The political discussion surrounding an issue labeled “reproductive rights” carefully avoids what most political discussions avoid: truth.
The discussion labeled “reproductive rights” is not about reproduction at all. This discussion is about not reproducing. The USA is full of people who do not want to reproduce, and we have the statistics to prove it. The political discussion labeled “reproductive rights” is about the fact that many, many people in the USA do not want children.
The lengths to which they will go to avoid having children appears to have no limit.
- They will take drugs to prevent ovulation.
- They will take drugs to prevent implantation.
- They will take drugs to kill the embryo that managed to come to life despite all the other drugs.
- They will abort fetuses that cannot survive outside the womb.
- They will abort fetuses that can survive outside the womb using methods that assure the fetus will not survive.
- They are beginning to advocate that parents have the right to do away with post-born children that displease them.
Activists for “reproductive rights” ask why anybody objects to any of this behavior. They ask, doesn’t a woman have the right to control her own body?
The answer to that question is “yes.” Emphatically “yes.” A woman does have the right to control her own body. A woman can refuse to engage in sexual activity that might lead to the fertilization of an egg in her body. There are certainly situations where that control is wrested from a woman by men whose drive toward sexual climax leads them to assault a woman, but those situations are statistically very rare and can be dealt with as abnormal exceptions to the affirmation that every woman can say “no.”
The one contraceptive that works without exception, every time it is used, is abstinence. This contraceptive is available at no charge to any adult human being by saying the word “no.” With that word, a woman can assert and confirm that she is in control of her body, or a man can do the same. Men also have the right to choose to abstain. Adult humans of either gender can say “no” and abstain from actions that might lead to the conception of a new human being.
The use of drugs and devices and abortions are all statements that an adult human’s body is controlling the human being; the human being is not controlling his or her body. The point of drugs and devices and abortion is that adults, both men and women, have sexual desires, needs, urges, even demands, that they do not want to resist. The subject of “reproductive rights” is about evading reproduction while continuing to engage in sexual activity that is likely to end in reproduction.
There is nothing inherently wrong with sexual activity, just as there is nothing wrong with choosing not to reproduce. There is a lot wrong with doing anything at the expense of the human being one has reproduced. Babies, even babies without faces, babies who have not matured to a point where they could speak, or even think a thought to be expressed as speech, babies at every developmental level, are human beings.
Sometimes discussions of rape or incest or marriage or divorce become entangled in the discussions of “reproductive rights.” . Those issues are related, but not central. The central issue best stated in two questions:
Does an adult human being have the right to control his or her own body?
Will an adult human being exercise the right to control his or her own body?
An adult human being certainly does have the right, indeed, he or she has the obligation, to control his or her own body. An adult is in control of his or her body when that adult makes a choice about sexual activity consistent with that adult’s intent to reproduce or not to reproduce. An adult is controlled by his or her body when the decision about bearing children is deferred until after that adult’s sexual activity has resulted in the conception of a human being.
Related but peripheral questions are:
- May an adult human being delay pregnancy and childbirth for a time in order to pursue a career? YES. (It is not necessary to murder unborn children in order to achieve this goal.)
- Does society have the right to impose on an adult human being the obligation to conceive, bear and rear children? NO (Society may not require any adult human being to conceive children. However, after an adult has engaged in activity that results in the conception of a human being, society has a right to expect that the responsible adult will take responsibility for the well-being of the child that was conceived.)
- Does society have the right to impose on an adult human being a prohibition against conceiving, bearing and rearing children? NO (Society may not forbid an adult human being from conceiving children. What society does have a right to expect is that adult human beings will control their bodies and take responsibility for rearing the children they do conceive.)
- Doesn’t an adult human being have the right never to be saddled with children if he or she does not want any? YES (It is not necessary to murder unborn children in order to achieve this goal. It is necessary for the adult human being to control his or her body.)
- Does an adult human being have the right to kill an unborn human being that is the result of the voluntary choice by the adult to engage in sexual activity that could lead to the conception of that unborn human being? NO (To kill a human being who exists because an adult made a mistake is to commit murder.)
- Does an adult human being have the right to kill a post-born human being under the age of 0 days? 1 day? 1 year? 3years? whose existence is a problem for that adult human being? NO (To kill a human being of any age is to commit murder.)
