The Abortion Issue Has Not Been Aborted

Thirty-seven years ago this month I preached a sermon to my congregation in Central Illinois on the subject of The Sanctity of Human Life.

The Supreme Court of the United States in its Roe v Wade decision had just produced what one spokesman for life has called “a license to kill the unborn.” This had created a mighty stir and our congregation was ready to hear the subject addressed from the pulpit.

My sermon was based on the words of Psalm 139, “For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13).

This psalm was indeed written before the age of science which began in the 17th century. It is therefore written in poetic, not scientific, language to describe our human state before birth.

But it eloquently reflects the Judeo-Christian view of humankind – we are creatures from God’s hand, we bear his image, so our existence is to be regarded as sacred before as well as after birth.

The day after I preached that sermon a troubled high school student from the congregation came to my study. She had recently encouraged a fellow student to solve the problem of an unwanted pregnancy by getting an abortion, and she was troubled about what she had done. My sermon had pricked her conscience. That was 37 years ago.

It is shocking to think that since that Supreme Court decision in January, 1973, an estimated 52 million unborn children have been dismembered or chemically poisoned, or if on rare occasions they survived the abortion, left to die. That is to say nothing of the uncounted number of women who have been damaged whether emotionally, physically, or both by the procedure.

The issue of the sanctity of life is so deeply rooted in the moral nature of things that it will not go away. Last week, a March for Life in Washington D. C. drew a crowd estimated to be 300,000 strong. The most encouraging feature of the celebration was that it was heavily attended by young women who see the issue clearly. They were there to celebrate life.

The Roman Catholic Church is to be commended for its unceasing drive to protect the life of the unborn. It has the numbers and is in several ways mobilized to keep the issue before the public. This is so even though some of its members who are leading political figures are an embarrassment to the church in claiming to be “practising Catholics” while at the same time openly and defiantly supporting pro-abortion positions.

Now, as the Super Bowl contest draws near, conflict over the issue breaks into public view again. All-star Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in an ad sponsored by Focus on the Family celebrates his mother’s courage in not aborting him even though her doctor’s advice and her tough circumstances could have tempted her to do so. Tebow pays her tribute. CBS has agreed to air the ad but this has raised a storm of protest from pro-choice crusaders.

It’s interesting that organizations that support, even celebrate, a woman’s right to choose do not want a woman who freely chose life to bear witness to her freedom of choice in this public way.

Recent polls indicate that the public is shifting away from the pro-choice and toward the pro-life stance. But the battle is far from over. One lone sermon here and there during the Super Bowl season may not seem like a very telling influence urging the protection of unborn humans. But who can estimate the impact if sermons opposing unrestricted abortion were preached from 350,000 pulpits across the land at this time?

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