The Missing Dimension in the Abortion Issue

Understanding the purpose of life sheds light on a controversial question: Is abortion murder, or isn’t it?

What if over a million children were murdered by their parents each year?

What if the parents’ primary reasons for killing their child were that they “couldn’t afford taking care of it,” they “weren’t ready for the responsibility,” or they “didn’t want it”? There would be an outrage. These parents would be prosecuted, jailed, possibly given the death penalty.

It is a fact that every year in the U.S., well over a million babies are killed—in the womb.

That is over a quarter of all unborn children. And a large majority of these deaths occur for the reasons listed above.

Many people do not get upset at that figure because the issue of abortion is hazy in their minds. They would object to considering it “killing a baby”—it is merely a medical procedure, perhaps no more serious than having a tooth pulled.

In fact, abortion is a legally protected right for women in the United States. That means, the U.S. justice system believes they must step in—not to protect unborn children, but to protect a woman’s right to have an abortion. The law clearly demonstrates that many believe there is nothing wrong with abortion.

But what if abortion is murder?

Are those people absolutely sure it isn’t?

What do you think? There is a big difference between a mere “medical procedure” and murder!

The Danger of Uncertainty

Any woman with the choice of whether to get an abortion is faced with an agonizing dilemma. It doesn’t do any good to discuss how “safe” the methods are, or to tell her that it’s an “individual matter.” She needs to know if it is right or wrong.

This is not a matter of opinion. There is a definite correct answer to her dilemma. A fetus is either a separate human being from its mother or it isn’t. There is no middle ground. If it is separate, abortion is an act of ending a person’s life, and therefore murder. We can all agree murder is wrong. That means the person who says abortion is permissible has some serious proving to do. Unless there is absolute proof that at the moment of abortion the fetus is just a part of its mother’s body—like an organ or a growth—then abortion is potentially a murder.

Think about that. If she is uncertain, no woman should just “take a chance” on it!

And yet, such uncertainty resides within most of the medical community and among family-planning counselors! It rests in the minds of the lawmakers who made abortion legal! Yet these are among the very people who will convince women to undergo this procedure.

It was 1973 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. Of the nine judges, seven of them agreed abortion should be legal.

Were those judges absolutely sure abortion is not murder? No, they were not! Read their own words.

In the majority decision, the Supreme Court said, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when an unborn child actually becomes a human person, with a legal right to live.”

They sidestepped this life-and-death issue—passing off responsibility for the monumental consequences of their decision, with this statement: “When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

Since the court made that decision, 36 million babies have been legally killed in the United States. That amounts to well over 10 percent of the current U.S. population.

That is the danger of uncertainty. That is the problem with being uneducated about this issue! By not “speculating as to the answer” of whether abortion is right or wrong, the court did, in fact, make a definite decision affecting millions of mothers, exterminating the lives of millions of unborn people.

When Does Life Begin?

When does human life start? Few people agree on the answer to that question. Is it at the moment of conception? Or some weeks later, when the embryo becomes a fetus? Is it when the fetus is “viable”—meaning it could survive apart from the mother? Or is it only at birth?

Though judges may plead ignorance, there is a specific moment when human life starts!

The problem is, people in general have cut themselves off from the source of knowledge that reveals what that moment is. That source has become the missing dimension in the abortion issue. Ignoring that dimension, people look only to themselves for the answer.

For a moment, let us do the same. What answer does science give us to this important question? We’ll find that, even by this standard, people are standing on very questionable ground in permitting the practice of abortion.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged, science cannot conclusively prove when life starts. But through embryo research, we are learning more all the time. It has been proven that the embryo has a detectable heartbeat, distinct from the mother’s, as early as 18 days after conception. The legal criterion for life is brain waves; those are in evidence at about 7 weeks.

At various points in their development, fetuses respond to pain, they make efforts at breathing, they move spontaneously. They can hear, sleep, become bored or excited, even learn.

The fact is that a clear line as to when the living tissue becomes distinctly identifiable from the parents cannot be scientifically drawn at any point during the gestation—except conception. It is at the moment of conception that the embryo becomes genetically distinct from its mother, with its own individual chromosome construction.

While there is no proof that a fetus is part of its mother at any point during its gestation, there is plenty of evidence to suggest the contrary, even at the earliest moments of development.

As insistent as abortion-rights proponents may be that the embryo is not self-evidently a separate human being, the simple truth is that they cannot support that belief!

