Category: Abortion

QLD Votes: A matter of life and death

It’s easy for Christians (along with the wider public) to be fed up with the state of politics in Queensland and Australia more broadly. With contentious postal surveys about the redefinition of marriage, a political crisis over widespread ineligibility of MPs to sit in Parliament and lacklustre leaders on both sides of the divide at the state and federal level, it’s difficult to participate in the political process with confidence that things will get better.

But it’s essential that we think carefully about how to vote at the QLD state election in two weeks time, as the outcome may literally be a matter of life and death for thousands of vulnerable Queenslanders…

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When controversial former Labor MP for Cairns Rob Pyne failed to get his changes to abortion law in Queensland through the Parliament earlier this year, the government made a concerning pledge. The ALP promised to refer the laws concerning abortion in the state Criminal Code to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) for review if it won the next election (i.e. the one we’re having this month). While the QLRC’s recommendations cannot be anticipated with certainty it is fairly clear, from a political point of view, that the government hopes to have member of the legal community do their dirty work for them in paving the way for decriminalisation of abortion.

This means that should the Palaszczuk government be re-elected later this month, it is highly likely that it will attempt to fully legalise abortion in Queensland in the next term of parliament.

Ominously, the Premier called the election immediately after disowning the most outspokenly pro-life member of her government, Pumicestone MP Rick Williams. Whatever Mr. Williams’ personal faults may prove to be as further details come to light, he has certainly been active in opposing moves in the Parliament to make abortion more acceptable in Queensland and even joined other MPs in leading a March for Life parade through Brisbane earlier this year.

This means that in re-elected Labor government, the voices against liberalising abortion laws will be even softer than in this term of parliament. While the Premier and the Attorney-General do not appear to be rabid proponents of abortion-on-demand, they are also not willing to speak out against it when it is pushed for by members of the (increasingly dominant) Left faction of Queensland Labor, led by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. This means that should the QLRC recommend abortion be decriminalised in Queensland, Ms. Trad and her allies will push for it so strongly that it will become government policy and eventually become law.

If abortion becomes decriminalised in Queensland, it will remove what little safeguards against it are currently enshrined in our legal system and these lethal procedures will be able to take place more easily, with the doctors who perform them becoming free from any fears of legal punishment for unjustifiably destroying a human life.

Put simply, more vulnerable, unborn children in Queensland will die if the dominant Left faction in Labor gets its way.  

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So what is the alternative? Sadly in Queensland at the moment the options are not great. The LNP has a leader that leaves a lot to be desired and who is hardly a champion for the lives of those his political opponents would happily sacrifice to further their ideology. Liberal/National MPs in Queensland have at best supported the status quo (which allows abortions to occur in many circumstances), rather than advocating much needed reform to prevent abortion-on-demand from occurring. But they deserve some credit for putting up a united front to the changes Mr. Pyne proposed in the last parliament and were instrumental in seeing his bill defeated.

In my own electorate, the newly minted Maiwar, I have no real pro-life option to support with my vote. The ALP candidate Ali King is a pro-abortionist who is bankrolled by Emily’s List (an organisation which supports women getting elected to Parliament if they agree to push a particular agenda which includes voting in favour of abortion at every turn). She has also signed the pledge being promoted by “Fair Agenda” that commits candidates to voting to decriminalise abortion, as has the Greens candidate for this electorate, Michael Berkman.

Meanwhile, Scott Emerson (who would likely be Treasurer in an LNP government) is our LNP candidate, but he too is in favour of abortions occurring legally (the only difference is that he is more moderate in his support than the other two candidates). This leaves only an independent candidate who supports a direct democracy approach (i.e. electors express their wishes on a particular bill online and the MP votes on it in accordance with the will of the electorate) who provides any possible alternative to the candidates that support the killing of unborn children.

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Do you know where your candidates stand on this important issue of life and death? If you intend to vote for the ALP in two weeks’ time – are you sure that your local candidate would be a voice in the party room in defense of the right to life of unborn Queenslanders? If you aren’t, can I plead with you not to give them your first preference.

If you intend to vote for the LNP, are you confident that your local candidate will contribute to shifting this party’s position more in favour of supporting life and not weakening its already lacking stance? If not, please consider voting for someone else if you can find a pro-life candidate.

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I can’t enthusiastically or wholeheartedly support the LNP, but I do wholeheartedly oppose the ALP and Greens as parties with policy commitments that threaten the basic right to life of our most vulnerable citizens. There are many reasons to be disillusioned about the prospect of a Nicholls government, but they would be unlikely to pursue this agenda the way a re-elected government appears to be committed to doing. But any government where the likes of Jackie Trad and Steven Miles have significant policy influence is a real and present danger to the lives of thousands of children conceived in Queensland every year.