The Founders of the USA knew that life is God’s most precious gift to human beings. They wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” Life is an unalienable right, and the right to life is one of the reasons that murder is a crime not subject to a statute of limitations. The right to life is so important that protecting it is one reason for the existence of human government. The person who murders another human being knows that he is guilty and subject to arrest and prosecution no matter how much time has passed since the murder. No matter the age or skin color or ethnicity or political persuasion of the victim. Murder is a crime.
Only legal subterfuge by playing with language permits the murder of an unborn baby to be treated any differently than the murder of a twenty-year-old college student. Legal language says that murder is a crime against a person, and the legal term person has a definition not equivalent to the definition of human being. Because our founding documents assert that life is an unalienable right, endowed by the Creator, every law based on a definition of the word person as something different from a human being is actually in error. It is illegitimate, based on the Declaration of Independence, to treat any human being as something less than human, because every human being has the right to life.
The Declaration calls on a still higher power, the Creator, by which the authors of the Declaration of Independence meant God, the God who created the universe. Yet, even if they could be accused of making up God, they could not be accused of making up a right to life. God writes certain truths in the human heart at the moment of creation. Human beings know that certain things are right and others are wrong. This is a fact observed by anthropologists worldwide. Whether one believes that this knowledge originated with God or is simply part of the evolved nature of human beings, it is still the case that human beings all recognize the unique value of human life. Slave-holding societies don’t thrive on a belief that human slaves are worth less than other humans; they shut down their consciences that tell them slavery is wrong by declaring the slaves to be less than human. This subterfuge is the legal equivalent to declaring a fetus not to be a person, and therefore not entitled to human rights.
Secular thinkers proudly declare themselves to be protectors of human rights, even though they deny any divine origin for their values. It is not necessary to acknowledge the existence of God in order to observe that humans inherently recognize the right to life. It is the foundation of human society. The vast amounts of time, energy, and treasure devoted to the protection of life would not exist. The family itself crosses all tribal and ethnic boundaries, as a core protection for human life. If not for the inborn human value for life, nobody would try to find cures for diseases. There would be no Band-Aids or aspirin or heart transplants. Human beings inherently know that the value of a human life is beyond measure. Humans regard it as the ultimate dehumanization to put a price on a life—as in cases of slavery or hired assassins. It is this inborn understanding that makes it necessary in a secular mind to distinguish between a human being and a person.
Every human being has a right to life, just as every man and woman has a right to control his or her own body and sexual activity. Every adult human being has the right to say NO to sexual activity, but no human being has the right to say NO to human life. The unborn baby is a human life, from the moment of conception. The human egg produced in the body of a human woman can only be fertilized by a human sperm produced in the body of a human man, and the consequence of that fertilization is a human being.
Christians believe that God himself creates each human being, which means that, for Christians, there is another dimension in which the issues of life and reproduction are discussed. Christians read the story of God’s creation of human beings and discern his activity in the conception of each human being. Christians treasure the biblical image where God “breathed into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). For Christians the issue of the sanctity of life transcends anybody’s personal rights, because a human being is created not only with the God-given right to life, but also with a God-given purpose in God’s created order of things. God has plans for this person. When we argue the right to life with secular thinkers in the public forum, we must speak the language they understand, but in our hearts and minds, we see the whole issue in a much larger perspective. The right to life in time and space has standing in an eternal and infinite context.
To assert a human being’s right to life in a political discussion is to engage in a conversation with people from all points of view. It is a godly work to stand for God’s gift of life and to speak from a godly worldview. It is equally godly to recognize that God created all the participants in that conversation. The person who speaks most vehemently in favor of murdering unwanted children is, nevertheless, created by God. God breathed his breath into that person and loved that person into being. Our discourse on behalf of the right of every human being to life itself must include respectful recognition that God created the opponent in the argument also.
Christians must engage in this discussion remembering that the real enemy is Satan, not the person enslaved by Satan’s lies. Our testimony to the love of God for all people must include his love for those who adamantly reject everything we say. We must copy the model Jesus gave us on the cross when he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image: courtesy of Phototgraphy by Shaeree :
License: CC BY-NC