Protecting the Vulnerable

(This piece was written by Archbishop Glenn Davies)
There is no doubt that the subject of abortion is an emotive topic. When discussing this issue we need to be mindful of those who have had an abortion. It is never an easy
decision, and it is one that we should only discuss with compassion and care for those
who have chosen to have this procedure or are facing the prospect thereof.

Yet, it takes two to conceive a child, and therefore in my view it should not be the decision of the mother alone. The child is not part of her body, as some would argue with the misleading and vulgar slogan of “My uterus, my choice!” The baby in the womb is a distinct, genetic entity temporarily living in its mother’s womb.

This is where we all began – in our mother’s womb. We were vulnerable, but safe; we
were alive, but dependent; growing but not sufficiently grown; awaiting the day of our birth and our entrance into the outside world.

The intentional death of a child outside the womb is not just a matter for the mother or father to decide; it is a matter that concerns all society. A few months’ difference in gestation does not change this perspective.

The Bible is very clear about the value to God of a child in utero. The psalms speak
eloquently of our formation in the womb and of God’s knowledge of us.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

Likewise, David recognised not only his personhood from conception, but also his
culpability as part of rebellious humanity (Psalm 51:5). There are dozens of places where the Scripture regularly uses the same language of those in the womb as would apply to those already born (cf Genesis 25:22; 38:27ff). We do the same when we declare: “You’re having a baby”.

Christians have long recognised that where the life and safety of the mother is
jeopardised, then the removal of the baby, the unintentional aggressor from within, justifies abortion. While some Christians may wish to expand the categories of exceptions, the inherent value of the unborn must not be minimised, even if the child does not fit the expectations of a “perfect baby” without chromosomal deficiencies.

Life is God’s gift, and the taking of life should be in God’s hands alone. We honour God in the public arena when we reflect his virtues and stand up for the most vulnerable in our society, and in this case, the voiceless and unseen.