So whoever you decide to vote for this month, please don’t give your support to a candidate or party that is committed to the erosion of what little legal protection we have left for our unborn citizens. If you need help finding out where your candidates stand, please let me know and I’ll do what I can to assist with your inquiries.

Let’s vote for a Queensland where the sacred dignity of all human life is taken seriously.

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Against Extremist Violence at home

Thousands of people have died in Australia in the past 12 months as a result of extremist violence. They were ruthlessly slaughtered because of an insidious ideology that encourages its followers to see themselves as more human than their victims. Like so many extremists around the world and throughout history, the malicious, militant crusaders responsible for these deaths are prepared to redefine some sections of society as “subhuman”; blame them for perceived problems they apparently cause; and promote their destruction as an acceptable part of advancing their ideological cause and achieving their ultimate goals.

While many western nations retain their smug sense of moral superiority for not stooping to the depraved lows of the Nazi regime – while waging wars against the religiously fanatical enemies of humanity and exterminators of vulnerable minorities and dissident voices in the Middle East – they ignore the bloody barbarism being carried on in secret at home.

The killing of defenseless, unborn children by extreme feminists, sexual revolutionaries and Doctors-without-Ethics should disturb and outrage us in much the same way that the dehumanising and extermination of Jews, Romani, homosexuals in the Third Reich and the same treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria has for so many.

An ideology that knowingly promotes the destruction of innocent human life is evil and must be rejected outright.
An ideology that elevates the rights and personhood of some members of the human race to such heights and denigrates those of others to such lows that it entitles and empowers the former group to exercise godlike powers of life and death over the latter group is poisonous.

But instead of repudiating such a deadly philosophy and set of values, the way we have with fascism and militant Islam, the fools of the West have embraced the selfish, hyper-individualistic, post-Enlightenment package that expresses itself in the extreme forms of feminism and sexual revolutionism that create ludicrous abstractions to justify the murder of innocent human beings.

Abortion as an expression of unfettered individualism; or the supposedly indisputable exercise of supreme, autonomous female rights; or the glory of the revolution that announced a new era of sex-free-of-biological-and social-consequences – is utterly reprehensible. All of these are hideous mutations, of the legitimate rights and freedoms of some, into tyrannical monstrosities that attack and devour a more fundamental right of others.

The freedom to choose the course of your life, make decisions about your health, body and sexual relationships are all contingent on the right of members of the human race to be recognised as persons of value whose lives must be afforded the full protection of the law. If you support the stripping of that fundamental right from others simply to advance the degree to which some of us may enjoy the secondary, contingent right – you are supporting a great evil.

Have all the freedom you want; Exercise all the rights you want; Use your body however you want (as far as the law is concerned) – to the extent that your enjoyment of these things does not become a basis for the destruction of human life. Supporting the killing of human babies so that you can live out your dream of sexual, self-actualisation or so ethically-challenged doctors can apply for what they’ve mistakenly thought was a job vacancy for divine arbitrator over life and death – is simply wrong.

Contemporary attitudes to abortion contravene the theological conviction that all humans are created in the image of God and thus have intrinsic dignity, value and essential equality of personhood. It defies the truism that “All men are created equal” that has stood behind so much positive change in society in the past few centuries. It invalidates the West’s commitment to humanism, by loosening the meaning of what it means to be authentically human with all the associated rights. It is gangrenous to the Western principles of justice – as no legal system can retain its integrity while it affirms the unjustified deprivation of such a fundamental right from some subjects or citizens.

Our societies look back with deep regret on the days when they regarded the Black Man as a subhuman, n****r, more suited to slavery than citizenship; or as uncivilised natives – somewhere between real people and livestock when it came to the census. But while the N-word is heard less often than the F-word in 21st century society due to its highly offensive nature – it’s fine to speak of unborn human beings as a “lump of cells” with relative impunity.
Proponents of abortion may as well use a phrase like “pigger” (from “pink” and “n****r”) – because they are using words to dehumanise babies in much the same way that whites justified their mistreatment of black people by using dehumanising terms to describe them (plus, “pigger” sounds like “pig” which fits the narrative that they’re not talking about a real human here).

Our societies look back on the regimes of the Ottoman Turks, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot with horror over their utter disregard for human rights in their pursuit of order and reform as they created their ‘ideal societies.’ But for all the trumpeting of human rights and shouting “never again” to such atrocities – we tolerate and even embrace ideological premises that produce the same kind of evil. Real human beings are being exterminated in a misguided quest to “get rid of the problem” and make society better.

