A mother’s womb is an incredible place. In this warm and nutrient-rich environment, a tiny egg is fertilised, and 40 weeks later a beautiful, fully formed human emerges. No wonder the word miracle is so often used by parents to describe the birth of their child.
Given how fragile life is through these nine months, the womb should be the safest place on earth. But in recent decades, tragically it has become the most dangerous.
Abortion is now the leading cause of death worldwide. Around the world each year, some 56 million pre-born babies have their lives cut short. 70,000 of these would otherwise be raised by Australian parents.
Without doubt, some women who choose abortion have faced harrowing circumstances. A recent study, for example, has found that pregnant women who suffer violence are far more likely to seek an abortion than those who haven’t. The only humane response to someone who sees abortion as their only option is compassion and care.
Compassion and care are also desperately needed for expecting mothers, so that they’re well supported when they choose to carry their baby to full term in the face of great difficulties.
But if all this is so, then surely compassion and care are needed most for the unborn, who are truly the world’s most vulnerable. Rightly did Gandhi say that “a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”.
How we treat the unborn hit global headlines again last month, when the state of New York passed a law legalising abortion up to birth. Buoyed by this, in following days the Governor of Virginia even called for infanticide to be legalised.
But these latest developments aren’t just taking place on distant shores. In South Australia, the Greens have introduced a bill that seeks to make abortions available without medical reason, without a doctor, and up to birth.
It is difficult to see how any of this could be called progress.
Progress is what happened 2000 years ago when an unpopular religious sect opposed the wisdom of the Greco-Roman world—and many other ancient cultures besides.
Those early Christians believed that every human life must have equal and intrinsic worth if we were all made in the image of God. And they walked Rome’s streets and scoured her trash heaps to rescue the babies that had been discarded by a people who didn’t know better.
Within centuries of this revolution, Emperor Valentinian, a Christian, had outlawed infanticide, setting a precent that has profoundly shaped the western world since.
Until recently, that is.
See, unlike the ancient world, we do know better. And it’s not just our collective conscience, shaped by the Judeo-Christian ethic, that informs this.
Modern science—which was also heavily influenced by the Christian worldview—tells anyone who cares to listen that a pre-born baby can feel pain, hear your voice, and will survive outside the womb by the sixth month of pregnancy.
Even simple logic exposes where we’ve gone wrong. In Queensland, for example, a drunk driver who kills an unborn baby can be charged for homicide. But in one of the state’s abortion clinics, the same victim can be deemed a non-entity and disposed of.
Humans deciding each other’s value in such an arbitrary way should disturb us. Do other human rights even matter if one’s right to life isn’t first protected under the law?
But despite ethics, science and reason, in 2019 great swathes of the media and political elite seem intent on a return to the status quo of the ancient world. All, ironically, under the banner of progress.
So wherever you are, as you try to make sense of these contradictions, take a moment to be thankful. Outside of the womb, you live in the safest place on earth.
Then spare a thought for the little ones who haven’t joined us here yet.