I love this pair of pictures! In the first a 21-weeks-in-the-womb Samuel Armas, having undergone in utero surgery to help with spina bifida, extends a hand outside the womb. The doctor touches the palm, which stimulates the grasping reflex. It certainly was not one human shaking the hand of another, yet it seems impossible to avoid calling this human contact, beautiful human contact.
On the right is another picture of Samuel, a few years older but obviously still enjoying human contact, not not in his mother’s womb but in her embrace.
I try hard to see both sides in a debate (a habit developed on my debate team on school where I had to argue for both sides during a tournament). So I pay careful attention when people talk about women’s rights in the area of abortion. I hear and truly appreciate their perspective and agree with most of what they say.
But I confess to having two problems with the pro-abortion position. First, I’ve known too many women for whom their abortion was not in fact the fruit of agonizing thought so much as simple fear that somebody will disapprove of them having a baby out of wedlock. Such a motive is less common now because fewer people seem to care whether the mother is married or now. We solved the problem — as we often do these days — by lowering our standards. I think that is a mistake if only because the life of a single mother is extremely difficult. But I also think that our “new” attitude toward sex outside marriage is not serving us any better than drinking salt water serves to ease one’s thirst. My observation is that people are lonelier than ever.
My second and most important reservation about abortion is that, looking for both sides of an issue, I find that pro-abortion folk don’t have two sides to their thinking. The side that is missing is the baby’s! The most common way, history teaches, to engage in genocide to is dehumanize the enemy. Jew aren’t fully human, said Hitler, so we must get rid of them. The unborn, so the argument goes, aren’t truly human yet, so there is no moral reason to refrain from killing them.
Samuel Armas and I can’t comprehend that at all. When did little Sammy become human? When he as born? How do you know that? Seriously, how do you know that? Some say or imply that, because all this is the private responsibility of the mother, little Sammy because a human when his mother said so. But Sammy and I can’t see that either. If you believe it, how do you know? Answer me, okay? And while you’re explaining that to me, maybe you could take a moment to show me how that is different from Hitler deciding that the Jews weren’t human? I can’t seem to figure out the difference.
I try always to be as liberal as I can but my central commitments are to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and, as part of that first priority, to be biblical in thought, word, and deed. That keeps me from of the more extreme forms of liberal thinking. Among other things, that makes me look at those pictures of Samuel Armas and say we’re looking at a precious human being as he is being formed in the image of God. I like both pictures of Sammy equally well as portraits of what it means to be human.