Whether or not future societies look back on our acquiescence to evil with the same contempt we often hold for previous generations is of secondary concern. Far more important is that we stop this evil as soon as possible and expose it for the hideous  package of murder and lies that it is. Because even if future generations are forgiving towards our societal tolerance and promotion of evil – the Almighty God will not forgive Australia and other nations for this evil unless we acknowledge it for what it is, ensure it ceases and plead for His mercy. Because the Lord-who-gives-Life’s judgement of this violent extremism will be a thousand times worse than that of historians.

A Child’s not a Person – when the Law is an Ass

The Queensland Parliamentary Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee continues its inquiry into our State’s abortion laws. Please continue to pray for an outcome that sees the lives of unborn children preserved in Queensland, rather than one that sees the unborn become even more vulnerable.

In reading some of the presentations made by experts to the committee, here, it was no surprise to see legal experts argue for law reform on the basis of the laws pertaining to abortion being outdated and inconsistent with each other. After reading through the relevant articles of the Queensland Criminal Code, I have to agree. The law needs to change, not only because some elements of it are outdated, but because there are some serious inconsistencies between relevant sections. But I don’t agree with the legal experts when it comes to how these issues should be addressed by the Parliament…

Relevant sections of the Criminal Code

The most relevant legislation in the Criminal Code relating to abortion – and the articles Mr Pyne’s bill would completely remove from the Code – are Sections 224-226:

224 Attempts to procure abortion

Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes her to take any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

225 The like by women with child

Any woman who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, or permits any such thing or means to be administered or used to her, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

226 Supplying drugs or instruments to procure abortion

Any person who unlawfully supplies to or procures for any person anything whatever, knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for 3 years.

 

Causing a miscarriage or attempting to, has been a criminal offence since 1899. Many believe this should change, because 21st century community values don’t consider abortion to be something that should be treated criminally. Many others believe abortion must remain a criminal act, due to the seriousness of its nature: it destroys a human life.

On a practical level, the above sections of the code put some level of restraint on how abortions are carried out – but their use as the basis for criminal investigation and prosecution are extremely rare. Court rulings allow an exemption from any criminal guilt in procuring or performing an abortion when an appropriate medical professional believes there is a threat to the mother’s physical or mental health should the pregnancy be allowed to continue. Thus, we might say that abortion is only technically criminal in QLD – a dissatisfying status quo for activists on both sides of the debate, but seemingly a happy medium for successive pragmatic state governments.

But the massive inconsistencies and outdatedness of the law come when we examine other sections of the Queensland Criminal Code. For instance, the Code treats an unborn child as a human being that can be unlawfully killed in Section 313:

 

313 Killing unborn child

(1) Any person who, when a female is about to be delivered of a child, prevents the child from being born alive by any act or omission of such a nature that, if the child had been born alive and had then died, the person would be deemed to have unlawfully killed the child, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for life.

(2) Any person who unlawfully assaults a female pregnant with a child and destroys the life of, or does grievous bodily harm to, or transmits a serious disease to, the child before its birth, commits a crime. Maximum penalty—imprisonment for life.

 

Note how the above section treats the killing of the child about to be delivered with the same seriousness as a child who has been born. The penalty of life imprisonment indicates that the law regards the almost-born-child death as substantially equivalent to the death of a newborn child. Likewise, when a pregnant woman is assaulted and the child’s life is destroyed, the maximum penalty of life imprisonment would suggest that something equivalent to murder has been committed.

The massive inconsistency therefore comes in the Code’s dealings with homicide:

291 Killing of a human being unlawful

It is unlawful to kill any person unless such killing is authorised or justified or excused by law.

292 When a child becomes a human being

A child becomes a person capable of being killed when it has completely proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother, whether it has breathed or not, and whether it has an independent circulation or not, and whether the navel-string is severed or not.

 

It is Section 292 that is outdated and inconsistent with what we saw in Section 313 above. Our law is inconsistent to treat an unborn child’s destruction as judicially equivalent to murder in one section of the Criminal Code, while holding that an unborn child cannot be considered “a person capable of being killed” in another section. If someone hits a pregnant woman’s stomach with a hammer and the unborn child dies, they are guilty of a crime and liable to life imprisonment under Section 313, but they haven’t actually killed a legally recognised “human being” or “person” according to Section 292. And of course, Section 292 completely removes the basis for any argument that abortion is murder under Queensland law – the unborn child is not a “person capable of being killed.”

