Opening Our Eyes to Life in order to Open Our Mouths for It
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
If the womb had a window, what would we see? Would what we saw change us? Last month we gazed through a virtual window to the womb and marveled at the conceiving of new life and the beautifully choreographed movements of a baby’s first week of life. We also stared in alarm as devices (IUDs), medications (morning after pills, oral contraception, abortion pills), and procedures (embryonic stem cell research) threatened this precious new life. With our eyes opened to the gift of life we were encouraged to open our mouths in compassionate conviction to defend that life.
This month we watch the baby undergo more astonishing transitions.
15 Days: the nerve cells form that will become the brain and spinal cord. Amazingly, they know precisely which way to bend and bow to form the intricate connections necessary. Around this time the baby’s heart begins to form. At this point, though, it’s only a tiny clump of cells no bigger than a poppy seed.
22 Days: Suddenly the heart, in an abrupt jolt, begins beating. At first it’s only one cell, but then more follow. Astonishingly, they all join in the same rhythm, stepping in time to a precisely choreographed dance. If the child lives to 75, his heart will beat approximately three billion times! Blood cells now begin to circulate through the baby in veins no bigger than a hair.
4 Weeks: At four weeks the baby is no bigger than a kidney bean. Sometime around this time the eyes begin to appear along with the buds that will form the arms and legs. Around week four the circulatory system begins to form.
6 Weeks: By six weeks the baby is about an inch long and is growing his tongue and vocal chords inside his tiny mouth. By the end of the sixth week he will start moving his arms and legs.
7 Weeks: By week seven the baby is growing his intestines and his eyelids. By week eight the baby has knees and is folding his arms up over his chest. His life support system, the placenta, is actively pulling and filtering all the nutrients he needs from mom. While the placenta is able to filter out most harmful substances before they reach the baby, some substances such as drugs, alcohol, and nicotine pass through into the baby.
Illogical Public Policies
Because of this leakage of toxins through the placenta, our government rightly mandates that these substances carry a warning label to alert mothers of the potential danger these substances present to their unborn children. In a disappointingly ironic twist, though, the same government requires no such label for IUDs, oral contraception, morning after pills, or other medications/devices that could potentially result in the death of a newly conceived baby (by keeping him from implanting in his mother’s uterine wall). One marvels at this glaring inconsistency.
Not only does our government not require warning labels on these potentially fatal medications and devices, it maintains that it is a woman’s constitutional right to kill her child in the womb. This is a startling inconsistency. In essence the U.S. government is saying, “Women who want their babies should be warned about substances that might harm them. Women who don’t want their babies should be allowed to kill them. And no women should be warned that IUDs, oral contraceptives, and morning after pills could end the life of their newly conceived child.”
Even more, our government is mandating, through its health care legislation (the Affordable Care Act), that employers, through insurance premiums, pay for abortion-inducing drugs. The Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, in a statement concerning this provision of the bill, wrote, “the birth control mandate … requires virtually all health plans, including those of religious organizations, to cover birth control drugs and products that could cause the death of the unborn. We are opposed to the birth control mandate because it runs counter to the biblical truth of the sanctity of human life and creates a conflict of conscience for religious employers and insurers, who face steep penalties for non-compliance based upon their religious convictions.”
Such governmental positions are inconsistent at best. As Christians who value life from the womb to the tomb, we stand opposed to any substance, procedure, policy, or politician that unnecessarily puts the unborn at risk. The life in a mother’s womb is sacred. It is protected by God’s laws; it ought to be protected by man’s laws as well. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has granted some employers an exemption from the mandate to fund abortifacients (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 2014). However, most large companies are still coerced to support the abortifacient regime.
A More Consistent Approach: Legislate Morality
At the very least we ought to be consistent regarding our warning labels. If alcohol, cigarette, and prescription drug companies are required to label their products with warning labels on behalf of the unborn, then politicians, policies, and procedures that endanger unborn children should be marked with a warning label: “These politicians, policies, and procedures may harm, even end the life of your newly conceived child.” How is it that the legislators who, in one bill, mandate warning labels on behalf of the unborn with stiff legal repercussions for noncompliance, can, in the very next bill, maintain a clinic’s right to poison, dismember, and dispose of an unborn child or a pharmaceutical company’s right to distribute baby killing drugs without warning labels? The unborn need to be protected!
Some argue that this is legislating morality. They’re right! How could it not be? Abortion is a moral issue. The crux of the debate is that it’s either right or wrong to kill unborn babies. Abortion advocates maintain it’s right to kill unwanted babies. Life advocates maintain it’s wrong. That’s a moral issue. Life advocates believe unborn children, just like born children, deserve protection by robust laws. If we were only talking about a blob of tissue, this would be a non-issue. Having gazed through the window to the womb, however, we see with clarity the marvelous handiwork of God. The unborn may be small, but he is a person, a beautiful creation of God.
Pastor Jonathan Conner of Zion Lutheran Church in Manning, Iowa, is a former board member for the Hausvater Project.