The Face That Changes Everything

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Recently the American political scene was shocked by the passage of an extreme abortion bill in New York.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, to thunderous applause, that legalized abortion of children all the way up to birth.

Not to be outdone by the New York governor when it comes to extreme abortion positions, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam advocated for the post-birth abortion of infants.  In a cloture vote, forty-seven U.S. Senators failed to allow a bill to pass that would have protected children  from abortion who were born alive.  The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has refused to bring the bill up for a vote.

The issue of babies born alive after failed abortions is not a new one.  This issue was in the spotlight back in 2009 with the filing of a lawsuit for baby Shanice case.  In 2006, eighteen year-old Sycloria Williams determined that she didn’t have the resources or the maturity to rear a child.  After she scheduled the abortion, Williams was given medication to dilate her cervix.  She arrived at the clinic the next day.  When the doctor failed to show up, Sycloria Williams delivered a baby girl.  At that point, her attorney said, "She came face to face with a human being, and that changed everything." 

Sycloria Williams, the child’s mother, named her baby girl Shanice.  According to the lawsuit, a clinic worker, not licensed to practice medicine, knocked the baby onto the floor, cut the child’s unclamped umbilical cord, allowing the baby to bleed out.  The clinic worker tossed the baby, placenta and everything else into a biohazard bag and threw it out.  An autopsy revealed little Shanice had filled her lungs with air, evidence that she was born alive. 

Despite this reality, a pro-abortion blogger, Jane Hamsher, categorically denied that babies are killed after having survived abortions (at 2:55 of the video).  In a debate with Mona Charen on C-Span’s Washington Journal during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Jane Hamsher insisted that babies being left to die in hospital linen closets is a ridiculous "Right Wing" fantasy.  She matter-of-factly contended “There’s no baby born that they try to kill.  That’s ridiculous.” 

If we were to parse words, she is technically correct, at least in most cases.  Tossing a crying newborn infant into a bucket and placing him, unattended, in a linen closet for hours until his crying stops is more “allowing the child to die” rather than “trying to kill him."  Governor Northam suggested making the baby as comfortable as possible while letting him die.   In the end, through omission or commission, there is still a dead baby.  

We are constantly subjected to bromides and trite arguments that good people disagree on this issue.  Even then-candidate George W. Bush in his August 3, 2000 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention stated “I know good people disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life….”  

But what does God say about abortion?  Psalm 139 makes clear that God has regard for the yet-to-be-born human person.  David wrote in verse 13-16 "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."

The word translated into English as "inward parts" (or "reins" in the KJV) is the Hebrew word בִלְיׇה (kilyah) which means "kidneys," essential internal organs.  "Frame" is translated from the Hebrew word עצֶם (ostem) meaning "power, body, might, substance," giving the picture of a skeletal structure.  "Unformed substance" is from גּ֫לֶם (golem), meaning "a wrapped, unformed mass, a substance yet being unperfected."  This word gives us the sense that David is discussing himself as an embryo, pre-skeletal structure.

David, in Psalm 139, clearly shows that God regarded his human personhood while still in his mother's womb.  God had written David's days in His book long before David breathed his first breath.  God considered this unborn child as something of value, to be preserved and cherished, not discarded and abandoned.  Abortion destroys the life of the child before he can live out the days God has planned.  Because God abhors the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17), He abhors abortion.  Therefore, we should abhor abortion.

Being personally opposed to abortion is not enough.  Our response to the Gospel that has transformed us should be to come to the aid of and show compassion to the least of these.  See Matthew 25:31-46.  Failing to care for the least of these is the same as failing to care for Jesus himself.

Saying “good people disagree on abortion” is meant to keep the debate civilized.  Meanwhile children are slaughtered by doctors with their mothers’ permission or are left to die in linen closets while we have our civilized debate. Good people do not disagree on the issue of abortion.  Good people transformed by the Gospel come face to face with the least of these and that changes everything.

Chris BrownwellComment