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The above sections of the Code and abortion

So the abortionist can only be held to account for criminal conduct under sections 224-226 – the very sections Mr Pyne wants removed from the Code – and only if they cause the miscarriage of a pregnancy without having one of the justifying conditions recognised by the Courts. Removing sections 224-226 will mean that killing unborn children through abortion will no longer be a criminal offence, while killing an unborn child through unlawful assault will carry the same potential sentence as murdering a newborn child or adult citizen.

This will not rectify the inconsistency under the law. Either the killing of any unborn child must be regarded as the killing of a human being (per Section 313, contra Section 292) or the killing of any unborn child must not be regarded as the killing of a human being (per Section 292, contra Section 313). Out of the two, it is Section 292 that should be reformed in light of the values expressed in Section 313 (with Sections 224-226 either being changed positively to reflect this or remain as is).

It has been suggested that Section 292 is a very old legal principle, which existed because of the difficulty in legally proving that an unborn child had been alive prior to an action that is alleged to have caused its death. But it is true that medical advancements render such a principle obsolete. With the current state of obstetrics/gynaecology, ultrasound/radiology technology and forensic science – facts that were previously undiscernible beyond reasonable doubt in relation to the child’s living state can far more easily be established. Not only that: but the weight of medical evidence is in favour of an understanding of human life as beginning at conception.

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And so, when it comes to the legal reality surrounding these issues in Queensland, a child is not a person, when the law is an ass. Section 292 is a dumb, unfounded, archaic and inconsistent piece of law in Queensland. It is a blight on the entire body of law in this State because of its baseless absurdity. Unborn children are human beings and there are no solid legal grounds for not recognising them as persons capable of being killed. Therefore, the best principles of law with respect to unborn children, as embodied in Section 313, should be what shapes the other relevant sections of the code.

Section 292 should be reformed to read something along the lines of:

292 The beginning of a human life

A child is a person capable of being killed, from time of conception and shall be regarded as a human being throughout the embryonic and foetal stages of its development.

 

Sections 224-226 relating specifically to abortion should remain part of the QLD Criminal Code and these sections should be enforced to prevent the killing of innocent life where necessary (on a side note, I favour an approach where the prospect of criminality serves mainly as a legal deterrent towards women considering seeking an illegal abortion, whereas medical professionals or others found guilty performing an abortion would face the full punitive consequences of killing a person under the law). The Queensland Parliament should legislate positively to restrict the ease with which medical professionals can recommend and carry out surgical and chemical abortions. We should be moving away from abortion-on-demand not towards it. Abolition should be the desired outcome, rather than proliferation.

In summary, Parliament should reject Mr. Pyne’s private member’s bill – but it should also act to ensure the law is not an ass by ensuring that a child (born or unborn) is a human being and legal person.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/humancoalition/photos/a.473787345973115.107637.134452023239984/1221895087829000/?type=3&theater

Voting for Life (in Australia)

While the issue of abortion became live this week in Queensland, due to Rob Pyne’s private members bill (which in its current form, simply repeals everything in the Criminal Code that relates to intentionally procuring a miscarriage: i.e. doing something to cause an abortion), we also find ourselves in the opening days of a long federal election campaign.

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Passage of this bill is something we must stop [1]
Irrespective of whether the law changes or not, the Queensland government’s wafer thin margin in parliament means that we could also go to the polls in a state election within the next 12 months as well. That means, at least once and possibly twice, many of us will vote for a candidate or party with positions on a wide range of issues that affect our community and the welfare of our nation.

In the past, while I was serving as a local church pastor, I wrote several articles outlining some principles to think about when voting for a candidate or party in any given election (you can read them here). While in that position, I felt it was not beneficial for me to be seen to be telling people in my pastoral care (i.e. church members) that they should vote for a particular party. Things can get messy when churches and Christian leaders tie themselves too closely to one brand of politics and I wanted to avoid mishaps in that area.

However, my convictions about the seriousness of fighting for the right to life of all people conceived within our borders, along with an increasing sense of bleakness about the quality of public life in Australia has led me to make this plea to anyone who will read what I have to say about voting in any upcoming elections.

I urge all Christians not to vote for any candidate or political party who advocates the destruction of unborn babies via abortion procedures, as something that is beneficial or morally acceptable.

God created humanity in His image (Gen 1:26-27) and charged men and women to be fruitful and multiply and exercise authority over creation under God’s ultimate rule (Gen 1:28). Each one of us is here today because God knit us together in our mother’s womb, commencing our journey of life as a human whose ways and future are known to Him (Ps 139:13-16). The fallen human nature we each possess, as descendants of a common ancestor, is present from conception (Ps 51:5).

