I have always been opposed to abortion. I graduated from high school in 1973, the year the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its now (in)famous Roe v. Wade ruling. Abortion instantly became a polarizing issue, generating heated emotions on both sides of the debate.
Even though I wasn’t following Christ at that time, it seemed impossible to me to justify taking the life of an unborn child. In one sense I don’t think that abortion is an exclusively “Christian” issue at all. It’s possible to oppose abortion on medical, ethical or humanitarian grounds, quite apart from Christianity.
I can think of a couple examples from that time period which illustrate that point. The first is a song that was released in 1974 by Seals & Crofts, against the advice of their record company. “Unborn Child” was a bold and passionate pro-life statement by two men who were (and still are) both Baha’is, not Christians.
Another example from the mid-70s was the dramatic change of heart experienced by Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson, one of the founders of NARAL, was not a Christian, and in fact not a religious man at all. His unexpected reversal of opinion regarding abortion was based solely on medical evidence and humanitarian concerns. (If you’re not familiar with Nathanson’s story I encourage you to read more about it here.)
But that’s all beside the point of this post…
I have to confess that I was under the impression until yesterday that only the so-called “morning after” pills like RU-486 acted as abortifacients, and that virtually all other birth control pills acted as contraceptives. I’m sure I formed that opinion a long time ago, when less was known about how birth control pills actually worked, and then remained (sadly) ignorant of evidence to the contrary until now. What’s worse, I passed my ignorant opinion along to someone who trusted me to give them good advice.
Now I see that the evidence indicates that all birth control pills prevent pregnancy by both contraceptive and abortive mechanisms, if you accept the basic premise that life begins at conception. Randy Alcorn discusses that evidence in this article, a condensed version of his booklet Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? It was Alcorn’s article that stopped me in my tracks yesterday and led to this post.
I’ve been mulling over the implications ever since. I have little doubt that there are many pro-life Christians who are unaware that the pill, as it’s commonly called, causes abortions. It’s also at least possible that others may be aware of the evidence and choose to ignore it for convenience sake. Many churches will observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday this coming weekend. I wonder if this subject will be addressed. I wonder how many, like me, need to hear it. And I wonder how many would really rather not.