From birth to death, every man knows that to kill another man is a crime against man and God. Scripture and history provide irrefutable evidence that God has written this law on every man’s heart. This testimony of man’s conscience is ineffaceable. Indeed, even the national, state, and local battles fought over abortion during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries bear witness to the testimony of the Spirit of God against this form of murder. Despite the corruption of man’s fallen nature, the horrors of this crime against the little ones cry out against us.
To murder has always been a great wickedness. From Creation, all races, nations, and societies have recognized that, if any crimes exist, murder is the most fundamental. Abortion is no exception.
Abortion denies the most fundamental right God has given man, which is the right to live. For centuries, arguments have raged over the nature and extent of man’s right to live, and in what judicial cases man forfeits that right. What has been undeniable under the rule of law of the Western world is that no individual may decide whether another lives or dies. That prerogative is one owned solely by God and those institutions to whom He delegates the sword in the exercise of justice.
Yet in 1973—and quite suddenly—the Supreme Court of the United States declared the laws against murder by abortion null and void—laws which were, at the time, written on the books of almost every state of the Union. Planned Parenthood records the change enforced by Roe v. Wade this way:
Roe has come to be known as the case that legalized abortion nationwide. At the time the decision was handed down, nearly all states outlawed abortion except to save a woman’s life or for limited reasons such as preserving the woman’s health, or instances of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly. Roe rendered these laws unconstitutional.97
This federal reversal of states’ laws was unprecedented and led to an embarrassing dilemma among physicians. Sadly, like most Americans of the time, the medical establishment raised no outcry over the newly invented right of mothers to kill their babies. Now that this right had been created, the question remained: Who would carry out these murders?
At that time, the nation’s physicians had been initiated into the practice of medicine by taking the Hippocratic Oath, part of which read:
I shall never give a deadly drug (pharmakon) to anyone if asked, nor shall I recommend such counsel; and likewise I shall not give a woman a pessary for an abortion.
With purity and in accordance with divine law I will keep my life and my art.98
The Hippocratic Oath originated two and a half millennia ago, and it represented the most basic commitments of physicians in their practice of the healing arts. So, when Roe v. Wade’s new mandate came down, it raised the question whether physicians would continue to honor their oath. Or, would they begin to accept money in payment for “causing an abortion”?
There was never any significant debate. Doctors across our nation began to break their oath and take money from mothers seeking doctors’ assistance in killing their little ones. To clean up the mess, the Hippocratic Oath was sometimes edited and sometimes removed from physicians’ initiation rites.
Abortion also required the diminishment of woman’s moral agency. At the heart of personhood is individual responsibility for one’s own deeds. The rule of law flows from this individual moral agency. Whether in the workplace, government, church, or family, the rule of law holds every man and woman accountable for his actions. The roofer is accountable to put on a roof that doesn’t leak. The lawyer is accountable to provide his client truthful counsel. The judge is accountable to issue just judgments that do not abandon the meek and lowly to oppression by the sleek, rich, and educated. The pastor is accountable to keep his sheep’s blood off his hands by speaking to them precisely what God commands.
Concerning moral agency, feminism had long argued that male authority diminished female responsibility. Feminists declared it would only be when male authority was brought to an end that women would possess full personhood equal to men, and thus bear the full weight of the consequences of their actions. They must be granted self-determination and freedom to choose. Only when this equality was established could women be said to have the same moral agency as men. These themes are constant across feminist and pro-abortion literature of the past fifty years.
When feminists promoted abortion, though, they set this claim aside. No mother was to be judged for procuring the murder of her child.
Today, the male authority that God established when He created Adam first, then Eve, has been repudiated, and yet it is notable that mothers who pay doctors to murder their little ones are viewed as the victims of their boyfriends, husbands, fathers, or a patriarchal society. If there is any moral judgment involved in any abortion, it is the condemnation of bad men who force good women to kill their children. Society is condemned for robbing women of power and self-determination, forcing them to commit bloodshed in order to establish their power and self-determination. Personhood begins with freedom of choice, and what freedom of choice do women have if they are unable to rid their own bodies of these parasites clinging to their wombs? In fact, the ability to choose abortion is said to be central to women’s self-determination. Women cannot truly be free and equal until they are granted this fundamental freedom of choice. Feminists demand that their sex’s life-givingness99 must be subject to the mother’s choice whether or not to allow this life God has placed in her to continue. This is necessary to establish women’s equality and personhood.