Remember, it is not enough to say, “Well, we don’t know for sure, so abortion must be okay”! The issue is too serious to leave to chance.

In the Name of Freedom

In spite of the above facts, the “pro-choice” abortion argument is the prevailing public opinion in the United States. The courts uphold it. The media support it. Even the president defends it, and it is popular with a majority of voters.

Why are they willing to take such a serious chance? Why will they defend, with all their effort, something of lethal risk?

It is all done in the name of “freedom.”

Essentially all discussion defending abortion rights rests on two basic points. One, it is taken for granted that people need “sexual freedom,” because it is supposed that teaching abstinence until marriage is “hopeless.” And two, because pregnancy is a natural result of sex, yet not everyone with sexual freedom is ready for or wants the responsibility of parenthood, people need “reproductive freedom”—the freedom to choose whether a child they have conceived will actually make it to term.

These “freedoms” are considered so important that preserving them is worth the risk of murder.

What these “freedoms” boil down to, however, is plain selfishness!

Defending Abortion

Of course, to free their consciences from any guilt, many people will absolutely not accept the possibility that abortion is murder. They convince themselves that ending a fetal life carries no real moral implications. Doing so, however, puts them in the awkward position of trying to portray abortion as being “not all that bad.”

To depersonalize the fetus, they call it a “potential life,” a “collection of genes”; they use terms like “pre-embryo” and “products of conception.” They say it is propaganda to call it a baby, an unborn child or a person.

They won’t call a woman who has conceived a child a mother. Likewise, abortion is not a life-and-death matter, it is not killing, it is merely “terminating a pregnancy.”

Arguing over terms may change a woman’s attitude toward what is happening inside her, but it doesn’t change reality.

“Pro-choice” advocates stress the need to have compassion for pregnant women unprepared for having children. Ironically, they accuse people who favor making abortion illegal as being uncompassionate. They say that if abortion is not legal, people will still get them—using more dangerous methods. They emphasize cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest; cases where a mother’s life is endangered by her fetus. They cite examples of the distress suffered by unwanted children.

None of these arguments address the issue of whether abortion is fundamentally wrong! They only distract attention away from the real question: Is it murder or isn’t it?


Perhaps even more deceptive is some of the information provided to women looking into the possibility of abortion. In describing abortion methods, counselors stress comfort and safety. Notice this terminology: “After the opening is stretched,

a tube, attached to a suction machine,

is inserted through it into the

uterus. The suction machine is turned on and the uterus is gently emptied” (“How Abortion Is Provided,” In other words, the fetus is “gently” pulled apart so it can “gently” fit through a little tube to be discarded!

Those who call themselves “pro-choice” won’t stand for being labeled “pro-abortion.” That is because no one is “for” abortion. No amount of sugar-coating can cover up this fact: Abortion is a gruesome, bloody act.

How are abortions performed? The method used depends on how long a woman has been pregnant. The more developed the fetus, the more difficult, dangerous and ugly the procedure becomes. These operations are horrible to think about. But just what does a woman face when she is presented the choice of “ending her pregnancy”? What is being protected by current abortion laws?

Very early, the fetus can be removed with a syringe, or drugs can be used to make the uterus inhospitable; later, the dead embryo simply passes from the woman. By 6-14 weeks, surgical methods are required. These usually involve dilating (widening) the cervix and using various instruments (suction tubes, pliers- or spoon-like tools) to dismember and evacuate the fetus. After about 12 weeks the bones and skull have become calcified, and the procedure involves snapping the spine and crushing the skull so it will fit through the cervix. The “partial birth” abortion method, which is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court to determine its legality, involves pulling the baby’s body out by one leg with large forceps, forcing a “breech” birth but keeping its head in the birth canal, then piercing the head at the base of the skull and suctioning its brain tissue, which collapses the skull; the dead baby is then removed.

What is the effect on the women who undergo such operations—and particularly on the doctors and nurses who perform them routinely?

The Fruits of Abortion

It is natural for a pregnant mother to have tremendous feelings for the child growing in her womb—to want to take care of it, nourish it, make certain that no harm comes to it.

But our culture has bombarded us with messages that what is at stake is not a life, it is just a choice. “Choosing to end a pregnancy is a right. No one can tell a woman what to do with her body,” we hear.

