Is this the beginnings of a pro-life spring in the midst of winter? You may have heard that Gov. John Kasich has signed legislation banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Gov. Kasich’s abortion ban is highly apropos around this Christmas time of year. Not only are we celebrating the birth of the Christ child, the Savior of the world, but we have to remember that every 28th and 29th of December in the Western and Eastern churches respectively, the Slaughter of the Innocents is commemorated. Matthew’s Gospel records Herod, having been deceived by the Magi on the location of the Christ child, ordering the massacre of every child in Bethlehem under the age of two. The commemoration reminds us that Christ was born to die a death that vanquishes death itself, and robs the graves of the lives that were lost.
And yet, we continue to have proponents of infanticide, detractors of this thoroughly reasonable ban, we have to remember that the U.S. is one of only seven countries that allow abortions after 20 weeks. We have a radical abortion policy that is perpetuated by radicals who seem to have lost all touch with even the remotest of Christian frames of reference.
Christian cultures are by definition pro-life cultures. Christian cultures are rooted in the salvation of the world through the conception and birth of a child. In fact, this was historically celebrated every March 25th in the Feast of the Annunciation commemorating the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary.
The earliest extant post-biblical church order, the Didache (c. 100 AD), prohibits the murdering of a child by abortion or killing a newborn infant (chapter 2). Among the canons approved at the Council of Ancyra in 314 AD is the prohibition against abortifacients or abortion inducing drugs; Canon 91 of the Council of Trullo equates abortion with murder. The second canon of St. Basil advocates the punishment of murder for those who commit abortion. We can go on and on; the church has consistently held that abortion was a violation of the sanctity of human life.
Now, of course, this Christian vision of life has been eclipsed of late by a secularized globalist conception of the world and the human person. And there are several reasons for this.
First, beginning in the nineteenth century, the state began to replace the church as the primary social institution that defined and certified marriage. For example, the 1836 Act for Marriages in England transferred the legal recognition of marriage away from the Anglican Church and to the civil magistrate. From this point onward, the modern state increasingly replaced the church’s legal jurisdiction over the family.
Secondly, you had the advent of modern contraception in the nineteenth century as well, and it’s through modern contraception that sex and sexuality were increasingly amputated from marital and familial structures. Sex was simply no longer associated with procreation and child rearing. And in many respects, this amputation of sex and sexuality from the family was integral to the rationale behind the Roe v. Wade decision: abortion is simply one among many options constitutive of modern birth control. In other words, if the modern age is in many respects based on modern contraception, and if contraception fails, there has to be a backup. And as contraception has amputated sex from fertility, so in vitro fertilization has amputated fertility from sex.
And then, thirdly, you have the amputation of personhood from human biology. While Christianity maintains a unity between soul and body, personhood and biology, the advent of modern science began to see a difference between personhood and biology. From a purely scientific perspective, personhood is simply not identifiable with genetic constitution. While a human cell is human life, it hardly resembles a human being let alone a human person. There seems to be a clear distinction between the biological, chemical, and genetic processes that comprise a human life and the constitutive elements of human personhood. And so it became common place for secular ethicists to locate personhood in the ability to will, desire, or choose, the capacity to volitionally act. When an agent is able to choose or select motives for the purpose of effecting certain outcomes, then the agent satisfies the criterion for personhood. Until then, until the human life can exemplify these volitional characteristics, being merely biological and chemical, it has no intrinsic meaning or value apart from that which the mother chooses to impose upon him.
So these are just some of the assumptions and historical permutations behind the most radical abortion policies in the world today and the radical proponents of such policies. Keep in mind these are the kinds of people for whom abortion is so sacred that they would force a convent of nuns to have to pay for contraception and abortifacient coverage. This is how utterly morally sick these people are. And they’re morally sick because there is simply no more dehumanizing practice operative today than abortion. Abortion by definition is dehumanizing, and you have a number of medical ethicists coming out and supporting infanticide after birth, known as post-birth abortions. You had in France the banning of a commercial that celebrated the lives of Downs Syndrome children because it was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.” In other words, it would disturb women who killed their babies who had Downs Syndrome. You have the atheist writer and philosophical illiterate, Richard Dawkins, claiming it is “immoral” to allow unborn babies with Down’s syndrome to live. There is simply no more dehumanizing practice operative today than abortion.
And it does appear that at least in its most radical forms, the practice of abortion is beginning to wane. There are now over 30 states that severely restrict abortion access, and there are now six states with only one abortion clinic. The world is turning away from the barbarism of this inhuman practice, and we can applaud John Kasich of Ohio (though acknowledging his cowardly veto of the Heartbeat bill) for joining what appears the beginning of a pro-life spring.
For more ways of cultivate habits of grace, see my Ebook, Classical vs. Modern Education: A Vision from C.S. Lewis, or watch the video series on classical education here.
Make sure to sign-up on our email list and get your FREE ebook: Devotions at Dawn: Morning Prayers through the Ages.