The Streets
Press Releases

Our Purpose
Our Director
Support Us
Contact Us

email OSA
Web problems or suggestions?


Why the Life of the Mother is Not a Valid Exception for Abortion

Why the Life of the Mother is Not a Valid Exception for Abortion

By Douglas W. Phillips, Esq.

Susie, a mother of five children, finds herself and her three-year old year son Johnny adrift at sea in a tiny one-person raft. They are hundreds of miles away from the nearest boat or landmark. The prospects look grim for both mother and child. On board is a container of water and food. One problem is that there is no realistic means for acquiring additional food at sea and even less for collecting rainwater. If the food and water on board are carefully rationed, Susie will have enough provisions on board for one person to barely survive two weeks at sea, which is the time she has estimated it will take for the little raft to follow the currents to a latitude and longitude frequented by shipping vessels, one of which, she is sure, will rescue her. This is her one hope for survival, but she must last two weeks at sea. Although she might hope that a rescue ship will arrive before that time, the appearance of such would be nothing short of a miracle.

Susie now confronts the biggest dilemma of her life. Based on the information before her, only one person can survive the sea voyage. As things stand now, both mother and child seem destined to die of dehydration and hunger. The only realistic hope for any survival would be for one of the two to die, leaving the other with the supplies.

What to do? Susie is aware of only three options. Option One: She could simply pray, trust God and accept the very real possibility that both she and her son will die; Option Two: She could sacrifice her own life and leave her son with the necessary provisions for his own survival; or, Option Three: She could kill her son, leaving her with the necessary food and water to make it to safety. This last option is the most ominous, but the one Susie feels obligated to carefully consider.

Susie ponders the situation. It is true that Johnny is her son, but it is also true that he poses a very real threat to her survival. Mother and child are both yoked in an uncomfortable environment for a long period of time; mother and child are both living off the same limited food source, and mother and child both find themselves in a life threatening situation. With every bite of food or drink of water that he takes, Johnny increases the possibility that Susie will not survive at sea. The fact that Johnny does not intend her harm is not at issue. The bottom line is that little Johnny is a threat to her own life. To kill her son, Susie reasons, is really an act of self-defense. After all, isn't it better for one of them to live, then for both to die? Furthermore, there are four other children at home who will suffer greatly if they lose their mother. The loss of a brother is tragic, but the loss of mother can harm many lives by depriving other children of love and affection. Susie's life should be saved because it is clearly the more valuable of the two. As she considers these points, Susie notices a school of sharks circling her boat. Her decision made, Susie waits until the middle of night at which time she kisses her son, effortlessly lifts his sleeping body from the raft and then throws him into the water where he quietly slipped below the waves and was ripped to pieces and consumed by the man-eating sharks.

Thanking God that she did not have to watch her son's death or hear his screams, Susie wipes the tears from her eyes and resolves to move on. She knows that her decision was a valid choice and an act of self-protection. Further, she is comforted by the fact that Johnny is probably better off to have died a quick death with the sharks than to be put through the agony of long-term starvation and dehydration. All things considered, her actions were merciful. Susie manages to survive the next two weeks, is rescued and returns home to serve as the mother of four healthy children.

What shall we think of Susie? Shall we bless a mother who kills her own child to save herself? Are we proud of such a woman? Shall we sing of her virtues? Perhaps we should just chalk-up her decision to feed her son to the sharks as "an unfortunate, but necessary evil." After all, she was just acting in self-defense. It was either the mother or the child. One would live and the other would die. Who could blame Mama for wanting to fight for her life, even if it meant that her son would be torn to pieces in the darkness of night.

In point of fact, this woman's behavior is utterly despicable. Susie is a criminal. Her behavior is indefensible. To murder another is wrong, but for a mother to murder her own child as an act of self-preservation is crime of unspeakable ignominy.

Why do we shutter at reports of ancient pagan parents who threw their children into the flames or put them to the knife to appease a heathen God? We shutter and cringe because the parent-child relationship is the most sacred, the most inviolable and the most foundational to life and civilization. Upon this relationship rests the eternal destiny of every true Believer. It is the relationship of the heavenly Father to the Son, and it is the relationship that every Christian has as a child of God. It is our one hope.

It is because of this truth that we embrace the spirit of Titanic commander E.J. Smith who proclaimed "women and children first" as the great ship went to its demise. A man worth his salt will not try to evaluate the value of his life in comparison to that of his wife or children. He will simply die for his loved ones. He will play the part of the man and willingly sacrifice his life for those dependent on him. He will give up his seat on the life boat for them; he will face death and make any sacrifice for those that God has placed under his protection. Just as every man should know that it is his duty to die for his wife and children, every wife should know that that it is her duty to sacrifice for the child she has nurtured in her womb. Sacrifice is implicit to the Christian definition of mother.