As a result, those natural feelings are often overwhelmed by thoughts of, Is this baby convenient? Can I afford it? Am I ready for this? The problem is, those are considerations which should have been seriously examined before conception! That is when the real “choice” should be taking place.

The Planned Parenthood website, in answering the question, “How does abortion affect women emotionally?”, gives this response: “The emotion most women experience after an abortion is relief. Because of the abrupt hormonal changes caused by abortion, some women experience short-term anger, regret, guilt or sadness. After abortion most women who feel a brief sadness or other negative feeling recover very quickly.” The author of that answer doesn’t even consider the possibility of remorse over the death of a future child—no, any anger, regret, guilt or sadness would be a result of “hormonal changes”!

If that is true, those women have simply lost their natural emotions toward the child in their womb—feelings every woman should have.

In many men and women today, natural affection is gone! “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”

(ii Tim. 3:1-4; see also Rom. 1:31).

How else can you explain doctors being so willing to perform such grisly operations, and women being willing to undergo them—usually for selfish reasons? It is in the midst of this culture of abortion that you find women willing to abandon newborn babies in dumpsters and other such shockingly unfeeling acts.

In addition to deadening our sense of life’s preciousness, abortion encourages irresponsibility. Many young men and women, for example, if they knew they would have to accept and live up to the responsibilities of parenthood—and truly understood those responsibilities—would be much more particular about avoiding pregnancy.

Abortion-rights advocates will mock the idea, but it is a fact: Simply following God’s law against sex outside of marriage would end the need for a majority of abortions. Abortion is a terribly high price to pay for a failure to exercise self-control in this important aspect of life.

To this point, we haven’t answered our fundamental question. Is abortion murder? The world willingly admits they don’t know the answer. But there is a right answer, and we need not be ignorant!

The Missing Dimension

Realize, a crime is a violation of a man-made law. A sin is a violation of the higher law of Almighty God (i John 3:4).

We saw that the people who made the abortion law revealed their ignorance as to whether or not abortion violated God’s law. Such ignorance shows that something can be “legal” and still be a sin.

Lawmakers have taken unto themselves the prerogative of deciding whether, how and when killing the unborn is “legal.” But God already decided this issue! Did they for one moment think to consult Him?

Who, after all, has given life? God did that.

Who gave the command, “Thou shalt not murder”? (that is the accurate translation of Exodus 20:13). God did! Only God can determine when ending a life is murder.

So what does God say on this matter?

In the article “The Miracle of Life” (p. 20), we showed how the process of human conception, development and birth compares exactly to the potential begettal, development and final birth of man as a spirit being in God’s family.

That remarkable understanding is the missing dimension—it supplies the answer we need! Because the physical process of embryonic development is an exact type of the spiritual process, we may ask, at what point does spiritual life begin? If we know the answer to that question, we know the answer to the other.

Spiritual life begins when the human spirit of a person is united with the Holy Spirit of God. The moment God imparts a small measure of His Holy Spirit (typed by the male sperm cell) into a person (after baptism), that person is “begotten” of God the Father. Then begins the process of gestation and growth over the person’s lifetime which, unless it is somehow terminated, will finally result in their being born as a spirit being.

When did that spiritual life begin? At the moment of spiritual conception. Life begins at conception.

The “educated” of this world would reject the comparison, because they hold spiritual understanding in prejudiced contempt. But we have God’s answer to our question!

Here is the way Herbert Armstrong put it in his book Mystery of the Ages (which we will send you, free, upon request): “The human spirit enters the human embryo at conception. It is this spirit that may, upon adult conversion, be united with the Holy Spirit from the great Creator God, impregnating that human with God-life as a child of the Living God, in a state of gestation, though as yet unborn. To destroy an embryo or a fetus in a mother’s uterus is to murder a potential future God Being.

“Therefore, abortion is murder” (p. 110).

An Incredible Potential

The facts, when you understand them, are actually wonderfully inspiring. God endowed men and women with creative power to generate new human life. At the moment of conception, a beautiful process is set in motion which, most likely, will one day have an awesome conclusion: a spiritual birth into God’s family! No animal has such an opportunity—only humankind!

Any means by which people cut off that human life demonstrates a pitiable ignorance—a lack of true education—about the purpose for human life and the incredible potential bound up within it.

Don’t make the same mistake. Get educated! Study to deeply understand why you were born and what God purposes for you! Begin your process of spiritual development! You will begin to know true life as you’ve never known it before!