This is the grotesque reasoning feminists have used to reduce mothers to the very status they had previously condemned. In order to gain moral agency on a par with men, feminists demanded women be granted the right to kill their children. And yet, if women exercised this right, they were to bear no guilt for it. Rather, they must be judged to have killed their children under compulsion. They are free of any responsibility for the murder of their little ones they paid to have killed.
But when guilt is denied, repentance is also denied. What is purportedly done from respect for women results in barring women from confessing their sin to the holy God and receiving forgiveness through the mercy and love of God in Jesus Christ. If women commit no crime subject to man’s law when they kill their babies, the only logical conclusion is that women who kill their babies commit no sin subject to God’s law either.
Women must not seek God’s forgiveness for shedding the blood of the children God gave them as His blessing, and the civil authorities must enact no laws testifying to their maternal bloodguilt. The woman has, in effect, become what the feminists feared: a non-agent, functioning only as the victim of male figures in her life, denied any responsibility for her own actions.100
Yet why should this be so? After all, the man who beats his wife or children is responsible for the harm and suffering he causes the members of his household. Equally so the woman who beats her husband or children: she too is responsible for the harm and suffering she causes her intimate family members. If a father rapes or murders one of his children, no prosecutor, court, judge, or jury will hesitate to punish him for his crimes. Equally so the mother who rapes or murders one of her children: any just society will demand her trial and punishment, and the judicial system will carry out this difficult work.
Why, then, have eighty-three pro-life leaders of national and state organizations issued a press release opposing any laws to “punish” mothers who kill their preborn children? Their press release was issued in the weeks following Politico’s leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and it was drafted and signed by the leaders of organizations including the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans United for Life, the Faith & Freedom Coalition, Life Issues Institute, the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, and the National Right to Life. The letter reads:
Women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support . . .
As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women, and children across the country, let us be clear: We state unequivocally that we do not support any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women and we stand firmly opposed to include such penalties in legislation. . . .
We understand better than anyone else the desire to punish the purveyors of abortion who act callously and without regard to the dignity of human life. But turning women who have abortions into criminals is not the way.101
While it is true women and men other than the baby’s mother usually share the bloodguilt of the murder of the preborn, it remains hard to fathom this denial of the moral agency of the women who most often are the ones who actually pay for the drugs or surgery to kill their baby. Wise Solomon recognized the mother who wanted the baby dead to be the evil moral agent in the dispute, and penalized her for it.102 Was Solomon wrong?
How have we come to think so lightly of the minds, consciences, and souls of women, that we issue statements absolving them of any responsibility for their murder of their own children? Do these pro-life leaders claim to speak for God in their dispensing this public absolution to mothers who have aborted their preborn children?
No murder is hidden from God. Every one of us will soon give an accounting for our bloodguilt on that Final Day of Judgment, when the secrets of all men will be revealed before the Great Judge Eternal. It is of the essence of the gospel message preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and every gospel witness down through two millennia of church history to “flee the wrath to come.” How then can those professing faith in Jesus issue public statements that women who have murdered their preborn children are merely “victims of abortion” who “require our compassion and support,” and that they are adamantly opposed to any law which would declare these women “criminals”?
To be sure, these post-Roe days will require wisdom in the writing and debate over states’ abortion legislation. No two states are alike, and civil authorities of each state will bear the responsibility of decisions concerning who should be held accountable for the shedding of these little ones’ blood, as well as how, when, and in what way. Given a particular state’s demography, it may be wise not to use the force of law against mothers who buy the murder of their preborn children. Nevertheless, no follower of Jesus Christ should ever declare moral or criminal absolution concerning such mothers. God will judge us, and it is no kindness for any leader to declare that those bearing bloodguilt are only “victims” of this abortion they have purchased, and that no one should “punish” them.
