Is Abortion a Justice Issue?

November 11, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

This is part 13 of a multi-part series reviewing Thaddeus J. Williams’ book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice. This book is published at a critical time when many in our nation, including Christians, wrestle with the concept of justice. Williams starts with the clear biblical command that Christians must “do justice” (Micah 6:8) and “seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Not everything labeled “justice,” however, is necessarily biblical justice. Therefore, Williams poses twelve questions to help Christians discern true, biblical justice, while calling us to do true justice. I commend this book if you want to dig deeper and be more faithful in seeking justice. 

I have finished the summaries and reviews of the twelve questions Williams poses to help Christians think about justice from a biblical viewpoint. These are the twelve main chapters of his book. Williams includes, however, seven appendices where he addresses some issues with more specificity, such as racism, poverty, socialism, and sexuality. I do not plan to write about his appendices. I have come to appreciate, though, Williams’ thoughtful and biblical analysis on these topics. 

I do want to highlight his appendix on abortion. While I have not explicitly preached much on abortion at Oak Hills, I have implicitly addressed the issue by frequently affirming the biblical truth about the sanctity of all human life, beginning at conception. I know our members are divided about how abortion should be addressed politically. My desire is that we would be united around the biblical call to justice for the least of these. 

Williams addresses abortion because many mainstream calls for justice, typically around the issue of race, tend to ignore the oppression of “millions of unwanted image-bearers” (p. 169). The stats are staggering. “In the United States, 90 percent of preborn humans diagnosed with Downs are terminated. In New York City, more black image-bearers are aborted than are born. ‘In Asia, widespread sex selective abortions have led to as many as 160 million missing women’” (p. 169). Yet, many justice advocates today are pro-choice for abortion. Why is this? Williams explores “six of the most common arguments for abortion.” He uses the acronym CHOICE to walk through these common arguments. I’ll briefly summarize each: 

C = Coat Hangers. If abortion is illegal, women would “revert to the dangerous pre-Roe v. Wade days, dying from coat-hanger abortions at the hands of back-alley butchers” (p. 170). 

H = Hardships. “Women should not be forced to bring into the world disabled children who would be genetically reduced to loves of extreme hardship and unhappiness” (p. 170). 

O = Overpopulation and Poverty. “Banning abortion forces poor women to continue their pregnancies, putting them under a crushing financial burden, while simultaneously contributing to the problem of overpopulation” (p. 172). 

I = Incest and Rape. “A woman should not be forced to endure the trauma of bringing an unwanted pregnancy to term in cases in which she was profoundly violated, such as incest and rape” (p. 173). 

C = Choosing for My Body. “A woman has the right to do whatever she chooses with her own body without interference from either the government or other people’s personal moral beliefs” (p. 174). 

E = Economic Discrimination. “Wealthy women would simply travel to have legal abortions in other countries. Banning abortion would leave poor women, the ones who need abortions most because of their economic stresses, without any options” (p. 175). 

With great gentleness to the sensitivity behind some of these arguments, Williams briefly counters each of them. He commends the work of Francis J. Beckwith, whom Williams calls “the world’s leading ethicist on the question of abortion” (p. 241), especially his book Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice. The counter argument comes down to one question, as Williams points out: “are preborns human people with a right to life?” (p. 176). If preborns are human people with the inalienable right to life, then it is wrong to take the life of a preborn, no matter what the circumstances are. 

Scott Klusendorf has also identified this question as the fundamental question to address when speaking about abortion: what is the unborn? He argues that the unborn are fully human with only four differences: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency (acronym: SLED). None of these differences warrant the taking of a human life. (see The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture

The bottom line is that any discussion about justice for the oppressed and marginalized ought to include preborn humans. Any claim to care about the vulnerable while advocating for abortion rights rings hollow. The flip side is also true (the balanced approach which Williams lays out so well). Any claim to care about the vulnerable unborn while not caring about other marginalized people rings hollow. Let’s be people who “seek justice” (Is. 1:17) and “do justice” (Mich. 6:8), without compromising truth. 

"I recognize that abortion is a very sensitive topic to discuss, especially for those impacted by abortion in some manner. While we do not want to compromise truth, we also do not want to lack love and grace. Local ministry Advice & Aid recommends the recovery resources of"


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