Our daily lives consist of a never-ending battle within ourselves, a talk with the voice in our heads that tells us “do it” or “don’t do it”. It is rational to think that the voice in our heads tells us all the same thing – do right or do wrong. In reality, what dictates that voice is our own subconscious, that, is shaped by our worldviews. The ability for someone to make the right decision depends on the level of importance given to moral principles in their lives but when it comes to a life-changing decision; pro life vs pro choice, ethics is not what drives the decision. Christians have a completely different perspective on abortion in comparison with an atheist, in this dilemma, we will consider both approaches.
Susan is a woman who has found success in her career and is ready to expand her family. This to her means sustaining a healthy life-job balance. She is blessed with the news of her expectancy however blood test results show that the fetus has Down syndrome. The doctor recommends that Susan abort, though it is something she feels very uncomfortable with. Seeking advice from someone who might influence her decision, she turns to Richard, a professor of evolutionary biology who has devoted his career to minimize human suffering and maximize human potential, or happiness. He states that it is immoral to bring a child into the world that has Down syndrome because that would be great suffering for the child as well as the parents. Finally, he suggests that the most ethical decision would be to abort the child to prevent that suffering and to try again to achieve happiness.
Within the Christian faith, life is seen as a gift from God. It is precious and it is to be respected. God created us in his image and gave us some of his characteristics so that we may be able to praise him and give him glory for all of the gifts he gives to us. None of those gifts are greater than life. He knows us and calls us by our name from the moment we are in our mother’s womb. Before we are born he appoints us as his prophets, as Jeremiah proclaimed “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” With regards to abortion, Christians are called to defend and accept all pregnancies. Whether society believes a child with congenital diseases is a blessing or not, for a Christian all life is sacred and still has a mission on this earth.
When a family is expecting a child they are filled with so much joy and anticipation. When they receive news of potential health complications for their child, it comes as devastating news. Even more so, when the doctor is advising for an abortion. In the eyes and heart of a Christian, God is sovereign, and therefore his doings are to be accepted as a means of greater purpose. During this time of tribulation and agony, Sarah must not forget the ability God has granted her and has entrusted a child of his own in her hands. This pregnancy can help her get closer to God, with the help of a Christian-based support group.
The best way for Sarah to resolve this ethical dilemma is by obtaining information and seeking guidance throughout her pregnancy through national or community-based organizations that advocate and emphasize the wellbeing, quality of life, and lifestyle of families with children with Down Syndrome. One national organization that advocates and educates the public on Down Syndrome is the National Down Syndrome Society. “It is an organization that provides information and resources for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Their website contains information about advocacy, education, research and support services, including resources for new or expecting parents” (NDSS, 2014). Having greater knowledge about the diagnosis will help them to be better prepared to give the child the extra love and attention it will need while respecting the life of a child of God.
The Christian worldview will help keep Sarah from committing a mortal sin. Although her doctor may be presenting the abortion as an alternative to avoid further suffering, a Christian believes and knows that through suffering comes salvation. Jesus was able to turn a cross into a crown, by accepting the will of God throughout his life. As Psalm 34 states, “the righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”. This is just one of the many promises God makes to us. The Christian worldview calls Sarah to carry her cross, which in this case is her child being born with Down Sydrome, and trust and follow God. He knows that this cross will bring Salvation to Sarah and will facilitate her entrance into the Kingdom of God. Her doctor’s suggestion to have an abortion goes against her beliefs and values and would create great guilt and remorse for the rest of her life. By having her child, Sarah will be able to see God manifest himself in her life and see the blessings that will be showered upon her through her acceptance and carrying off her cross.
If Susan were an atheist, the principles that dictate her life would be completely different than those of a Christian. Atheism does not promote love and acceptance but taking control over your life, making any decision that will benefit you and get you closer to your goals. Although Susan was ready and happy to be a mother, she might have taken Richard’s advice considering how it would affect her career and her personal life. She would not be able to see past the suffering and possibly even feel guilty for allowing it because she would see no higher purpose in life but the one she sets for herself. Atheism is not founded on the belief that every living being was made by God and has a reason for its existence, so it would have been easier for Susan to abort the fetus without considering it a person. Susan could have decided the baby was “wrong” because it is not the way she expected it to be. Richard’s suggestion would have seemed so appealing only at the thought of minimizing human suffering and maximizing human potential- making humans the creator and editors of life.
With all the debate on pro-choice, it is said that women should have the right to decide what is done with their bodies. Therefore, Susan could feel she made the right decision with no guilt simply because she has the right to. Author of The Hard Truth and the Right to Choose – Emma Teitel states, “ The right to an abortion is like the right to free speech” (MacLean’s Vol. 127). Without the Christian perspective, deciding for abortion is like deciding what you want to say. There is absolute removal of consequence and emotional detachment. It is not considered murder because it is justified with having the right to take the life you made. Without God, in your life, you are unable to see the child as a gift, but a burden.
Abortion is a delicate topic especially when it is the abortion of your own child. There are many people who will try to influence your opinion if it derives from Christian beliefs by challenging your faith and judge it. In Susan’s case, it is a very difficult decision that she has to make considering that she is ready to be a mother. She has been trying for years but the child she is expecting has Down Syndrome. After listening to the Doctor’s suggestion of abortion, she sought help from a very influential evolutionary biologist and he gives her even more reasons why she should have an abortion. In the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah stated that the Lord knows all living beings even before he has made them. This denounces the idea of a fetus not being a person as the atheist would argue. The ethical decision that Susan could make is to accept the suffering that God has sent her because with it will come blessings. She should have courage and carry her cross, doing so includes giving birth to the gift that God has blessed her with and seeking the appropriate help to raise them as a child of God. Abortion is easily compared to the freedom of speech from the atheist perspective, yet in spite of the fight for freedom of rights, morals and ethics should be preserved as guidance to always do the greater good just as God has called us to do.