The Lord Jesus’ incarnation as a member of the human race began when He was “conceived by the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1:18-20) and his cousin John was able to rejoice while still in the womb in response to the presence of the unborn Jesus and his mother Mary (Luke 1:41-44). God says that to take the life of another human being is to disregard God’s inviolable image in that person and is a crime worthy of death (Gen 9:6).

What I’ve just presented is part of the picture behind our commitment to life and the seriousness of getting it wrong. While naturally someone who rejects God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus and through His apostles and prophets (brought down to us in the Scriptures) lacks this framework for seeing all life as God-given, God-reflecting, God-owned and God-protected – this is hardly a matter we can agree to disagree on.

The hard reality of abortion is that it murders children as an expression of rebellion against God and everyone who commits it must face God’s wrath as someone guilty of another’s blood. The only people who are guilty of such an act who will not personally experience eternal death as a consequence are those who recognise that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of their rebellion against God and blood-guilt for a human life. Abortion is deadly serious not only because children die as a consequence, but because Jesus died as part of God’s judgement on this evil.

So the principle I’m strongly advocating is that anyone who doesn’t get this – that medically destroying innocent children’s lives is a serious matter – is completely unworthy of any Christian’s vote. Full stop.

But what does that mean practically? When it comes down to it, it means I am calling for Christians not to vote for particular political parties and their candidates if the promotion of abortion is part of their policy platform. That means I have to urge my Christian brothers and sisters not to vote for specific political parties and candidates who do actually have such a position.

Thus, I’m pleading with you not to vote for the Labor Party (ALP) or the Greens at the upcoming federal election and at any subsequent state or federal polls. Both of these parties support access to pregnancy termination (abortion) as a matter of party policy. You can read their statements here and here.

Now let me deal with a couple of issues that immediately arise.

#1 I am not telling Christians to vote for the Coalition (as though it is the only other option)

There are plenty of reasons you might want to consider not voting for the Liberal Party and the re-election of a Turnbull government. Let me make it very clear that I do not support the Liberal Party as an organisation and would never join it as a member. It has principles and objectives I disagree with fairly firmly. But what I’m not prepared to do in this article is tell you not to vote for them on the basis of this issue, because the party does not have a policy for promoting abortion the same way Labor and the Greens do.

On the other hand, Malcolm Turnbull is himself pro-abortion and therefore (in my opinion) unworthy to be the Prime Minister of Australia on that basis, so some Christian voters may decide not to vote in support of a party/government that he leads. Likewise, your local candidate or member may personally support abortion as a women’s rights issue, in which case I’d urge you not to support them with your vote. But if you want to vote for a Liberal or National candidate who is pro-life, you should definitely consider supporting them – assuming there is no other issues with their character or policies that disqualifies them from your support.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pose for a photo together at Pentagon on Jan. 18, 2016. (DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Clydell Kinchen)(Released)
PM Malcolm Turnbull supports abortion

#2 What if my Labor candidate is pro-life?

Formerly I would have encouraged you to consider voting for them, but I’ve changed my mind. Here’s why. I’ve read some stuff recently from Joe Carter at the Gospel Coalition, which explains how voting works in relation to factions. We belong to electoral factions of sorts and we vote for members of factions (directly – i.e. our local MP) and leaders of factions (indirectly – i.e. who should be prime minister or premier).

To cut to the chase, if you vote for an ALP candidate who supports the rights of unborn children, you’re nevertheless voting for them to work towards the policy goals of the ALP – especially should they manage to win government. While there may be a conscience vote on certain contentious issues in which it may be helpful to have pro-life parliamentarians of all stripes present in the chamber, the reality is that in the day to day running of the country an ALP government will be working to implement their health policies, which includes ready access to abortions for women. The pro-life candidate you vote for is less likely to succeed in changing the party platform (which in this case they should be doing while in opposition, not government) and more likely to end up enabling pro-death factions within the party to promote and pursue the stated policy goals.

#3 There’s more than one issue to consider at any given election

I agree. But again, some recent reading has helped boost my confidence in calling for us to disqualify any candidate from our consideration when voting, who has any unacceptable policy positions.

You already agree with me (I think). If your local candidate said something outrageously racist, sexist or discriminatory against Christians – I don’t doubt you’d find another candidate to vote for based on that alone: never mind whether they have economic credentials or a plan for improving local facilities. If they supported a particular policy or viewpoint that made it very embarrassing to admit you voted for them to your family or colleagues, it may also have the same effect. Likewise if they managed to make it onto the ballot paper but were found to have serious character issues during the campaign, you’d probably steer clear.

