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New law lets husbands sue to prevent their child’s abortion

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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A new abortion law in Arkansas was recently passed to ban dilation and dismemberment abortions—the most common form of second-trimester abortion, in which instruments are used to dismember and extract the unborn child in utero (the bill offers an even more detailed and disturbing definition). Perhaps the most controversial element of the new law, however, is the part that allows a husband to sue his wife’s physician in order to prevent him or her from performing an abortion on the husband’s child.

As CNN‘s Doug Criss describes, despite the usual pushback from pro-choice groups and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the law passed with minimal opposition. While part of the relative lack of opposition was the belief that it would be overturned once challenged in court—such action has already been taken by groups claiming it to be unconstitutional—the other reason is that it simply makes sense for most of the state’s lawmakers.

As state senator Missy Irvin pointed out, “I think a woman does have control over her own body, but when you have created a life, you created a life with someone else.” Nick Pitts put it well when he asked of those who question a husband’s right to have authority over his wife, “Should a mother have this type of authority over a child’s body?”

Despite such a defense, the extent of the law’s limitations on abortion still astonished many observers. One of the more surprising parts of the law, for example, is that it makes no exceptions for instances of rape or incest. Many of the bill’s critics have latched onto those omissions in their attack on the law. However, given that a man must be both the husband of the pregnant woman and the father of the child to file suit against the aborting physician, instances of incest seem unlikely and rape less probable than in other situations.

Still, while such conditions would certainly complicate the situation, the truth remains that the biological circumstances of a child’s creation do not alter or diminish the image of God borne by its soul. If life begins at conception, as Scripture teaches, then from that moment forward, the child in question is both loved and valued by our heavenly Father. Should we view him or her any differently than God does?

That sense of love and value must not stop at birth, however. It’s not enough to just be anti-abortion if we aren’t truly pro-life as well. Adoption is one of the most fundamental ways that Christians can support both the child and the mother who may be considering ending a pregnancy. The choice to adopt a child must be a calling from God, but the decision to support those who have received that calling, whether it be financially or via other means, should be part of every Christian’s life. And while adopting an infant can cost as much as $47,000 or more, adoption from foster care is often no more than a few thousand dollars or, in many cases, free.

So if the idea of children being torn apart in the womb angers you, do something productive about it—and, to be clear, productive does not include protests outside abortion clinics or criticizing the women who feel as though abortion is their only option. Look into adoption or foster care and pray about whether or not that’s part of God’s plan for your family. If, after such prayer, he makes it clear that it’s not, ask your local church if they know of any ways that you might support those looking to do for others what God has done for us (Galatians 4:4–7). A child’s life is truly precious. What can you do to help protect it today?

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