This brings us to the question at bar. Is there any substantive difference between Susie's actions and that of the mother who orders an abortion "to preserve her own life?" Count on the fact that the blade of the abortionist is every bit as bloody when applied to the skull and chest and legs of an unborn little boy or girl as the teeth of the sharks were to young Johnny. Does this description offend you? Infanticide is offensive.

But we must have abortion when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, some will argue. Is it fair to deprive a husband and family of a mother? After all, such an abortion is simply an act of self-defense by the mother against the child. And what if the child's chance of survival is rather slim in comparison with the likelihood that the mother will die if the baby is brought to term? Surely, abortion is reasonable in such circumstances. For thousands of years man has found ways to rationalize murder, but for those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior there is but one standard for resolving this and all ethical questions: Holy Scripture. The Bible gives no authority for a parent to ever take the life of an unborn child.

Scripture does give three valid bases for taking the life of another, none of which can even remotely be construed as a justification for "abortion for the life of the mother." Man may take another's life in the case of just warfare; man may take another's life when acting on behalf of the civil magistrate to execute a person guilty of a capitol crime; or man may take another's life as an act of self-defense, or in defense of others where there is a significant and immediate threat to life best remedied with a lethal response.

To conclude, mothers should never kill their babies. There are no exceptions. The Bible condemns abortion and offers no exceptions to this rule. Abortion is not even biblically permissible in the so-called "life of the mother" cases. As with all ethical decisions, our approach to the question of "abortion for the life of the mother" must be dictated by the Scriptures alone. We are not to look to situation ethics, the advice of the medical community, personal opinion or even "common sense" to help us to make life and death decisions concerning our unborn children. Nor may a Christian look to their emotions, to human traditions, to majority consensus, to their personal experience or to a private revelation from God as the basis for their decision-making. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof and for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly equipped unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) This is the only source of wisdom for our ethical decisions.

Even within the Christian community, however, some would argue that it is better to kill one unborn baby, than to risk depriving a family with living children of their mother. Others would argue that it is an legitimate act of self-defense for a mother to kill her baby where medical experts conclude that there is a high probability that the little baby could threaten the life of the mother. Still others might argue that where a baby will probably not make it to term anyway, but the continuing growth of the baby threatens the health of the mother, that it makes common sense to allow the mother to take the life of the child. Each of these arguments is rooted in a form of unbiblical situation ethics and a rejection of the sufficiency of Scripture. In Scripture, we learn that God alone is the author of life and that He alone can grant jurisdiction to take life. Further, we learn that the unborn baby is a life with an eternal soul; that man does not have the right to judge or evaluate the quality of a person's life, and thus, the right to determine which babies have a right to life; that "expert" medical predictions about the future are based on the thinking of finite men and are often wrong; that God alone knows the future because He planned it and superintends every micro detail; and that He alone holds the key to life including the power to heal. Finally, we learn that taking innocent life is universally condemned as a crime punishable by death. Concerning abortion as a form of self-defense, the Bible teaches that such killing is only valid as an act of self-defense against a wrongful party. Wrong requires intent. Mothers may not kill their babies as an act of self-defense because an unborn child intends the mother no harm and lacks the mental capacity to pose a willing threat to a mother. Furthermore, child-sacrifice as a means of self-preservation is universally condemned in Scripture as one of the most-wicked crimes imaginable. On the other hand, self-sacrifice is the "greatest form of love" and the essence of parenthood, even as it is the essence of true Christian leadership. Because there is no biblical distinction between the value of life in utero and ex utero, mothers and fathers must always be willing and ready to sacrifice their lives for their children, born or unborn.

In light of the above, Christians must join together to uphold God's Law and stand in defense of the unborn. Killing a baby in the womb is unconscionable under any circumstances. To embrace anything but a "no exception" policy in opposition to abortion is to condone infanticide. Historically and biblically the greatest judgments have been reserved for those nations which embrace perversion and child sacrifice. (Both our rampant within our nation.) Political leaders who profess to be Christian, but who promote the right of any individual to perform abortions (child sacrifice) for any reason whatsoever, are party to the promotion of the slaughter of the innocent and will be judged. Such men and women will be judged even before heathen leaders, because "judgment begins first in the house of the Lord." Consequently, before pointing out the speck in the political eyes of unbelieving politicians, we must first remove the enormous log of compromise from the collective eyes of our own evangelical community.

The unwillingness of Christians to take a principled "no exception" stance on abortion, as well as their habitual fear of holding professing Christian leaders accountable to the biblical no-exception standard is a likely cause of our ineffectiveness to turn back abortion in America. God often blesses nations because of the obedience of the elect. The elect of God is the remnant of faithful believers who occupy and advance the kingdom of God in their land. (Had their been but ten in the days of Abraham, Sodom would have been spared.) Because of this, it is the failure of the remnant, even more than the evil of the heathen majority which determines the future of a nation. The remnant must be faithful to Gods standards. If past is prologue, and history does repeat itself, we can and should respect that, absent repentance, such compromise within the Church will possibly become the heavenly impetus for our collapse as a nation.

Rescue the perishing
Care for the dieing