All this is to say, “single-issue voting” as it’s sometimes called, is completely reasonable. It doesn’t mean only one issue matters, but rather than some matter so much that you can’t reasonably vote for a person or party who gets it wrong.

Abortion is most certainly one of these issues. Labor may have better policies than the Coalition in certain areas and they often seek to look after people and groups that don’t always fare so well under the Coalition’s economic policies. Many Christians find the Greens’ asylum seeker/immigration policies more compassionate (and therefore more desirable) than those of both major parties. I acknowledge these things. But because both the ALP and Greens would choose the death of unborn children to fulfil part of their ideological goals – neither of them should be trusted with your vote, unless those policies change.

This is not the last time I plan to write on this issue during this election campaign, or indeed the parliamentary process regarding abortion in QLD. But I do urge all Christians, this July – however you use your democratic privilege to vote, don’t cast it in favour of someone who doesn’t acknowledge the humanity of the unborn and who would be part of the political machine that enables the slaughter of thousands of them in Queensland and Australia every year.

[1] Bidgee “A stop sign in Australia” CCBY 3.0 wikimedia commons.

Fighting for Life (in Queensland)

With reports suggesting that a bill to decriminalise abortion in Queensland will be tabled in parliament tomorrow (May 10), it’s an urgent time for us to be thinking seriously about how we can be fighting for the lives of innocent, vulnerable unborn children who are conceived in this state.

While it is definitely time to write an email or letter to your local MP, expressing your concern at this issue, and while it may also be a good time to think about how you can be involved in the work of local, pro-life organisations – some recent events have made me reflect on what the most important part we play in this battle really is.

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It truly does [1]

A friend wrote to me a few weeks ago to tell me that they’d been chatting with a close friend whose partner had gotten pregnant unintentionally.  The nature of the conversation centered on the couple’s consideration of aborting the baby. My friend was able to share the value of life from a Christian perspective and encourage their friend not to think about abortion as the “best option” that many other friends were holding it out to be. In God’s mercy, this story seems to have had a happy ending and the couple have decided to embrace the life that has come about as a result of their relationship and raise him or her as part of a family together.

Even more recently, my wife has had the opportunity to chat with someone who has been under significant pressure from her partner to get an abortion. It’s a different situation: in this case there are already children on the scene and only one party in the relationship is advocating ending the life of the child. Helen was also able to faithfully share what God’s perspective is on the termination of innocent, vulnerable life and give strong encouragement and warning to choose life rather than death and all the consequences that go with it.  While we don’t know yet what the outcome will be in this case, we are praying and trusting God that this mother will be convicted that the life she is carrying is far more precious than anything she’d gain by succumbing to the pressure she’s under to dispose of it.

These two cases make me think: have we as Christians realised that the most important part we might play in the fight for the lives of the innocent and voiceless, is to be there to speak to the friend, colleague or family member who’s considering abortion? Are you and I equipped to have these conversations with people in our lives? Are we the sort of friend someone could turn to when they are facing pressure to “deal with their mistake” or get rid of an unwanted child?

I suspect that just like evangelism, many of us might feel deficient for the task. Maybe I’ll say the wrong thing. Maybe I’d just confuse the person more. Maybe I can’t get the balance right between listening sympathetically and compassionately and speaking boldly and firmly about the seriousness of the matter. These responses are understandable starting points when we consider a life and death issue like this – but they’re terrible and unacceptable finishing points for our role in this battle.

Because like the need to share the gospel with unsaved friends, it is critical that we get equipped to speak life to our friends when they’re tempted by death. We want to be able to warn them and even persuade them, when they’re considering something that will bring about God’s judgement upon them and irreversibly destroy a human life.

Life at 9 wks
Life at 9 wks [2]

So we need to think about what we believe about abortion and the value of human life and why we believe it. And while we don’t need to be articulate geniuses who can discuss the ins and outs of medical data and philosophical arguments – we should all familiarise ourselves with the compelling-enough, basic arguments for why it’s wrong to terminate a life in the womb. We should chat with each other about how these kind of conversations have gone if we’ve had them. We can learn from mistakes and ideas – as well as learning from people who are better than us at careful listening and compassionate speech, or boldly articulating the truth of God to those who are tempted by the lies of the world.

