The US House of Representatives passed a bill last Friday that has been overlooked by much of the media since it has virtually no chance of advancing in the US Senate. However, its consequences are so disastrous for every American and its rhetoric is so deceptive that every Christ follower needs to know more about it.
A generational threat
Euphemistically called the “Women’s Health Protection Act” (WHPA), it is described by NPR in these anodyne terms: “The [Act] would protect a person’s ability to decide to continue or end a pregnancy and would enshrine into law health-care providers’ ability to offer abortion services ‘prior to fetal viability’ without restrictions imposed by individual states, like requiring special admitting privileges for providers or imposing waiting periods.”
NPR continues: “It would also prohibit restrictions on abortion after fetal viability ‘when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health-care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.'”
Don’t let this disingenuous description fool you. The WHPA constitutes nothing less than a federal takeover of our constitutional system with regard to life:
- It overturns longstanding policies prohibiting taxpayer funding for elective abortions even though these policies are supported by 65 percent of Independents, 83 percent of Republicans, and 31 percent of Democrats.
- It offers no protections for Down syndrome babies (though 70 percent of Americans oppose aborting them) or elective abortions on the basis of gender.
- It bans informed consent requirements, reflection periods, or provisions that give women the opportunity to listen to their unborn child’s heartbeat or view its image.
- “Risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health” is a catch-all phrase that legitimizes abortion for any reason a physician would approve, including the mother’s finances, relationships, emotions, and maturity.
- The Act makes it illegal for Americans through their elected representatives to enact legislations that counter its provisions in order to protect the unborn. It thus violates religious liberty and trumps personal freedom on this vital issue.
The House adopted the WHPA specifically in response to a major abortion case scheduled to be heard by the US Supreme Court on December 1. We will say much more about Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as the hearing date approaches.
“The embryo has its own autonomy”
At the heart of the pro-life cause is the belief that a preborn baby is a baby. He or she is a human being as deserving of protection as any other human being.
Theologian Karl Barth described the unborn child well:
“The embryo has its own autonomy, its own brain, its own nervous system, its own blood circulation. If its life is affected by that of the mother, it also affects hers. It can have its own illnesses in which the mother has no part. Conversely, it may be quite healthy even though the mother is seriously ill. It may die while the mother continues to live. It may also continue to live after its mother’s death and be eventually saved by a timely operation on her dead body. In short, it is a human being in its own right” (Church Dogmatics 3.4.416).
Not one word of this description is in scientific or medical dispute. Nor are the facts that the so-called fetus bears from the moment of conception all forty-six human chromosomes and is able to develop only into a human being. Nothing new will be added except the growth and development of what already exists from the moment of conception.
However, we live in a post-truth culture where personal choice has replaced objective fact. “My body, my choice” is the mantra of abortion activists today, even though this is a claim an aborted preborn baby was obviously prohibited from making.
How do we reason with a culture that rejects reason?
The “social proof” strategy
Yesterday we noted that many secular people have lost any fear of hell and thus believe they are free to believe whatever they choose to believe without consequences beyond this life. If we show them the clear teachings of God’s word on the necessity of salvation and the reality of hell, postmodern relativists will shrug their shoulders and reply, “That’s just your truth.”
In a culture that prizes personal relevance, one way to persuade lost people of the truth of Scripture is to live that truth in ways that are compelling and attractive. If God’s word changes our lives, others may seek such transformation for themselves.
This is the “social proof” strategy foundational to so much marketing today: satisfied customers, people who lost weight on a diet plan, patients whose diseases were successfully treated by advertised pharmaceuticals, and so on. It works because pragmatic secularists value what works. The same is true for the gospel: changed people change people.
Here’s what does not work in such a culture: demonizing those with whom we disagree. Tim Keller is right: “Do not assign a position to an opponent that they will not own. Always put their argument in the best light. Persuasion is an art in how to have a conversation with people with the hope of changing their minds.”
You and I must earn the right to have such conversations not only by living biblical truth with authenticity and consistency, but also by building relational bridges across which we can travel with God’s word. Whether we are defending life or hoping to lead people to eternal life, we change more minds through compassion than condemnation.
“Groan before their eyes”
We’ll continue tomorrow. For today, let’s close with a biblical injunction that startled me when I read it today. In Ezekiel 21, the Lord orders his prophet to “set your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries” (v. 2). Ezekiel is to warn them that divine judgment against their sins is coming and will be severe (vv. 3–5).
Then the Lord turns to his prophet with this surprising command: “As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes” (v. 6).
Like Ezekiel, we are to share and model our Father’s compassion for our lost and broken culture. Every person we meet—whatever their position on abortion, hell, or any other issue—is someone for whom Jesus died. If we don’t grieve for them, we can offer a prayer a missionary taught me many years ago: “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.”
Is your heart broken for those you know who do not know your Savior?
If not, why not?