Abortion Is Not a Complex Moral Issue

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 04/20/2013

Alan’s monthly letter for January 2008

Dear Friend,

Emotional? Yes. Controversial? Yes. Complex? Not really. Abortion is a straightforward issue. There’s only one question to resolve for both sides of the debate. Once answered, the only option is to do the right thing.

This January 22nd marks the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton, abortion’s landmark cases responsible for making abortion choice legal in the U.S. As a result of these two Supreme Court decisions, each day an average of 3,500 unborn children are killed.

Many believers are eager to step up to turn the tide on abortion, but are paralyzed by the fear of delving into a complex mess of peripheral issues. I understand. It’s hard to be prepared to address every issue related to abortion. But you don’t have to.

You can engage someone in a meaningful conversation about abortion and not have to worry about every possible side issue. The key is to focus on the one question that matters: What is the unborn?

The answer to this question trumps all other considerations.

If the unborn is not a human being, then no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human being, then no justification for abortion is adequate.

It’s simple. If we’re not talking about a human being, then you don’t have to give any reason to have an abortion. It’s like having your appendix removed. No big deal. Have the abortion.

However, if the unborn is a human being, then there’s no reason one can offer to have an abortion because it kills an innocent human being. The unborn’s right to life trumps unwantedness, financial hardship, the freedom to choose, the right to privacy, or any other reason given to have an abortion.

Once this moral framework is in place, one need only to answer the question, What is the unborn? Part of my bioethics work with Stand to Reason involves training Christians to answer this question from both a scientific and philosophical perspective. I equip them to give a substantive answer in any amount of time—in 10 minutes or 10 seconds—so they can make a contribution given almost any circumstances.

However, I would be remiss to not address two concerns you might have. First, I do believe abortion should be allowed in the rare instance that the mother’s life is in danger. Both the mother and the child would die otherwise. It is for the greater good to save one person than allow two people to die.

Second, while I believe abortion is morally simple, it can be emotionally complex. The decision for a woman faced with the option of abortion is anything but straightforward. There are many factors that can cloud her judgment or influence her to make a wrong decision. So I’m sensitive to the reality of decisions involving abortions and recognize they can be extremely trying. We need to come alongside mothers and support them both emotionally and physically.

Having said that, the abortion debate remains morally straightforward. The evidence is on our side. I am hopeful that our country will see a major shift on its policy on abortion in our lifetime.

Thank you for partnering with me. It is a great encouragement to have you support this important training. With the upcoming presidential election, Christians will have more chances to dialogue about abortion. Because of this training, they will be less likely to get sidetracked with tangential issues and will be more effective at staying focused in their conversation.

I will be equipping more Christians this next year to defend their pro-life views anywhere, with anyone, and in any time-frame. My bioethics work will be centered on teaching Christians to graciously articulate their pro-life view in a persuasive manner. Your gifts make this possible. Thank you for playing a critical role in defending the unborn.

Grateful for your support,

Alan Shlemon