For a long time now, pro-life activists – Christian and non-Christian – have realised that while it would be fantastic to outlaw abortion as a matter of principled justice, chances are that if one side of politics passed such a law, the other side would repeal it at the first chance they get. In Queensland, the problem with the status quo is two-fold. 1. The law prohibits abortion as a criminal offence, but allows for it when there is a benefit to the personal well-being of the mother. This is a rotten status quo, because any doctor that is happy with abortion in principle can recommend one be carried out as a “therapeutic miscarriage” for almost any reason, real or contrived. 2. The conservative side of politics in Queensland has been reluctant to change the status quo either a. because some are happy for it to remain a dead issue or b. because the pro-life parliamentarians fear that any changes they make will not only be reversed by others, but that their opponents would likely use it as a pretext to fully decriminalise abortion and make it even easier to occur.

Rob Pyne MP will reportedly seek to introduce a bill decriminalising abortion in QLD tomorrow
Rob Pyne MP will reportedly seek to introduce a bill decriminalising abortion in QLD tomorrow [3]

As a result, many here (as also in the US and other parts of the world) have recognised that a significant shift in public opinion regarding abortion is needed before legislative change can ever be successfully implemented. The way to achieve that must be through education and public awareness programs, run by people dedicated to the pro-life cause.

I agree – I would love to see the criminality of abortion enforced in Queensland tomorrow and even tougher laws stopping it from happening. Lives would literally be saved. But in the long run, we can only stop abortion if we take public opinion with us, so that no government would dare defy a populace united against such an evil practice. They permit abortion to happen within our borders because we as Queenslanders let them do nothing about it.

So let’s fight the further erosion of protections for unborn children that are being proposed in parliament this week – this is a bad bill and should be stopped. But let’s also be people who are praying God would use us to stop one abortion at a time – through being in people’s lives to bear witness to the preciousness of human life. And let’s do that while we support efforts to steadily educate the people of Queensland, Australia and the world about the preciousness of life from conception and the horror of ending a defenceless life – so that one day soon we may be able to see this barbaric practice socially condemned and legally prohibited.

[1] wht_wolf9653 “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart Sign”(CC BY-SA 2.0) flickr.
[2] lunar caustic “Embryo week 9-10” (CC BY-SA 2.0) flickr.
[3] Icuraj “Robert ‘Rob’ Pyne is in his second term as Division 3 Council for Cairns Regional Council”
(CC BY-SA 2.0) wikimedia.

 

Failing at Calculus

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I recently encountered a blog post by Howard Snyder entitled “Moral Calculus: Abortion or Creation Care?” which deals with the dilemma of how Christians should vote if faced with a choice between two candidates. As Snyder puts it:

“An election is approaching. I must choose between two candidates for U.S. representative to Congress. One strongly opposes abortion, but not unrestricted pollution. The other supports effective action to protect the environment, but is not anti-abortion.”

He goes on to suggest that despite most Christians instinctively opting to vote for the pro-life candidate, he beliefs it is more consistent to vote for the environmentally friendly candidate for the following reasons:

1) Numerically, more people will die or suffer horribly because of climate change in the coming decades than children will be killed as a result of abortion laws.

2) Strategically, international action on climate change is more feasible and achievable at the present time, due to public consensus, than widespread changes to abortion laws.

3) In terms of urgency, action on climate change now is key and whereas abortion also calls for urgent response, the number of lives destroyed by abortion seems to be decreasing, while the number of deaths from climate change will only increase.

4) Politically, in the US, electing environmentalist candidates will have an affect on climate change, whereas electing pro-life candidates is unlikely to have a concrete effect on lowering abortion numbers.

5) Practically (though he uses “compassion”), Christians can address abortion by supporting ministries that already deal with some of the contributing factors and succeed in preventing some abortions, whereas they can address climate change by “supporting candidates who will champion effective climate action.”

4248409028_c4cbac7c20_b                                                                                                                                            [2]

While Snyder makes a valid point in terms of the destructiveness of continued environmental degradation, I think there are very good reasons to reject his attempt at moral calculus and for Christians to focus on the battle against legalised infanticide, rather than climate action/creation care. Here are some of my reasons:

1) Culpability: The anti-life candidate can be considered an accomplice to state sanctioned murder, while the environmentally irresponsible candidate can only be held accountable for criminal negligence leading to death. Abortion involves directly and intentionally acting to destroy an innocent life without moral or legal justification. Many Christians would agree that it is ethically equivalent to murder in the majority of cases. Polluting the environment for economic gain and productivity is irresponsible and if it leads to the death of innocent people, it must be mitigated somehow and people who do it must be held accountable.
But though we can concede that it might, potentially cause harm to more people internationally than abortion (though this is by no means automatically true), the acts in themselves that cause pollution and environmental destruction are not as directly and intentionally evil as what transpires in an abortion. Therefore Christians should be very concerned about laws which allow for abortion (especially the unrestricted, on-demand, out-of-convenience type), which are categorically more evil than laws that fail to restrict environmental damage.

