the legal future of abortion may be more unsettled than ever. In March, the Supreme Court will hear its first abortion case since Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy, with a decision expected by summer. On January 2, more than two hundred Republican members of the House and Senate filed a brief urging the Court to overturn Roe once and for all. 

According to the CRR, if the Court did so, abortion would likely be prohibited immediately in twenty-four states but remain legal and generally available in twenty-one states. The fight would then move to the states and their constituents.

Are we “imposing our beliefs” to prevent infanticide?

I’d like to focus my response to this tragic anniversary on two popular arguments cited by pro-choice Christians. 

The first is the claim that they oppose abortion personally but are not sure they should “impose” their beliefs on others. This was precisely the position taken by a caller when I was recently discussing the abortion issue on a national radio broadcast. 

She stated that she believed life to begin at conception based on her understanding of Scripture. But she considered this position to be her personal religious belief. And she has been taught by our culture that the “separation of church and state” means she should keep her religious beliefs private. 

Let’s work with the logic of this position for a moment. 

If you believe that human life begins at conception, you will view birth as merely the movement of that life from inside the mother’s body to outside it. Prior to this movement, the law allows the mother to abort the baby’s life. After it, the mother and her doctor must do all they can to protect the baby’s life. 

Nothing has changed about the baby except its location. We are not “imposing our beliefs” to protect the baby after its birth. In fact, we are preventing infanticide. Why are we imposing them to protect the baby a moment before its birth? 

An incontrovertible fact

A second assertion by some pro-choice Christians is that we cannot be sure in scientific terms when a fetus becomes a human being. They believe life begins at conception but fear “imposing” their theological position on others. If we cannot be objectively sure when the fetus becomes a human, the abortion decision should rest with the mother rather than the state, or so they claim. 

Once again, let’s consider the logic of this position. 

Imagine that you heard a noise outside your front door in the middle of the night. It might be a person, or it might be an animal of some kind. Would you shoot through the door before you were sure it was not a human being on the other side? 

One incontrovertible fact is that every fetus, left to develop naturally to full term, will be born as what we know to be a human being. If we have to err on one side or the other, should we not err on the side of life?

One of the most compelling stories I’ve read

Every person is a miracle. David’s testimony is ours: “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14). 

As a result, each life is a story. Perhaps the most effective way we can defend life is to tell such stories. For example, Daniel and Kelly Crawford have written one of the most compelling articles I have read in a long time. I strongly urge you to read the story of their son’s brief life and learn ways to use your story to uphold the value of all life

As we remember this tragic day, let’s pray and work for the day when our nation values every life, from conception to natural death, as passionately and practically as does our Father. William Booth’s metaphor is true not just of our secular culture but especially with regard to the sanctity of human life: “All who are not on the rock are in the sea.”

Which is true for you?

Publication date: January 22, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Zimmytws

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes DenisonForum.org, First15.org, ChristianParenting.org, and FoundationsWithJanet.org. Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

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