(53) The Case Against Abortion: Bad Christian Arguments and Evidences

Unfortunately, most Christian arguments for abortion are bad. Some arguments misuse or cherry-pick the Bible, some arguments are undermined by hypocrisy, and some arguments undermine the core idea Christians rely on - that humans have intrinsic value. We take a look at what I think are bad (or incomplete) Christian arguments and evidences against abortion.

Episode Summary: 

1. Images and Pain Presence: Use of post-abortion photos and describing the pain sensations a fetus can feel at different stages of development can be valuable tools to spark emotion, dig at intuitive knowledge, or bolster a larger argument. However, they are terrible stand-alone or primary arguments against abortion, yet they tend to be where many Christians start and stop their understanding of the issue. The main problem with them is that they actually undermine the core case Christians want to make for the value of the fetus. How much something resembles a human or what level of pain one can feel changes based on time and situations, and are what we call degreed properties. If something is held in degrees, not only can you be more or less of something on the spectrum (in this case, human), but you can also lose that thing. likeness and pain sensation are degreed properties and are not present in all fetuses at all times, and especially not at the same level. 
2. Biblical Cherry-picking: Many anti-abortion Christians love to say that everyone, including fetuses, are important, because "God knits us all together in the womb." We turn this into a scientific statement. The problem is that in this very passage - only two verses later - the author declares that he was woven together in the depths of the earth. You will find plenty of cases where (especially in the Psalms), the author works within an ANE framework, and not a scientific one (e.g. the pillars holding up the sky). We also see other strange conceptions (to our modern ears) of life, as in when the Bible tells us that Levi paid a tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham, as Levi was in Abraham's loins (Augustine called this "seminal headship" in regard to all humans being in the loins of Adam). Today, we know that this isn't how sperm, genetics, and individual identity work. We can't pick and choose what aspects of ancient beliefs sound good for our case to use as zinger proof-texts. It's a whole package. Since this may be a particularly contentious point, here are some perspectives from an inerrantist I trust who expounds on these topics.
Adam's Loins and Seminal Headship: https://drmsh.com/more-on-romans-5/
Levi's Loins and Hebrew Belief: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/NB-185-Transcript.pdf (top of pg. 14 ff).
Ancient Hebrew Cosmology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbPtym0NboU (39:30 ff). 
3. Ignoring Counter-examples in the Bible: Some Christians know the common rebuttal that life was viewed as less valuable to ancient Hebrews because there was a law which seems to declare the consequences for causing a woman to miscarry were less severe than for killing a human who was older. But there are some words you can argue about there. To me, the glaring problem passage is when by law, a husband was able to take his wife to the priest if he suspected infidelity and force her to drink a concoction which would kill the child if it was not the husbands. However, I don't know any anti-abortion Christians who would argue that we should be able to do paternity tests and then justly abort any children born out of a marital relationship. 
4. Christian Inconsistency: We say we believe life begins at conception, yet most of us use birth controls which have abortive measures (preventing implantation, not conception) as secondary effects. Many of us also speak in a derogatory fashion about children and how they are an inconvenience, etc. Most of us who are anti-abortion also tend to align ourselves with politicians and parties which are not very "pro-life" after birth, as the accusation goes (e.g. war hawks, pro-death penalty, America first group). 
5. Inconsistent Hard-liners: Most anti-abortion Christians I know would acknowledge that there are cases in which it is difficult to discern the way of Christ. We know that there are some mothers in far away lands who have six malnourished children already, and couldn't feed a seventh if one came along. Should she abort, or should she have the child and risk the child suffering and dying, or the mother dying, and most likely some of the younger kids then as well? Yet for as hard as that situation is, we know that the right thing is not to abort. But when it comes to life saving procedures in the States, like those of ectopic pregnancies, most Christians claim that abortion is the only or most moral choice, since it accomplishes the greatest good (saving one life rather than having two die). I fail to see a moral distinction between the Foreign and American cases, except that one case we know will never happen to us or anyone we know, and in the other case we recognize that we or someone we know will have that happen, or has had that happen. We're good at maintaining a seemingly sympathetic, yet hard-line moral stance on distant hypotheticals, yet we hedge our bets and insulate ourselves through moral inconsistency from what could be potential hardship for us. Our moral judgments at times (as also with birth control's secondary mechanism preventing implantation), seem to be skewed towards favoring our ease and lack of sacrifice while being immovable on the sacrifices others ought to make. That inconsistency indicates to me that we either need to be more lax on our moral positions towards those in different situations, or we need to be more stringent in our personal applications. I don't think you can have it both ways and maintain moral honesty and integrity. 

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