2) Strategically, I have to disagree with Snyder. It is a flawed, overly pragmatic attitude to say climate action deserves the focus because there is more international, political will to do something about it than abortion. The Planned Parenthood videos in America have provided an incredible new opportunity to galvanise more people and political players in their opposition towards the major abortion provider in the US. This is not an opportunity that should be squandered.

What’s more, voting for abortion supporters is strategically unwise if Christians are to succeed where they stand the best chance of turning the public debate around: through widespread education about abortion, its effects, and the services that are available to help people with unexpected or unwanted pregnancies. Elected officials who view abortion as a positive or necessary element in society are likely to obstruct attempts to increase awareness and change people’s hearts and minds (which is essential, prior to any legislative reform). Snyder might be right that if we don’t elect environmentally responsible candidates, the situation in years to come will be worse. But he ignores the fact that this will likely be the case if we surrender political ground on abortion.

3) Consensus: Serious evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox Christians are united in terms of opposing the evil of abortion (even many people of a more progressive or liberal persuasion have concerns about it). Not so with the issue of climate change. Christians are far more divided when it comes to the questions of a) How real/problematic is man-made climate change? & b) What is the most responsible course of action in light of the present environmental situation? Since abortion is more directly evil, as I’ve argued above, it is a good idea for us to work collectively with other faith traditions to oppose a problem we’re united against, rather than separately seeking action on an issue, which while important, lacks consensus of perspective.

For the record, I’m personally confident of humanity’s ability to stuff up the environment, but sceptical of a) our ability to undo the damage we’ve caused b) to slow down future damage if the world’s biggest polluters are not on board. Which brings me to:

4) Local action: For Australians, one of the problems has always been that our response to climate change needs to be economically responsible towards our own people, as well as environmentally responsible towards the world we share with everyone else. Australians should seek to limit their ongoing damage to the environment, but we also need to be realistic that the problems will not be mitigated without significant changes by China, India, USA and others. On the other hand, the availability of abortion-on-demand in your local jurisdiction is something you should seriously consider addressing as an individual and member of the Christian church. Supporting those politicians who are brave enough to consistently support the rights of unborn children is a good move, while we seek to influence our neighbours about this issue and prepare for future opportunities to test the public will in parliament.

5) Philosophical incompatibility: Snyder’s dichotomy pro-life/anti-environment vs. pro-choice/environmentalist ignores the fact that those who are overly concerned about climate action often have other philosophical commitments that may be antithetical to Christianity. While he is no doubt thinking about a Republican vs. Democrat contest in the United States, where candidates tend to fall in one of his two camps, we must nonetheless consider what his moral calculus would mean in other contexts. In Australia for instance, one could opt for significant climate action by voting for the most environmentally serious party – the Australian Greens. But the Greens have a range of policies that stem from a thoroughly non-Christian (sometimes even anti-Christian) worldview, which means that support for this party would have more far-reaching consequences than simply picking environmental protection over abortion as the deciding issue on polling day. Likewise the Australian Labor Party is increasingly operating under a policy platform that should make conscientious Christians think twice about casting a vote for them. The Liberal Party is by no means a pro-life organisation and are likely to maintain the status quo in their jurisdictions, if anything. But Christians should seriously consider voting for parties that have platforms based on principles more consistent with our worldview, values and priorities. Voting Green will never achieve that.

In conclusion, Snyder is not wrong to insist that Christians do something about environmentally irresponsible politicians. We should care about this issue and take personal, as well as political responsibility for God’s gift of nature where possible. But I submit that he is wrong to elevate this issue above the need to combat abortion-on-demand at the local and national level – seemingly out of a progressive attempt to shake up the tendency of conservative Christians to vote for conservative politicians. There are good reasons for Christians to think twice about voting Liberal, conservative or Republican (whichever the case may be), but this is most certainly not one of them.

Combating the slaughter of the defenceless unborn should remain one of the highest priorities for Christian social and political action, irrespective of what international conferences are next on the calendar.

[1] suparna sinha “fetus 10weeks” CC BY-SA 2.0 flickr.
[2] Mikael Miettinen “#431 Global warming get warmer houses, sweet” CC BY 2.0 flickr.