There has been lots of debate in my new state of Victoria about new abortion laws that were been debated by the parliament. In the last few days they were passed by both houses of the Victorian parliament (see here). There have been strong reactions in the lead up to this bill been debated on both sides of the debate (pro-choice and pro-life). It is an emotional issue... it is easy to understand why.

What do these laws mean? They legalise abortion. As far as I'm aware a woman is now able to get an abortion for any reason up to 24 weeks (that's 6 months in). A 6 month fetus looks like this...

It seems difficult to me to argue that those 6 month old unborn fetus' aren't people. They look like little people to me. In fact, I'm led to believe that babies born 6 months premature can survive with close medical attention.

Another feature of these laws is that a nine month old unborn baby can be aborted with the consent of two doctors. A nine month old unborn baby looks like this...

Very human like in my opinion! In fact, I think that I was born about 3ish weeks premature, meaning I was close to being 8 months in the womb. I never made it to this stage before I was born... what's more is everyone reading this blog made it at least to 9 months. All of you could be legally aborted with the consent of two doctors now.

This is an emotive issue. But these are the two competing issues as I see it.

1. The right for a woman to chose
Australia is a Liberal Democracy. Libieraelism is concerned with preserving individual rights and maximizing freedom of choice for the individual. As a rule, Government should not restrict individual rights or choice. Democracy confuses Liberalism a bit because it opens up the possibility for the majority to abuse the rights of the minority. That is why we have courts and a constitution for example, which separate power and are aimed at protecting individuals rights being abused by the majority in power. As a general rule, I like the idea that Government's should be concerned with providing security which allows me to make whatever choices I chose. That is why I can chose to be a Christian and go to church and tell others about Jesus.

It is from this sort of perspective, I assume, that 'pro-choice' advocates approach the abortion debate. Governemnt should not, in their view restrict the rights or ability to chose that a woman has.

This leads to a number of issues which are under my second major competing issue.

2. The rights of the fetus
To figure out your answer to this question, you need to figure out what a fetus is. Clearly it is has the potential to become a human. Is it a human? Does it have the same rights as born humans? Those photos of a 6 month and 9 month fetus make the baby look very much like a human to me. So clearly this leads us to asking another question... What is a human? Do we define human by looks? Or by something else? Perhaps we define it by characteristics... like self-reliance, or self awareness, the ability to think critically... But then I think we would have to be prepared to 'abort' this...
So defining what is a human and when it has rights seems to be a matter of drawing an arbitrary line somewhere. Do you draw it at birth? Or at some point during pregnancy when the fetus looks more like a baby than a blob? Or at conception? I can't see how using man made humanistic categories this debate could ever be settled in a properly rational way.

What does God say about what makes a human human? Genesis tells us that we are human because God created us that way. When do we become a human? Psalm 139:13 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Which suggests to me that we must say that human life begins in the womb... probably at conception.

Baby v Mother
So what about when the rights of two human beings compete? This is complex for the humanistic liberalist! They seem to solve it in the case of abortion by not treating the fetus as a human. But I'm yet to see their category for coming to such a conclusion well articulated. I can certainly sympathise with someone who is faced with the choice of having an abortion or facing a very dangerous pregnancy which could lead to that woman's death.

A Christian Response...
This leads me to one of my main problems with the Christian response to this bill. We are in danger in becoming non-pastoral in our debate. By this I mean we are having an emotional debate about something as though it were just intellectual, and by doing this we could well be placing barries to the Gospel in front of hurting could-have-been mothers because they hear nothing but judgment from us. In saying this, I am in no way advocating silence on the matter. But I am led to wonder if we leave grace out of our abortion debates? It is one thing to strongly articulate your oppostion to a parliamentry bill. To advocate good reasons why the bill is not a good idea. But it is another thing to give way to our emotions and start calling people murderers.

I have heard a number of prayers which have labelled this bill murderous. I think that God does not like abortion, but He loves people who've had one. I believe he knows their pain and cries with them, he knows their brokeness and longs to heal them. And as Christians, he has given us the wonderful privellge of being messengers of this news to these hurting could-have-been mothers. We need to remember that having an abortion is sin, just like living for stuff, or lying, or being sexually perverted is sinful. They are all symptoms of people living against God. An abortion doesn't make someone more or less saved or unsaved. And when a person who has had an abortion asks Jesus to become a Christian their prayer only needs to be like any other person, "forgive me for living my own way and help me to live Your way." Not, "sorry for living my own way and having an abortion, please help me to live Your way."

I'm not angry that this bill has been passed. I'm sad that it was ever proposed. I'm sad that it got past, but I'm left to wonder, does it ultimately affect Christians primary responsibility? (which I take to be bringing the Gospel to the world). And I have to answer no. Just because parliament legalised abortion doesn't mean we can't preach the Gospel, doesn't mean we can't run free counselling services, doesn't mean we can't help people through a very emotional and tough time for them. It doesn't mean I deal differently with the girl in my youth ministry who's had an abortion or with the Christian kid who is getting picked on at school, or the boy with self-esteem problems. And it doesn't change their need to know Jesus or my ability to pray for them, rebuke them and encourage them.

So, I hope none of you have had an abortion. But if you have. I hope you come to know the love and forgiveness available to you in Jesus. Forgiveness that you need, not because you had an abortion, but because you have lived life your own way, not God's way. I can't even begin to imagine the emotional turmoil that you might have felt in coming to your decision, or after your decision. I can't imagine what it would be like to feel alone and feel trapped with a pregnancy. But God does. I hope that I am helpful to your recovery, not a barrier. I'm sorry that Christians (myself included) have made you feel judged, without knowing the first thing about you. God knows you, and I hope I can help you discover the God of this world, the God who made you and who loves you.