On the other hand, assuming such pro-life leaders are successful in their attempts to stave off any criminalization or punishment of mothers who abort their little ones, the truth always held precious by the church of Jesus Christ remains with us today—to proclaim repentance for the forgiveness of this sin too, as also every other form of wickedness:
[Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations. (Luke 24:46–47)
The path forward from the bloodguilt of abortion is not claiming victimhood and denying one’s moral agency, but acknowledging our guilt and fleeing to the cross of Jesus Christ for His forgiveness. Those of us who love Jesus have done the same (and continue to do so daily) and will welcome you into the household of faith, the church of the Living God.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say there are two deaths in every abortion:
The mother herself kills, destroys, murders her own child. Created by God Himself for greater things: to love and to be loved. Created in the image of God. Created to be His presence in the world today. I mean destroying. And in killing that living reality of the tenderness of God’s love, the mother kills two: the child and her (own) conscience. For life she will know she has murdered her own child with her own decision.103
God’s moral law is written on each man’s heart so that our conscience testifies to each of us what ought and ought not to be done. When women and men act against their conscience, particularly on an issue of such gravity, they sear their conscience and leave it on life support.
Despite all the supposed evidence denying the suffering of mothers who choose abortion, the murderess bears her guilt and shame for the rest of her life. Grievous (and often, repeated) sin of this nature can so harm the conscience that it ceases to function. Such a woman has lost not only her child, but God’s gift of knowing what sin she has committed. For herself, her family, and her society, this grave evil gives birth to grave consequences among all those who know and love her. They may not know the cause of her moral disease, but they suffer it along with her. As one example, the children she chooses to give birth to end up being her wanted children, and they too suffer guilt and shame, sometimes called “post-abortion survivor syndrome.”104
We must not allow our bloodlust to fool us:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal. 6:7–8, KJV)
“Roe v. Wade: Its History and Impact,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2014, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/3013/9611/5870/Abortion_Roe_History.pdf.↩︎
οὐ δώσω δὲ οὐδὲ φάρμακον οὐδενὶ αἰτηθεὶς θανάσιμον, οὐδὲ ὑφηγήσομαι συμβουλίην τοιήνδε: ὁμοίως δὲ οὐδὲ γυναικὶ πεσσὸν φθόριον δώσω. ἁγνῶς δὲ καὶ ὁσίως διατηρήσω βίον τὸν ἐμὸν καὶ τέχνην τὴν ἐμήν.↩︎
Adam named his wife Eve, which means “living one” or “life-giver,” “because she was the mother of all the living.” Genesis 3:20.↩︎
The reactions of many women on social media to the threatened overturning of Roe v. Wade illustrate this reality. For example, Twitter user @Darlyn215 said on May 3, 2022, “You know what’s so interesting? Women can’t get themselves pregnant. It’s men who cause abortions,” accessed May 5, 2022, https://twitter.com/Darlyn215/status/1521595279077744641. Twitter user @photogjoy said on May 4, 2022, “Let’s force vasectomies on men who get women pregnant so the MAN has to pay the price as well,” accessed May 5, 2022, https://twitter.com/photogjoy/status/1521822320628748288, emphasis original.↩︎
“An Open Letter to State Lawmakers from America’s Leading Pro-Life Organizations,” May 12, 2022, https://www.nrlc.org/uploads/communications/051222coalitionlettertostates.pdf. Emphases original.↩︎
1 Kings 3:16–28.↩︎
Mother Teresa, “Address to Commissioners of 200th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), St. Louis, Missouri; June 7, 1988.”↩︎
Philip Ney, Claudia Sheils, and Marek Gajowy, “Post-Abortion Survivor Syndrome: Signs and Symptoms,” Southern Medical Journal 99, no. 12 (December 2006): 1405–1406, https://doi.org/10.1097/01.smj.0000251372.56344.bf.↩︎